OPENING SEGMENT - Director of Sport Karsten Beck comes out to welcome us to the show but is soon interrupted by Absolute Andy. Andy insists that he got screwed out of the title in Oberhausen but provides no evidence. Instead he just demands a title shot wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion Bobby Gunns came out to answer respond to Andy's comments. Barbs were exchanged, it escalated into a shoving match, and eventually a title match was set up for right here, right now. Segments like this are a wonderful example of why Absolute Andy is the best heel in wrestling right now. He has charisma, but channels it all into being whiny and completely uncool, while never losing his air of danger.
wXw UNIFIED WORLD WRESTLING TITLE MATCH:
Bobby Gunns(c) vs. Absolute Andy - no rating, good segment
Andy attempts to cheat before the bell but it only results in him losing the match in mere seconds. This is more fuel for Andy's rage. When he gets his next shot at Gunns, it will be one heck of a fight.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Ring announcer Thommy Giesen very mockingly asked the crowd for one more round of applause for Andy for trying so hard. This infuriated Andy (and rightly so), so Andy grabbed him and lifted him up for an F-5 but Karsten Beck warned him that if he did he would be fired. Andy's occasional allies Jay FK came out to calm Andy down and pull Thommy to safety.
AMALE WINCHESTER VIDEO PACKAGE - Bad. If she's supposed to be a babyface then claiming the other women in wXw "don't look like athletes" is not only a pointlessly jerkish thing to say, but Amale herself never presented any evidence to her us that body type is any different (and either way, both Toni Storm and Killer Kelly are pretty damn ripped, and they're wXw's two biggest female stars), and if she's supposed to be a heel then this promo was wat too timid.
ILJA DRAGUNOV TALKS TO, MAGGOT BEFORE THE SHOW - Good segment. The idea here is that Maggot is a respectful, humble young wrestler on the rise, while his tag team partner, Prince Ahura has let the idea of their wXw contracts go to his head and is acting like a big shot. Not in a heelish way, really, but in the sort of way that you can see leading to a heel turn once someone pushes back on him a little bit.
BABY ALLISON VIDEO PACKAGE - Very good. I understand that she is a heel and can't stand the humble "girl next door" style of humility you see coming from women like Toni Storm and Killer Kelly.
AMALE WINCHESTER & BABY ALLISON vs. KILLER KELLY & YUU - 2.75/10
The heels jumped the bell on the babyfaces. Allison and Yuu had a really ugly spot where it looked like Yuu was going to go for a Codebreaker and failed to jump. Either that or Allison took her down with a double-leg so bad I didn't recognize it as one.
Yuu was the babyface in peril. She eventually made the hot tag to Kelly who ran wild, but Yuu was back in not long after and got pinned by Winchester. This was not good at all.
ABSOLUTE ANDY & JAY FK BACKSTAGE - Decent. Andy trying to be hip and young and cool was fantastic, and made even funnier by the fact that Jay Skillet stole his sunglasses and he doesn't realize it, and starts complementing Skillet on his cool sunglasses. Andy starts complaining and claiming he has been treated unfairly. Jay FK complain that they have been treated unfairly as well, citing Chris Brookes interfering in their title shot at 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 2. They convince Andy to take care of Chris Brookes in New York City. After the heels leave, it is revealed that Pete Bouncer- another enemy of Brookes' has been listening from behind a door the whole time.
WORK HORSEMEN SELFIE PROMO - They're unhappy that wXw hasn't brought them in before now, so in New York City they are going to win the tag titles in their wXw debut and thus force their way onto the roster, just like they did in EVOLVE. They got their points across, but there was too much rambling for me to call this good.
JURN SIMMONS vs. SHIGEHIRO IRIE - 5.75/10
A hoss fight that did not go anywhere near as long as I wanted it to.
AVALANCHE VIDEO PACKAGE - AWESOME! This gave us some great insight into his character and also sets up his next feud. He both thinks it was very mean of Emil Sitoci to make his return to wXw by running Julian Pace's biggest moment, and is also annoyed at Sitoci for walking out on their fledgling team, leaving him to fight The Crown by himself, so he wants a match with Sitoci.
PRETTY BASTARDS & KARSTEN BECK BACKSTAGE - This was the same backstage segment from Road to New York City, so you can check out my review of that show for details. It was shown here as a little refresher of how this next match came about. That match is...
ILJA DRAGUNOV & "THE AVALANCHE" ROBERT DREISSKER vs. PRETTY BASTARDS (Prince Ahura & Maggot) - 5.25/10
Pretty Bastards looked good, but Ilja & Avalanche picked up the win. It was nice that they gave this match the time it needed for Pretty Bastards to look kayfabe good in defeat, but the match itself wasn't good for a fifteen-minute match.
