A look at the first half of wXw’s trip to Paris, as they partnered with APC to get 2020 underway!
The centrepiece of the double-header was a tournament for the Fight for Paris trophy, featuring four wXw wrestlers and four APC wrestlers. Unfortunately, an injury in the opener to Tristan Archer meant that – while he was able to finish (and win) the match – the contest was edited off of the VOD, with commentary telling us that the match was cut out of respect for both men. When we get going, we’re inside Studio Jenny in Paris, with Celian Varini as our ring announcer. There’s a throwback for those of you who were on the F4W board back in the day! English commentary comes from Sebastian Hollmichel and Andy Jackson.
Fight For Paris Quarter Final: Jay Skillet vs. Aigle Blanc
We’ve got overdubs for the APC guys, and with the crowd having already seen Tristan Archer defending his APC title in his quarter-final, they were understandably wanting to see Jay Skillet reciprocate. He did not.
Aigle starts off by going for Skillet’s arm, but the hammerlock ends in the ropes, before Skillet had to block a waistlock, which he did by going back to the ropes. Skillet couldn’t get to the ropes when Aigle went for the leg, but was able to counter out with headscissors before he cowered to the outside at the mere threat of being punched. Back inside, a headlock keeps Skillet grounded, before he stepped back to avoid a low dropkick… only to get caught with a Capoeira kick. Aigle’s agility has Skillet in trouble, as the Shotgun champ went into the turnbuckles ahead of a springboard armdrag takedown… but Skillet finds a way back in as he tripped Aigle into the ropes, then put the boots to him.
Skillet grounds Blanc with an armbar, then followed up with boots and a roll-through out of the corner for a near-fall. A clothesline gets Skillet a similar result, before Aigle looked to respond, going back to the ropes for a rope-walk dropkick… taking Skillet outside for a nice tope con giro. Back inside, a springboard Meteora to the back of the head’s good for a near-fall, before AIgle rolled through a 450 splash… and began to trade kicks. A superkick from Skillet doesn’t save him from a Dragon suplex, but he is able to reply with a clothesline and an.. A5? That spot of Absolute Andy-trolling doesn’t win the match, nor did a sheer drop brainbuster, so Skillet goes for his Shotgun title… which was just a fake-out for Skillet to kick Blanc low. Except Studio Jenny has mirrors, so Tass saw it, and there’s your DQ. I’m always a mark for not making your refs look stupid in finishes, and this was a wonderful use of the environment. A good match underneath it too, with Aigle looking good flying around Skillet. ***¼
An extended trailer for wXw Classics airs, featuring Absolute Andy with Hair…
Avalanche vs. A-Buck vs. Julian Pace
Non-tournament action here, and A-Buck’s apparently back after briefly retiring a year or so ago. Extra points for all the “nee-ows” from the Paris crowd for Julian Pace, by the way…
Pace starts us off by chopping A-Buck into the corner, before he got a lift from Avalanche, popping him up into a Stinger splash on A-Buck. A dropkick takes Avalanche down, but Buck’s back with a shoulder tackle as we had the two bigger men locking horns. We get shoulder tackles as neither man budged until Avalanche charged Buck out of the ring. There’s some clubbering forearms as Avalanche took A-Buck into the ring apron, before Julian Pace hit a plancha into the pair of them. Man, that ringside area looks cramped…
The ropes go click-clack as Pace slid around the ring, before catching A-Buck with a big boot in the corner… but he’s met with an uppercut to knock him onto the apron, then got booted into Avalanche on the apron. Timely. A-Buck tries to capitalise, but he spends too long playing to the crowd… although he’s able to catch Avalanche with a spinebuster, then counter a crossbody from Pace into a Flatliner for a near-fall. Shoulder charges from A-Buck take Avalanche into the corner, only for Avalanche to strike back. Pace does too, with a crossbody and a standing shooting star press as he pushed on, only to get caught with a weird full nelson bomb that dropped Pace onto a doubled-over Avalanche. Back-and-forth strikes follow between the two big lads, before Pace snuck in with a Final Lap for a near-fall as A-Buck breaks it up.
A superkick from Pace has A-Buck spilling outside, and that’s bad news for him as Avalanche took Pace into the corner for a splash, following up with a fallaway slam and a Dreissker Bomb for the win. A pretty decent three-way, and one that probably wouldn’t have worked in this format had it been a “X vs. Y” show… ***
wXw Women’s Championship: Calypso vs. Amale (c)
According to Cagematch, this was Calypso’s debut on an APC-branded show, while Amale got a fairly positive response on her return to France… and some NXT chants too?
We open with Amale taking Calypso into the corner, but the youngster’s quickly back with a low dropkick and a springboard stomp to Amale, taking the champion outside. Commentary’s mentioning the incident with Melanie Gray at the 19th anniversary show as Calypso’s apron cartwheel turned into her getting swept onto the apron, before a big knee lift in the ropes saw Amale legitimately knock out a tooth. Amale keeps up with kicks before she had Calypso hanging upside down by the apron, before chops in the front row which get returned. Calypso keeps checking her mouth, but there’s no obvious blood despite having a tooth knocked out. She tosses Amale into the crowd, but the champion’s back on top as they get back to the ring.
