2015’s World Tag Team Tournament wrapped up with a blistering final day as everyone hit hard en route to a new set of wXw tag team champions being crowned.
As with the first two nights, this is in memory of the late Axel Dieter, and we’re still in Steffy in Oberhausen, with Alan and Jeremy providing the English language commentary.
World Tag Team Tournament – Semi-Final: Hot and Spicy (Axel Dieter Jr. & Da Mack) vs. reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
We’re down to the hard hitters at this stage of the tournament, and whilst some promotions may have done the “tribute” thing and changed everything to have Hot and Spicy win the tournament given the recent events. wXw aren’t “some promotions” though…
Axel and Kyle start us off on the mat, with Dieter having to fight out of some headscissors early before the pair grabbed leglocks and rolled into the ropes for a break. Bobby Fish and Da Mack tag in for the speed vs. power segment, with Mack landing a ‘rana out of a leapfrog, before the happy clappy kicks led to a running knee!
Dieter tags in to keep the pressure up, but a cheeky kick from O’Reilly on the apron turned the tables as reDRagon went to work over Junior’s arm, before Fish just kicked away his leg. Axel manages to break free and get the tag to Da Mack, who flew around with armdrags and chops, before landing a Slingblade for a near-fall. Bobby Fish trips Mack from the floor, and that’s reDRagon back on top, with Fish again targeting Mack’s knee, using a Dragon screw onto the mat. O’Reilly pokes fun at Da Mack’s happy clappy kicks as reDRagon utilise quick tags as they look to slam Mack into submission… but an inside cradle and a Michinoku driver puts paid to that!
The Mack Crack Smash finally gives him space to tag in Dieter, as Junior hits an armdrag into a Blockbuster, before scooping Fish into an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall. Hot and Spicy run through some tandem offence, only for a blind tag to turn things back in the Americans favour as a backbreaker/kneedrop catches Mack’s legs in the ropes for another two-count. From the kick-out, O’Reilly dumps Mack on his dome with this Regalplex… OUCH.
Somehow, Mack kicks out, and was able to escape Chasing the Dragon, which led to reDRagon taking a double Blockbuster, then a double DDT. Hot and Spicy miss the double enziguiri, right as Bobby Fish slides in one of the IWGP junior tag title belts… that distracts Tassilo Jung as he clears the belt away, allowing Kyle to hit a pair of low blows before Chasing the Dragon puts Axel down for the count. Well, anyone cheering reDRagon now had a reason to hate them as they ended the story of the weekend… and purposely savaged the pair after the match for extra heat. This was a fun opener, with reDRagon showing their vicious side as the tournament roared towards a finale. ***¾
After the match, there seemed to be some dissension between Mack and Junior – sowing the seeds for the future.
Cerberus (Ilja Dragunov, Julian Nero & Robert Dreissker) vs. Super Smash Brothers (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) & The Rotation
Well, with a lot of teams out, expect some wacky matches. This is one, with Rotation being christened as “Tres” by the Oberhausen crowd. You know, Evil Uno, Player Dos, and Rotation Tres!
Cerberus jump them at the bell, but Evil Uno manages to turn things quickly as he uses the referee to hold Julian Nero in place for an early neckbreaker. The Smash Brothers work over Nero pretty well before bringing in their honorary third-man as the tassled-Rotation scores with a wheelbarrow bulldog.
A blind tag brings in Ilja Dragunov, who decks Rotation instantly before going in with some huge chops. It doesn’t get any easier when Dreissker tagged in, as a big splash off the ropes almost pinned the flyer… and it’s pretty clear right now that Rotation was there to be the weak link of the Smash Brothers. After taking a Beell throw, Rotation leapt into a Dreissker spinebuster as the pounding continued with Cerberus quickly exchanging tags.
