wXw WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Jay FK(c) vs. The Arrows of Hungary - 6.75/10
This was a really good babyface vs. heel opener. Jay FK isolated whichever Arrow of Hungary has the tattoos and worked over his neck. He eventually made the hot tag and his partner ran wild. Things broke down into a two-on-two brawl, which set up a wonderful little spot playing off of last week's match with these two teams and Coast 2 Coast. Last week when the Arrows went for their finisher on Skillet, Kaspin pushed him out of the way and the Arrows accidentally kicked each other in the shin... so this week, when the same thing happened, the Arrows were able to stop, then reset and hit their finisher on Kaspin, who as a result of pushing his partner out of the way of the move, had wound up in the perfect position to get hit with it himself. This set up an excellent false finish but Skillet returned the "pushing" favor by pushing one Arrow into the one making the cover to break up the pin. The heels eventually won via cheating in a variation of the Roode/Warrior WrestleMania V finish.
PCO vs. DAVID STARR - 7.5/10
There was one sequence where PCO hit Starr with a Canadian Destroyer, a Buckle Bomb, a Pop-Up Powerbomb, and then a running knee strike. Starr got his arm on the ropes.
The story of this match was a nice interwoven mix of big vs. small, strike battles, and both guys working on the other's head, and these guys did an excellent job of telling it. This was very exciting and built very well, with the finish really feeling like a peak, despite the aforementioned crazy sequence. Both guys also sold extremely well. This one is definitely worth checking out.
COAST 2 COAST vs. RISE (Pete Bouncer & Ivan Kiev) - 6.75/10
Another really fun tag match. Coast 2 Coast have improved so much as workers this year, and the idea that I would be cheering for RISE seemed unthinkable when the year began, but here were are.
ALPHA FEMALE vs. WESNA - 4/10
A decent brawl, aside from the part where Alpha Female was allowed to choke Wesna with a chair right in front of the referee and was not penalized for doing so in any way.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
Marius Al-Ani(c) vs. Lucky Kid - 6.75/10
Tarkan Aslan came out to ringside with Al-Ani and immediately got in Lucky Kid's face, so the referee preemptively ejected him from ringside. These guys had a pretty good match for a while, built around Lucky trying to go for his La Mistica variant and Al-Ani trying to work over his leg. I even liked the spot where Tarkan came back and tried to give Al-Ani the brass knuckles but Lucky's RISE comrades Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer came out and stopped him. It didn't even bother me that much that the referee saw Tarkan at ringside and just sent him to the back again instead of disqualifying Al-Ani because the referee knew that doing so would give Al-Ani a cheap out, and Tarkan hadn't actually affected the match in any way.
What I didn't like was Lucky deciding to use the brass knuckles on Al-Ani himself, because that feels like the character who had been so insistent on winning without cheating is sliding backwards more than any form of the babyface turning the tables on the heel because it has been almost three months since he the heels hit him with it and Lucky has gotten a clean pin on Al-Ani since then. What I liked even less was that despite getting hit in the head with the brass knuckles, Al-Ani was not only fully conscious when Lucky locked on his crossface, but was even able to get to the ropes, totally killing the brass knuckles as a weapon. Lucky pulled Al-Ani back to the middle of the ring and locked the hold on again... and then something else I really didn't like (though not as much not being KOed by a brass knuckles shot) happened, which was the lights going off so that Da Mack could make his big return to wXw after a seven-month absence. This distracted lucky, allowing Al-Ani to roll Lucky up to retain the title.
