KARSTEN BECK IS CONFRONTED BY ILJA DRAGUNOV & WALTER BEFORE THE SHOW - Good. The heels were sufficiently outraged after losing their titles. I loved that they blamed Karsten for interfering with their “game plan” when said plan to run away and take the count-out loss if they thought they were going to lose. They yelled at him for not keeping track of David Starr, as if it was Karsten’s job to keep track of where everyone on the roster is. They threatened to go to management and try to get him removed from his position as Director of Sport via a no confidence vote. Karsten fired back at them that if they want their titles match then all they need to do is win their contractually obligated rematch for them, which he has booked for today.
ABSOLUTE ANDY INTERRUPTS AVALANCHE’S PROMO BACKSTAGE - Great. Avalanche talks about what it means to win his first singles title in wXw, and tells us that after months of Emil Sitoci’s games, the title is going to be represented by a worthy champion. Absolute Andy shows up and declares himself to be the worthiest champion of all. He points out that he eliminated Avalanche from Shortcut to the Top, and reminds us that winning the Shotgun Title would make him a triple-crown champion, a feat thus far achieved by only Ilja Dragunov and “Bad Bones” John Klinger. A match was agreed to. Midlife crisis Absolute Andy is the most entertaining gimmick in all of wrestling. I was rolling with laughter when, after Avalanche called him “grandpa” and left, he sought assurance from the camera crew that they would be editing that part out.
JULIAN PACE CONFRONTS THE CROWN BACKSTAGE - Bad. He accuses them of being the ones who attacked his tag team partner Leon van Gasteren during Shortcut to the Top. Jurn points out that he couldn’t have done it because he was in the Shortcut to the Top match at that point (as he noted, after having eliminated Pace), and James points out that he was in a different country. This made Pace look bad, but his shouting “when Leon gets here you’re going to be in big trouble” made him feel like a kid threatening another kid that this daddy was going to come and beat them up for him. The acting was great (especially Jurn and AJ), but the dialogue and concept killed it.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
“The Avalanche” Robert Dreissker(c) vs. Absolute Andy (w/Jay Skillet) - 6.5/10
A fun babyface vs. heel opener that told its story of Avalanche needing to overcome the numbers game well. The only major misstep was the spot where the referee caught Skillet interfering but didn’t disqualify Andy (or even eject Skillet from ringside).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Entertaining, if slightly contrived in its execution. Avalanche leaves, victorious, and the heels sulk in the ring. Then the Crown came out cut a promo telling everyone that they are tired of being accused of attacking Leon van Gasteren at Shortcut to the Top. Andy insists that they must have done it but they argue that attacks from behind aren’t there style… but they are Andy and his pals’ style. Andy responds that the attacker was wearing a black hoodie and he and his pals are way too stylish for that. Alexander James points out that Francis Kaspin has been known to wear a hoodie, so that doesn’t absolve them.
Pretty Bastards come out and make fun of the heels while insisting that one of them was the one to attack Leon in the hopes of getting an advantage in Word Tag Team Festival by taking VollGasteren out of the tournament. They then announce that VollGasteren are here tonight and have them come out, and the babyfaces clear the ring. This was a very underwhelming return for Leon after the dastardly and cowardly attack from behind on him last month. Karsten Beck came out and booked them in an eight-man tag for later tonight.
MARIUS AL-ANI vs. THE ROTATION - 3.5/10
Al-Ani gets the clean, dominant win in a match that lasted just long enough for Jeremy Graves to properly impress upon us that Marius is now more determined and more focused and thus more dangerous than ever before.
PRETTY BASTARDS, JULIAN PACE, & LEON VAN GASTEREN BACKSTAGE - Fine. Pretty Bastards are joking around with Julian. Leon tells them to take things seriously. He got attacked from behind and he doesn’t care who did it; when he finds the attacker that person will get what is coming to them. Prince Ahura and Maggot acted exactly like you would expect them to act if they had secretly done it and didn’t want Leon and Julian to find out, which is exactly what I think happened.
MARIUS AL-ANI PROMO - GREAT! He rants about how insulted he is to have been booked against a scrawny wimp like The Rotation, or a fat slob like his Mike Schwarz, who he will face over World Tag Team Festival weekend. He says that people like them don’t belong in wrestling, and says he will humiliate Schwarz so badly that he will have no choice but to accept that he doesn’t belong in wXw.
LEYLA HIRSCH VIDEO PACKAGE - GREAT! I now know who she is and what she’s about, so I can care about her in the appropriate direction (in this case, full babyface!).
LEYLA HIRSCH vs. VALKYRIE - 4.75/10
Very good for the time it got. Hirsch looked good in her debut but came up short.
KARSTEN BECK, AMALE WINCHESTER, & FAYE JACKSON BACKSTAGE - Bad. This was the usual not so great acting with Karsten and Amale (Faye wasn’t very good, either, but she was better than the other two), and the usual “Amale doesn’t realize she has a title defense tonight” stuff. Also, she complained about the level of opponent Karsten has chosen for her.
VEIT MULLER INTERIVEW - Good. He laments his loss to Bobby Gunns when he challenged for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title at the previous show but says that he is confident that Timothy Thatcher will win the title from Gunns at World Tag Team Festival 2019: Night 2 as well as being confident that he and Thatcher will win World Tag Team Festival. He doesn’t think that having so many matches in one weekend (Thatcher is also in the Ambition Superfight at Ambition: Wildcard Edition will hurt Thatcher’s chances of accomplishing either of these goals.
BOBBY GUNNS PROMO - Very good. Yeah. He’s definitely going heel.
