wXw Broken Rules XVIII
November 17 2018
We’re in Dresden, Germany at the Kraftwerk Mitte. Host for the English language fans is Andy Jackson, flying solo on a big show.
Absolute Andy vs. Bobby Gunns
This is a hell of a way to kick the show off! The winner of this faces Ilja Dragunov in Hamburg. It’s a little unclear as to what happens if Andy loses. Will it just be Ilja’s belt on the line in Hamburg? No unification?
I’m pleased Andy isn’t wasting energy in undressing. Get Barris to burn those carbs while Andy leaves plenty in the tank for Bobby Gunns. Bobby decides to chop down that big tree by kicking the leg before going after the armbar. Andy traditionally has knee issues so it’s a sound tactic but perhaps deviating from his arm submission to a leg one would make more sense. The crowd are divided here as Bobby is relatively new at being a babyface and they’re both strong characters.
Bobby eventually follows my suggestion and goes after the leg but the match doesn’t rest on limb work, which is probably for the best. Instead it’s a fluid back and forth with neither man gaining the upper hand. Andy cheats a little to solidify his position as heel and to stop the crowd from siding with him as much. Andy punts Gunns in the groin and the A-Klasse finishes. Gunns is an interesting study for me because wXw definitely turned him into a top tier guy in 2018 after a strong Shotgun title run but where do they go with him from here? I’ll be interested to see.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Audrey Bride vs. Kris Wolf vs. Killer Kelly
wXw’s women’s division is a little thin but the one constant is Killer Kelly. It feels like she’s being primed for another run at the women’s title. Wolf is a fun addition to Eurograps while she gets her Japanese visa sorted out. It’s a shame we can’t hear her entrance music “Midnight City” here. It’s a great little tune. Audrey Bride has come out of the burgeoning Hungarian scene and plays heel as a contrast to the other two. Kelly is starting to look very comfortable in the ring, a sign of her improvement. Her positioning and timing has improved so much since her wXw debut. I’m hoping Audrey can follow her in that respect as she’s still rough around the edges and not impactful enough. Kelly is undoubtably the star here. Wolf picks up the win by catching Bride in a suplex while Kelly is out on the floor.
Wolf has gotten better since diversifying her portfolio. Europe has definitely improved her. She’ll be heading back to Japan a better wrestler.
Final Rating: **3/4
The Crown (Jurn Simmons & Alexander James) vs. Avalanche & Laurence Roman
Julian Nero is out injured, which is bad luck for a wrestler who’d improved massively during 2018. Tagging with Avalanche gave him a new zest for the business. The Crown are teaming together because they’re both really into fur coats and medieval times.
Nero’s replacement is Roman, a much smaller guy ideally suited to taking heat. They have a nice character build where Avalanche takes the bulk of the match because he’s not convinced that Roman can win. The convince builds as Roman does a good job during the match and the chemistry starts to click. Avalanche is very good at putting together tags and that is evident here. Along with AJ’s beliefs in wrestling being realistic. Everything seems logical. Roman gets himself isolated and Jurn curb stomps him for the pin. This was perfectly fine pro wrestling. The Crown came across as bullies and Avalanche played the ‘big brother’ role quite well.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control gives us a chat with Ringkampf. They talk to Veit Muller who is potentially the next member of Ringkampf. Tim challenges Veit to a match in Hamburg. Tim has issues with WALTER wrestling all over the place.
Thatcher gets very wound up when WALTER mentions Axel Dieter Jr, suggesting he was a replacement from WALTER’s preferred guy. Tim’s points are all valid. Pointing out his trunks say “Ringkampf”, WALTER’s tights say “Ring General”. “Have fun, go to Australia, I’ll see you in Dresden. It’ll be fun”.
WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher
This is the third time they’ve wrestled each other this year (after Progress and BOLA). It’s always been good and you’d think this would be no exception. The difference here is that it’s not just two mates having a fight. Thatcher feels he has something to prove. He always takes the losses when Ringkampf lose. He’s always considered inferior to WALTER. He wants to prove WALTER wrong and that he’s the most focused on Ringkampf as a process.
The process doesn’t change here though, as good as their build was, with Thatcher second best. Methodical and cut down with big chops and WALTER high spots in the blink of an eye. I was expecting something a little more tactical but more often than not it’s two guys just clubbing each other. Trying to prove their superiority. wXw suffers a rare technical snafu during this match, with the sound dropping out and that’s an issue for this match when so much of it relies on the sound of the impacts. WALTER’s offence is especially driven by the noise of bodies colliding and it actually takes away from the match. Which is a pity as Thatcher really stands up to WALTER here, taking his best shots and coming back for more. Unlike at Progress, where he just took a beating and kept surviving, this is Thatcher refusing to stay down. Regardless of whether he’s been chopped, kicked in the face or nailed with a lariat. He even picks up the win by grinding it out, trapping both of WALTER’s arms and pinning his shoulders to the mat. This was wonderful pro wrestling but a step below their Progress match. There wasn’t quite that intensity. This was more about Tim Thatcher.
