wXw WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Aussie Open(c) vs. Ilja Dragunov & WALTER - 7/10
WALTER made his entrance holding up both PROGRESS World Title and the WWE UK Title… and then dropped the PROGRESS one to the mat and started appreciatively at the WWE UK Championship. This was a great formulaic tag team match to start things off. Our announcers, Alan Counihan and Andy Jackson, did a wonderful job of conveying to us how weird it was to see WALTER doing things like going to the eyes or begging off. The heels won relatively cleanly, but still in a sneaky manner via a blind tag that Davis didn’t see so he wound up eating a Torpedo Moscow. The new champs didn’t even celebrate with their belts. They just headed to the back. When they got to the stage, WALTER first bowled and then kicked his belt to the back. FANTASTIC heel stuff.
ABSOLUTE ANDY & JAY-FK vs. STRONGHEARTS (T-Hawk, El Lindaman, & CIMA) - 6.5/10
The ring announcer apparently forgot that this isn’t the Shortcut to the Top match and announced that the heels had been eliminated after being thrown over the top rope. Either that or the ring announcer just decided to start making jokes on his own. Neither one of those options is a good thing for wXw.
Once they stopped with the comedy these guys had a god traditional tag team match, with the heels going over relatively cleanly.
DAISUKE SEKIMOTO VS. WALTER VIDEO PACKAGE - This is happening big they’re facing off again in Toronto next week. Very exciting news!
wXw WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Amale Winchester(c) vs. Toni Storm - 3/10
Killer Kelly provided guest commentary for this match. She was supposed to be in this match but is being held out due to injury. For that reason I’m willing to be a little more forgiving of the DQ finish (and props to Alan Counihan for making the finish feel a little more thematic with the name of the show on his commentary), but that doesn’t mean that a DQ finish for a heel hitting the referee on purpose after being angry at a count isn’t frustrating in a big-show title match. That being said, it would have been better if the execution between Amale and the referee hadn’t look so amateurish. Toni attacked Amale after the match, which made the fans happy and seemed to at least temporarily move her back towards the babyface side of things, but we won’t be ale to test that until we see her in the ring with a real babyface like Killer Kelly or Valkyrie.
wXw UNIFIED WORLD WRESTLING TITLE MATCH:
Bobby Gunns(c) vs. Lucky Kid - 7.5/10
There story here was Lucky being the babyface who wouldn’t stay down while Gunns was the babyface in the “I don’t want to hurt you, so just stay down” role. The fans started to turn on Gunns the longer the match went on, which didn’t make any sense to me because it’s not like he was doing anything wrong and they made a big point of showing him giving Lucky a lot more time than he probably should have to recover. The match was very exciting technically and the crowd was very into it, but at the same time it lacked that special intensity, which is pretty rare for a Bobby Gunns match.
2019 SHORTCUT TO THE TOP - 8.25/10
For those who don’t know, Shortcut to the Top is wXw’s version of the Royal Rumble. We already knew that Francis Kaspin would be #1, but we didn’t know that his tag team partner Jay Skillet would be #2. They did, apparently, and so they developed a plan, which they took the time to explain to us here. Instead of fighting each other, they’re going to turn this match into a handicap match. They’ve got ninety seconds two double-team and eliminate every entrant, and they are certain in their ability to eliminate everyone.
And things just keep getting better for them because the third entrant is their stablemate Absolute Andy. Despite being the most hated heel in the company a few months ago, Andy’s dork heel persona has been so entertaining that the fans are all cheering for him now. He suggests that they use these ninety seconds to give the fans a “photo session” and as soon as Jay-FK start posing, he grabs them from behind and throws them over the top rope… but they land on the apron. Andy claims he was just trying to teach them that they have to be alert at all times. The crowd went nuts for this and laughed their asses off.
Before Jay-FK had a chance to respond to Andy’s attempted betrayal, the fourth entrant came out… and the crowd went bonkers for the return of Shigehiro Irie! The heels try to convince him to join in their photo session instead of fighting, but Shiggy is having none of it, telling them to shut up and throwing lariats left and right, and eliminating Kaspin.
I haven’t been paying too much attention to it, but we’re only on entrant #7 and I’m already highly skeptical that the intervals between entrants are really the advertised ninety seconds. Said seventh entrant was Kyle Fletcher, who was happy and jumping around and didn’t look at all like someone who had lost the tag titles less than an hour and a half ago.