MARIUS AL-ANI BUMPS INTO ILJA DRAGUNOV BACKSTAGE - Good. Ilja tells Marius he hasn't forgotten Marius interfering in his wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship match at Back to the Roots, and boy it sure would be a shame if someone were to interfere in Marius' wXw Shotgun Title defense tonight and cost Marius the title, wouldn't it? They trade barbs, with Marius getting the verbal upper hand by pointing out that Ilja was eliminated from 16 Carat Gold by someone Marius beat a bunch of times last year (Lucky Kid) while Marius defended his title against Smackdown Superstar Alexander Wolfe, AKA wXw legend Axel Tischer.
MARIUS AL-ANI PROMO - The usual stuff about him having a great body as opposed to the "scrawny wimps" we just saw and he is the longest-reigning Shotgun Champion of all time, etc. etc. He says he doesn't care how many people answer his open challenge tonight. First Emil Sitoci comes out and they start to brawl, then Julian Pace comes out and dives onto both of them, so we get our...
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
Marius Al-Ani(c) vs. Emil Sitoci vs. Julian Pace - 6.5/10
I'll assume that the referee ringing the bell counts as a cut-off point for new people to come out and accept the open challenge. When I first learned about this title change (i.e. the moment I saw Sitoci walk through the curtain wearing the belt at Amerika ist Wunderbar- Live From New York City) I didn't understand it at all, but with a month to reflect on it, I think putting the belt on Sitoci for a short period of time could help add a needed dimension to his "I want to feel... but I feel nothing" character, and while I think Al-Ani had plenty of fresh opponents available to defend the title against, Sitoci (by virtue of not having been around for a few month) has even more.
ILJA DRAGUNOV & MARIUS AL-ANI BACKSTAGE - Fine. Ilja makes fun of Al-Ani for losing his title and informs him that he just went to see Director of Sport Karsten Beck to get Al-Ani vs. Dragunov signed for True Colors 2019 in Ilja's adopted home city of Dresden. Ilja then made his crazy, slightly unbalanced Ilja faces in Al-Ani's face.
DAVID STARR vs. VEIT MULLER - 7/10
A great match, and also the longest on the card so far quite a margin... and it only went twelve and a half minutes. Muller picks up the win here, catching everyone by the surprise. Now not only can Starr not beat WALTER, but he just lost to a guy who WALTER recently beat.
VEIT MULLER INTERVIEW - Good babyface stuff. He's so happy and proud to be a member of RingKampf and he's all about RingKampf now. He says that he doesn't need to get the handshake from WALTER that David Starr's moment-stealing at Dead End XVIII because he knows that WALTER respects him.
DAVID STARR & LUCKY KID BACKSTAGE - AWESOME! Lucky sees Starr is looking bummed out and tries to help him out, saying Starr is overthinking (WALTER-related) things and telling him "I beat WALTER; you can beat WALTER." Starr took this friendly encouragement as a taunt and let loose verbally on Lucky Kid, finishing by telling him he would kick his ass when they face off in New York City and then walking off. This ROCKED.
SCHADENFREUDE VIDEO PACKAGE - Good.
SCHADENFREUDE (Chris Brookes & Aussie Open) vs. RISE (Pete Bouncer, Ivan Kiev, & Lucky Kid) - 7/10
Before the match even got started Lucky Kid was in the middle, trying to deescalate things. Bouncer ordered Lucky to the corner and was going to start for his team but Lucky tagged himself in. Lucky and Brookes wrestled for a bit, ending their sequence with Brookes' back towards the RISE corner, so Bouncer took the opportunity to run in and attack Brookes from behind. This got Lucky upset and resulted in things breaking down into a brawl, but Lucky didn't get involved, which left Schadenfreude with a three on two advantage... but at the same time you can totally understand why Lucky wouldn't want to get involved at the moment, as Bouncer is the one being the heel at the moment (although Bouncer's irritability if understandable in light of Brookes' general dickishness so far in this angle).
They were doing a really great job with the storytelling with Lucky here, doing things like having Bouncer back a member of Schadenfreude into the RISE corner and tag Lucky in and hold the guy's arm out so Lucky could kick him in the stomach but Lucky would refuse and give the guy a snapmare and then lock on a head-vise instead. They also did stuff to show RISE getting fed up with Lucky, like a spot where Lucky had the advantage but wanted to tag out anyway, and Kiev & Bouncer jumped down off the apron to force Lucky to stay in and wrestle against his buddies from Fight Club Pro. They were doing so good a job, in fact, that I began composing a mental list of all of the things this match was doing right that similar past situations (Bullet Club Civil War being the most recent and most frustrating to me) have gotten frustratingly wrong.
Firstly, Lucky has accepted the idea that he is a professional combat athlete, as are all of his pals in Schadenfreude, and thus he understands that he has to wrestle them and that that might involve someone getting hurt. He's not worried about that ruining his friendship with them. What he is worried about ruining his friendship is if he uses unfair means to get an advantage on them in this match (like double-team moves) or if he hurts one of them by unnecessarily engaging in an more dangerous situation, like brawling outside the ring (there is a reason you're not supposed to do that in pro wrestling, after all) so he is avoiding situations like that. What he is not doing is agonizing over the thought of causing any little bit of damage to his pals.
