2015’s World Tag Team Tournament was a rather more traditional affair, as wXw brought together some established teams from around the world… and put together some super teams too.
We opened on a sombre note inside the Steffy in Oberhausen, as the entire wXw roster paid tribute to Axel Dieter, whom had passed away just days earlier. His son, Axel Dieter Jr, along with Da Mack, Big Daddy Walter and Christian Michael Jakobi were in the ring as they introduced Dieter – music and all. I cannot begin to imagine how tough that was for Jr.
The World Tag Team Tournament operated a slightly different format to the current World Tag Team League – each half of the brackets gets a night to its own; so in this case, we’re getting the first round and quarter-finals from one side of the draw, whilst the rest takes place on night two. We’ve got English commentary here, courtesy of the regular “import” duo of Alan Counihan and Jeremy Graves.
World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Les Artistes (Lucas Di Leo & Peter Fischer)
Les Artistes were the rebranded French Flavour, and before they got a word in the crowd were already on their case. Fischer’s got a thing about Gallows’ facepaint, but that just leads to a jumpstart.
After a brief break, Anderson goes after Fischer with chops, before the Frenchmen edged ahead with some not-so-subtle double-teaming. Fischer and di Leo do a good job isolating the “Machine Gun”, before Anderson broke free with a spinebuster and brought in Gallows. Gallows kicks Fischer off the apron as he went after di Leo, but that just leads to some double-teaming that Gallows easily kicks away. A double elbow drop from the Frenchmen keep the tide turning, before the Club hit a double-team neckbreaker on Lucas for a near-fall. The end is nigh as Fischer runs into a Gun Stun, before taking a Magic Killer – and the former champs go out in the first round! Enjoyable stuff and a swift opener too. **¾
World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Hakan Aslan) vs. Hot & Spicy (Axel Dieter Jr. & Da Mack)
Yes, it’s the same Young Lions who are now part of RISE – with Hakan now going under the name of Lucky Kid (a name that commentary uses, but Cagematch reckons he’s Hakan… so *Yano shrug*). Tarkan barely has a beard, let alone the mighty one he’s sporting these days. There’s monstrous duelling chants for “Axel Dieter” and “Junior”, which can only be adding to the emotions that ran wild that night.
The steam machine’s gone into overdrive as the hard cam becomes unusable for a spell, so we’re reliant on the mobile cameras as some see-saw kip-ups help Junior escape from an early wristlock. Some headscissors keep Tarkan grounded, as does a hammerlock, but the Lions quickly run in some double-teaming to try and get ahead. Hakan peppers Dieter with some forearms, but misses a blind tag as Da Mack flies in with a springboard forearm. A dropkick from Hakan caused a huge thud as Mack didn’t go down, but he’s able to rebound with a Slingblade and some dancing kicks to a sitting, yet defiant Kid.
A handspring back elbow from Hakan, then a back senton gets the Lions a near-fall, but Mack comes back with a nice uppercut palm strike. Dieter throws in similar uppercuts to Hakan, before an Air Raid Crash is escaped and turned into a double stomp from Tarkan as Hakan’d had Axel over his knees. The ref seemed ambivalent towards all this double-teaming, but Axel overcame it and suplexed himself and Hakan to the floor. You know, that insane Bad Bones/Ilja spot? Tarkan Aslan saves a dive, but Hot & Spicy try to double-team him, eventually taking out Lucky Kid with a double enziguiri. Kid was still legal, and that was the end! Pretty fun stuff, with Hot and Spicy getting the win in a match that they largely dominated. ***¼
After the match, the crowd inside the Steffy pulled out a load of homemade “die matte ist heilig” signs, before the Lions hugged Axel. All the feels…
Looking at the match times, we’re not getting anything majorly long – so expect a lot of swift action that may be just about tapping on the door of high ratings.
World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Jurn Simmons & Tyler Bate vs. Champions of Champions (Absolute Andy & “Bad Bones” John Klinger)
The Champions of Champions were the good guys here, something that some boo/yay treatment solidified before the bell. Apparently this was meant to be Karsten Beck and Tyler Bate, but Jurn took his spot so Beck could be fully fit for his title defence against Grado.
That didn’t happen.
We started with Bones working over Tyler Bate, getting a near-fall out of a crossbody before Tyler hurriedly tagged in Jurn. Andy comes in and gets some chants of “sexy Andy” after a pose-down, before the pair traded see-saw shoulder tackles as the big lads went charging into each other.