Finally Rotation gets the hot tag to Grayson, who cleared house, counting a Nero kick into a ‘rana as the Smash Brothers went after Cerberus… a springboard cross body puts down Dreissker for a near-fall, but Cerberus quickly get back on top as Grayson took a nasty spill to the outside. We’re left with Uno and Nero inside, before a spear planted Nero on the apron as Ilja and Grayson threw hands.
Grayson smashes Dragunov with a torture rack backbreaker, but tags seemingly became a novelty as Dreissker came in… allowing a distraction as a Torpedo Moscau aborted Grayson’s springboard. The madness continues as Uno punches Dreissker, only to run into a huge lariat before Boulder Dash gets Dreissker the win. This was all sorts of fun – unless you were getting hit! The stories of Rotation getting worked over before Cerberus overcame the mish-mashed good guys was a joy to behold as Adam Polak’s unhinged trio took away the win to end their weekend. ***½
World Tag Team Tournament – Semi-Final: Calamari Catch Kings (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) vs. Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr.
The winners of this face reDRagon in the finals to crown new wXw tag team champions, and we have a frenetic, yet cagey technical start with Sabre and Gresham. Having not seen much of Gresham before this, I was caught off guard by how fluid he was here, holding his own against Sabre as their war of attrition took hold.
Gresham pulled Sabre into the corner and tagged in Brookes, but Zack backs away as he and Brookes started from scratch. Sabre enjoys some success with Brookes early on, before Walter tagged in and instantly dropped Brookes with a shoulder tackle. That rattled Chris so much he instantly tagged out, as we then had the smallest and the largest guys in this match going toe-to-toe. ALL THE CHOPS… but Gresham was resolute, clinging onto Walter to avoid a slam.
Poor Gresham eats a big boot from Walter and a Tiger suplex from Zack as the wXw superteam unloaded on the American. Brookes then outsmarted the pair of them, only to run into a Walter dropkick as he proved that he too can fly! Gresham rebounded with a step-up rana and a plancha to Zack, before a tope knocked Walter into the front row… before a moonsault completed the set. Well, not quite, Brookes flies off the apron as CCK tried their damndest to get to the finals, with a Michinoku driver/shooting star press looking to do the job… but Sabre kicks out!
Gresham tries to force a submission with an Octopus, but Walter just powerbombs Brookes onto the pile to break it up. Hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Little and Large are back in the ring, with Goliath nearly wrecking a turnbuckle with a head chop. Regular chops keep Gresham cornered, but somehow he broke free into a bridging German suplex for a near-fall. How in the world?!
What do you think Walter’s response to that was? If your guess was “he slapped the taste out of Gresham’s mouth”, you’d be right. A big boot and a thunderous lariat murders Gresham for a near-fall, and my God, this hard-hitting wrestling is totally my cup of tea. Somehow Gresham flips out of a German suplex, and a blind tag to Chris Brookes turned things around as Walter’d taken a jawbreaker, allowing CCK to gain some ground.
In the end though, the superteam quickly recaptured their advantage, and it was a swift double-team that did the trick again, with a top rope uppercut/powerbomb combo getting the pin on Chris Brookes. Yep. This is my kinda wrestling! Forget the moves, just hit hard, hit believably, and convince the crowd that it’s real… and you’re there! ****¼
I’ve missed out on a LOT by not being on the wXw train earlier, I guess!
Michael Dante vs. Tommaso Ciampa
With just the final remaining, we’ve got some more wacky matches to go – featuring some guys who were involved in earlier rounds of the tournament. Dante and Ciampa shove off as commentary promises hard strikes, and Dante obliges early on.
Ciampa gets back in with a knee as he tries to match Dante’s striking, opting to hit and move rather than unleash with a barrage of offence. A rear chinlock keeps Dante down, as does some biting, but he quickly powers free as the pair square off, almost awkwardly I guess? The pair opt to try with some shoulder tackles, but Dante shrugs them off, before catching Ciampa with an over-the-knee brainbuster. Hi Blackheart Buster!
