wXw Superstars of Wrestling
May 5 2018
We’re in Oberhausen at the Turbinenhalle. A great card produced a strong circa 750 crowd. Hosts are Rico Bushido and “Massive” Jurn Simmons. This is a perfect spot for Jurn while he recovers from a broken leg. The timing of that injury was so lousy. I really feel for him. He could have killed it over Carat weekend but missed his opportunity.
Billy Gunn vs. Emil Sitoci
I like how wXw has pitched their various ‘legend’ imports against domestic talent. Or should I say ‘regular’ talent as Emil is from Holland. Sitoci is over. The unexpected face turn taking is quite the surprise. It turns out Sitoci was a sensational babyface all along, hidden behind a sneaky heel shit. The actual match quality is patchy as Billy runs through nostalgic stuff, featuring a lot of closed fists. Billy’s work is so dated. I feel bad for Sitoci, although Gunn looks a lot better when he’s selling and taking bumps. FameAsser finishes for Gunn out of nowhere and this is entirely skippable.
Final Rating: **
Video Control catches us up on the Dirty Dragan Trial Series.
Joey Mercury vs. Dirty Dragan
Joey hasn’t been a full-time wrestler in some considerable time. Around 2007/2008. That’s a decade ago. He’s kept himself in decent shape but I wish he wouldn’t wrestle in a pair of jeans. Dragan has the spot of ‘loveable underdog’ in wXw at the moment and it’s a good spot. He’s been a useful utility player for the company over the past 3 years but his personality has gotten over enough with the crowd that he’s being given a genuinely meaty storyline. Mercury wrestles heel and spends a chunk of the match cutting a promo. It’s smart work as the crowd are divided and Dragan needed to get those strong babyface reactions. Dragan reverses a pin for the win with Joey focusing on flipping Felix Schultz off. I love Dragan so I find it easy to overlook his technical shortcomings. He can only improve wrestling against a higher calibre of opponent.
Final Rating: **
Alexander James vs. Mil Muertes
Mil, the Lucha Underground character, is over due to LU being big in Germany. The wrestler himself; El Mesias, Ricky Banderas, whatever you know him as, is a journeyman luchadore. I remember him wrestling Super Crazy in ECW some 18 years ago. He’s certainly put on some mass since then. AJ plays the heel here, taking a kicking from the jacked babyface. I’ve always found that to be an enjoyable dynamic. Mil has a super aggressive offence and AJ is still searching for a big arena moveset. I could watch him in small venues, where I can see all his technical stuff up close, all day long. When the camera is in close here and he’s working the mat, it’s good content. Rico starts throwing a tonne of Game of Thrones references in and Jurn doesn’t get them, exposing himself as not watching a show his character is roughly based on! AJ’s fluidity is beautiful in this and combined with his dickhead heel persona (the forced bow is awesome) he’s having a good year. The finish is a mess though with AJ putting his feet on the rope and Mil not having his left shoulder down at all.
Final Rating: ***
Lucky Kid vs. Jay Lethal
Lucky Kid is an example of how you can come into wrestling in a minor role and develop a fanbase, work hard at your technique and character and actually become a star. A year ago would I have been hyped for a big Lucky Kid singles match? Not really. Now? I’m excited to see him against anyone. Lethal is a weird guy because he’s really good but I’m never excited to see him. The match is smooth and the execution is near flawless. Lucky Kid is such a talent and it’s the combination of the wacky persona and how technically good he is. So he can keep up with Lethal’s speedy moves but he also comes up with weird ideas like grabbing Lethal’s leg or the poses or getting excited when Jay steals his poses or forcing Lethal to do the Lucky Kid sitdown pose. It’s all good stuff. When he starts lifting Jay’s spots and doing them flawlessly it’s a sudden realisation on my part that Lucky Kid isn’t just good. He has potential to be huge. Rico calls him “unorthodox” and being different, standing out, is what makes you a star. What gets me about Lucky Kid is he can do all the normal wrestling tropes easily but doesn’t because he wants to stand out. His dedication to the character he’s created is admirable but once he’s on top (that’s when, not if) he can match anyone. Lethal Injection finishes for Lethal but Lucky Kid was outstanding here. Part of his progression as a wrestler in 2018. He can be a main eventer for wXw.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Marius Al-Ani & Killer Kelly vs. Absolute Andy & Melanie Gray
This is two similar storylines colliding. The veterans versus the youngsters. Even though Mella has been a total bitch recently she pales in comparison to the asshole that is Andy. The kids are all fired up here. Especially Al-Ani, who throws a tonne of unanswered strikes and throws. They do a lot of comedy and standard heel spots like the assisted Wilbur Snyder.
