wXw We Love Wrestling London
March 24 2018
We’re in London at the Dome, Tufnell Park. It’s one of my favourite venues for wrestling. Very intimate. Everywhere has a good view. I always get stinking drunk there, without even trying because the bar is so accessible. I think I’d go as far as to say it’s my absolute favourite venue. With that in mind, I’m sad I missed this show due to work. My holiday runs from April to March so stuff at the end of March is when my holiday has run out. I had no chance. Hosts are Jeremy Graves and Callum Leslie. The latter making his wXw commentary debut.
wXw Shotgun Championship
Bobby Gunns (c) vs. TK Cooper
Gunns is a victim of the smoking ban. It’s taken far more seriously in England than Germany. Gunns is a good choice to open the show as he got so over during 16 Carat. Cooper is making his wXw debut. The “Gunns. Bobby Gunns” chants dominate here. The attempts at Robot Rock in between are brilliant too. Bobby has the kind of cockiness and confidence that most UK based wrestlers can only dream of. It’s all about how he carries himself in the ring.
TK has a quality moment, reminding Gunns that he’s Samoan…in German. They have a cracking little match up with TK not wanting to be overwhelmed by the German superstar. Gunns works the arm throughout and wins with an armbar. They kept this simple but both characters got over and Gunns is in the process of breaking out, bitches und gentlemen.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Killer Kelly vs. Millie McKenzie
Millie McKenzie was actually in the crowd at the last wXw show in London. How do I know this? I was stood next to her. Speaking of which, I was actually stood next to Kelly for some of 16 Carat. Both these women are wonderful people and I’m happy to see them getting a chance to shine. I’m not overestimating their abilities when I say they are the future of European women’s wrestling.
Millie has the home support here, which is due to her building a reputation over the past year. Kelly is a newer prospect, even in Germany. It’s starts out friendly but gets more aggressive with Kelly debuting some mounted strikes, which looks pretty great, even though she’s blatantly punching her own arm. Some of the strikes are a bit rough but the inexperience is there. It’s the kind of match up that will get better the more familiar these two get with each other. The stuff with the suplexes is good and Millie has done a fine job of establishing herself as a ‘suplex machine’. One of the suplexes results in Kelly getting busted open by her eye.
I think her own knee hit her in the eye. They quickly go home with Kelly hitting a straightjacket suplex for the pin. This was good but obviously rushed because of the eye injury. As I said at the top they’re both terrific prospects and don’t sleep on Kelly. Her personality alone will get her over. Her little shrug when she gets a look at howmuch blood she’s lost is typical of her positive attitude.
Final Rating: ***
Marius Al-Ani vs. Chris Brookes
Al-Ani gets crowd love too thanks to his name being so easy to sing. “Doo, doo, doo, marry a salami”. Brookes is such a reliable hand for wXw. Whenever they need him, for whatever role, he just slots right in there. Whether it’s beating Lucky Kid in London, but making him look good in the process, or adding his skills to the Shotgun title picture or the 16 Carat tournament.
Here his job is to get Al-Ani over as a singles star with the London crowd. It helps that Brookes is very over. The crowd end up battling each other, which allows the boys to just get on with the business of wrestling. It’s a good job Al-Ani is good in the ring because his lack of personality is a major issue without that skill. Brookes has none of those issues and can hang with Marius throughout. Marius keeps avoiding the Praying Mantis Bomb and puts Brookes away with the Frogsplash. This was fine. It was constant action but I do find there’s a disconnect to Al-Ani and his work.
Final Rating: ***1/4
World Tag League Qualifier
Aussie Open vs. The Hunter Brothers
This was a surprise match added when Michael Dante fell ill the day of the show and his match against Mark Davis was scratched. Not a bad last minute substitute bout all things considered! Every time a new team gets to wrestle the Hunter Brothers you get this huge rush of appreciation for them on Twitter because all the boys love working the Hunters. They’re one of those teams that make everyone look better. The Hunters first task is to get over Mark’s power high fives and they do so with sublime comedy. Including hurting each other on tags, calling for a test of strength and getting fived. It’s all good. Dunkzilla gets to be the powerhouse and he runs through all his Big Man offence including the one arm powerbomb and the two man scoop slam. The Hunters bring great tandem offence and it’s easy to dismiss them (as I often do) but they’re genuinely good and don’t get props for it. It’s constant action with actual tags but crazy double teams inside the tag rules. Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck would finish but it’s not on the legal man and Aussie Open put the other Hunter away with the Fidget Spinner. I was so glued to this action that I’ve barely written anything about the match but suffice to say it was great.
