As is quickly becoming tradition, wXw provided everyone with a Christmas present – in the form of their end-of-year Academy show, featuring some influences from Holland and Japan.

We’re inside the wXw academy in Essen for the “season finale”. Commentary’s provided by Andy Jackson, at least for the first part…

Levaniel vs. Rami Romeo
No Cagematch profile, so I’m going in blind on Levaniel (save for a quick Google that tells me he’s German), who looks like someone smashed together Kyle Fletcher and Jaxon Stone. Rami Romeo on the other hand, looks like an extra from those LMFAO videos.

Levaniel powders to the outside, before he gets riled up by Romeo’s gyrating. Rami hits first with a diving forearm, then a clothesline into the corner a la Miz, before we got of all things… a modified Regal Stretch that Rami used as a way to take a selfie, once he’d pilfered a phone from the referee’s back pocket.

After getting free, Levaniel hit back with a discus clothesline for a near-fall, before he put some boots to the Belgian. I’m gonna tune out that heckler in the crowd. A sunset flip out of the corner gets Romeo a near-fall, as Levaniel hit straight back with a neckbreaker for a two-count, before he clubbed away at Romeo some more.

Levaniel looked to go for a Sister Abigail, but Romeo slips out, only to get met with a knee to the gut as he remained in trouble. Chops follow as Romeo was lifted up top… but he headbutts Levaniel away before a missile dropkick found its mark. Another crack at the Sister Abigail’s countered as Romeo hits clotheslines and a lungblower for a near-fall, before a Sliced Bread is caught and turned into the Sister Abigail for the win. This was okay for the level of experience on show, with a couple of rough moments. I don’t “get” the whole “Prince of Stars” gimmick, but there’s plenty of time to flesh that out. **

Dirty Dragan came out next, issuing a challenge to anyone backstage who wants to face him: it’ll be with timed entrances, with only pinfalls leading to eliminations.

Dirty Dragan vs. Andre Cartier vs. Maverick Rennson vs. Danny Sparks vs. Joel Vox
I don’t even know where to begin with Cartier’s ring jacket. There’s so, so much going on…

Cartier didn’t take too kindly to Dragan calling him an idiot, not a series of armdrags and clotheslines as Dragan was all over him early on. He returned with a cobra clutch, but Dragan drops out and catches him with a rolling Prawn hold – and a big handful of tights – for the elimination! Well, only an idiot falls for that, so Dragan’s right!

We wait for the next man out, which turned out to be… two clowns? And a ring leader too, as Maverick Rennson came “from the circus”. Dragan looked to edge ahead, but he misses a Bronco buster in the corner and is made to pay as a neckbreaker gets Rennson a one-count. Rennson looks proud of himself as he chops Dragan in the corners, before he’s interrupted by the music and entrance of Danny Sparks and his nunchucks.

Sparks is announced as the “Black Dragon”, and he’s right into Rennson with chops, knees and a neckbreaker, before Rennson cowered under the ring as Dragan and Sparks threatened to go after him. Referee Markus Weiss even puts his ear to the mat to see if he can find out where Rennson’s gone, but instead they turn their sights onto each other, with Dragan again edging out with a takedown as he displayed his own “Dragan Fu”. Joel Vox enters next as the last man – he’s another guy who looks like a LMFAO extra – and he goes right behind Rennson at ringside, who seems oblivious to what’s going on. Vox posts Rennson and does a Yano shrug, before throwing him into the ring. Rennson begs off… and after taking some right hands, he’s blown down by Dragan!

Rennson goes under the ring again as the other three have a test of strength, only for Andre Cartier to get involved on the apron. Maverick throws Dragan and Vox into each other, then rolls up Sparks with his feet on the ropes for an elimination. He’s quickly made to pay for that as Vox and Dragan combine, with a Dragan neckbreaker and a pile-on eliminating Rennson as commentary seemed to be a little behind the live action.

