BOBBY GUNNS PROMO - Fine babyface promo. He's the new champion and will prove that unlike Absolute Andy, he is a fighting champion. He thanks his brother, Vinny Vortex, for all of his help getting him to this point.
ABSOLUTE ANDY & VINNY VORTEX BACKSTAGE - Kind of odd, but interesting. Andy was complaining to Vinny about people trying to screw him out of the title, claiming that Vinny and the referee in the title match were also involved. Vinny calls Andy out on his BS, noting that Andy has cheated in just about every match for an entire year and has attacked him several times. The message Andy took away from Vinny's speech was because things aren't fair he has to take justice into his own hands. Andy going to an enemy of his to complain and seemingly not understanding why Vinny would help his brother out in a title match against Andy when Andy had attacked him definitely played into the slightly delusional aspects of Andy's heel character (it's a sort of mental space he seems to go to in order to cope with losing sometimes), and the fact that Vinny himself called it out as odd makes me more inclined to see this segment as something done to illustrate exactly that point rather than the booker just not thinking basic things through like you'll often see from WWE (or even NJPW and ROH at times).
SCHADENFREUDE PROMO - Very good. They explained why they got together and what their goals are. Things seem to go better for them when they're together instead of apart, so they're going to be a group. They're tired of waiting for opportunities and will now start taking. They're coming for championships.
MARIUS AL-ANI IN-RING PROMO - Good. He claims to be the best wXw Shotgun Champion of all time so he is going to defend his title tonight in an open challenge. He says he doesn't car which "scrawny wimp" comes out from the back to challenge him. Instead of a scrawny wimp, he got "Massive" Jurn Simmons.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
Marius Al-Ani(c) vs. Jurn Simmons - 2.5/10 (but fine for what it was)
This only went about four minutes. Jurn controlled things early on but Al-Ani caught him with a quick offensive combination ending in a roll-up to retain the title. There is definitely an emerging story here with Jurn having something of a crisis of confidence now. It will be quite interesting to see what happens when Alexander James eventually returns to wXw after responding to Jurn's boast about not needing him by saying "okay. In that case I'll go home" and leaving Jurn to fend on his own, with Jurn now having lost every match but one since then.
KARSTEN BECK INTERVIEW & SEGMENT WITH ABSOLUTE ANDY - Great. Karsten informs us that he returned to his duties as Director of Sport because he saw the Championship Board of Directors making some decisions over the past few months that he and many fans founds to be a little odd, and he wants to make sure things are running smoothly. In other words (hopefully), "we realize that people were not thrilled with the overabundance of dirty finishes during Andy's reign, so now that that's over, we're not only taking steps to correct things, but we're you a babyface figurehead who you all love who can come out and make the justice-restoring decisions and interact with the heels.
Absolute Andy then showed up and tried to petition to get a rematch for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship. Karsten gave Andy this big pep talk about how he respected Andy's desire to prove himself and so he has decided to book Andy in a match against... Vinny Vortex. This was a wonderful rendition of that segment where the heel is egotistical enough to think that the babyface authority figure is just going to give him what he wants only to have the rug pulled out from under him at the end. Andy has been doing a wonderful job over the past two months or so of being a great heel dork that I can laugh at without sacrificing any of his credibility as a threat.
SHIGEHIRO IRIE PROMO - Good. He wants a wXw Unified World Wrestling Title shot in New York City, and his victory in this year's Ambition tournament and his winning record against Bobby Gunns are both good arguments for him to get one.
EMIL SITOCI VIDEO PACKAGE/PROMO - Very interesting. His new heel persona has this semi-nihilistic undertone to it. He says he has been a big European wrestling star and a TV star in The Netherlands but that doesn't really seem to matter anymore. He "doesn't feel much of anything anymore" and said "I don't really know why I attacked Julian Pace. I just felt like it." He is "just trying to feel... something."