The Champions of Champions pound away on Simmons, at least until he got in a spinebuster to turn the tide, as he went all Scott Steiner on Klinger with taunting push-ups. Commentary breaks down when Alan drops the bomb that Tyler Bate was 18 here, but his inexperience almost cost him as Bones scored some near-falls from backslides and small packages.
Bate boots Bones from a headlock, but that angered Klinger into a Codebreaker as the crowd bayed for an Absolute hot tag… which we got! Andy and Jurn club away again, leading to an Absolute knee drop for a near-fall, before Tyler interferes to prevent Jurn from taking a superkick. Simmons mocks the superkick himself, but it misses as Andy grabbed him into an F5 attempt. That too doesn’t come off as Andy breaks free and tries another superkick, only to get cut-off with a Massive Kick for a near-fall. Things break down as all four men end up in the ring, with Bones chopping Bate into pieces, before a decapitation kick lived up to its name.
Andy returns to finish off things with a spinebuster and a Sharpshooter to Jurn… who gets the ropes, only to be pulled away. Tyler breaks it up after collecting himself, but Bate eats a pair of spinebusters as the CoC tee up for a pair of superkicks… only for a Massive Kick to break it up. In the ensuing chaos, Bate snatches an inside cradle, and that’s enough for the kid to pin Andy! A shock result, but a really good tag team outing as you got the sense that Bones and Andy perhaps took the makeshift pairing a little lightly? ***½
World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Reich und Schön (Marius van Beethoven & Kevin Roadster) vs. Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr.
Reich und Schön – the Rich and the Beautiful (or the Bold and the Beautiful, if you’re into your US daytime TV) – were the pairing of Marius van Beethoven and the now-Alpha Kevin. They jumped the so-called dream team at the bell, targeting Walter… who quickly snapped back in with a suplex. Something tells me this will be an easy night’s work for Walter and Zack… despite R&S’ constant double-teaming. Walter obliterates Kevin with this dropkick, and then in comes Zack as the German crowd sang along for the technical wizard.
Nothing Kevin could do had an effect against Sabre, to the point where Kevin and Marius broke into an argument.
Curiously, Marius was resisting tagging in, at least until Zack was on the defensive… and although he got a two-count out of a sunset flip, Kevin tagged himself back in immediately. Yeah, his sunset flip bombs, so Marius charges back in to try and isolate Zack. Something tells me that isn’t going to work…
Kevin slingshots Marius into Zack, as the story turns into Kevin always runs into boots whilst Marius was able to connect. It’s quite comedic, how goofy these two are. Then in comes Walter, who barely registers Marius’ chops. Marius, on the other hand, cowers away. Wouldn’t you?! Marius ends up getting worn down by Sabre, who gave Kevin enough of a death stare to prevent interference… and this is really the proverbial men against boys. Sabre and Walter have fun throwing and twisting Marius around. Kevin interferes when he can (whilst preserving his own life), but he could do nothing as Marius ate a barrage of uppercuts for another near-fall.
We almost get a shock of shocks when Marius gets a small package for a near-fall, before Walter broke up a pin from a package piledriver, before an armbar and Boston crab from Walter and Sabre at the same time proved to be the final straw. An entertaining squash, just how this should have been… although if you want to nit pick, perhaps a touch too long? ***
Player Dos vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Bobby Fish
Non-tournament action now, with three guys to feature in the second half of the bracket on night two… and Player Dos, whom commentary calls Stu Grayson – another name he uses. We quickly go to Dos and Ciampa, who falls awkwardly from a ‘rana attempt, before backdropping Grayson/Dos onto the apron.
We trade places as Gresham and Fish have a go, with Fish grabbing an armbar briefly, before a pair of submissions left Ciampa and Dos reaching for the ropes. Fish replies by dumping Gresham into the ropes with a huge back body drop, before everyone traded stacked-up avalanches into the corners. Grayson/Dos hits a double overhead kick then goes for Gresham, landing with a springboard tornado DDT before some pop-up knees put Dos in front… for a count of two. Dos! Gresham rebounds with an Asai/tornado DDT, but Ciampa then cuts him off with forearms as we reached “accidental move” territory, this time with a whoopsie Dragon screw.
A nice reverse ‘rana from Gresham and a bridging German from Gresham on Dos nearly wins it, before Dos goes flying with a Space Flying Tiger Drop to a pile on the outside! Ciampa and Dos end up inside again, with Dos Matrix’ing out of a discus lariat, before eating Project Ciampa as Tommaso wins. This was a fun, albeit brief four-way, with a LOT of spots… to the point where it almost felt rushed and overly choreographed. **½
DTU Alto Impacto Championship: Player Uno vs. Kim Ray (c)
Created by Mexico’s DTU promotion, the Alto Impacto title found its way into Germany for about six months thanks to Jonathan Gresham. Kim Ray beat him about a fortnight early to become a double champion, but the Shotgun title was not on the line here. Again, we’ve got some weirdness with names as Player Uno is Evil Uno… but identified under his old name. I’m guessing “because familiarity”?