Similarly, they put all of their focus here on the storytelling. If Lucky had some usual spots that wouldn't make sense for him to do given the story of this match (like some sort of double-team or triple-team move with Kiev and Bouncer, or any of his usual comedy-shtick) he didn't do it. Compare this to Marty Scrull at Honor Rising 2018: Night 1 who was agonizing over the mere thought of having to lock up with his good buddy Kenny Omega when he was first tagged in, but a mere two and a half minutes later (during which time Kenny did nothing illegal to Marty), Marty had grabbed Kenny and was about to break his fingers because they might be such good friends that Marty was worried that having to apply a damn wristlock might break damage their friendship but he'll instinctively try to break Kenny's fingers because friendship is nice and all, but it's more important to make sure you get your sh*t in. Doing things the way Bullet Club did- having Marty agonize over even locking up with Kenny, then go for his finger-breaking spot but stop and then start agonizing over the thought of hurting Kenny in this manner made Marty seem like someone who goes through mood swings that a woman in labor would find extreme, turning Marty into a cartoon character, and thus turning what should be serious drama into over the top goofy cartoon bullsh*t.
Then, just as I was collecting mental examples of how they weren't going over the top with things to be the next item on my list, they did a spot that I did feel was a little too over the top. Said spot saw Bouncer and Davis engage in a chop battle and Lucky got between them and tried to stop them, at which point they both got fed up with him and simultaneously gave him a big chop to knock him down. They resumed fighting, and Lucky got and ran wild on both of them. But even while I thought that was over the top, it did fit into Lucky's character, who has continuously shown to be overly optimistic about personal relationships, even to a fault (with announcer Rico Bushido even reminding us about last year's story with Lucky's tag team partner, mentor and brother Tarkan Aslan, who Lucky refused to accept had betrayed RISE until Tarkan himself showed Lucky evidence of this and turned on him). I genuinely believe that Lucky Kid wants RISE and Schadenfreude to all get along as friends and become some sort of super-group and doesn't quite understand why Kiev & Bouncer are so angry with Brookes and Aussie Open. He probably just wants them to have a friendly match for the tag titles or to not fight each other at all.
We later got a spot where Lucky was set up for top rope move onto Fletcher but hesitated and Fletcher got a rear naked choke locked in on Kiev, and Lucky, after quite a bit of agonizing, did a 450 to break it up. We later got a spot where Brookes ordered Lucky to "pick a side," to which Lucky responded "I don't want to!" Brookes then grabbed him for a butterfly Piledriver but put him down to fight off the incoming Pete Bouncer.
After Aussie Open got some big moves in, Brookes appeared to have Kiev beaten but Absolute Andy showed up and pulled the ref out of the ring, at which point Jay FK attacked everyone. Andy took out Lucky on the outside, so Brookes dove onto Andy- his opponent later this week in NYC- to take him out, but this allowed Bouncer (clearly not the legal man at this point, by the way) to hit Brookes with the double-arm DDT and get the win.
Schadenfreude yelled at Lucky after the match and Lucky slinked off. Bouncer tried to comfort him, but Lucky did not join in RISE's post-match "we're coming for the belts" gesturing. He did, however, do the RISE pose on the stage with Bouncer & Kiev.
RISE BACKSTAGE AFTER THEIR MATCH - Great. Lucky yells at Bouncer for "exploiting the situation" of the interference, saying of Schadenfreude "they're our buddies. We don't have any problem with them. Don't you see that Andy and Jay FK want to drive a wedge between us?"
Bouncer shockingly managed to not totally lose his cool when he responded to Lucky, almost yelling at him that he was merely taking justice into his own hands by "exploiting the situation" as Lucky put it, although true justice would have been if the titles were on the line because Brookes cost them the tag titles and helped Aussie Open win them in a similar situation at 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 2, and that doesn't even seem to bother Lucky at all. He told Lucky that if he is so concerned about Andy then he should try to deal with Andy in New York City, but if he does, he'll have to face Andy without their help because they aren't booked in New York City because they lost the tag titles to Schadenfreude. He pokes Lucky in the chest and tells him to "think about that" as he walks off.
This was a decent show from wXw. The new strategy definitely seems to be for these smaller set-up shows to have short matches but be heavy on story and this one definitely was. Unfortunately, it also had quite a few matches that I really would have liked to see get more time (Starr vs. Muller, Jurn vs. Irie, the Shotgun Title three-way) and one of the matches that actually did quite a bit of time (Pretty Bastards vs. Ilja & Avalanche) really didn't deliver in the ring to the level that it should have. The show definitely accomplished what it set out to achieve, but it's not a show that I would ever think of watching again. Shows like these make me thankful that we have transitioned from DVDs to on-demand services.