TIMOTHY THATCHER PROMO - This was good, except for the fact that I’m not really sure what “shortcuts” he is referring to Gunns having taken recently.
PRETTY BASTARDS & VOLLGASTEREN (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren) vs. THE CROWN & JAY-AA (Jay Skillet & Absolute Andy) - 5.75/10
They spent about eight minutes brawling on the outside before the match officially started. The heels lost when their alliance fell apart. This was an okay babyface in peril match, minus the terrible-looking bumps that Andy and Skillet took for Leon’s stunner. It’s main problem, though, was just plain not being good enough for a match that had almost twenty-five minutes devoted to it (and that’s not including the earlier segment to set it up).
DAVID STARR CONFRONTS ILJA DRAGUNOV BACKSTAGE - Fine. Starr had some rather clever wordplay, but I can totally see his offer that when he and Eddie Kingston win World Tag Team Festival they will give Ilja and WALTER a shot at their newly-won titles right then and there coming back to bite him in the ass.
THE CROWN PROMO - Jurn started to cut a good promo, but more importantly, in the background…
JULIAN PACE IS ATTACKED IN THE BATHROOM BY THE MAN IN THE BLACK SWEATSHIRT - Good.
1. We know The Crown aren’t responsible.
2. Leon van Gasteren showed up to check on Pace, followed soon after by Pretty Bastards… and seeing them in rapid succession, the man in the sweatshirt appears to be the exact same size as Prince Ahura.
This segment did nothing but reinforce my belief that Pretty Bastards- or at least Prince Ahura- are the guilty party. Their motive for attacking Julian now would be the same as their motive for attacking Leon- to try to open up a spot in World Tag Team Festival (they thought they had done so with Leon, but he returned to action quicker than they expected).
LUFISTO PROMO - Very good. She says that if she doesn’t win this year’s Femme Fatales tournament, she will push off her retirement until she does so.
wXw WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Amale Winchester(c) vs. Faye Jackson - 2.5/10
This was a dull match until the creative finish, but unfortunately the execution of the ref semi-bump to set it up left a lot to be desired.
KARSTEN BECK TELLS LEON VAN GASTEREN AND PRETTY BASTARDS THAT JULIAN PACE’S INJURIES WILL PREVENT HIM FROM COMPETING IN WORLD TAG TEAM FESTIVAL, AND THUS VOLLGASTEREN MUST BE PREPLACED - Leon suggests Pretty Bastards as their replacement and Karsten approves it. I cannot wait for Leon’s reaction when it eventually comes out that Pretty Bastards were behind the attacks. This has been one of my favorite undercard stories all year in wrestling, and part of the reason it works is the months they spent establishing these teams and personalities in their storylines throughout the winter and spring.
LUCKY KID INTERVIEW - Good. He rejects Pete Bouncer’s claims that he didn’t support RISE, but accepts that the group is now dead. He says that he knows he doesn’t need RISE, as he won 16 Carat Gold all on his own.
PURGE CLUB VIDEO - Fine.
FAYE JACKSON CONFRONTS AMELE BACKSTAGE - Good. Faye is understandably pissed about the way Amale won and demanded a rematch. Karsten Beck came by, and when Faye pressured him about it, he had to grant her one, despite Amele’s objections. The match will take place at this year’s Femme Fatales. Only now has it struck me that they’ve actually done an amazing job of keeping Karsten a babyface despite the fact that he is almost certainly in a secret relationship with the heel champion.
wXw WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Aussie Open(c) vs. Ilja Dragunov & WALTER - 6.75/10
A very good albeit disappointingly short main event. Davis’ arm got worked over again, so maybe that will become a running story. I don’t think anyone thought there was a chance of the titles changing right back, so I liked the fact that they used this match to transfer the feud from WALTER & Ilja vs. Aussie Open to WALTER & Ilja vs, Karsten Beck (and, by extension, wXw management as a whole). The babyfaces win the feud but the heels retain their heat with the company, immediately moving on to what comes next.
ILJA DRAGUNOV & WALTER YELL AT KARSTEN BECK BACKSTAGE - Great! Much arguing happened, with Karsten having valid points to refute all of Ilja and WALTER’s crap. He says that if they are going to act the way they did tonight (oull the referee out of the ring, and then throw Karsten into the ring and order him to be the referee when Karsten came out to check on the referee) then he doesn’t see why they should e in World Tag Team Festival at all. They got very upset at this threat and told Karsten in no uncertain terms that he had been begging for them to be in World Tag Team Festival, and now he’s going to get what wished for, whether he likes it or not.
WORLD TAG TEAM FESTIVAL WEEKEND RUN-DOWN - There are some exciting match-ups on all of the shows, but Femme Fatales looks pretty boring other than that LuFisto vs. Saraya Knight match. This was the first time that I learned that they have changed the format from a league to a single-elimination tournament. I was fine with the old format, but if they’re going to change the name, then changing the format makes sense as well.
AUSSIE OPEN PROMO - GREAT! They reiterate their vow to retain their titles throughout all of World Tag Team Festival.
This was a meh show from wXw. It got the stories where they needed to be, but in the ring, this was not good at all. I know that that is the way “Road to…” shows often work, but it doesn’t always shave to be that way. You CAN set these shows up to be able to deliver in the ring. The problem on this show was that the eight-man tag just plain didn’t deliver, and the main event wasn’t given anywhere near enough time to even resemble the match these same two teams had the night before. I know the shows were taped on back to back knights and a lot of these wrestlers work other places and no one wants to get hurt a few weeks before the second-biggest weekend of the year, but in terms of in-ring action, this might well be the worst full-length wXw show I’ve ever seen.<