Middle Saturday of the 2015 World Tag Team Tournament was a belter alright – and that’s before we even mention the tournament matches!

Like with night one, we get the “in memory of” graphic for Axel Dieter, before we’re thrown back into the Steffy in Oberhausen. Alan and Jeremy are on English commentary once again.

World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Calamari Catch Kings (Jonathan Gresham & Chris Brookes) vs. Die Schilds (Bobby Gunns & Vincent The Beast)
Before he had a wolf, or a buzzsaw as partner, this was the first form of CCK for Chris Brookes, and it’s Chris who’s jumped by the Schilds, with the pair landing some good double-teams as they looked to end this early.

A blind tag brings in Gresham for a release German suplex to Bobby, then a dropkick as CCK took over, allowing Brookes to score a near-fall from a Gedo clutch after holding Gunns in a camel clutch for a Gresham dropkick. I know, but it’s too soon for the wet willies…

Gunns is left vulnerable as he ate an enziguiri from Gresham, whose half crab forces him into a rope break, but things switched around when Brookes missed a charge into the corner, then took a clothesline from Vinny on the apron. Brookes gets caught in an Indian Deathlock, despite Bobby’s Rick Rude impressions, but Vinny ends up wasting time with the crowd, allowing Brookes to mount a comeback of sorts.

Ah well, until Vinny clotheslined him down.

Gunns lights up in the middle of the match ahead of an armbreaker, before blowing smoke at Gresham. Where’d Hot Rod with the fire extinguisher? Die Schilds do a solid job of wearing down Brookes, who eventually fires back… and gets a headbutt for his troubles. A missile dropkick gets Brookes free to tag in Gresham to clear house for the briefest of moments, before bringing down Gunns with La Mistica.

A second attempt leads to an Octopus stretch, which Vinny instantly breaks up. A quebrada from Gresham, then a sliding lariat nearly puts Bobby away after the ring had filled, and we end up with some tag moves from CCK, with a Michinoku Driver from Brookes and a shooting star press from Gresham being enough to put CCK into the quarters! Enjoyable stuff, and a very OCD-pleasing time of 11:11 too! Brookes was still a little raw here, but the seeds are there for what CCK would become. ***

World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Cerberus (Julian Nero & Robert Dreissker) vs. Prost (Toby Blunt & Mike Schwarz)
Prost came into the tournament as tag team champions, having beaten French Flavour at Shortcut to the Top in June after the screwy weekend those belts had at Superstars of Wrestling. They vacated the belts for the tournament, unlike the World Tag Team Leagues, where the champions held the belts until their elimination.

Schwarz and Nero start off as commentary tells us that Prost willingly put the belts up in the tournament. Fair enough. It looked to be a good idea at first when Schwarz easily dropped Nero with a sidewalk slam, before a variant of the Demolition legdrop gets Prost a near-fall. A wheelbarrow splash that dumped Blunt onto Nero gets another two-count, as does a slingshot small package, before Nero made Blunt run into the top rope as the Avalanche Dreissker tags in to throw around Toby. Cerberus make light work of Blunt, keeping him down on the mat as Mike Schwarz got so worked up he inadvertently kept the referee tied up.

Dreissker comedically bounced away a crossbody from Blunt, before Schwarz finally tagged in to clear house on Dreissker and Nero. Cerberus quickly swing things around as Nero knocks Schwarz down with a knee before Nero grabs a long-sleeved glove… he swings and misses with it as Schwarz pulled him into a Bossman slam, as Blunt lands his crossbody for a near-fall. Eventually, Nero grabs a Tongan death grip with that gloved hand, and that’s enough to drag Blunt down for the pin. A weird ending, at least from someone new to this form of Cerberus, but it sure made Prost look silly, putting the belts up only to go out in the first round. They’d last two more months as a team before going their separate ways. **¾

wXw Shotgun Championship: Sasa Keel vs. Kim Ray (c)
After beating Player Uno yesterday to retain the DTU Alto Impacto title, Kim Ray had a short night’s work here when his Shotgun title was on the line. It seemed there was a feud here between Ray and Keel, and Keel went straight for Ray at the bell, charging into him with shoulders in the corner before Ivanov – Ray’s hitherto un-announced manager – came in and whacked Keel with the title belt for a DQ.

