wXw Fight Forever Tour Opening
August 5 2017
We’re in Oberhausen, Germany at the Turbinenhalle, wXw’s main venue. This is the start of their new tour, replacing last year’s “We Love Wrestling” tour. Seven matches are lined up here including a main event that features not only Ilja Dragunov cashing in his title shot from winning 16 Carat but also Bad Bones cashing in his title shot from winning Shortcut to the Top. The pressure is on for Jurn Simmons. This is Jurn’s second run as champion, the first lasting 273 days before a three-way loss to Marty Scurll. Bones has held the belt before but only for one day just prior to Karsten Beck’s second run. Dragunov has never held the title. But before we get to the main business we have another six matches to check out. Commentary comes from Rico Bushido and Adam Polak.
WALTER vs. Chris Colen
Colen was always underwhelming as a babyface so I welcome his heel turn. Rico calls him the “underboss” whereas Polak thinks RISE don’t have a leader; they’re a “collective”. WALTER pops the crowd huge in the early going by doing the Ringkampf pose. Man, Axel Dieter Jr’s departure was horribly timed. That whole Ringkampf angle was going to be so great. WALTER’s lack of support isn’t really an issue though because he’s such a total badass. Colen hangs with WALTER and they have a Big Lads match. A real slobberknocker. If big boys bashing each other with lariats is your thing you’ll enjoy this. WALTER eventually clobbers Colen with a lariat so hard he stays down.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Bobby Gunns vs. Alpha Kevin
Alpha Kevin finally put his Marius van Beethoven feud to bed when along came Bobby Gunns, the King of Smoke Style, to interject himself into Kevin’s relationship with Mel Gray.
The focus here is on Mella with Kevin asking her to go backstage after Gray’s ringside distraction caused him to be eliminated from Shortcut to the Top. Kevin doesn’t have the crowd support that he had earlier in the year and maybe the tease of a heel turn was perhaps the right thing to do. Gunns works the arm and Kevin tries a lot of fiery babyface stuff that the crowd don’t care for. It falls really flat and merely serves to make Bobby look like a bigger star. It’s a match that screams undercard, although I appreciate wXw putting guys like this in storylines and creating feuds, rather than just throwing matches together. This contest really drags though and is rumbling on long after I’ve lost all interest in it. Gunns goes back to the arm after some back and forth and takes it with an armbar. No sign of Melanie and Gunns has dominated Kevin so far in this feud.
Final Rating: **1/4
Video Control gives us a quick shill for Thumbtack Jack. His brand of garbage wrestling isn’t really my thing anymore. I’m too old to watch guys rolling around in syringes.
Ivan Kiev vs. Kim Ray
RISE are looking at taking out various challengers to Klinger before they get that far. It didn’t exactly work out for Chris Colen and his tiny pants but Kiev has targeted an easier opponent in Kimmy Kicksalot. Ivan is a guy with bags of potential but he’s not been working at a high enough level over the course of his career. Now wXw have put him in a spot where he’ll get those chances. Not that Kim Ray is world class or anything but the standard in wXw is generally higher than smaller German Indies. Kiev is athletically gifted but he needs to work on his timing and his intensity. A lot of his stomps and stuff are very WWF circa 1992. It’s too slow. Kim is often found waiting for Kiev to get set for something prepared in the back. Kiev’s clunky transitions are very distracting. He’s one of the RISE guys with the most promise though so I understand the urge to push him. He plays possum to catch Kim by surprise and beat him. If Kiev is to the be the star wXw want him to be he needs work.
Final Rating: **
wXw World Tag Team Championship
The Young Lions (c) vs. A4
RISE broke into wXw by taking A4’s tag titles in what should have been a routine defence. Now A4 know what they’re up against and RISE are generally playing by the rules, having made their opening statements, this could be A4’s best shot at reclaiming gold.
A4 look dominant here against an inferior team and Andy should win clean with the F5 inside a few minutes. Only the numbers of RISE prevent this. It seems RISE’s sense of fair play doesn’t include title matches. Something that should concern Ilja and Jurn. Andy wrestles like a big bear and RISE have to bring the cheating to stand a chance. Although isolating the old man with bad knees is better than attempting to down Al-Ani. A4 held the belts for over 200 days, following on from the JML debacle. Can you imagine how good that division could have been if Shane Strickland hadn’t run into issues with the office? Marius Al-Ani looks like Superman on the hot tag and is miles ahead of both RISE wrestlers. Even the interference is clunky compared to how good A4 are as a team. If RISE hadn’t gained Bad Bones they’d be a shambles. The match has a weird moment where Aslan kicks out of the F5 and Pete Bouncer then jumps on the apron. Mistimed? RISE do some referee positioning, which is awful, and Andy gets caught hitting Lucky Kid with the belt. Oh good lord, this was awful. RISE stink.
Final Rating: *1/2
Video Control takes us to Tommy who announces the Briscoes for World Tag League.
