wXw Shortcut to the Top
July 1 2017
We’re in Cologne, Germany. This is one of the many shows I missed by virtue of being out of the country in early July. It’s taken me a while to get around to it but I am excited at seeing a Royal Rumble style match. I’m glad there are promotions that scatter them throughout the year for my amusement. The temptation to skip the rest of the show and just watch that match is very strong.
We begin with footage of wrestlers saying they’re going to win. No shortage of confidence among the participants. Some of the wrestlers are handicapped by also having singles matches on the undercard. Starr for example is again gunning for Shotgun gold. Hosts for English language are Rico Bushido and Adam Polak.
wXw Shotgun Championship
Angelico (c) vs. David Starr vs. Emil Sitoci
Sitoci beat Starr for the title back at Carat, in dubious circumstances. Angelico then bested Sitoci for the strap. It’s a title that frequently changes hands so all of the most recent champions are involved here. Angelico cemented his reign by beating Starr in singles but what goes around comes around. As with the best wXw shows the crowd are all up against the ring. All these guys are solid. My personal preference is for Starr. Sitoci leans a little too much on his heel persona and Angelico is a little too bland in the character department. The triple threat environment causes issues with one guy always having to sell while the other two work. The alternative is complex three-way spots, which are tough to do. These guys opt for the ‘one guys sells’ approach. When they do the three-way spots it’s fun stuff but it focuses on how everyone else hates Sitoci. I’ve seen it done better but Angelico vs. Starr is significantly better when they go one-on-one. Starr picks off Angelico with Product Placement to regain his Shotgun title. When he dropped it the feeling was that Starr wouldn’t be back so often. Regaining it confirms he’s back as a regular for wXw. Great news for the promotion. Sitoci was excess baggage here but they had already done Angelico vs. Starr on a big show so I understand the need for a triple threat.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Matt Riddle vs. Marius Al-Ani
Riddle has wrestled more in Europe than America in 2017. He’s virtually an honorary European at this point. I can’t help but think he’ll spend all of 2018 in Japan. All of 2019 in Mexico. Then sign for WWE in 2020, the complete package. Wear boots in Mexico though, Matt. This is a great chance to show how good Al-Ani is. He’s here to prove he can hang with Riddle. He’s all business. Riddle treats it like a borderline shoot, whether he’s on the mat or throwing Marius across the ring. Riddle designs the match around their collective strengths. Riddle is so far ahead of where he should be as a two-year pro. It’s startling. I’ve never known anyone with so little experience who can read the crowd like Riddle does. It makes Al-Ani, one of wXw’s big hopes for the future, look like a megastar for hanging with him. Al-Ani’s battling ways forces Riddle to try different desperation tactics. Al-Ani taking Riddle out of his game plan. It looks like wXw are trying to bring Al-Ani along as one of their top guys. Riddle certainly makes him look fucking great. Marius’ lack of personality will always hurt him but his in-ring is up to a very high level. Eventually Al-Ani gets trapped in the Bromission and taps out but lasting as long as he did is testament to how good he is at the mat grappling. Riddle is such a fucking superstar that he makes everyone he’s in with look fantastic.
Final Rating: ***3/4
WALTER & Christian Michael Jakobi vs. Kim Ray
While this is a handicap match it’s surely WALTER that’s handicapped by having the distraction of CMJ. WALTER himself has stated that CMJ is not a wrestler and he should stay in his office filing paperwork. Instead WALTER is stuck with him as a partner.
