BOBBY GUNNS & VINNY VORTEX CELEBRATE BOBBY EARNING A WORLD TITLE SHOT AT 16 CARAT GOLD - Good. Bobby credits Vinny's help adjusting his "mindset" with his recent success. The two brothers are close.
OPENING SEGMENT - Entertaining. Bobby Gunns & Vinny Vortex come out so Bobby can cut a promo on Absolute Andy. Jay FK come out to make fun of them but Bobby insults them right back. Veit Muller comes out... um... for no real reason other than to try to talk about his match against WALTER last night, really. Bobby puts him over as the kind of guy Bobby would like to defend the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title against once he wins it from Absolute Andy at 16 Carat Gold next month. This brings out Andy and entertaining promo shenanigans ensue. A brawl breaks out after Jay Skillett takes great offense to something Bobby says to him and the babyfaces clear the ring. They challenge the heels to a six-man tag right now but Andy insists that he only wrestles in main events, so the babyfaces say they have no problem waiting until the main event. One cutaway to a graphic later and we learn that the match has been made official.
NO COUNT-OUTS MATCH:
"The Avalanche" Robert Dreissker vs. Jurn Simmons - no rating
They did some stuff in the ring, then brawled to the outside, then wound up out the door and I guess the camera didn't have a long enough cable to follow them, so we just decided to move on with the show.
KILLER KELLY & TONI STORM BACKSTAGE - GREAT! Kelly wants to both apologize for and explain her behavior last night. Kelly did an excellent job of being apologetic and not even blaming Toni for slapping her while still explaining her behavior in a way that came across as very human. She was celebrating the fact that after losing the title to Toni over a year previously she had finally worked her way back into title contention so she celebrated. She admits that she should have been more of a friend to Toni... and that's when Toni lost it, and went so far as to tell Kelly "I made you relevant," which is not the kind of thing Killer Kelly is going to let go unchallenged, so she reminds Toni that she was the first-ever wXw Women's Champion, to which Toni responds by burying Kelly's reign by saying "you were just keeping it warm for me" and telling Kelly that at 16 Carat she would show her "why you never deserved to be champion in the first place."
JULIAN PACE vs. WALTER - 4.75/10
WALTER just DISMANTLED this poor kid, with the commentary pushing that WALTER was in a bad mood after last night, although whether this was due to Veit Muller proving him wrong or due to David Starr interrupting their post-match moment and calling him out was left up to speculation. Pace got to make a comeback that lasted just long enough to get you to bite on the false finish when he hit the Code Red, then WALTER took over again and got the win.
DAVID STARR & VEIT MULLER BACKSTAGE - GREAT! Muller basically asks Starr "why did you steal my moment in my home town last night?" to which Starr replied (paraphrasing) "I didn't mean any disrespect to you, but you've been chasing WALTER for months. I've been chasing him for YEARS, and it has pretty much defined my career" (that last part was an actual quote) and thus Starr felt he needed to make a statement to WALTER (by choosing him as his opening round opponent in 16 Carat Gold) before he left Hamburg. Segments like this are a big part of the reason I adore wXw. It's very rare to be able to tell a story with two babyfaces with such human reasons for conflict and with both sides having completely valid points and not having it feel like anyone is acting in any way unreasonably or getting angry (or angrier than they should be) just for the sake of creating conflict.
RISE INTERVIEW AFTER DEAD END XVIII - They're happy they won their matches. Lucky insists that Bouncer & Kiev will retain the tag titles no matter who they face and Bouncer tells everyone that Lucky Kid has a great shot at winning 16 Carat Gold, having just beaten Da Mack and proving to the world he can win big tournament matches with his big upset of Timothy Thatcher last year. There was an awkwardness to this that makes me think that Lucky feels a little inferior due to being the only one without a championship.
MARIUS AL-ANI & LEON VAN GASTEREN BACKSTAGE - A little segment to build up to tonight's Shotgun Title match while reminding us all that Leon was pone of Al-Ani's trainers.
TIMO THEISS vs. NORMAN HARRAS - 4/10
The match was fine for what it was, ending with Harras getting revenge for Theiss attacking him after a match back in November, which was the last time we saw him.
As you probably guess would happen at some point, Jurn and Avalanche brawled back into the building and to the ringside area, with the same referee still following them. They did a spot or two in the ring, while the referees of both matches were a little confused as to what to do. They wound up on the outside again and brawled away in a different direction. That was mildly amusing.
TIMOTHY THATCHER VIDEO PACKAGE - AWESOME! He gets to wrestle his mentor Yuki Ishikawa in the first round of this year's Ambition tournament.
He then talked about his relationship with RingKampf, noting that he's not the kind of guy who lets people in and makes friends very easily, but he did so for Axel Dieter Jr. and WALTER. He wasn't lying when he said "RingKampf is my family" when he and WALTER won World Tag League. "So I made decisions for RingKampf... and they made decisions for themselves."
And then the screen began to fill with Tweets about how great it was that WALTER was now in NXT UK.
Thatcher said "it's better to be forgotten than to be remembered for giving in" and said that if he winds up across the ring from WALTER or Dieter, friendship is going out the window, because this is his year to win 16 Carat Gold.
