wXw We Love Wrestling Tour: Hamburg
June 2 2017
We’re in Hamburg and wXw thought this tour show was good enough to slap up on their On Demand gimmick. I hear you, CMJ, let’s check it out. The card has a Loser Leaves Town match between Bobby Gunns and Da Mack, plus Rise defend their tag titles and David Starr is back in town to challenge Angelico for the Shotgun strap.
Chris Colen vs. Francis Kaspin
Colen turned heel recently to form the RISE group. I felt Colen’s heel turn had been coming for some time and was hoping for him to turn on Kaspin. It didn’t happen but Kaspin is at least challenging Colen’s dick move with a match here. Kaspin is very inexperienced and it’s easy to forget that because loads of young wrestlers have come through and looked like stars recently. Expectations are at an all time high and sometimes you need to step back and give the young boys time to develop. There are moments here when Kaspin struggles, either by telegraphing a move or taking a bump awkwardly. Most of the time he’s fine, playing the plucky underdog who has to avoid Colen’s power and rely on his speed. Kaspin is far too cocky and doesn’t show any sign of anger. He should feel betrayed by Colen’s jackassery. There is an easy story to tell and they hardly use it. It almost feels like the kind of match they would have had if they were both faces and still partners. A ‘who is tougher’ story. The only difference is that Colen hits really hard. Everything they do is smooth though and I’ll allow this to be considered a hot opener, even if they dropped the storyline ball.
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Colen is fixing to give Kaspin a beating but Kim Ray runs in for the save. This leads directly to RISE member Pete Bouncer jumping in there to stop it and an impromptu match breaks out.
Kim Ray vs. Pete Bouncer
Bouncer is traditionally a star for rival company GWF in Deutschland. He’s one of the GWF guys that have been drafted in to cover up for some of the recent losses wXw have suffered. He’s 30 years old, over 6’ tall and has been wrestling for five years. He has a good physique but is very limited in personality and style. Even his most basic moves look a little rough around the edges. Kim Ray missed a fair chunk of action between ‘retiring’ last year and coming back at 16 Carat. He looks fine here. He takes decent bumps and can throw kicks. His spinning Enzuigiri finishes and that move alone is way better than anything Bouncer brought to the dance as a generic heel. The RISE unit is an odd concept to me. They’ve thrown together five guys and besides Colen none of them feel like a big deal at all.
Final Rating: **1/4
wXw Tag Team Championship
The Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) (c) vs. Bad Bones & Alpha Kevin
I thought jobbing A4 to the Young Lions was a bizarre move but seeing as neither of A4 are on this show there might be more to it. I’m not saying they’re off to WWE or anything, although Al-Ani had a try-out, it could be injury related or a storyline. Speaking of the RISE boys, here’s two more of them. They’re all over this show! Kevin’s brief flirtation with heeldom seems to be over as he’s a hand-slapping babyface here.
Bad Bones is incredibly fun when it comes him beating up people he doesn’t respect. Whether that be storyline or legitimate. I love watching him fuck people up. RISE have several issues; one is that they’re all outsiders (bar Colen) so it’s tough to relate to what they’re doing and also RISE has very little identity to it as a group. They do the formula tag stuff in this match and they do it successfully. The cut offs are good, the work on the man outside is good, the prop work is well concealed. Hiding cheating is a key part of being a heel group and they’re excellent at it. The weight of numbers works for them here too as they distract the referee and belt shot their way to victory, scoring the pinfall on poor Kevin. If you dig tag formula you’ll get a kick out of this.
Final Rating: ***1/4
wXw Shotgun Championship
Angelico (c) vs. David Starr
Starr might be the best Shotgun champion of all time. In his reign leading to 16 Carat he defended the belt all over the place and grew the prestige of the title. Starr is one of the most popular North American imports to compete in wXw who’s not appeared on TV for one of the major companies. He worked hard to gain the reputation that he has. Angelico doesn’t have that same reputation but he’s been decent in previous wXw performances so you can see why he’s got the title. wXw tend to get behind talent they feel they can get often. The concept of this match is that Starr gets Angelico over enough to carry the belt. Although wXw tends to change Shotgun champions with the kind of frequency that I order pizza. And I order pizza quite often. The problem with Angelico being champion is that Starr is the better wrestler and has better looking offence. When Angelico launches into his strikes and flips Starr happily puts it all over. It ends up being a good match courtesy of a combination of risk taking and last gasp counters. Timing is key when you’re popping rubes. The timing in this match is exquisite. Especially in the near fall sequences and some of the strikes. Starr’s selling and bumps is fantastic too. His bump on the finish is fucking great. Angelico winning via crucifix powerbomb into the corner, Starr landing horribly and bouncing out as dead weight into a face plant.
Final Rating: ****
Promo Time: Karsten Beck. The crowd are highly receptive and at one point chant “fuck you cancer”. He recaps his career before pointing out he’s got another tumour and will need surgery again. That’s heart-breaking. Karsten doesn’t look like a beaten man though, he’s smiling and confident he can carry on beating cancer. The conversation ends with a standing ovation until Christian Michael Jakobi arrives. Karsten punches him out without CMJ saying anything to ruin the moment. Karsten Beck’s ongoing battle with cancer is one of the most emotional things in wrestling. It crushes me.
WALTER vs. Ivan Kiev
WALTER looks a bit lost without Axel, CMJ or Tim Thatcher out here. It’s a bit sad that the Ringkampf angle, which was super-hot, has now petered out. All in the space of six months from start to finish. Ivan Kiev is the fifth member of RISE. He’s a ten year pro who’s worked for wXw on and off for years. WALTER has been many things during the Ringkampf run but he’s always been loyal to wXw. Ivan is seen as an invading outsider, despite past matches in the company. WALTER just sees him as another body to throw around and destroy.