CMJ struggles to get going so he bails to demand silence from the fans, who are making too much noise for his liking. CMJ still can’t get anywhere so he bails for a kendo stick and a proclamation that this is no DQ and he’s going to put Kim Ray “in the hospital with Karsten Beck”. WALTER does not approve of this to the point where he walks out on CMJ. Why? “Ringkampf”. WALTER is all about wrestling, not this bullshit. This allows Kim to get a measure of revenge on Jakobi. There’s a misstep here as CMJ still controls with illegal tactics on the wrestler Kim Ray. Non-wrestlers should never beat up wrestlers. Having WALTER hold someone in place for a slap is fine. Having CMJ wear Ray out with a kendo stick just devalues Kim Ray as a talent. Kim does eventually turn the abuse back on his boss but by then it’s a little too late and this turns into a massacre that’s uncomfortable to watch. CMJ is a good sport to take a beating, reminiscent of Vince McMahon taking abuse to get Steve Austin’s character over during Attitude. He takes a wicked head shot from a kendo stick and a powerbomb through a table for the loss. This shouldn’t have been so long and even-handedly booked. It was however an excellent pay-off for CMJ’s heel run. Should Kim Ray have been the man to gain from this? I’m not convinced. This was pure Sportz Entertainment.
Final Rating: **1/2
Promo Time: Melanie Gray.
Mella comes out here to put over “ladie’s wrestling” and how it’s back in a big way. Women’s wrestling is alive and well in wXw. So they’re bringing in a women’s title and the championship tournament will take place in the second half of the year. Mella, as the top female babyface, is an ideal person to announce this and I’m glad wXw is putting a spotlight on women’s wrestling, as they did with Femmes Fatales last year.
Tommy reads out the participants and they include Session Moth but one of the participants is here in person; Jinny! She runs Mella down until a brawl breaks out. This served its purpose as a preview of the women’s tournament. It’ll be taking place over four months so it appears to be round robin.
wXw Unified World Championship
Jurn Simmons (c) vs. The Avalanche
There’s a lot of meat in the ring here. Simmons is no small man but Dreissker is a mass of humanity. This leads to the kind of Irish whips into the corner that makes the fans around that area flinch. Simmons is surprisingly nimble, even when I’ve seen him do nip ups before. This allows Dreissker to come across as the bigger man, doing big man spots. They do some interesting stuff playing off Avalanche’s size too with Jurn collapsing under his weight. The sheer size of the participants make some of the spots incredible like Jurn pulling off a Torture Rack, only to once again collapse under the weight. It’s incredible selling. Too often in wrestling big men are thrown around like toys (Cena is particularly guilty of this) and the size means nothing. Jurn does an excellent job of making Dreissker a big deal. Which means Simmons has to up his game and take bigger risks like the Jurnsault. Eventually Simmons’ explosive offence is enough to set up the piledriver and Dreissker loses. He looked mightily impressive in the process though. The way Avalanche used his size in this match was hugely effective, although a lot of that lay in how Simmons sold stuff.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Shortcut to the Top match
#1 is Bad Bones! John Klinger has it all to do by entering first. #2 is David Starr. There’s certainly no lack of star power to open this thing up! Both guys have a lot of stamina so wrestling for an entire ‘Rumble match’ won’t be an issue.
#3 is Dirty Dragan. He doesn’t want to come in at three so he goes backstage and promises to come in later. Pretty sure you can’t do that mate. #4 is Rob Lynch of the London Riots, who forces Dragan in. #5 is Young Money Chong. As a friend of Dragan they save each other. #6 is Michael Dante. He’s looking in good shape. Due to injuries he’s struggled to recover from the departure of Tommy End. Maybe now is his time. #7 is Marius Van Beethoven. This is another friend of Dragan so they now have a group of three. One problem; they’re all geeks. Despite the geekery they manage to bundle out Dante. Starr and Bones team up against the numbers game until Klinger goes down injured. #8 is Rico Bushido. He does a podcast with Dragan so the Dirty one assumes they’ll be teaming up and Rico throws him out. You broke my heart Bushido! #9 is Absolute Andy. This creates a babyface mafia of sorts until Andy dumps Rico. #10 is Emil Sitoci.