At this point I'd like to take a moment to admire how out of the sixteen competitors, wXw has set things up so that there is a story building up to five of them winning (Starr, Al-Ani, Thatcher, Lucky Kid, and Axel Dieter Jr.), two more guys for whom winning hasn't been talked up much but would play into their ongoing stories (Avalanche and Jurn are both looking to prove- or in Jurn's case, perhaps, reconfirm- their worth as singles wrestlers), we've got two more guys who are plausible winners simply due to being mega-over babyfaces (Ilja, and WALTER) and you could even see them giving the win to Irie or Muller (Muller is one of the alternates) just to do a "make a guy in one weekend" thing. That's TEN of the sixteen guys in the tournament (plus one of the alternates), including every single wXw regular or semi-regular who is mainly a singles wrestler. The rest of the field is either tag guys (Chris Brookes, Mark Davis) or special fly-ins (Sekimoto, Rey Horus, Lucha Bros.). That's some solid f*cking booking right there.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
Marius Al-Ani(c) vs. Leon van Gasteren - 7/10
I'm not really sure why Leon is getting a title shot, but this was a very fun fifteen minutes of wrestling that built extremely well throughout. The story was simply two guys who knew each other's moves well trying to outfox the other to win the championship.
ILJA DRAGUNOV & LUCKY KID RUN INTO EACH OTHER BACKSTAGE -They have an oddly tense stare-down, then wish each other good luck in 16 Carat Gold.
JURN & AVALANCHE BRAWL BACK TO THE RING - Didn't like it We cut finally got a camera on them backstage, which really didn't make sense to me because if you could get a camera with a cord that long (or had a wireless one) why wasn't it following them before? They brawled out to ringside, into the ring briefly (this was during intermission) then over to the entrance to the building. Jurn eventually ran Avalanche into a heavy door, then ran over to his car and drove off, leaving Avalanche to fume. Did Jurn has his key in his tights the whole time? That's both weird and dumb, and gives this whole thing a very disappointing ending. Yes, it leads to the Falls Count Anywhere Match that the internet tells me they're scheduled to have in the opening round of 16 Carat Gold, but I don't think you needed to do something like this to build up to it.
JULIAN PACE & LEON VAN GASTEREN BACKSTAGE - Good. They tell each other not to feel down about their respective losses tonight. Leon says he's not done with wXw and tells Pace he's sure Pace will get a chance to prove himself at 16 Carat Gold, and they have a nice little moment together with Julian's catchphrase. I sense a mentor-mentee relationship forming, which I think is a much better idea than either of these guys existing on their own right now.
MARIUS AL-ANI PROMO - Fine. He says he's going to win 16 Carat Gold. This is also the second or third time that someone has brought up that Al-Ani is currently the third-longest-reigning wXw Shotgun Champion of all time and he's pretty close to passing Bobby Gunns' for #2, so I expect that him chasing Axel Tischer's 266 days will be a big storyline as the year progresses.
ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER - 7.75/10
The expected hard-hitting excellence.
DAVID STARR VIDEO PACKAGE - FANTASTIC! This was a look into Starr's psyche with him explaining to us how much it bothers him that no matter what he accomplishes, he can't seem to beat WALTER. In his own words, he MUST beat WALTER at 16 Carat Gold.
WALTER INTERVIEW - Awesome! WALTER puts over himself and Veit Muller as guys who go out there every night and give it their all because they love wrestling... but David Starr is out only to stroke his own ego and validate himself. That's why Starr has called him out instead of picking an opponent he has a better chance of beating on the way to the top. So that solves the mystery of who WALTER was angry at earlier.
WALTER flat-out says that he doesn't understand why Starr is so obsessed with beating him. One line that I particularly loved was WALTER saying that this thing with Starr has been going on for a year and a half or maybe two years. It's actually been over three at this point... but not realizing that shows just how unimportant it is to WALTER. He sees Starr as just another opponent and thinks Starr is foolish for choosing to not see him that way.
(Yes, WALTER getting the timeline wrong might have been an actual mistake on WALTER's part, but it fit in perfectly so I'll give them credit for it. Sometimes you think the pitcher is throwing a fastball but you start to swing later than you meant to and you wind up knocking a changeup out of the park.)
BOBBY GUNNS, VINNY VORTEX, & VEIT MULLER vs. ABSOLUTE ANDY & JAY FK - 7.5/10
The heels came up with an interesting and dastardly way to jump the bell on their opponents which I won't spoil here, but major props are due to whoever thought it up. The heels got the heat on Vinny. We wound up with some very solid six-man tag team action, with Bobby Gunns not only pinning the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion for the second night in a row, but also kicking out of one of his big finishers (the F-5), just to really give Bobby some momentum going into his title shot at 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 2. Getting Muller in the main event the night after his big moment was a great idea to really cement him as someone who will be a player very soon. It makes him only being an alternate in the 16 Carat Gold Tournament seem a little disappointing, though.
AFTER THE SHOW JURN SIMMONS SNEAKS BACK INTO THE BUILDING TO GET HIS BAG... AND GETS CONFRONTED BY AN ANGRY AVALANCHE, WHO WAS LAYING IN WAIT - Avalanche goes after Jurn but Jurn manages to take him out with a big pan he grabbed from a nearby kitchenette that Avalanche chased him into. Jurn the pins Avalanche and says "I can beat you anywhere!" That right there was all the angle you needed to build to a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Just have their "no count-outs" match go over towards the announcers' table and then have Jurn grab a handy weapon to clonk Avalanche with. You didn't need to have a guy drive away in the middle of the show.
This was a very good show from wXw, with solid wrestling and some EXCELLENT storyline stuff and video packages. I love that wXw's "Road to..." shows are actually feel like they are essential parts of the journey to the big shows rather than just a bunch of matches like we get from ROH and NJPW's "Road to..." shows. I can't stress enough how amazing that David Starr video package was. It's probably a Promo of the Year-level thing.