Enziguiris and knees rock Dante, with Ciampa looking to finish him off with another knee into the corner. The fightback starts as Dante trades forearms, punctuated by an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall, as a massive spear from the Dutchman earns him the massive win! Fairly brief, but this was entertaining enough for what they did. Gotta love hard hits! ***
Jurn Simmons, Tyler Bate & Reich und Schön (Marius van Beethoven & Kevin Roadster) vs. Champions of Champions (“Bad Bones” John Klinger & Absolute Andy) & Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson)
Well, isn’t that a mega-team for 2015? A mega team that brought all the crotch chops to Karsten Beck’s cronies…
Andy bellows at Jurn in the opening stages as commentary forgot that Reich und Schön were in the tag tournament. To be fair, they lost so comprehensively, they may as well not have been! Simmons forces Kevin to do the Absolute/Andy call-and-refrain but with his name… the crowd don’t care, but they do chant for “Alpha” “Kevin”. Which makes Jurn mad.
Things don’t improve when Marius van Beethoven came in, especially when Doc Gallows used him as a human punching bag. Some quick tags mean that the corners become revolving doors for a while, as Jurn and Friends seemed to edge back into things. When Marius came in, the crowd humorously chanted “you’re not Kevin” at him, as it seemed that Kevin was becoming something of a pariah.
The crowd cheer when Kevin gets the tag in, but Jurn Simmons just as quickly tags him out as Bones gets thrown into the turnbuckles with ease. Kevin quickly develops into a bumbling goof, gladly taking cheers whilst dropping the ball as his side started to slip… all whilst Jurn’s team exchanged increasingly-frustrated tags with each other.
Absolute Andy gets the tag in and lights up Tyler Bate with machine-gun chops. Isn’t that your partner’s gimmick?? Jurn low bridges Andy to the outside as the match degenerates, leading to Jurn taking the Gallows Pole before an Absolute Knee Drop off the middle rope nearly won it. Tags take us to seeing Marius van Beethoven getting squashed by a back senton from Anderson, as the ring again fills to keep the match alive.
Kevin kicks Karl Anderson low to cut-off a Magic Killer, and it’s Parade of Moves time! A TKO-style Gun Stun nearly puts Marius away, but Jurn breaks it up and accidentally gets crotched on the top rope as he prepared for a big splash… except Tyler hit the ropes! Bate gets an F5, as Andy follows up with… a top rope rana? No, Jurn blocks it and instead dives into a spinebuster as Andy rolls him into a Sharpshooter. Kevin makes the save as we move into the dives, leaving Kevin alone with the Bullet Club…
Somehow he tries a double chokeslam, but it’s shrugged off as a backbreaker/elbow combo puts Kevin down and out. Marius is next to avoid a Gun Stun, only to taste a pop-up Gun Stun and a Magic Killer as the good guys leave with the win. A massively fun tag match, with the story of this was clearly being the infighting amongst Karsten Beck’s crew. ***½
Tommy End vs. AJ Styles
Well then… this got “this is awesome” chants before they even touched, and it’s going to have to go some for this match to be anything less than “good”. We’ve a cagey feeling out process as the pair looked to see what would work, with AJ drawing the first strikes with a dropkick, before a pendulum backbreaker left Tommy down.A kip-up ‘rana takes End outside, but Tommy kicks away the leg of AJ on the apron as the Dutchman looked to make a beeline for that wounded leg to keep Styles down on the mat.
AJ eventually tries to elbow out, only to get caught in a cravat. The comeback continues as AJ worked up into an ushigoroshi for a near-fall on End, before his attempt at a Phenomenal Forearm was aborted as End came in with a forearm instead. They ended up in the crowd, fighting towards the stage, where End starts stomping away on AJ’s injured knee as he looked to snatch a count-out.
Styles managed to get back to the ring and attempted a wheelbarrow roll-up, but End kicks out and tries to boot his head off. The retaliation came when End got suplexed into the turnbuckles, providing an awkward landing for both men, but it seemed to affect AJ the least as he stayed on top of End, bridging back into a Muta lock as he looked to take out Tommy’s vertical base.