Another knee hits Calypso, this time not removing another tooth, on the way to a near-fall. A back elbow in the corner stops Amale on the way to an armdrag, then a handspring back elbow as Calypso looked to push for an upset… with a low dropkick getting her a near-fall. More forearms from Calypso end with another knee to the gut from Amale, then a discus forearm and a shotgun dropkick. A face-washing boot nearly put Calypso’s face in the front row en route to a near-fall, before a stunner almost ended the match, with the nearest of near-falls. From there, Amale goes for a Champion’s Maker, but gets rolled up for a near-fall before a leg trip took Amale back down… in the end, Amale pulls Calypso out of the corner for a hard landing, then got the win with the Champion’s Maker. Given the relative inexperience on hand, this was fine – I was massively impressed with how Calypso kept things on track despite losing a tooth. Even more so that there was no blood. Is Amale the real wrestling dentist? **¾
Calypso got her tooth back after the match, she’s not done as Marie-Anna represents her with a t-shirt, I guess out of acceptance? Well, she attacks Calypso anyway, and I guess that what you get for losing on your debut.
Fight For Paris Quarter Final: Marius Al-Ani vs. Dick Riviere
This was Marius’ return to wXw after he’d been suspended for the latter part of 2019… and this is a weird one. Al-Ani – the “Bodeh” – against Riviere, whose gimmick seems to be that he’s got his own line of fitness supplements…
Andy Jackson’s always loathe to swear on commentary, much like Jeremy Graves was back in the day. So the sharp intake of breath when he realises the crowd like to call Riviere “Dick” was certainly a thing! Al-Ani’s far from impressed at Dick’s body, so he shoves him down… then shook his head as Riviere did one-armed push-ups. I thought he’d have appreciated that, not slammed him for it… Dick’s in with a side headlock, but ran into shoulder tackles before some swinging headscissors took al-Ani to the outside. Marius is quickly back to clothesline away Riviere’s dive, before he put the brakes on a fireman’s’ carry attempt, instead pulling Dick into an armbar. A chinlock has Dick get very sweary as he tries to fight free, only to get taken into the corner again as al-Ani was making this look easy.
A suplex drops Dick for a two-count, before a sunset flip was blocked as Marius instead went for a running powerslam that barely got a one-count. Dick still has fight left in him though, low bridging Marius to the outside before a plancha’s caught… Marius just throws him back inside, then celebrates as Dick moonsaults onto the former Shotgun champion! He keeps going with a missile dropkick, before he went for his fitness supplement… taking a taste of it that allowed him to haul up al-Ani for a Samoan drop for a near-fall. In the end though, al-Ani clocks Dick with a spinning heel kick before a death valley driver put him away. In truth, this was massively one-sided for al-Ani, who dominated on his return to wXw. ***
Fight For Paris Quarter Final: Christianium Le Surrealiste vs. David Starr
Christianium gets “welcome home” chants, but that’s all overshadowed when David Starr came out in a political one-two of an outfit: a Bernie Sanders tee, and a yellow vest. The Parisian crowd seemed to dig the gilet jaune… along with Celian’s fully-French translation of David’s nicknames.
We start with a lock-up as Starr looked to trap Christianium in something akin to a butterfly hold, before letting go for a wristlock that quickly ended in the ropes. Commentary mentions how Starr “could never beat the great white whale, Walter”, which is something I’d definitely never say to his face… or in passing! Meanwhile, Starr and Christianium have a good scramble on the mat, going hold-for-hold as a Superman-press from Christianium caught the ref out of position before Starr got caught in a leg spreader. Going upside down helped Starr turn it around as the pair were entwined in each other’s legs, then went back upside down to try and slap themselves free… which worked. Starr’s back with a seated surfboard a la Liger, but Christianium breaks it by biting the rope, before he got caught with an arm wringer.
Christianium gets free and dropkicks Starr to the outside, then threatened to follow up with a dive, only for Starr to squirm free as the American ended up taking a low dropkick for barely a one-count. A standing elbow drop from Christianium gets a cover going, only for him to get caught moments later with a Pretty Pumped. A stomp to the elbow gets Starr a little further ahead – and has the crowd on his back – before he chopped Christianium into the corner. Starr bridges back while trapping Christianium’s leg, then rolled into a Muta lock that ended in the ropes as Starr conveniently needed the ref’s help to get himself free.
Christianium is back with some clotheslines before Starr tripped him up on the way to taking a pop-up knee, and a nice hiptoss/cutter for a near-fall. A cartwheel into a hard back elbow has Starr back in, as does a baseball slide dropkick to take Christianium outside, only for Christianium to reply with a gamengiri to get himself back inside. Albeit with a little help from Starr, whose belly-to-belly superplex gets a near-fall. A Blackheart Buster stops Christianium for a near-fall, but he’s quickly back in as he dumps Starr into the corner with a German suplex. They both get back to their feet as Starr and Christianium exchanged shots, leading to a superkick and a lungblower from Starr… then a shotgun dropkick as he built up a head of steam. Christianium responds with a sweet back suplex into a back cracker for a near-fall, before he went up top and got distracted by A-Buck. It’s a feud in APC, which commentary tried to drop in here… Christianium leaps onto A-Buck on the floor, but gets caught with a Product Recall in the ropes by Starr.