Tarkan was right back in the ring afterwards, pointing to his brain to show us that he had this planned all along, so I'm willing to cut them some slack and say that he shut the lights off, but I would really, really like them to actually come out and say that. And the idea of Tarkan having this all planned does make sense coming out of the finish of his match with Lucky on the third night of this year's World Tag Team League where RISE's numbers advantage was able to prevent Marius Al-Ani from interfering on Tarkan's behalf and would then be shown to be necessary via Lucky pinning Al-Ani clean at Road to Broken Rules XVIII. And yes, this gives the heels a third guy so that the babyfaces don't have a numbers advantage in brawls and to also possibly build to either a six-man tag at the Anniversary show or Lucky vs. Al-Ani for the title in a cage to prevent interference at the Anniversary Show and then both factions going to war in January in the annual Kafigschlacht ("cage battle." Basically it's War Games). But there is something about this finish that just bothers me, and I don't just mean killing the brass knuckles. Maybe it's my own fears that things might start to move a little too much towards the "sports entertainment" side of things after the booking change and I really should reserve judgment until the year is out.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. Lucky got up and charged at Da Mack, who sidestepped him and Lucky ran right into a brass knuckles shot from Tarkan Aslan. Kiev and Bouncer came back to try to make the save but both got floored by shots with the brass knuckles as they came through the ropes. Da Mack then hit Bouncer's lifeless body with Mack Magic. Al-Ani crawled back into the ring and heels celebrated together as the announcers wondered whether this was a new incarnation of RISE.
TIMOTHY THATCHER vs. VEIT MULLER - 6.75/10
G-d dammit now even wXw is cutting to fans while there is action going on! Why the hell do people think this is a good idea? You don't need to show me how hot the crowd is! I can see the fans on the hard-cam and hear everyone!
Based on the storyline going in, this match should have been a real main event proving ground for Muller, similar to Bobby Gunns' matches against RingKampf last summer and fall, and I really don't think they were given the time they needed to really be able to do that. It was solid to very good, but nothing more than that. Certainly nothing that really makes me think Muller is a star on the cusp of breaking out. They did lots of good grappling and striking. Thatcher worked the arm and got the win, with Muller getting a worthy consolation prize of having earned Thatcher's respect with his showing.
TIMOTHY THATCHER PROMO - He acknowledges that RingKampf might be having some problems at the moment, but they are going to try to work together for Axel Dieter Jr.'s return at the 18th Anniversary Show when all three members of RingKampf team up to take on all three members of British Strong Style!
FOOTAGE OF LAURANCE ROMAN & AVALANCHE FROM AFTER BROKEN RULES XVIII - Decent. Roman apologizes to Avalanche for getting pinned and says he has so much other stuff to take care of that he doesn't think he can be a good enough partner. Avalanche tries to convince him otherwise, but Roman is adamant, handing his Monster Consulting t-shirt back to Avalanche and leaving. Avalanche, now once again not having a tag team partner, makes a call to another mystery person.
ALEXANDER JAMES PROMO - This was some decent cheap heat, but I appreciated that he got the cheap heat (talking about how sick the fans in Hamburg in particular and Germany as a whole make him feel) in a way that smoothly transitioned from explaining why Jurn Simmons was not teaming with him tonight as advertised (Jurn is sick) to why he has chosen the particular replacement partner that he has chosen (Allan Payne is not from Germany). He then said that it doesn't matter who Avalanche found to team with him tonight, because that guy would run away scared after losing tonight, just like Laurance Roman did. Avalanche then came out with his mystery partner, usual Alexander James antagonist Emil Sitoci, for...
"THE AVALANCHE" ROBERT DREISSKER & EMIL SITOCI vs. ALEXANDER JAMES & ALLAN PAYNE - 4.5/10
The heels worked over Avalanche's leg but he eventually made the hot tag to Sitoci and the babyfaces came back and won. Not much more to say about this other than to wonder if Sitoci will become an official part of Monster Consulting.
wXw UNIFIED WORLD WRESTLING TITLE UNIFICATION MATCH:
Absolute Andy(c) vs. Ilja Dragunov(interim champion) - 8/10
Right when the match was about to start, Andy superkicked the referee. He then went to get a chair. Ilja had no problem with this, but a second referee came out and took the chair away from Andy... so Ilja hit the referee with Torpedo Moscow. Guys... talk with your mouths, not your hands! If you want this to be a no DQs match, just ask management!