From there things preceded a nice pace. You can certainly call them out for doing a bit too much of “guy enters the match, then runs wild,” but it’s a Royal Rumble, so what do you expect. They had a number of good surprise returns throughout, including two big ones at the end that I’ll get to soon.
Levaniel was amusing, taking forever to get into the ring because he had to cut a promo first telling us how pretty he is and the he was destined to win, as whispered to him by the stars themselves. And then he was immediately eliminated by Julian Pace. This same sort of thing happened to him at battle royale to determine the #30 spot back at the previous show, so I guess that’s his gimmick. That’s a fine comedic gimmick, but only if he’s going to be used sporadically.
When Jurn Simmons came in at #17, he really started running wild, eliminating three people on his own. While that might not seem like much, when his initial rampage was done, Jurn was responsible for more than a third of the eliminations we had seen so far. The guy who eventually cut Jurn off was, Avalanche who was then standing tall when Emil Sitoci entered at #18. Avalanche overcame his assault and quickly eliminated him, but Sitoci would later come back and hit Avalanche in the back of the head with the wXw Shotgun Title. Jurn eliminated Avalanche, and Sitoci beat him up on the outside.
Chris Brookes was #20 and once he was in, Schadenfreude started to dominate. It was quite interesting seeing Ivan Kiev of RISE- the group that more than any other in wXw over the past few years has been about the team mentality, get obliterated three-on-one by RISE’s most recent rivals. Of course, the fact that Kiev was the only RISE member in this match shows how far the group has fallen over just the past few months, and was some nice symbolism for how much things have fallen apart for them.
Leon vanGasteren was supposed to come in at #25, but we cut backstage to just in time to a masked and hooded figure walking away from Leon’s fallen body.
Towards the end we got a series of moments where WALTER was alone in the ring and one of his former students would enter the match and have a nice showing for a few moments before being eliminated. They did this just long enough in a row to set up the curveball at #29 when WALTER was again alone in the ring and out came DAVID STARR!
Starr got a BIG reaction, but it was somewhat muted because people very much weren’t sure if they were supposed to see him as a babyface or not, since he in his last few appearances he was a total dick and also ran down the company with false accusations of them trying to protect WALTER from him.
WALTER begging off from Starr seemed odd because WALTER has beaten Starr every one of the twenty-something times they’ve wrestled, but this turned out to all make sense because WALTER was really just buying time for- and luring Starr into position to not see- Ilja come in from behind with a chair. After a few chairshots from Ilja, the wXw World Tag Team Champions picked David Starr up and dumped him over the top rope, but he landed on the apron… and then rolled off to the floor. If you thought that being unable to beat WALTER was making Starr crazy before, now it’s going to get a lot worse.
So we wound up with WALTER and Ilja-who one of the announcers evocatively referred to as a “two-man power trip”- standing united in the ring with just one entrant left. There were a lot of big pops for surprise returns during this match, but none was bigger than for #30… TIMOTHY THATCHER! And as both his lack of RingKampf tights and his shoving WALTER away when WALTER went to hug him showed, RingKampf- or at least the WALTER/Thatcher version that dominated for so long- is dead.
After a miscue between WALTER and Ilja, Thatcher managed to eliminate Ilja, meaning that Shortcut to the Top came down to WALTER vs. Thatcher. They had a good little segment and that’s all I’ll say to avoid spoiling the match. The winner cut a promo afterwards.
ALAN COUNIHAN INTERVIEWS DAVID STARR - Good. This promo basically served to reposition Starr as a babyface as he vows to make WALTER and Ilja’s lives a living hell by saying that it’s no longer about him being selfish and wanting a match against WALTER to prove that he can beat him but about beating WALTER to show that WALTER and Ilja’s new “we’re the big stars because we’re in WWE” attitude is wrong.
Despite a weaker undercard than I was expecting, this was a good show from wXw. They moved storylines along well, the show was easy to sit through, and, most importantly, the eponymous Shortcut to the Top match gave us the fun combination of action, moments, and storyline advancement that a good Royal Rumble should. That being said, I wouldn’t really recommend this show to anyone who isn’t already a wXw fan. It’s a fun show if you know the characters. If you don’t, it doesn’t have much value over a similar show at your local indy.