On the outside, a tope from Starr followed, before a Han Stansen was countered into a backslide. Starr kicks out, but rebounds from a superkick into a Han Stansen as both men were looking to push the match over the line… until another Han Stansen wiped out Christianium for the win. A really fun quarter-final here, with Christianium more than hanging in there against Starr. ***¾
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Montero’Salem (Rick Salem & Thiago Montero) vs. Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura) (c)
Our main event on night one is for the wXw tag team championships, as the former APC tag champions look for new gold. Thiago Montero’s out with LED glasses and a white hoodie, while Rick Salem loves his crystal ball.
We eventually get going with Maggot looking unimpressed at Salem’s crystal ball – something that apparently helped him predict the future. They go for German suplexes, but Maggot elbows away before his floatover was caught by Salem, who ended up having to let go as Maggot clung to the rope. Some headscissors from Salem take Maggot down, as did a pancake, as the challengers were providing an early scare… until Prince Ahura took Salem’s crystal ball hostage. The distraction works as Maggot attacked from behind, before tags brought in Ahura and Montero. A waistlock from Ahura ends in the corner as Montero went for a mocking chop, patting Ahura on the chest… and of course, the like-for-like response really wasn’t like-for-like.A kick from Ahura is ducked as Montero rolls him up for a two-count, before returning with a snapmare and another slap to the head.
Ahura tried to make a comeback, but he’s caught in a headlock before he hit a nice step-up stomp onto a doubled-over Montero. A poke to the eye’s next, before some trash talking from Ahura really wound up Salem, and the crowd! In the meantime, Ahura missed a charge into an upside down Montero, who responds with a roll-up for a near-fall before he played the circle game… and dragged Ahura into a headlock. Montero goes all Rocky Romero on us, hanging himself in the ropes before Ahura did the same thing. Given how loose those ropes looked, those are no mean feats! Ahura gets cocky though and gets dropkicked to the outside as things got wild, with the Bastards getting taken outside as the challengers hit a springboard trust fall and a crossbody too. Back inside, a dropkick nearly puts Ahura away, before Maggot pulled Salem outside and posted him as the Bastards looked to create another distraction.
Montero’s wise to it this time, but Salem then provides an inadvertent distraction. At least until Ahura unceremoniously booted him to the floor. A baseball slide took Montero outside, but a baseball slide dropkick from Ahura has him in the front row as things began to break down for this poor ref. A clothesline from Maggot drops Montero for a near-fall, before he went for a grounded sleeperhold as Montero was kept firmly in the Bastards’ “half” of the ring. Ahura’s in to DDT the leg, while Salem again lost composure at the Bastards’ double-teaming. There’s a 619 that sees Ahura damn near punt Montero in the ropes on the way to a near-fall, but Ahura then starts to get cocky.
Ahura sidesteps an uppercut from Montero, but can’t avoid an elbow as Rick Salem finally got the tag back in. Maggot’s back too, but he runs into uppercuts as Salem was a house afire, looking to put Maggot away with a Gory stretch… but Maggot gets a foot free and that’s apparently enough for Ahura to tag in. Don’t tell JR. Ahura breaks up the hold, but took too long on a head kick as Salem ducks… before Maggot’s interference ended at the hands of an uppercut from Montero. All four men are in the ring as Salem hits a lungblower to take Ahura into the corner… before a Maggot spear has Salem down to keep the Parade of Moves alive. More European uppercuts give the challengers hope, as Salem hits a big splash onto Ahura for a near-fall, but the Bastards quickly turn it back in their favour with an Alley Oop to send Montero into a knee strike, before Ahura landed some kicks.
A double-team neckbreaker/powerslam combo nearly led to a title change as both teams were swinging for the fences, although Maggot looked to be out on his feet, but it’s a ruse as he grabs a title belt… while Ahura did the same. With the referee distracted, Maggot lays out Salem with the belt. Montero superkicks Maggot and has the belt fall into his hands, but the ref disarms Montero as the ref missed a low blow – not as wise to it as Tas earlier, clearly – before the Red Light Drive put away Montero. A decent match that did threaten to break apart at points, but this was a hard-fought defence for the Bastards to close out the show. ***¼
Unusually for a weekend double-header, the first night of Fight For Paris didn’t feel lacklustre – with pretty much every match on the show delivering to some extent. David Starr vs. Christianium Le Surrealiste was arguably the match of the night, while the rest of the APC contingent more than held their own against much more established names (in my eyes, anyway). This is two tie-ins for APC with other European promotions in the last six months, having worked with PROGRESS in the summer of 2019… and perhaps that wider exposure may lead to some fresh eyes on them in the year ahead?