LUKAS ROBINSON vs. CROWCHESTER - No rating
Robinson and Crowchester are both wXw academy students. They did a few solid minutes of basic stuff before Marius Al-Ani ran in and attacked both guys. He cut a promo on them for being scrawny wimps who don't have sculpted bodies like he has. Leon van Gasteren came out to chase Al-Ani away. Emil Sitoci's music played but instead of coming down the ramp he slipped into the crowd and attacked the babyfaces from behind (the advantage of having a small arena and darkening it for entrances is that I can pretend he told the audio technician to play his music and then slipped through a nearby door into the crowd and passed through them unnoticed, rather than a much bigger or highly-lit arena where it's just not possible to get into the crowd as quickly as you would need to in order for this to be possible). The babyfaces made a comeback and sent the heels to the outside. Karsten Beck came out and booked this tag match as our main event.
KARSTEN BECK, ARROWS OF HUNGARY, & PRETTY BASTARDS BACKSTAGE - Fine. The two teams argue that they each deserve a spot in wXw. Karsten says that he likes both teams and they both have a lot of potential, but they really need to prove themselves in the ring, so he books a match for later tonight where the winning team will get a wXw contract.
RISE BACKSTAGE - Very good. Lucky Kid is celebrating his big victory in the 16 Carat Gold Tournament. Ivan Kiev joins in his joviality, but Pete Bouncer is all business. He wants to know why Lucky got between them and Schadenfreude when they tried to confront Schadenfreude about Brookes interfering in their tag title match, resulting in Aussie Open winning the titles, and why Schadenfreude came out to celebrate with Lucky after Lucky won 16 Carat Gold. Maybe there was a translation error here, but Pete claimed that their celebration was "excessive," which was not even close to the case, as they just stood on the ramp and clapped while Pete and Ivan celebrated with Lucky in the ring. Lucky says that they are just his buddies from England, and that in wXw RISE is what is important to him. Bouncer pointedly says "that' show things started in England, too."
I thought Bouncer came off as overly accusatory here, but he has a naturally suspicious personality and RISE has been through quite a bit of betrayal in the almost two years since their founding (first Klinger & Da Mack betraying RISE's principles of all for one and one for all and then Tarkan Aslan's much more literal betrayal of the group), so I can definitely understand where he's coming from. I'm not worried about Pete's suspicion causing him to turn heel on Lucky, but I am worried that it might drive Lucky away from RISE and more towards Schadenfreude, which is a much better place for these characters to be, given the group's history.
WESNA BUSIC vs. YUU - 3/10
Good while it was lasted, but disappointingly short.
DAVID STARR & WALTER BACKSTAGE - GREAT! One little touch that I really liked was that this took place as WALTER was about to sit down with Alan Counihan for a taping of wXw Conversations. This not only explained why there was a camera there and on, but also allowed Starr to apologize to Alan for his aggressive behavior during his interview after he lost to WALTER. Doing this also established for us that Starr seems to be in a normal frame of mind... until he gets himself stuck thinking about WALTER.
Starr asked WALTER for another match, and insists that WALTER give it to him because he thinks he proved at 16 Carat Gold that he is capable of beating WALTER as this segment went on, though, it became clear that Starr has become quite obsessed with this idea of WALTER acknowledging that Starr is capable of beating him because he thinks WALTER doesn't respect him. WALTER told Starr that the difference between them is that he can keep his emotions in check and Starr can't, and told Starr to forget about his and go do other things. WALTER then walked off, leaving Starr angrily kicking over the furniture.
WINNING TEAM GETS A wXw CONTRACT:
Arrows of Hungary vs. Pretty Bastards (Prince Ahura & Maggot) - 5/10
Pretty Bastards jumped the bell on the Arrows of Hungary. The match was short but action-packed.
RINGKAMPF BACKSTAGE AFTER 16 CARAT GOLD - Very good. Axel Dieter Jr. and WALTER put Veit Muller over huge and impress upon him what a major responsibility it is to represent RingKampf.