We’re left with Dragan and Vox, but Cartier gets involved again holding Vox on the apron… only for Dragan to punch him out. Cartier hangs Dragan in the ropes and attacks Vox as for some reason the no-DQ part of this match continued. A back rake from Dragan and a poke in the eye gets Cartier prone for a low blow, and as someone’s flat buzzer goes off, Vox pulls out a low blow of his own as Cartier’s dispatched again.

From there, Vox mounted up some offence with diving forearms, only to take a back suplex as Dragan kept himself in it. A double-arm DDT from Vox gets another near-fall, before a sunset flip gets Dragan ahead as his Fisherman’s suplex earned another near-fall. Vox’s shotgun dropkick puts Dragan in the corner, but another prawn hold and a handful of tights prove to be enough as Dragan wins his own gauntlet. A fun little ga-ga match that certainly took my mind off of things. Cheers lads. **½

Shigehiro Irie vs. Vinny Vortex
Fans with a keener memory may remember Vinnie Vortex as part of Die Schilds back in the day – Bobby Gunns’ brother is making a comeback after a long time out with injury, and he’s got quite the test here.

Alan Counihan takes over the commentary here… maybe he was at Andy’s flat? Vortex tries to knock down Irie with shoulder tackles early, but the former KO-D champion scored with his instead. Vortex responds with a shoulder tackle of his own, before he’s taken into the corner for a body splash from Irie, who then followed with a sitdown splash for a two-count.

Irie’s caught with a Dragon screw as was going through the ropes, before a suplex brought him in the hard way ahead of a sliding lariat as Vinny got a near-fall. A Stretch Muffler’s next for Vortex, as he tried to keep Irie away from the ropes, but to little avail. A snapmare and some chops to the back are next for the former DDT star, who ate a falling headbutt for a near-fall, before responding with a snap suplex.

Vortex hits one of his own, before clubbering lariats took both men down. Forearms are next as the pair gave as good as they got, until Irie hits a headbutt and ran into a clothesline as commentary somehow fell behind the live video. A death valley driver’s next out of Irie, taking Vortex into the corner for a cannonball for a near-fall! One Beast Bomber clothesline later, and that’s the win for Irie, who had to overcome a little resistance in what was overall a dominant debut for him. He’s in Europe for a little while, so I hope this is the shape of things to come for Irie! ***¼

Up next was another debut, and the open challenge from Tokyo Joshi Pro’s Yuu.

Yuu vs. Young Money Chong
The open challenge was answered by Young Money Chong, whom I’ve missed seeing. He’s been away from the main roster for over a year now, as I get memories of his pairing with Dirty Dragan from 2017…

Chong jumped the line and wanted a kiss before his match… she just chops him as the match gets going. A series of shoulder charges keeps Chong down, as does a slam, but he’s barely held down for a one-count before replying with a cross chop to the throat. Yuu’s back with a spinning sidewalk slam and a back senton for a near-fall, before Chong chop blocked out her leg. A back drop suplex from Chong’s good for a near-fall, as he keeps up with a chinlock. Yuu ends up taking a neckbreaker, then a body slam, before Chong misses a legdrop off the middle rope. Yuu responds with a shotgun dropkick, then a diving elbow into the corner, before a stunner and a clothesline swung the match back in Chong’s favour as he picked up a two-count.

Chong looked for a low blow, but that doesn’t work, and he’s quickly caught in a Katahajime as Yuu picked up a decisive win. Way too short for my tastes, but commentary pointed out that they were clearly building to Yuu challenging for the women’s title down the line. **½

Winchester vs. Prince Ahura
Ahura, along with his tag team partner, were originally slated for a wXw tag title match, but Maggot missed out… so we have this singles match instead.

Andy Jackson’s back for commentary here, which started with Ahura getting taken into the corner from a dropkick as Winchester looked to start strong… but he’s quickly taken outside as Ahura faked out a dive. Winchester’s back with a slingshot sunset flip, but Ahura comes back stronger with a chop as the pair went from corner to corner.