Final Rating: ****
Tommy announces the next date is January 26 2019. Damn, that’s some way off. Luckily we have German dates before then.
Alexander James vs. Jack Sexsmith
This was James vs. Lucky Kid but Lucky screwed up his visa application and it came through a day late. So James has Sexsmith, a local fill-in, instead.
James doesn’t get enough credit for his strikes and Sexsmith is great at making this stuff look amazing. It’s a good combination of guys. Jack takes an absolute thrashing and Alexander James looks like an actual star. I’ve said before that I feel James is better in small venues where you can see his technical work, by far his best attribute, but this match shows he’s capable of more. Jack has been working on his offence but no matter how he does it, he still has that underdog vibe, which plays out nicely here. The Prince of Pro comes up trumps here. And there is much booing. wXw has a habit of keeping their fill in matches brisk and to the point. Sexsmith was literally here to put Alexander James over. Which is fine. That’s how wrestling works. Some people are sacrificed so stars can be made.
Final Rating: **3/4
wXw Unified World Championship
Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. David Starr vs. Travis Banks vs. WALTER
This was originally Travis vs. WALTER but things happened and we’ve now got a title match.
The building is absolutely rocking when WALTER arrives and then…ILJA! I’ve never known a wrestler illicit such a strong reaction from a crowd. He’s so energised that it pumps the crowd up even more and they’re already fired up because it’s Dragunov and he’s nuts.
Starr, who can’t beat WALTER, gets in the face of the Big Austrian pre-match. This goes badly for him. There are a smattering of boos for Starr but more for Travis. None for WALTER. This crowd wants WALTER vs. Dragunov. Although they’re also rather interested in Starr’s attempt to beat WALTER. These guys are all extremely intense but Ilja is the King of Intensity. He gets into his zone on show day and never leaves it. The intensity here is beautiful. It genuinely feels like a big match, which means something. Everyone looks eager to capture that gold, or to at least destroy the other three guys. It’s fucking great. WALTER is the monster who kills everyone and everything until Ilja nails him with a tope. “Ilja Dragunov is something else. He’s a force of nature” – Callum Leslie. Callum’s eyes have been opened to the wonder of indestructability. Ilja has gained confidence by being the champion too. He’s actually operating at an even higher level and he was consistently hitting around four stars every time out with the bigger matches. Now he feels the company is his and he’s even better. Nobody gets me geared up for pro-wrestling like Ilja Dragunov. He’s unreal. He honestly has the kind of charisma that puts him on Rock/Hogan/Austin levels. I’m not exaggerating. That’s how important he is. The way he goes to war with WALTER here is just incredible. There are not many wrestlers, anywhere in the world, who can take WALTER on like that. I love that WALTER just dominates a big chunk of the match but he brushes the others aside. Ilja stands up to him, time and time again. This match is awesome. The dynamic between all the participants is awesome and everyone plays their role to perfection. It’s actually very refreshing to see Travis Banks as an accomplished bit part player in this contest. In wXw terms he’s far less important. Ilja utterly no selling Starr’s big lariat is superb and Torpedo Moscow puts David away moments later. Hey, Starr can’t beat Ilja either!
Final Rating: ****1/2
The wXw London shows are so much fun. They’re short and to the point and they never let you down. They ended this one on a bang with a fantastic four-way main event but the whole show was rock solid. The Aussie Open-Hunter Brothers match way overdelivered and everything was good at the least. Easy recommendation and if you’re not on board with Ilja Dragunov at this point you’re really missing out. He has that It Factor. That’s unspoken element that only the true great have. He’s got it.