KARSTEN BECK & PRETTY BASTARDS BACKSTAGE - Good. Pretty Bastards have big heads and assume that they are now wXw's poster-boys. Karsten quickly disabuses them of this notion and tells them that if they want that spot they have to earn it. He says he will give them a chance to show their stuff in their own home town of Frankfurt against the team of Ilja Dragunov and Avalanche.
VEIT MULLER & AXEL TISCHER BACKSTAGE AFTER 16 CARAT GOLD - Good. Tischer also puts Muller over huge. He also put over the idea that although its founders might leave wXw, RingKampf will live on. It might sound lame to say it, but these two segments with Muller and the RingKampf elders were heart-warming moments and came off like a real passing of the torch (or at least setting the stage to do so) rather than the kind of forced, industrially processed torch-passing-moment-product that you'd get in WWE.
ABSOLUTE ANDY vs. VINNY VORTEX - 4/10
Andy jumped the bell on Vinny Vortex. Andy controlled most of the match and got the win. You'll often hear commentators claim something was a "statement win," but this was the first time it actually felt true to me.
VEIT MULLER & DAVID STARR BACKSTAGE - GREAT! Starr comes up to Veit and insists that WALTER is ducking him because he knows Starr can beat him. He says WALTER is even going so far as to walk away whenever Starr comes up to him- so he wants Veit to pass the message along to WALTER that he wants to have a "fight" in Frankfurt. Muller- who is already annoyed at Starr for interrupting Muller's big moment of winning WALTER's respect at Dead End last month so that Starr could make his big challenge to WALTER- tells Starr that he's not some young-boy anymore that Starr can just order to pass a message along to WALTER. Starr says he understands this, but WALTER won't talk to him so he needs someone else to pass the message along. Muller tells Starr that if he wants to fight someone in Frankfurt, he would be perfectly happy to take up the offer. Starr agrees to this, vowing to use this match with Muller to send a message to WALTER.
LUCKY KID, SCHADENFREUDE, & RISE BACKSTAGE - GREAT! First Shcadenfreude show up to celebrate with Lucky and he tells them how happy he is that they are all together in wXw now. "Are we all... together?" Brookes asks, pointing to Lucky's RISE jacket. Brookes then playful pulls the jacket off and tosses it on the ground behind him. Just as Lucky is protesting this, RISE show up and question why Lucky's RISE jacket is on the ground while he hands out with Schadenfreude. Barbs were exchanged until Pete Bouncer decided to go to Karsten Beck to get a match signed for Frankfurt. "You mean four-on-two?" Brookes asked. Everyone played their rolls perfectly here, with Schadenfreude being just a little too douchy, Bouncer being just a little too controlling, and poor Lucky Kid, at the height of his success here in wXw but unable to enjoy it because he is caught in the middle.
MARIUS AL-ANI & EMIL SITOCI vs. JULIAN PACE & LEON VAN GASTEREN - 6.75/10
Relatively short for a main event, but probably the longest match on the show. They did a good job of building Pace up in creative ways. At one point he hit his finisher and seemed to have things won but forgot he wasn't the legal man. Later in the match he took a Spinning Tombstone Piledriver on the stage from Sitoci and eventually was able to start crawling back to the ring and JUST missed being able to get back in time to break up the winning pinfall. He looked tough as hell, but also like a struggling young rookie.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Sitoci attacked Al-Ani after the match. I really liked this because a character like the one Sitoci seems to have turned into needs to be differentiated from the standard of heels getting along with each other.
This was a total storyline show from wXw, basically serving as a recap of 16 Carat and a set-up for the Frankfurt and New York City shows. It accomplished those two goals very well, but even on a show like this I'd really prefer to see some more in-ring quality. Something that makes me feel like sitting through the matches was just as worthwhile as sitting through the backstage segments and promos. To get something out of the matches that a recap wouldn't quite be able to cover. Or at the very least do a bunch of short matches and then one blow-away main event.