Date: January 19, 2019
Location: Turbinehalle 2, Oberhausen, Germany
- Bobby Gunns def. Shigehiro Irie [****]
- Avalance vs. Jurn Simmons went to a double count out [**3/4]
- Jay FK def. Veit Muller & WALTER [***1/2]
- David Starr def. Timothy Thatcher [***1/4]
- Toni Storm def. Melanie Gray [***1/2]
- Ivan Kiev, Lucky Kid & Pete Bouncer def. Da Mack, Marius Al-Ani & Tarkan Aslan in a Cage Match [***]
- Absolute Andy def. Ilja Dragunov in a Cage Match [*]
We’re in Oberhausen, Germany for wXw’s first major show of 2019. Which means Käfigschlacht! The War Games style cage match that’s become a staple of January viewing. On this show we get not one but two of the trademark cage matches as the title will also be decided inside the cage.
Bobby Gunns vs. Shigehiro Irie
Two angles coming in; 1. Bobby can’t beat Irie and is 0-2 against him. 2. Vinny Vortex, Bobby’s brother, is his second here. The suggestion being that blood is thicker than failure. Gunns has mentored his brother back from a serious injury and their relationship is very strong now.
The crowd try to do the “Gunns, Bobby Gunns”/”Ilja” chant with “Irie” replacing Ilja. It’s never going to take off in the same way. I’ve missed the last two Gunns/Irie matches as they’ve taken place over the Christmas period where I’m super busy away from the writing world. So if they do any throwbacks they’ll be lost on me I’m afraid. Irie comes in with a taped knee, which is the early focus for Bobby but he’s also interested in getting his patented armbar. I like how Gunns hits really hard in this one, like he feels he has to raise his striking game to match the hard-hitting Japanese opponent. Bobby’s biggest problem is having to deal with Irie’s power and his limb work is what helps to make the match more competitive.
Gunns has a very positive attitude here. Aiming to match Irie, to this point a superior athlete, and in raising his game helps to recreate the air of mystique that Gunns had during his rise to prominence last year.
Irie remains the harder hitting of the two but Gunns lessens the effect by going after Irie’s arm and eventually he traps Irie and submits him. This was a great match. Harder hitting than usual from Gunns and maintaining a logical narrative throughout that Gunns wanted to shut down Irie’s offence and that led logically to the submission finish.
Final Rating: ****
Jurn Simmons vs. Avalanche
The evolution of Avalanche is something that’s become a necessity with his tag team partner getting injured. Julian Nero is out for some time and Avalanche is more than capable of stepping up into singles action. Especially against a marquee player like Jurn Simmons. The result is two big stars going to war here.
The beautiful thing about wXw’s current undercard is there’s a feeling almost anyone could step up and battle for the title at a moment’s notice. Everyone in singles on this show is a legitimate contender. Jurn appears to take offence at Avalanche dubbing himself a “monster of a man” but he soon understands the nickname when he’s on the receiving end of some big boy offence. The match barely gets going before they brawl to the floor and are both counted out. Jurn considers this a win. “A monster cannot beat a god”.
Avalanche gives him a kicking and challenges Jurn to another match but it’ll be before 16 Carat Gold because he’s entering the tournament! Yes mate! Beat Jurn, win Carat, get that strap!
Final Rating: **3/4
JayFK vs. WALTER & Veit Muller
Muller is the junior member of Ringkampf. He’s yet to convince WALTER but his does believe in the sacredness of the mat. One man is clearly more popular than everyone else here and that’s WALTER. It makes sense to have him standing on the apron admiring Muller’s technique and assessing his capabilities in a match environment. It helps that he’s clearly still mad at JayFK for their attitude and them being tag champs.
Kaspin getting all excited because he managed to chop WALTER is great stuff and he pays for it. This is an ideal use of JayFK, where they act like jerks, all cocky and irritating and get punished for it. Too often during their rise to the titles they were going 50-50 with more dominant teams and it didn’t feel right at all.
It makes sense for them to isolate and pick on Veit. They do a great job of cutting off the ring and the spot where WALTER is pulled off the apron to prevent a hot tag is beautifully timed. It’s a hard spot to get right but Skillet pulls WALTER down just as Muller is in mid-air to dive over to get the tag. WALTER killing both champions reminds me of WALTER & Axel Dieter Jr vs. South Pacific Power Trip in the best of ways.