The crowd hated this. Thirty seconds and a cheap finish. I’d call it a dud, but this was clearly storyline stuff to make the crowd loathe Ray even more. It’s working. At least he crowd got to cheer Sasa killing Ivanov with suplexes…

World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: ACH & Tommaso Ciampa vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
All the football-style chants lead us in here, as the crowd wanted music for reDRagon to go all Rick Rude on us with hip swivels. The music was not forthcoming, sadly, but at least ACH did the Carlton.

When we got going, there was a lot of teases, with Ciampa getting a lot out of barely anything before putting the brakes on a series of takedowns as he swung and missed a kick. ACH seems to be over caffeinated, or just really eager to wrestle in wXw, and that he does as Ciampa and ACH flip around Fish in the early going. Well, ACH flipped, Ciampa just trolls with a rear chinlock.

ACH goes all MVP with a Ballin’ elbow early, before tagging out as soon as Fish went for a submission. This ACH/Ciampa tandem feels like a pre-alpha version of the Troll Boyz, with Ciampa teasing big stuff but delivering headlocks, and the crowd were eating this up. Eventually Kyle O’Reilly gets fed up and traps ACH in the ropes with an armbar, and that’s where the tide turned for the then-IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champions, who started to sneak in some more unsavoury tactics into their playbook.

ACH found himself isolated as Fish threw forearms, but finally found himself back in it with a double-team move that dropped Fish and O’Reilly with a Stunner/Flatliner at the same time. In comes Ciampa with a hot tag, but his brief chopfest turns into a massive knee to Fish as Kyle eats an elevated flatliner for a near-fall. A kick-assisted Air Raid Crash drops O’Reilly for a near-fall as reDRagon were fighting to stay alive in the tournament, but ultimately they fire back with a backbreaker/kneedrop combo that needed ACH to break the cover on.

Another fightback from ACH leads to him chopping down O’Reilly, but a double stomp misses as Fish throws him into the turnbuckles with an Exploder, sparking some back-and-forth strikes until a Project Ciampa was turned into a front guillotine by O’Reilly… and ACH flies in from the far corner with a double stomp to break it up! What in the world?!

A snapped German suplex nearly wins it for ACH, but O’Reilly kicks away the cover as reDRagon resurge with suplexes, quickly pushing their way into Chasing the Dragon as the superkick-assisted brainbuster gets Kyle the win. This was awesome stuff, fluid sequences and a little bit of something for everyone as reDRagon head to the quarter finals. ****

World Tag Team Tournament – First Round: Super Smash Brothers (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) vs. Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante)
Despite being Player Uno and Player Dos last night, the Super Smash Brothers went by their newer names here, and were instantly on the back foot as Grayson flipped around for a Dante shoulder tackle.

Grayson returns as the SSB take down End before Grayson’s tope con hilo to the outside wiped out Dante, leaving Uno free to trap Tommy in a Sharpshooter as our frantic opening spell calmed down. The Smash Brothers hit the Demolition legdrop/backbreaker combo as End was having a hard time of things, absorbing chops before a fistdrop/standing moonsault combo got the visitors a near-fall.

It’s almost like the Smash Brothers were trying to end things early before the Death Squad were able to start throwing bombs, and it was quite a while before the Dutchmen were able to even think about getting in their first bit of offence from Dante’s early shoulder tackle. It needed Grayson to miss a charge to the outside as End and Dante blasted into Uno, before a slingshot back suplex sent Stu flying to the outside.

Uno gets his head taken off with a diving kick from End, and now it’s the SDS who are in charge, with Dante wiping out Uno with a forearm after he’d been spat on. Yeah, that’s never a good idea, least of all when you’re against a tandem that will quite happily kick your face off. A whole load of receipts were being thrown back to the Smash Brothers here, and although Uno was trying to fight back, simple boots to the head from Tommy End quickly stopped that.

