MARIUS AL-ANI vs. "THE AVALANCHE" ROBERT DREISSKER - 6.5/10
I really liked the story they told here, which was that Al-Ani, who usually seems like a big man (although cagematch.net just told me he is only 198 lbs.) and often wrestles like one, was now faced with a much larger opponent and had to adjust his style accordingly. Of course, instinct would occasionally take him back to trying a power move but he wouldn't be able to lift Dreissker before Dreissker could fight his way out of it and would take over the match. This all built up to Al-Ani finally managing to hit an Exploder Suplex on Dreissker, but as Al-Ani was about to go to the top for his Frog Splash, the music of his former tag team partner, Absolute Andy, who turned on him during their final match the World Tag Team League in early October and hasn't been seen since. We still didn't get to see him here, but this distraction allowed Dreissker enough to hit the distracted Al-Ani with the Boulder Dash for the win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Al-Ani grabbed a mic and cut an angry promo demanding that Absolute Andy come out and face him instead of hiding in the back. Andy came out to the ring, but he did so from behind Al-Ani, and laid him out with an F-5. Andy, wearing one of his own t-shirts rather than an A4 shirt, then set Al-Ani up for some sort of big powerbomb move but Al-Ani slipped out and they started to brawl. Security casually strolled out to the ring to break things up, and from there we got your usual "big" pull-apart where they each break free and jump onto each other in the corner, etc. Aside from the aforementioned pathetically lazy security guards, the execution of this was good, but I think it would have been better to just have Andy return and lay Al-Ani out from behind on this show, then do the pull-apart at another show. You've got two more shows between now and the Anniversary Show, plus you had a show with a pretty good card last week that you could have broadcast on your streaming service and done the lay-out there and the brawl on this show.
MICHAEL DANTE vs. DIRTY DRAGAN - no rating, entertaining segment.
Dirty Dragan tried to use dirty tactics but Dante foiled them. Dragan then grabbed a mic and begged Dante to have mercy on him, saying the attempts at cheating were "just a joke" and offers to have a "normal wrestling match" with Dante now. The crowd was not convinced, nor was Dante, and after teasing being nice (but it wasn't a dumb Russo thing because it was one of those teases that only the desperate, stupid heel believes), Dante gave him the thumbs down, speared him, and got the pin.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH:
Bobby Gunns vs. Jay Skillet - 5.75/10
I have no idea what Gunns has done to earn a #1 contendership match, seeing as how he has been on the losing end of most of his matches recently but here we are. Props to the announcers for mentioning that neither of these men has held singles gold before in wXw, and thus this #1 contendership match truly is a MAJOR opportunity for them. Gunns worked the arm and got the win with the armbar. Skillet was a good underdog babyface.
I QUIT MATCH:
Alexander James vs. Jurn Simmons - 9/10
This match was fantastic. James entered first, and as soon as Jurn was down the stairs and into the aisle they started to brawl. Then they wound up in the ring and James took over, and pretty much every bit of offense he had the entire match was targeting Jurn's arm. During all of this he also tried to get into Jurn's head and talk him into quitting. He went as far as trapping Jurn in the ropes to work over his arm with the chair in a rather creative way.
When Jurn eventually made his comeback with his big power moves, he amazingly managed to do them without really having to use his left arm. One thing I loved was how expressive both guys were when being asked if they wanted to quit. They didn't just shout "NO!" but they would do things like growl out the word or groan in pain first, which really put over how much punishment they were taking and the fact that they wanted to fight on despite the punishment.
Jurn eventually took over completely and had James on his knees in the corner with each arm taped to a rope behind him, and before each chairshot Jurn would give James a chance to quit and James start laughing in an almost sadistic manner before refusing to quit. It felt like James was so obsessed with taking Jurn's spot that he wouldn't ever quit no matter how much punishment he took, which, desite James being a heel, came off as brave. Jurn, meanwhile, was playing the role a heel would usually play in these matches, and he has been kind of a dick during this feud by refusing to accept his clean losses to James, so he started to come off as almost scary.
Eventually Jurn taped James' mouth shut and got a Kendo Stick. Then, playing off of the king/prince motif that James' promos and nicknames have brought into this feud, Jurn said "Alexander James, I hereby sentence your neck to oblivion" (trust me, it was cooler than it sounds on paper), and was going to swing the Kendo Stick like a big axe down on the back of James' neck, so James desperately shouted that he quit and Jurn won the match.
Then Jurn hit him anyway.
This was really crazy, and both guys (and the announcers) did a great job putting over the idea that not just did these two not want to quit, but they almost felt that they couldn't or else they would be doing massive damage to their careers; as Jurn would have gone from being the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title to losing three straight matches to an undercard jamoke in the course of just four months, and James feeling like if he lost his first real feud after gaining some tracking and trying to talk a big game, no one would ever take him seriously again, and he only quit because otherwise Jurn would do permanent damage to his neck with repeated cane shots.
ILJA DRAGUNOV & CHRIS COLEN vs. THE YOUNG LIONS (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) (w/Ivan Kiev) - 7.25/10
A great tag team match with a very hot crowd that was very happy to see a nice, strong, babyface victory.
RINGKAMPF vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev & "Bad Bones" John Klinger) - 8.5/10
This match was billed as the "Champions' Challenge" because RingKampf are the tag champs, Klinger is the Unified World Wrestling Champion and Kiev is the Shotgun Champion. As you would expect from a main event with that sort of billing, this was quite awesome... until, when RIngKampf was about to win, the Young Lions pulled the referee out of the ring and punched him out. The crowd chanted for "ILJA!" Dragunov to come out and help RingKampf but WALTER & Thatcher did a fine job of handling the interlopers on their own. They were once again about to get the win on RISE when a second referee came out... and awarded the match to RingKampf via disqualification.
Not wanting to win this way and thus pass up a chance at pinning or submitting either member of RISE to earn a shot at that member's singles title, RingKampf demanded a restart and were eventually granted it. Unfortunately, after some good nearfalls, Da Mack interfered while Kiev had the referee distracted and helped his RISE cohorts get the win over the tag champs in a match the tag champs already had won but refused the win in.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. RISE beat RingKampf down because that's what RISE does. The crowd once again chants for "IJLA!" and this time he does come out to make the save, taking down out all five members of RISE on his own. This naturally finished with Klinger, and with the "Ilja pops right back up after taking a German Suplex, then hits Torpedo Moscow" sequence they've been building up for a while. Ilja then cut a big babyface promo that I assume was building up to his shot at Klinger's title at the 17th Anniversary Show in a few weeks, but I don't know for sure because the announcers didn't translate it from Russian or German or whatever language it was in. The crowd went bonkers for it, though.
A pretty awesome show from wXw, that succeeded in both building to the Anniversary Show and having storyline merits of its own as well. This is the way that a promotion should treat its non-major event shows. Save the biggest of the big for the PPV, but at least give us something that makes the smaller shows worth watching, either creatively or in the ring.