I’m very fond of Kaspin continuing to be cocky and at one point doing the Ringkampf pose in the Ringkampf corner, which provokes WALTER into chopping him. He really had that coming. The finish comes out of nowhere with Ringkampf in front and Muller gets rolled up for the fluke pin. WALTER is less than impressed with this turn of events. He felt the match was well in his control. But the other guy always takes the pin WALTER! No need to be a d*** about it.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Timothy Thatcher vs. David Starr
This is a pretty basic little grudge match. Starr overheard Tim coaching Veit on going after shoulder injuries “like the one David Starr has”. Starr missed out on his title shot because of said injury and is now looking for some momentum going into his rescheduled shot in London at the end of the month.
Starr comes in with that bad shoulder heavily taped. It’s a bullseye for a technician like Thatcher. Also it limits Starr’s own offence and when he hits a lariat, usually a big weapon for him, the effect is negligible. I like that he attempts a cartwheel and has the arm collapse too. It’s a good showing from Starr to draw sympathy and I also like that Thatcher does the same moves he taught Veit would be effective to attack the shoulder. The match finishes very suddenly with Tim chasing the injury and Starr defensively pinning him. Bad night for Ringkampf.
The match did a job. It continued Starr’s shoulder injury angle and furthered Thatcher’s general frustration at not being able to win the big one in wXw.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Loser Leaves Town
wXw Women’s Championship
Toni Storm (c) vs. Melanie Gray
The Loser Leaves Town stip is something wXw have used before without someone actually leaving. Da Mack cannot wrestle in Hamburg because Bobby Gunns beat him there. Losing in Oberhausen is more substantial or are wXw no longer booking the loser? It’s not as if they have a deep women’s division to begin with. It’s pretty much these two, Killer Kelly, Jazzy and Audrey Bride. The storylines in the division, in general, seem to have slipped away in recent months.
These two set about having a hard-hitting contest and Melanie is bleeding from the nose inside a minute and that fires her up.
The effort levels here are a stark reminder to wXw that they’ve pre-agreed to not book one of these women anymore and that’s probably a mistake. It would make sense to me if it was Toni, who will blatantly be busy this year with WWE related commitments. But it’s not.
Strong Zero puts Mella away and Storm vanquishes her challenger from title competition and the company in general. This makes me very sad because Melanie has been the backbone of wXw’s women’s division since before there was a women’s division. She’s one of the main names that springs to mind when people mention wXw as a promotion and she’s left me with many pleasant memories. I’ll be sure to watch more Wrestling KULT to ensure I continue to get my fix.
If this was here swansong in wXw it’s a great match to go out on. Hopefully she’ll be back. She deserves the opportunity to wrestle and perform in front of a big audience.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Ivan Kiev, Lucky Kid & Pete Bouncer vs. Da Mack, Marius Al-Ani & Tarkan Aslan
All titles are on the line here, whoever gets beaten loses their belt. Also on the line is the right to the name RISE, which brings back horrible memories of the DX vs. DX feud. Lucky Kid enters first.
During December wXw pulled a quick title switch and had Tarkan & Da Mack win the tag straps so they could have three belts on the line here. Tarkan Aslan starts for heel RISE. So are back to Da Mack + partner in the original RISE storyline. It feels a little bit forced. Tarkan vs. Lucky wasn’t a good singles match at WTTL and it’s not good here either.
wXw make another curious decision by having Pete Bouncer as the third man into the cage. Traditionally you load the odds against the faces. Aslan taps out, again, to Lucky’s crossface but it doesn’t count yet. Da Mack is in next. Commentary getting all excited at Ivan Kiev entering after that is bizarre to me because he’s the last man for the babyfaces.
Last man in is Marius Al-Ani, who’s Shotgun title is on the line here. Technically Lucky Kid is the challenger for that with Kiev & Bouncer contesting the tag straps. Al-Ani comes flying in as a big babyface difference maker and gets popped and his name chanted for it. This whole match has had weird backwards structure. It’s just socially accepted that the heels always win the coin toss!
The match has a weird flow and both teams get periods where they’re able to stop and do a team pose. Try getting the win instead guys. In general this kind of match doesn’t always win me over and my lack of investment in the RISE storyline since Bad Bones left is palpable.
Lucky Kid is where the bulk of my investment is now and I want him to put the Tarkan feud to bed and move on to greater things. Him laying Aslan out with a chair here shows he’s gotten over the emotional attachment. All the bad guys get trapped in crossfaces and it becomes a battle of who can make their opponent submit first. Tarkan taps out, which in a way screws Lucky Kid as he had Al-Ani trapped too. Bouncer & Kiev are tag champions and Lucky, because they’re buddies, is happy for them. That Shotgun title can always be won another time. This felt like a vanquishing of the evil RISE for good. The trouble with crowning Bouncer & Kiev is that they failed several times to win tag gold before.