Alex Windsor vs. Melanie Gray
This is Windsor’s wXw debut and she’s playing it solidly heel. The match exists to hype the forthcoming women’s tournament. It’s a shame that Mella has such a heavy angle with Alpha Kevin as that overshadows what wXw are trying to do with women’s wrestling. Melanie is a powerhouse, which is why she often mixes it up with the men and Alex finds this out early on; being hurled around with ease. Windsor has a few little issues, like not kicking out of a particularly tight inside cradle. Intentional or not; that was a shoot pin! The match is a wee bit sluggish with the occasional awesome spot; like a spear through the ropes to the floor. Several of the more ambitious spots don’t come off as planned. A tornado DDT on the floor ends up more into the fans legs and a Samoan Roller off the top looks painful for Alex.
Melanie hooks a Texas Cloverleaf for the submission win. This match didn’t fill me with excitement for wXw’s women’s tournament, which is going to be difficult for all concerned due to the Round Robin approach. They tried very hard here but the limitations of their skill came up short of their ambition. The ambition was nice to see though. They both clearly want to put on good matches but the execution isn’t quite there.
Final Rating: **1/2
Video Control reveals the level of wXw’s plans. They have a women’s tournament starting in Munster before August is out and concluding in December at wXw’s 17th Anniversary Show. Jinny vs. Melanie Gray, the money match, is taking place at World Tag League. wXw also has the Femmes Fatales one-day tournament during WTTL.
Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. Emil Sitoci & Dirty Dragan
Skillet came back at Shortcut to the Top, he’s immediately irritated Sitoci, the rookie killer. I’m glad they’ve found something for Kaspin to do. His Super Rookie gimmick had nowhere to go apart from the Shotgun title and it’s probably too soon for that. A tag team allows Kaspin to look good without him having to stand on his own feet constantly. He can blend in and gain experience and get better. Skillet meanwhile has been away and five years ago was in the same boat as Kaspin. Together they can make waves. Sitoci’s veteran performance, as a dick, elevates them. Dragan plays the role of sleazy weirdo, here to eat the pinfall. Sitoci is excellent here. To the point where I feel like I’ve been underrating him for a while. They have an excellent finish where Dragan tries to position the referee only to accidentally mule kick Sitoci in the balls. Jay FK double team Dragan for the pin. This was really good. Best match on the show to this point.
Final Rating: ***1/2
wXw Unified World Championship
Jurn Simmons (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. Bad Bones
This is a huge match for wXw as it will reflect where the company is going. It’s the culmination of everything they’ve done since the start of the year.
The options then: 1. Continue with Jurn Simmons, a champion who’s proved himself over and over again. First as a heat magnet, then as a genuine star and wrestler. 2. Dragunov. An unknown quantity, a virtual part-timer and yet one of the most intense guys in the business and probably the most consistent guy wXw have for big matches. 3. John Klinger. A reliable veteran, another consistent performer but his recent heel turn and membership of RISE has altered his worth. He’s suddenly a hot property. There is no bad option. Jurn is perhaps a little stale, having been champion for 15 of the last 18 months. Bones as a heel is very fresh and the company is booking around RISE but my pick would be Dragunov. He’s who the fans want, that’s for damn sure.
Triple threat matches have issues, generally with illogical selling or contrived spots. Jurn does quite well in the environment, making a point of hurling around both opponents and even throwing Ilja in the way of Bones! What irks me the most about the match being triple threat is that any potential combination of singles matches would have been great, pretty much guaranteed. Bones-Dragunov has been great before and Simmons is primed for either match up. Instead we get all three and because they’re all in the ring it leads to issues that wouldn’t exist in singles. Jurn is the best worker for the triple threat because of his combination of moves, his raw power and his sense of timing. Klinger seems obsessed with getting someone to tap out, which is daft when there’s a third man in the ring to break it up. Dragunov is far more sensible, sort of, using his body as a weapon to quickly hit impact moves. They make a point of keeping the match busy. The match is planned out to have lots of entertaining stuff happening, one after another. There’s hardly any time to breathe or think about the logic of the match. The no DQ rules allow Avalanche to run in and take out Dragunov. It’s a way for Dragunov to not win the title and have a program to go back into in the interim.
This allows Jurn to take over and he’s got the match won but he feels the urge to kill Bones instead. This, of course, leads to all of RISE running in and putting Jurn through a table. Because it’s no DQ the referee can’t do a damn thing about it.
Obviously the booking has been necessitated by the rise of RISE as the predominant group in wXw and the title switch is the most obvious sign yet that wXw are very serious about making RISE a long-term main story focus. I personally don’t care for such antics. I never liked the nWo particularly nor the mass of heel stables in Japan. This is no different. Having a large stable that constantly involves itself creates this short term issue before the faces all band together to fight it. I imagine the multi-man tags we’ll have down the line will compensate for this early-days booking of the angle.
Final Rating: ***1/2
My distaste for RISE combined with an uncharacteristically weak undercard made this a tough show to sit through. It’s barely two hours long and at times felt like a real chore. I hope the RISE angle either has more twists in the tale or escalates quickly or ends quickly. At the moment it’s not working for me and it’s the basis for the entire promotion. It doesn’t help that the workers they’ve got in that stable are not as good as the ones already in wXw, with the exception of turncoat Klinger.