This is quite the corner dropkick from @Kelly_WP
— Arnold Furious (@ArnoldFurious) May 18, 2018
The heels do dastardly work throughout and the faces bring beautiful fire to contrast that.
Andy cements his dickbag status by hitting an enormous F5 on Kelly while Mella has the referee distracted. That should really be the finish. They have another great spot lined up where Andy countering the Anklelock leads to Marius accidentally spearing Melanie off the apron. They’re pretty clever with the intergender stuff, having it occur to the benefit of the women almost exclusively. Al-Ani finally gets a measure of revenge here by pinning Andy with the Frogsplash. He may have lost constantly on his own but with Kelly having his back he finally found a way to win. Perhaps a lesson to be learned there?
Final Rating: ***1/2
wXw Shotgun Championship
Bobby Gunns (c) vs. Christopher Daniels
Daniels decides to wear his Nazi gear here, which is an odd choice.
I’m thrilled the “Gunns. Bobby Gunns” chant has stuck. This could have been an outstanding match when Daniels was in his prime. He’s a little over the hill now but he is 48 years old. That’s well into the kind of age territory where wrestlers are on the decline. Chris debuted in 1993. He was part of WWF’s cruiserweight revival in 1998. He appeared in WCW. Gunns is 25 years old and just entering his prime. I can only imagine how good a 30 year old Gunns vs. a 30 year old Daniels would have been. Gunns wrestles like a son of a bitch, taking every shortcut going and being a prick. The crowd still chant his name. Gunns is currently enjoying the longest Shotgun title reign since Da Mack in 2016 and it’s been a career defining run for him. If he can hang on until the middle of the year with the belt he’ll become the second longest reigning Shotgun champion of all time. The match is beset with minor timing issues and a lack of chemistry. It’s two guys just not clicking. Hey, it happens. Some of the countering is really slick but it’s inconsistent. Gunns does manage to survive the Angel’s Wings due to good ring positioning. Gunns then manipulates Tas into position and gets the armbar to submit Daniels and retain. Bobby showed his learning curve here and hung with a world famous Indie talent. If there was an Indie pro wrestling Hall of Fame Daniels would almost certainly be in it. Daniels respectful standing ovation is a sign of how well liked he is. This was a good showing from him.
Final Rating: ***1/4
wXw World Tag Team Championship
Monster Consulting (c) vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer)
This is step one on Pete Bouncer’s new and improved RISE stable; try to recapture the tag belts they had to forfeit when Bad Bones left wXw.
Crowd chant “we want Bad Bones”, or at least a vocal minority do. It might just be one really loud dude. Avalanche shutting down Kiev’s offence in this is a thing of beauty. He’s a brick wall, you just bounce off. Avalanche being all fired up is nice to see. He’s the best wrestler in the match and the match creeps along when he’s not in there and Nero is taking heat. The RISE storyline is an intriguing one but it doesn’t pay off here with RISE miscuing and a non-finish with Jay FK turning heel and stealing the belts.
The heel turn made sense here and came as a shock. Jay Skillet has been leaning heel for a while and Kaspin came across as such a cocky shit here. It’s ideal for him moving forward.