Uno starts off with chops that put Kim Ray firmly on the back foot, with a single-leg dropkick keeping Kim down. He thought he’d avoided a fist drop, but Uno pulls him down to hit it anyway. A missed moonsault opens the door up for Ray, who kicks back into the match, before busting out Sebastian’s old nonchalant backheel. Uno comes back with a neckbreaker after the ref was given Ray’s foot to hold, before getting a near-fall out of a Flatliner… but Kim stays in the match, using the ref as a human shield ahead of an STO and a roundhouse kick before a harsh implant DDT ensured he kept hold of the title. Pretty decent for the time they had, but it looked a little wonky at the end. **¾
World Tag Team Tournament – Quarter-Final: Tyler Bate & Jurn Simmons vs. Hot and Spicy (Axel Dieter Jr. & Da Mack)
You know it’s a running joke in these retro-ish reviews, “look how young they look”… how about this from Jurn Simmons?!
Bate and Simmons jump Hot and Spicy before the bell as they looked to book their spot in the semis on night three… Axel was sent crashing into the corner early, before firing back with an uppercut. Da Mack tries to fly in, but gets dumped by Jurn, then isolated for a spell. Tonight though, wasn’t going to be the night Hot and Spicy went down easily. Not with the emotions from earlier still in the air, no matter how much Jurn played to the crowd. A top rope cannonball from Mack looked to turn the tide, but Jurn involves himself again – which led to some arguments between him and Tyler, allowing Mack to make a hot tag out to Axel! Cross chops and European uppercuts get Axel in the lead ahead of a springboard Blockbuster.
Jurn accidentally boots Tyler as he aimed a Massive Boot at Axel – and that fit of rage led to the end as Bate was left inside for a double-team enziguiri for the win! An emotional Axel gets the win, and this was a fun quarter-final as the makeshift team of Jurn and Tyler blew up in style! wXw melding storylines into a tournament again, without either overshadowing the other. ***¼
World Tag Team Tournament Quarter-Final: Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) vs. Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr.
Our last match of the night sees the Bullet Club take on the wXw Super Team – with Walter being seen as the big threat early on.
We open with Sabre and Anderson, who were remarkably even in the opening phases, Walter and Gallows go for more brute force than technical wrestling, with Gallows actually getting the better of the Austrian from a big boot, as the Bullet Club tandem took over for a brief moment… until Walter started throwing those chops.
That set the tone as Walter and Sabre did what they did best, with young Zack getting a little mouthy in the direction of Gallows, long before Cease and Desists were a deal. A sit-down splash gets Walter a two-count on Anderson, The Bullet Club took over thanks to sneaky stuff from Gallows, with Sabre getting isolated as Gallows wore him down with body blows in the corner.
Finally Zack gets the tag as Walter comes in to throw bombs at Gallows. All the chops! Avalanche clotheslines keep up the pressure as Gallows swings and misses his way into a back suplex, and my God, Walter’s climbing the ropes! Gallows cuts him off, only to get met with a missile dropkick for a near-fall!
Walter tries to powerbomb Gallows, but he backdrops free and brings in Anderson, who eats a German suplex and a big lariat for a two-count. The Bullet Club double-team their way back into it, hitting an assisted neckbreaker on Walter for a two-count, before Sabre makes the save on a Magic Killer… sparking a brief flurry as all four men were left laying!
Gallows gets dumped to the outside as Sabre low bridges him, then flies in with a tope… that’s caught and turned into a slam on the outside. Uh-oh. Walter’s left vulnerable for the fireman’s carry/Boot of Doom, but he kicks out as Anderson tries to finish off with a Gun Stun… only to eat a diving dropkick into the corner! At the same time, Sabre wiped out Gallows with an apron PK, before tying him up in a rear naked choke so Walter could powerbomb Anderson and book their place in the semis! Some really good stuff here, although it took a while to get going for me – as jarring as it was for Sabre to be the odd one out, it was nice seeing him shifting things up where he wasn’t just applying holds all the time! ***¾
So after night one, we’ve got Hot and Spicy and the pairing of Big Daddy Walter and Zack Sabre Jr. into the semis… with Walter celebrating in rare form with some air guitar?! Night two features reDRagon, Cerberus and an early form of CCK as an emotional World Tag Team Tournament rolled on!