Just like that though, End stomped his way back into it, hitting a fortuitous double stomp as AJ went for a low dropkick, but the Phenomenal Forearm sees AJ stay in it, knocking down End with the springboard strike. Back-and-forth strikes become the order of the day as AJ hits the Pele, then the Bloody Sunday DDT, only for End to escape a Styles Clash and hit a knee, then a German suplex as the pair flirted with their finishers.
A double stomp off the top misses from End, and led to him getting rolled into the Calf Killer… End escapes and waffles AJ with a spinning heel kick as he started to throw those feet, only to get caught as AJ tried to pull him into a Styles Clash, eventually landing it out of nothing for the win! This was all sorts of fun – both men bringing their usual arsenal of offence, and a total willingness to unleash it. Well worth every second of your time! ****
After the match, the crowd chanted 16 Carat at both guys. Sadly for them, one of them would be in WWE by the time that rolled around…
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: ACH vs. Karsten Beck (c)
This was scheduled to see Grado “cash in” his Shortcut to the Top title shot against Karsten Beck, but Grado missed his flight and so ACH gets the spot instead. Grado’s not been back since… and curiously, this wasn’t mentioned at all on commentary.
Karsten Beck was out there with all his goons, including Kevin Roadster, who gleefully received the crowd’s love. A boot from Beck gets us going as the champion tried to squash his challenger early, but ACH made use of his speed and size, backflipping away into a dropkick as he looked to score with a tornado suplex. Some headscissors just about get Beck outside, where he catches a PK and drags ACH down onto the floor instead.
Beck comes back out at ACH with a baseball slide dropkick, as the champion then went on to show off his strength, throwing ACH around the ring. An Irish whip into the corner almost broke ACH in half, as did a running knee to the chest as Beck was comfortably in control here.
A massive Flatliner came as Beck countered a springboard cutter, but Beck’s arrogance cost him as ACH hit a superkick as he escaped an apron piledriver, before finally landing that PK he was looking for earlier!
ACH somehow grabs a Stone Cold vest, and he starts to channel Steve with some mudhole stomping! Thesz Press! It’s like I’m watching Raw in 1998, with Stone Cold ACH on top! You know what’s next, but so did Beck… and the Stunner attempt’s blocked as he ended up taking a German suplex instead. A leaping enziguiri follows as ACH broke somewhat out of the Stone Cold act, before a missile dropkick dropped the challenger as Beck seemed to have had enough of the shenanigans.
Nope, ACH flips out of a piledriver and gives Karsten a Stunner for a near-fall! A second stunner gets a similar result as ACH takes off the vest and heads up top… only to get shoved down to the floor instead. Jurn throws ACH back inside, where ACH ate a high-impact Doctor Bomb, before Beck hits the piledriver for the pin. Pretty straightforward stuff, and it was refreshing not to have any interference – despite it being teased with the presence of Karsten’s army. ***
After the match, Beck cuts a promo, but he’s drowned out by the crowd chanting for Kevin. Bless. He looked scared by it all! It seems that Beck was angry with failure, so they take it out on Tyler Bate, with Reich und Schön holding him up as Jurn Simmons wiped him out with a Massive Boot.
wXw World Tag Team Championships/World Tag Team Tournament – Final: reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Big Daddy Walter
The winners go home with the gold, after Prost lost their tag titles by going out back in the first round. reDRagon jump-started the match as a few people in the Steffy looked to call the mega-team the “DRagon Slayers”, and we started with Walter and Kyle fighting through the crowd, as you do.
All four men, in fact, brawled in the crowd as Walter and Kyle threw bombs at each other, before O’Reilly’s running knee knocked Walter out of his seat. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring, Fish and Sabre continued to throw shots as the camera crew focused on them rather than whatever apron bump that Alan saw Walter take. It’s suitably chaotic for the finals!