The main story is that Klinger is carried to the back nursing a bad knee. So he started first, formed that partnership with Starr and now is temporarily eliminated. Keep this in mind. Sitoci is able to swing the match back to the heels, making Andy look foolish for chucking Rico out. #11 is Jay Skillet. He’s not been around for a few years. Having not closely followed the German scene at the time I’m not sure why he’s been missing. #12 is Jack Sexsmith. Progress ran a show in Koln the same day so Progress wrestlers are to be expected in this match.
Sexsmith employs some Road Dogg style rope hugging. #13 is Hakeem Waqur. The entrances are proving a challenge for wXw’s dubbing but aside from a lack of commentary it works. Andy is starting to gain some traction, thanks to his veteran status. #14 is Jimmy Havoc. Once again he has a short run, dumped quickly by Starr to chants of “bullshit”. Every time I see Havoc in a battle royal he goes out quickly. #15 is Rick Baxter. He’s part of a group called “Posse in Effect”. He’s one of the sleaziest looking wrestlers you’re ever likely to lay eyes on; sporting a t-shirt that reads “wrestling, bier and titten”. I’m sure I don’t need to translate that. On his back reads “here comes the porn”. He’s swiftly folklowed by stablemate #16 the Grannatic.
This thing ejaculates at Sexsmith and sees him topple out. Having done their spot Waqur throws them out. #17 is WALTER. He’s nice and fresh, having bailed on CMJ earlier. #18 is Michael Isotov. I honestly thought he’d retired. Never say never with wrestling. #19 is Da Mack. Ring is filling up at this point although they’ve generally been quite good at dumping guys sporadically when they’d outlived their usefulness. #20 is Marius Al-Ani, which gives A4 an advantage.
Andy teases throwing him out for giggles before they start to dominate as a team. #21 is Alpha Kevin. #22 is Francis Kaspin. wXw has high hopes for Kaspin. #23 is James Davis. It’s a bit strange they split the Riots up. Rob did nothing. #24 is Bobby Gunns. Sitoci spends the match trying to do the HBK ’95 job but he’s dumped at this point. No more skinning of the cat! #25 is Matt Riddle, bro! Bro to Sleep puts Mack clean out. Starr has been making pacts all night long to stay alive. His latest is teaming with Riddle. #26 is Alexander James. No one likes him. Mel Gray tries to help out Kevin but this leads to Bobby Gunns dumping him. #27 is Kim Ray. Somehow Gunns manages to eliminate Riddle and this doesn’t sit well with the fans. So everyone teams up and throws Gunns out. #28 is Pete Bouncer, representing RISE. They’ve not had anyone in this so far. #29 is Angelico. Starr continues his miracle run by dragging WALTER out. At this point he’s starting to face a little backlash. #30 is Ivan Kiev, also representing RISE. He won this spot by beating Bad Bones. As the field depletes the crowd begin to side with the 104 minute man David Starr. Also Andy. Angelico gets less support but this is probably because he spends most of his time lying in the corner. Andy does his “Absolute” bit and predictably runs into the ropes causing Bouncer to dump him.
FINAL FOUR: Bouncer, Kiev, Angelico and Starr. Obviously RISE have a major advantage here. Angelico gets dumped and Bad Bones hobbles back out here for a new final four. He immediately throws David Starr out!
Bouncer and Kiev eliminate themselves and Klinger is revealed as the leader of RISE! The fans pelt him with empty bottles and the crowd are shocked!
The match was solidly booked with big stars getting entertaining little runs but the main focus being on Starr’s stamina and Klinger’s sensational heel turn. RISE needed that extra push and it comes in the form of one of wXw’s most talented wrestlers.
Final Rating: ****
A solid evening of entertainment, capped by a sublimely booked, company rocking main event heel turn. Bad Bones is the Hulk Hogan of RISE. The turn no one expected. The much-needed injection of top-quality talent in a faltering stable. wXw wants to build around RISE and this is the perfect way to do it. I’m watching this several months removed but the impact remains fresh. I had chills when the RISE members jumped out of the ring. Kudos to wXw for such storytelling.