They’re back outside next as a tope from Winchester finds its mark, but Ahura rolls away as Winchester looked for a moonsault… only for him to flip anyway as he lands in some headscissors to take Ahura into the ropes. Things go awry there as he’s tripped into the ropes for a head kick as Ahura began to chain together some offence.

A Boston crab from Ahura quickly ends in the ropes, as Ahura continued his rather methodical offence, working up into a uranage backbreaker and a pump kick. A second uranage backbreaker’s chained into a Flatliner for a near-fall, as he looked to focus on the lower back of Winchester, throwing some solid forearms there. Winchester counters that series of forearms with a handspring forearm into Ahura, before a gamengiri and a springboarded DDT through the ropes left Ahura down. Things aren’t helped when Ahura leaps into a cutter ahead of a beautiful corkscrew moonsault that almost got the win, with Ahura saved only by his index finger touching the ropes.

Ahura rolls to the outside as we get a little crowd brawling, with Ahura edging ahead as he charged Winchester back-first into a locker. Somehow, he overcomes that and goes up top… but gets pulled off down to the mat before some axe kicks and stomps to the kidneys forced the referee to wave off the match. This was a bit of a weird one, Ahura’s offence was a little too slow paced for my liking, while it made sense, but there was just something about this match that didn’t click. **½

wXw World Tag Team Championship: Julian Pace & Norman Harras vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) (c)
Originally meant to be the Pretty Bastards against Jay-FK, the reshuffled card meant that we got a makeshift pair of challengers in Julian Pace and Norman Harras. Hey, at least it was sort-of following the main roster storyline, hanging off the back of what happened in Cologne’s Road to 18th Anniversary show.

Pace and Kaspin start us off, with a tie-up seeing Kaspin getting taken into the corner. A slap from Kaspin delays Pace from going Vollgas, as he quickly hit the ropes for that eventual dropkick, before Jay Skillet came in and took a legdrop/standing shooting star press from the Academy team.

Harras followed that up with a stalling suplex, dropping Skillet for a two-count, before Jay-FK attempted to play the numbers game, eventually getting ahead when Harras got tripped into the ropes as the tag champions began to put the boots to him, as they looked to isolate him from a tag out. Fairly frequent tags keep Harras in there, as Skillet rams a knee into the trainee’s ribs, before the champions combined to hurl Harras into the corner.

Eventually Harras gets a back suplex in, but Francis Kaspin distracts the referee as Julian Pace’s tag in didn’t count. Rather than Harras tag again, he turns around into a big boot from Skillet, as that buzzer goes again, prompting Harras to land a shoulder block as finally Pace gets the tag in! Pace unloads with some snappy forearms, then a tornado DDT out of the corner before a tope con giro saw him crash into the tag champions on the outside! Harras stays in the ring as Kaspin looked to take Norman’s version of a RINGKAMPF German, but Skillet breaks it up as Pace ends up taking a snap German suplex. Harras has one of his own for Kaspin as the match went a little eggy, with Pace’s double-jump moonsault only being broken up by a flying stomp off the top rope. A big lariat from Harras folds Skillet in half as all four men were left laying.

After getting back to his feet, Harras flapjacks Kaspin ahead of a Code Red from Pace that almost led to the unlikeliest of title changes, but another double-team backfires as Jay-FK quickly took down Harras with a neckbreaker/splash. A superkick-assisted death valley driver followed, but Pace kicks out at two, before a flatliner/back cracker combo proved to be enough to get the win. That’s very curious that Jay-FK got the pin over Pace rather than someone who’s not graduated from the Academy, but it was a fitting end to a match that never clicked into a higher gear. ***

For an end-of-year special, this show didn’t feature any “graduation” like we saw with Julian Pace last year, nor did we see much from the main roster, save for Jay-FK in the main event. Indeed, some Academy regulars like Timo Theiss and Benjamin van Es were missing too, but on the whole this was an “okay” show, with only the Irie match being one to go out of your way for.