Final Rating: ****1/4
wXw World Tag Team Championship
JayFK (c) vs. Arrows of Hungary vs. Coast 2 Coast
I’m not the biggest JayFK fan. I didn’t agree with how they won the Tag League or how they’ve been in interviews. Now they’re champions they’re going to need to step it up. I’d rather they leaned heavily on the cowardice and heel work that made them worthy of winning the tag league in the first place.
If all of their act was as good as their entrance, where they bait the crowd into a frenzy, they’d definitely be worthy of this spot. I generally don’t like three-way tags as they’re hard to organise and don’t often come off as planned. I really like the Arrows of Hungary and they’re certainly a team to watch.
Dover has impressive power moves here, carrying both of JayFK at the same time while Icarus dives off the balcony! JayFK pick up the win on Shaheem Ali. This was a big old mess. I’d rather have seen a straight up tag but I guess you can do JayFK vs. Arrows next as the Arrows never lost.
Final Rating: **1/2
wXw Women’s Championship
Melanie Gray (c) vs. Toni Storm
Toni got injured and couldn’t defend the title so they vacated the title and had Mella pin Kelly to win the strap. It’s a bit weird, they could have done an interim title like they have with the men. Anyway, Toni is coming back for what is rightfully hers, the belt she never lost. Two women’s matches on one show? wXw are leading the women’s revolution in Europe! Mella’s pre-match involves her singing “Let It Go” from Frozen.
Is Toni asleep? Mella does a blinding job of singing “Bear Necessities” in German. The Batman theme? Not so much. Anyway when the concert ends Toni hits Strong Zero and wins the title in five seconds or so.
Final Rating: NR
wXw Interim World Championship
Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. PCO
Ilja is from Dresden so he’s fairly popular. The sound is still out though so I can’t hear a damn thing. PCO brings with him a uniquely violent style and wXw do the right thing by making this a no DQ street fight. It’s traditionally good hunting ground for Dragunov too. When you get rid of the rules you gain Ilja at his nuttiest. In this match alone he’s flying into the chairs, bumping on ladders and going through tables. Magically the sound returns during the match and I can confirm that Ilja is quite popular in Dresden. Ilja gets opened up.
It’s a veritable crimson mask. It’s like watching the NWA from the mid 80s. There’s a lot of claret. Ilja takes so much of a beating that it is genuinely believable that PCO could win, despite not being a regular in wXw. The Tombstone off the ropes through a chair legitimately feels like a finish. I’m almost surprised when Ilja kicks out and I know the result! It’s easy to forget, because he’s not been a regular anywhere, that PCO is an old man. He’s 50 years old! These two beat the shit out of each other. It’s a brutal war with each brutal spot feeling like a legit finish for minutes on end. Both guys look fucked. PCO kicking out of a superplex at one is pretty awesome. PCO comes firing back but Torpedo Moscow finishes. This was a spectacle.
Final Rating: ****
wXw has had a very strong year but it is ending in trying circumstances. The lack of Shotgun TV tapings and the absence of CMJ have had a knock-on effect. The builds to their matches are feeling lightweight and the storylines coming in were flimsy. Andy and Gunns had history going back months so that felt like a logical conclusion to their interactions but everything else felt thrown together. WALTER and Tim have great chemistry and the video before the match gave us ample reason to care about their clash and it paid off as the best match on the show. Likewise the international dream match approach to Dragunov vs. PCO worked as a crazy main event. I come away with this show with so many questions though.
What’s next for Bobby Gunns? He’s come up short for the title twice in different circumstances and is now in limbo between the main events and the Shotgun title he’s already had a great run with.
What is the purpose of the Crown? Being built as a strong and ruthless tag team they have limited opponents. The tag champions are heels so there’s no title clash there.
What is the future of Ringkampf? Are they looking to recruit Veit Muller or is it a red herring?
Where does the women’s division go from here? We’re back to Toni Storm and she’s beaten everyone.
It feels like the company needs a creative shot in the arm. They’ve switched gears to being a promotion that only books big marquee events and the lack of build for stuff has been jarring. The cards are still good. This show in turn leads to Hamburg, which has Andy/Ilja, JayFK/Arrows, Thatcher/Muller and some other stuff. There are eyes ahead to the 18th Anniversary show in December too. I’m sure wXw have already done enough for me to think about them as Promotion of the Year but the shift is an issue.