Out of nowhere, a DDT/Flatliner combo got Uno some breathing room as he brought Grayson back in for a High Fly Flow, then a tornado DDT as he was a proverbial house on fire, sending End outside with a clothesline. After a period of uncertainty, the SSB double-team End, with a belly-to-belly into the corner before a 450 splash.cannonball combo nearly gets them into the quarter-finals…

The SSB looked to go for the finish, but Dante’d had enough of their crap, pouncing Grayson away before spearing Uno to the outside… Stu tries to fight back, only for Tommy End to return with a series of kicks before a pop-up slam gets the Sumerian Death Squad the win! A little on the short side, but as someone totally unfamiliar with the Smash Brothers, this was sublime. From their opening sprint, to the SDS handing them their arses, and all the way to the end… this was a brutal tag team sprint. ****

Tyler Bate vs. The Rotation vs. Da Mack vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger
The cool-down before the quarter-finals saw Bad Bones immediately make a beeline for Tyler Bate as our four-way quickly spilled outside… whilst Mack and Rotation went so fast that commentary had a hard time keeping up.

After landing a springboard ‘rana, Rotation came face-to-face with Tyler Bate and his headlock of doom, before a missile dropkick from Bones put Bate down on the outside… in prime place for a dive! Except Bate returns with a headbutt as Mack decided he’d start flying, taking down Bones with the springboard enziguiri. Slice of Heaven, anyone?

The crowd start chanting for Kevin – that being Kevin Roadster, who was ringside with Marius van Beethoven, supporting Tyler Bate. He did nothing as Bones lit up the Rotation with chops, before flipping Rotation over in a back body drop. Tyler comes back with an airplane spin to Bones, then again to Da Mack, this time with a giant swing to the Rotation all at once.

Mack comes back with a triple jump flip senton to Bate, before the happy-clappy kicks to the back of Bate just suckered Mack into a slingshot spear from Bones. Yup, it’s a parade of moves! Kevin and Marius try to interfere when Bate’s on the back foot… but they catch a plancha from Rotation, only for Bones to spear them to the outside. That leaves Mack alone in the ring, as an Ace crusher drops Bate for the win! Fast, furious and pretty swift – yeah, a bit spotty at times, but this was a fun popcorn match to give us all a breather from the tag team goodness. ***

Ilja Dragunov vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Just imagine this match in 2017… Dragunov was still flag-waving here, but he’d swapped the Soviet flag for that of Cerberus, and we were promised hard hitting. Well, we started with tie-ups, but there was an air of nastiness around it all. A nastiness that intensified when Ilja refused a clean break in the corner and instead threw chops.

Gunshot-like chops and uppercuts ring around the Steffy, before a running kick to the chest puts down Ilja… only for him to pop up for more of the same. A series of kicks to the thigh drop Ilja, allowing him to tie him up in reverse Indian deathlock. After releasing it, Sabre runs into a huge elbow as Ilja turns it around, dropping Sabre for a back senton that gets a near-fall.

Sabre fights free of a neck crank as we went back to the strikes, ending with Sabre sweeping the leg to send Dragunov tumbling, and it’s all Zack from there, blasting Ilja with a trio of uppercuts into the corner, only to take a high-angle back suplex that almost ended badly. Regardless, Sabre hits back with a bridging German as the pair moved away from leathering each other and towards winning the match.

Dragunov drops an F-bomb as he asked Zack to hit him. Which he did. Thunderous shots from Sabre led to reprisals, before Ilja’s attempt at a pumphandle suplex led to a nasty head drop. A uranage follows, but Sabre somehow rolled up a shoulder, before a PK kept the near-falls coming, this time in favour of Sabre. More chops and slaps ring out between the pair, before Ilja snuck in a Torpedo Moscau for the pin! This was fantastic stuff – all the hard hitting we’d been promised and then some. I’d be curious to see how this match would differ in 2017 – would they keep it hard hitting, or would they try and be technical? Either way, this is a really hidden gem of a match in the wXw archives that you owe it to yourself to seek out! ****¼

World Tag Team Tournament – Quarter-Final: Cerberus (Julian Nero & Robert Dreissker) vs. Calamari Catch Kings (Jonathan Gresham & Chris Brookes)
How on earth do you follow that?! Well, a tournament quarter-final is what we got, as Julian Nero of Cerberus started working over Chris Brookes, who flew in with a ‘rana as CCK took over early.