Final Rating: **1/2
wXw Unified Championship
Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. WALTER
The Dragunov story, told from last year’s Carat to the massive reaction and win at Carat this year was amazing. Now as champion he’s been butting heads with WALTER and has so far retained the gold against his biggest rival. This is the ‘one more match’ bout after the slightly dodgy True Colors conclusion with the ref bumps. I’ve heard a few gripes about them recycling this match so much but I could literally watch it on every single show.
Ilja shows some smarts in the early going by avoiding WALTER’s chops, sneakily stepping back when the giant Austrian lines up. All the while delivering his own chops. A hit and run mentality. Normally Ilja would just butt heads so seeing him take a smarter route shows he’s become a learning champion. You have to be smart as the champ and he delivers on that here. Especially in working over WALTER’s hand to deny WALTER his trademark offence. Having dodged everything and beaten WALTER at his own game he hits Torpedo Moscow and WALTER only survives by dropping out of the ring.
I love that they took this match in a totally different direction and allowed Ilja to boss it. The arm work is especially important as it allows him to counter out of WALTER’s holds. He can’t get the Gojira Clutch, for example, because of the injured arm. When Ilja can’t kill WALTER off, taking too long to get him back into the ring, WALTER takes over. Not using his injured arm but rather stomping and kicking to keep Dragunov down. WALTER has to find different ways to win and goes deep into his arsenal. It’s very weird seeing WALTER mix it up like this and it is good. It’s a very clever match but it doesn’t have that visceral feel that the Carat final had. But that’s the whole point. It’s Ilja being smarter and WALTER switching it up because his usual offence didn’t work. WALTER lifting Torpedo Moscow right after Ilja steals the arm slap German suplex is amazing. Them switching their conventional roles is great.
WALTER finally gets the Gojira Clutch but Ilja goes to the arm he’s been working all match and gets out. His strategy has been immaculate. Even with WALTER reduced to one arm he can still hit stuff like one armed powerbombs and stamps to the champ’s head. It’s still a brutal match. WALTER only lands one chop, throwing himself totally into it, and it comes off like a legitimate near fall.
The end comes when Ilja gets an armbar, on the wrong arm, and switches to the right arm with WALTER reaching for the ropes. With that arm having been worked over all match long the submission is inevitable. What a match this was. Ilja wrestled a logical smart match, showing himself capable of strategy beyond his usual head-to-head madness. WALTER showed his depth of character and depth of moveset in response and they had a brilliant match. It’s nothing like Carat, nor the True Colors match. No shenanigans here. No leaning heel. Just a great wrestling match between two great wrestlers.
Final Rating: ****3/4
wXw Women’s Championship
Toni Storm (c) vs. Tenille Dashwood
wXw’s crack production team manage a slight screw up by labelling the former Emma as “Ilja Dragunov”. Oops. This is the Aussie showdown with former WWE wrestler clashing with future WWE wrestler on the Indies.
wXw have slyly given women’s wrestling the main event without making a big fuss about it. However it will be tough to follow that Ilja/WALTER match. Some of Dashwood’s offence is a little goofy, carryover from WWE, but when they go at it with forearms it gets pretty intense. Tenille looks a little lightweight compared to Toni and has to use her range to avoid being mashed by the hip attacks. Toni’s lower body strength is very impressive. When she marches around the ring with Tenille in the air it’s borderline terrifying how easy it looks. The match is clean, clinical and decently executed. Toni has a very high baseline on her matches. Pretty much everything clears *** nowadays. This one ticks along nicely until the Strong Zero finishes but Dashwood had a good showing.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Superstars of Wrestling is normally the goofy nostalgia show for wXw but they got that shit out of the way in the first two matches and then plunged balls deep into quality professional wrestling. Ilja/WALTER is gold. You need to this. It’s nothing like their other matches and you’ll kick yourself if you miss this one. Lethal-Lucky Kid is also really good and both the mixed tag and the main worked well also. For Superstars of Wrestling to produce a card where six matches topped *** is frankly astonishing. wXw were the Brit Wres Roundtable European promotion of the year in 2017 and with the standard they’re pumping out it’ll be tough to argue with them winning again this year. Not only for match quality but also for storyline.