The camera picks up Fish and Sabre by the merchandise area as it’s left to the giant Jeremy to provide commentary from his vantage point. Alan returns, making me think he’s gotten a piggyback to see things, but we’re quickly back to the ring as finally the bell rings with Walter and Fish trading shots in the ring! Tassilo Jung doesn’t do much to stop Walter from being double-teamed, so it’s up to the Austrian to do it himself with a series of clotheslines.
Sabre’s finally back to get the tag in, and he punts the arm of O’Reilly away, giving Sabre a perfect body part to work down on. We’re getting flashes of a vicious Sabre here, wrenching and stomping on Kyle’s left arm, before literally handing the Canadian to Walter to get some payback. Walter makes this look easy, booting Fish off the apron before rebounding into an Earthquake-esque sit-out splash for a near-fall.
If you didn’t know by now, Walter and Zack are really, really good at this wrestling thing.
Sabre and O’Reilly trade shots, despite Kyle effectively having only one arm, and reDRagon manage to nearly break Sabre in half as a backbreaker/top rope knee put the Brit down for a two-count. Fish enjoyed a good run whilst simultaneously antagonising Walter on the apron… including distracting the referee as Walter made a tag, leading us to an incredibly furious Austrian.
Finally Walter gets the tag in, and he instantly tears into Fish with avalanche clotheslines, only to get double-teamed as O’Reilly grabbed a rear naked choke, only for Walter to clothesline his way to freedom. Fish continues to get punished, eating a release German from Walter, before he needed Kyle to block Walter from flying off the top rope. It didn’t quite work though as Walter shoved him down, before missing a big splash.
Yup, that’d have flattened Fish.
Sabre and O’Reilly return to trade pump kicks, but it’s Kyle who looked to be on top… until his tornado DDT’s countered into a Dragon suplex as Zack hit back. The uppercut/powerbomb combo follows, but somehow Kyle kicked out with no Fish in sight, so Walter just chops away on Kyle as they go for another Doomsday uppercut… but this time Fish returns and takes Walter outside.
Sabre’s left alone to take some strikes and a Regalplex for a near-fall, before O’Reilly dragged him into an arm triangle, which Walter again breaks up. We descend into hard kicks and chops as both teams look to wear the other down, with Kyle and Zack hitting rolling back kicks like they were going out of fashion. They move to slaps and forearms as the pair seamlessly flow between submissions… and then it was time for shenanigans.
Again Bobby Fish slides in a title belt to distract the referee, allowing Kyle to low blow Sabre, following up with Chasing the Dragon a Walter barely makes the save. Walter’s thrown outside, meaning that Zack had to kick out on his own from a double team DDT/wheelbarrow suplex combo. Walter returns to obliterate Fish with a lariat, allowing Sabre to tie Kyle in knots with a double armbar, throwing in heel kicks to force Kyle to submit… and the wXw super team get the belts!
An absolutely superb final here – whilst the opening crowd brawl was take-it-or-leave-it stuff, both teams having dominant spells was enjoyable to watch, as was reDRagon being the clearly-marked bad guys. So often in tournaments like this, there’s a tendency to go for “just a good wrestling match” and completely drop the good/bad character divides. When you mix hard-hitting and that clear distinction… good wrestling tends to come a lot, lot easier! ****½
After the match, Hot & Spicy and Prost came to the ring as Walter gave a speech in German and English, which led to him announcing that (the titles) were “for your dad”, as Sabre and Walter handed Axel Dieter Jr. the tag titles. Right in the feels there. That wasn’t a Ted DiBiase title switch or anything, just a touching moment as we ended with Walter playing air guitar with the belts before doing the Homer Simpson chicken dance on the floor.
This really was a tournament of two halves – night one was fine, but it wasn’t until the second night that things really picked up. Six matches rated **** or above, including that absolute thriller of a singles match between Ilja and Sabre on night two, culminating in a furious final day… yes, this trio of shows may be two years old, but if you have a wXw Now subscription and the time, they’re well worth going back to.