However the partnership with Lucky Kid is what made them successful this time. Hopefully this is the last chapter in this lengthy feud. The only possible reason for it to continue would be the return of Bad Bones and I think it feels like a clear cut statement that the feud has effectively ended without him being involved. If he does come back it’s for something more profound.
Final Rating: ***
Steel Cage Match
wXw World Unified Championship
Absolute Andy (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov
For a feud that I was very excited about Andy/Ilja has not really delivered and there’s been a distinct lack of chemistry between two of wXw’s most charismatic men.
The match quickly becomes a battle of Ilja’s desire to take this to the extreme and have one of those wacky hardcore matches he’s so good at versus Andy refusing to go along with any of that. As the match starts I become intensely aware that there is still 45 minutes left on the VOD. That’s a very long time for a main event between two guys who’ve not been having good matches together but the same was true of Starr/Simmons and their hair match at Carat was blowaway good compared to everything beforehand.
Ilja throws his heart into this and they go at it around the outside of the cage for ages to try and create a sense of epic. The match is massively hampered by having MMA fighter Nick Hein as a referee. He allows a load of stuff to go and then randomly stops a chair shot. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Then he refuses to count because the cage door hasn’t been locked yet and he’s not officially started the match. Then he is completely out of position after a matter of seconds. It’s a prime example of how an incompetent official can ruin a match between two pros. Which is why trained and experienced referees are always preferable in big matches.
The need to go epic also destroys any sense of urgency, which is what Ilja’s very character thrives on. Instead he’s fighting from underneath against Andy’s deliberate approach. It also doesn’t help that they’re doing brutal stuff with chairs and such and yet there’s no near falls, no attempt to win the match. Is this because of the inexperienced referee or a flaw in the match structure?
Another issue seems to be that they play this as equals when the whole theme of Andy’s title run is that he needs to cheat to win so the match environment should suit Ilja. Also Dragunov’s preferred style of match is hardcore so again, this should benefit him. The good news is that the crowd clearly don’t see the match like I do and are behind Ilja throughout.
The match isn’t all like that. There’s a spot where Ilja takes a Lungblower and instead of selling just literally turns around and batters Andy with a lariat. There’s that fire! But it quickly returns to stupidity with Andy attempting a moonsault off the cage, for no discernible reason, and missing. It’s so overblown for the sake of it. There’s no need for the heel to do that. Whenever the match feels like its getting back on track Hein is out of position on the counts and it’s hugely distracting.
It’s not like he’s favouring Andy with the slow counts, he’s just slow to everything. It’s almost like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. His incompetence is massively detrimental to the match and takes all the excitement out of the near falls, taking more urgency out of a match already struggling to get where it wants to be. It’s very rare that in 2019 matches make me actually mad but the promise of this match slowly evaporating because of poor decisions has me fuming.
Just when I feel it can’t go any more wrong the table doesn’t break on a Death Valley Driver spot. So they repeat the spot and it still doesn’t break. So they repeat the spot and it finally breaks at the third attempt. Thank Christ it broke on three.
Ilja has the match won but Marius Al-Ani turns up and the distraction causes Ilja to miss a senton into some chairs. Ilja then hits Torpedo Moscow and Hein is busy arguing with Al-Ani. Marius then cuts the cage open and Hein feels the need to stop the match so he can go and eject Al-Ani.
Then, just as Ilja has it sorted with this backdrop into tacks, Hein slams the door on Ilja’s head and jumps in to count three after an A-Klasse. Which by itself would be fine, I guess, but it makes no sense. Hein goes to continue the beating but Ilja recovers and puts him through a table. This one breaks at the first attempt thankfully.
This is a prime example of things I hate about wrestling simply preventing me from enjoying a match. There was a tonne of effort here but I get mad at anyone from repeating spots and the bizarre angle at the end and the urge to book Nick Hein as a referee were baffling.
Final Rating: *
I didn’t enjoy the Andy/Ilja feud and I wasn’t keen on the RISE implosion either after Bad Bones left, so the top end of this show didn’t deliver for me but the first half is really good. I hope that’s not the end of Melanie Gray in wXw because that women’s division is really thin and she was providing me with a lot of entertainment. In an attempt to end this on a positive note; Irie vs. Gunns was great and started the show off perfectly and a lot of pieces are in place for wXw to have a really successful 2019, especially Carat weekend, which is loaded.
For more reviews from Arnold Furious check out his archive of work over at RearViewReviews