They then proceeded to brawl around for at least ten minutes while both referees were down, but didn't really use any weapons during it. When we finally got our big weapon spot (Ilja getting hit with a chair a bunch of times, naturally), Andy went to wake the referee up to get him to count the pin... and the referee refused to so and insisted that Andy allow Ilja to get to his feet. Why? Because the match hadn't officially started yet. I kind of like the referee reasserting control like that (and especially with this being the original referee, who was taken out by the heel Andy; he knows that Andy likely did this to gain some sort of illegal advantage, and so how he is using the powers he has to try to negate that as much as possible while still respecting the cardinal rule that you can only call what you can see.
From there this turned into more of a normal Ilja match where he keeps getting worked over but never stays down, working his opponent's head over with just about everything he does during his few bursts of offense before the comeback. This did get bogged down by some overbooking, which is a shame because for the most part I thought they did a wonderful job with the fact that they had two referees, coming up with non-forced ways to keep them both bumped when they needed them bumped and then paying the second referee's presence off in the end when he foiled Andy's plan to try to win the title by DQ by pulling an Eddie Guerrero, but there is really no reason for either Andy cheating to get the win in the end or for Ilja to get a visual pinfall on Andy unless they plan on keeping Ilja alive as a challenger... and the most logical time to have that rematch would be at the 18th Anniversary Show next month, but looking at that card leaves me baffled, and not just because Ilja isn't even on it. Maybe he was supposed to challenge for the title there and he got hurt (he is on opposite sides of tag matches from Andy on both of wXw's shows between this one and Anniversary Show), but otherwise it would have been a lot better to just let Andy win clean and rebuild Ilja than to do another dirty finish here that won't pay off at least until January.
(And if, I'm being honest, if the original plan was for Ilja to challenge Andy for the title at the Anniversary Show, I think it would have been MUCH better to just to this match there with a clean finish, reunifying the title at the biggest show of the year. With a dirty finish, this match really feels like the whole purpose of it was just to have a main event for this show that would sell tickets and the dirty finish was more of a "we really don't want to do a clean finish here because we want to do that at the Anniversary Show, so we're going to do something that isn't totally sh*tty like a non-finish, but it still just lets us book the same match at the Anniversary Show" finish than a finish that was done this way because it was necessary to get the storyline to where it needed to be for the Anniversary Show).
The match was awesome, but these two are beginning to feel a little repetitive together. The fans were really into it, though, as Andy is easily the most over heel in the company, and Ilja is probably the most over babyface, although the reaction Timothy Thatcher got tonight makes me inclined to wait and see if that was an anomaly or not before making a definitely declaration. Oh, and my one other complaint with this match is that IDIOTIC "catch the referee's hand as it is coming down for the three instead of actually getting your shoulder up" spot. Whoever thought this spot up is a f*cking moron and out to be flogged, as is anyone who copies it. If you grab the umpire's arm before he finishes making the "strike" signal, the pitch is still a strike!
This was a very solid show from wXw, but after watching it, I just can't help but feel that something is a little... off. The show was solid in the ring and had an excellent main event, and several storylines were moved forward, but things just don't seem to be clicking quite right. As I said above, maybe I'm just a little antsy about the booking change, but I am getting some of the same vibes from wXw now that I started getting when Delirious started going off the rails in ROH. Then again, I think most of Adam Pearce's early booking in ROH was well worse than what Delirious did in his first few years with the book, but Pearce grew to be a much better booker while Delirious seems to have gotten worse (or at least lazier) over time, so maybe the new crew will grow into their roles, and maybe my experience with ROH has made me overly sensitive to such transitions. We'll just have to wait and see as we check out the road to the 18th Anniversary Show, which starts tomorrow night in Koln.