Gresham struggles to whip Nero off the ropes, so he just throws in a chop before he’s kneed to the mat. The Avalanche comes in, and Gresham struggles against Dreissker. I think it might be the size difference… a knee to the gut sent Gresham flying, but he’s able to roll away from a big splash and tag in Chris Brookes.

Brookes tries chops and uppercuts, but he’s easily shoved into the wrong corner as Cerberus double-teams Brookes with no remorse. Dreissker’s big elbow drop gets him a near-fall, as does a Samoan drop, but Brookes begins the fight back, chopping away at Nero. Cerberus quickly regained the upper hand though, until Brookes low bridges Nero to the outside, which finally allowed him to tag in Gresham.

Dreissker eats a load of forearms from Gresham, who’s instantly cut-off with a knee as Cerberus try the double-team again. Nero falls down as Gresham tried to hand his boot to Dreissker, and ended up taking a running Yakuza kick from Brookes. Pretty quickly afterwards, the match spilled to the outside as all four men brawled in the crowd… Whilst Nero and Dreissker were busy dragging Brookes onto the stage for a glove-assisted Tongan Death Grip, Gresham just calmly went back into the ring… and since he was the legal man, he beat the count-out, and so CCK go to the semi-finals!

Well, Gresham was more focused on winning than caring about his partner, since he celebrated with the crowd before going up to to check on him as Cerberus looked on in shock. A bit of a weird way to go out, but if Cerberus were unruly/untamed beasts, then this was at least a believable exit in terms of their characters. ***¼

World Tag Team Tournament – Quarter-Final: reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante)
How about this for your main event? Everyone starts out hot, with Dante taking an early barrage of kicks from reDRagon, who were having fun on their hoped path to the semi-finals.

Fish and End square off, with Fish having the upper hand in the opening stages, isolating the Dutchman as Kyle O’Reilly came in to wear down on the legs. Well, if End can’t kick, that’s a lot of his offence taken away… eventually the SDS come back, with a hiptoss/kick combo allowing Dante to get a near-fall on Fish.

Fish stayed in there for a while as Dante kept throwing forearms at him, before End hit a double stomp to keep Fish down on the mat. reDRagon found themselves in trouble, with End unleashing a variety of strikes, culminating in a boot that may have gone through Fish’s face. Kyle’s knocked off the ring apron as the SDS looked to go for their pop-up slam, but Fish evades it, hits a Samoan drop and finally gets the tag in to O’Reilly!

A double missile dropkick gets the SDS on the defensive as O’Reilly kicks and sweeps the leg, only for Dante to try and hit back… only for his sunset flip to earn him a swift armbar. With Fish down and out, Kyle’s having to fight off two men at the same time, but Fish is able to return for the backbreaker/knee drop as reDRagon burst back into life.

End squirms out of Chasing the Dragon and throws in some shots of his own, before Fish makes the save from a pop-up slam! O’Reilly thought he was able to capitalise, but he’s quickly caught in a wheelbarrow by Dante as End flipped off the top rope with a Diamond Dust for a near-fall, but an attempt at a powerbomb onto the knees of End almost goes wrong as reDRagon turn it into a pair of submissions… nevermind, Dante frees himself and powerbombed O’Reilly onto Fish anyway.

Fish and Dante decide to throw bombs at each other, but Dante laughs it off and strikes Fish with a forearm before an attempt at the Fish Hook knee-bar led to End and O’Reilly throwing stomps at their opponents. All whilst Fish kept the hold on. My word! Eventually the hold’s released as we go to clothesline country. An elevated double-arm DDT into a German suplex gets rid of End, and it’s just a matter of time as Dante takes the tornado DDT, rolled into Chasing the Dragon… and reDRagon are in the semis! Wonderful stuff here to cap off night two – all the kicks, all the forearms, and a brutal contest that kept the train of hot matches going. ***¾

After the match, Tommy End bemoaned how his Sunday night was suddenly free – then threw out a challenge to AJ Styles. I’m guessing there’s something I’m missing here in the storylines…

The “middle Saturday” of the World Tag Team Tournament was nothing short of exquisite. One of those shows where nothing fell flat, and we had a lot of stuff that delivered. Even if tag team wrestling isn’t your thing, this show is worth a watch, especially that Zack/Ilja match. A hidden gem if I ever saw one!