Kiev manages quite well, considering, and he’s able to escape the Gojira Clutch a couple of times. Does he look capable of doing this if WALTER decided to not cooperate? Nope. WALTER chops him to bits and dominates. It makes perfect sense when Kiev gets nothing whatsoever. Whenever he’s getting counters and escaping the beating I feel cheated. WALTER slaughtering opponents is one of my favourite things in wrestling. Kiev tries like hell to fight WALTER and that gets the big Austrian all fired up. When they trade you can see the logic of Kiev’s thinking; I can take him, he’s getting tired, oh fuck he’s going to kill me. WALTER does a fine job of covering for Kiev’s sloppiness and the match is really good in spite of Kiev. It’s testament to how outstanding WALTER is that his opponent is largely unimportant when it comes to having a good match and the only time his standard changes is when he wrestles someone who’s really good (like Matt Riddle). Kiev takes an absolute beating in this match. It’s almost as severe as the one Ilja Dragunov took at 16 Carat. Kiev’s desperation counters all look pretty fucking terrible but WALTER smacks him around moments later so it’s fine. Until the finish where Kiev somehow breaks out a Death Valley Driver for the pin. I don’t know what they’re thinking with the result here as Kiev had gotten over with me somewhat by surviving that beating. He really didn’t need to win and it’s not a realistic outcome. On the flipside WALTER was all kinds of great here. I wish he was a little more selfish/ambitious. He’s the fucking best and more people need to see that.
Final Rating: ****
Loser Leaves Town Match
Bobby Gunns vs. Da Mack
Bobby endears himself to the fans by bringing a Werder Bremen flag to the ring. The two teams are the most popular in Northern Germany and have quite the rivalry, dubbed the “Nordderby”. The two cities are rivals in the same sense that Manchester and Liverpool are.
The “Loser Leaves Town” stipulation seems to have come out of nowhere but the suggestion is that Da Mack might have been contacted by WWE after his showing in the Cruiserweight Classic, as they look to add to the struggling 205 Live show. Both these guys have glaring flaws, which can be covered up relatively easily. Gunns has a lot of personality and is a capable mat wrestler. Mack flips for fun and has great presence. Both guys occasionally look awkward attempting pre-planned spots. Mack looks all fired up here, coming off the stage at one point and looking to leave a big impact on this crowd. Gunns looks strangely fluid here, as if a switch has been flipped in his head. Sometimes he looks technically better than at others, usually when he’s comfortable. So I’m guessing Mack is one of his closer colleagues. It’s the first time I’ve been truly impressed by Bobby, even if Mack looks superior to him. They have some cracking spots, including Mack Magic on the apron after Gunns flips him off. The finish comes out of nowhere with Mack coming off the top and landing in an armbar. At least that was the intent but the actuality is Gunns having to flip Mack over to lock it in. If this is it for Mack in wXw at least he went out with a good match, although it was loaded with little things that bothered me. The stipulation is only for Hamburg btw. So Mack can continue to wrestle for wXw, just not in Hamburg. It was a literal “loser leaves town”.
Final Rating: ***1/2
wXw Unified Championship
Jurn Simmons (c) vs. Emil Sitoci
They have a video package to hype this with lots of people hyping Sitoci as being a legitimate challenger. Fun fact: Jurn saw Emil Sitoci wrestle on Dutch TV and that’s what made him want to be a wrestler. Since he became a wrestler, a mere five years ago, he’s easily surpassed Sitoci. The last wXw title run turned Jurn into a star and this one is solidifying his reputation as a top worker. Sitoci is a solid hand. I would find it hard to pick holes in his wrestling game but he’s clearly not a main event star. He does have a lot of heat though and that goes a long way. Jurn is the showier wrestler, which is something I never thought I’d type a year ago, and he does a fine job of getting the crowd invested. Which is good because after the last three matches there was every chance of this one dying on its ass with a less charismatic champion. Sitoci is good at stringing logical stuff together. Like when he goes for the Snapmare Driver and can’t get it, so he runs up the buckles and turns it into a Sliced Bread #2. It keeps Jurn from finishing the match quickly, which would happen if we stuck to logic. Marius van Beethoven, disguised as a “fan” prevents the Massive Moonsault. ‘Fan’ angles are always stupid and it’s not the first one wXw have done this year. Always make it abundantly clear that anyone involved in the match is a wrestler. You never know who you’re giving a fucking stupid idea to. To be fair to wXw’s fan base, they seem fairly clued in and the chance of one of them running in during a match is remote. Emil uses an assortment of cheating to remain in the match but he can’t put Jurn away despite hitting the Snapmare Driver and the Spanish Fly. Jurn is a badass for being able to take that, even though it’s basically just doing a moonsault. He’s a big lad. Credit where it’s due. Sitoci almost gets counted out after a piledriver on the stage but is helped back in by fans, where he receives another piledriver for the loss. This was really good and a tough ask to follow a solid undercard. Jurn is a main event star and he continues to prove it, one match at a time.
Final Rating: ***1/2
This is one of the most consistent wXw cards I’ve seen outside of their big shows. Normally the tours contain a mixture of content to appeal to all-comers but this felt designed for a smart crowd, like 16 Carat weekend is. If this is a new trend for wXw, becoming awesome all the time, it might make them one of the best promotions in the world. But hey, baby steps. This was good. Looking forward to the next show.