OPENING VIDEO - Decent. We got Alpha Kevin functioning as a sort of host, welcoming us to the show and explaining the rules of the match and its importance. We then got “I’m going to win the Royal Rumble” promos from a bunch of people. Marius Al-Ani and Norman Harras were the only two who got to talk for more than two lines. Kevin crossed the line into the weird kind of goofy here. I don’t like it.
KILLER KELLY IN ABSOLUTE ANDY’S OFFICE - Bad. Kelly wants to know when she’s getting her title shot. Andy says he doesn’t know when Amale will be back. Kelly gets upset so Andy offers to strip Amale of the title make Kelly, the #1 contender, the new champion. Kelly shoots this idea down because she wants to earn it. Andy then suggests that over season 2 of Shotgun 2020, they will have round-robin tournament to crown a new champion, but Kelly shoots this down because when they tried that when they crowned the first champion, “things didn’t go very well.” Okay, fine. That doesn’t mean that they won’t go well this time.
But Kelly doesn’t like that idea, so Andy throws out another one. Kelly’s match with Sara Leon at Shortcut to the Top will be to determine an interim champion until Amale returns. Kelly doesn’t like this idea, either. At this point, I’m losing my patience with Kelly. She is coming off like a child who just doesn’t grasp the reality of the situation. I’m sorry, Kelly, but there is a pandemic going on so Amale can’t be here right now. Wrestling her for the title is not an option!
Andy exasperatedly asks Kelly if she wants to wrestle men if there’s no women’s champion for her to face… and Kelly likes this idea. She seizes on the fact that Andy had told her she would be the “#1 contender” when setting up her match with Levaniel and didn’t specify which title, so she now decides that she’ll have the choice of which men’s singles title to challenge for. Andy thinks this is a dumb idea, but he compromises with Kelly and will allow her and any other women to participate in Shortcut to the Top. Andy’s laziness absolutely bothers me and asking Kelly if she wanted to be his secretary was a terrible thing to do, but I thought Kelly came off so poorly here when she shot down the interim champion idea (which seems to me to be BY FAR the most reasonable course of action) that I really don’t want to see her succeed in Shortcut to the Top.
ANDY JACKSON INTERVIEWS SENZA VOLTO - A fine interview for a non-native English speaker, but this man cannot be a babyface because his eyes are TERRIFYING. They look fake in a very off-putting way.
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH:
Metehan(c) (w/Ezel) vs. Senza Volto - 7/10
Metehan gave his seconds some advice before the match, which was that you must always “know the face of your opponent.” I figured this would be metaphorical, as Metehan asked them if they knew Senza’s face and they answered in the affirmative and Metehan didn’t get angry at them for anything, but Metehan tried to go for Senza’s mask several times during the match, including once giving up the chance to his finisher to go for the mask instead. He eventually won by pulling the mask off and then rolling Senza up before the referee could see that the mask was off.
This was a great match, paced well, and lost of great twists and turns. They even got me t bite on a count-out tease. That’s what can happen when you don’t do them in EVERY F*CKING MATCH, New Japan. If I were booking, I would have had them go a little bit more all out before the first match back in front of fans, but this was still great.
Earlier on, we got a spot where Abdul and Aytac pushed Metehan out of the way of an on-coming dive, and Metehan got upset at them for this and slapped them, with the commentator describing it as Metehan feeling that this was “an attack on his pride” to presume that he would need such help. This trio continues to go in surprising and interesting directions.
SARA LEON INTERVIEW - Fine.
DIE PRUGELBRUDER ARRIVE AT THE ARENA - Meh. Alpha Kevin thinks Chris Hero and Kassius Ohno are brothers. Mike Schwarz gives him a pep talk about winning the tag titles, although Kevin seems more focused on Shortcut to the Top.
THE WOMEN BACKSTAGE - Fine until the end. Killer Kelly is very excited that everyone is here. She tells them that Andy has lifted the ban on intergender wrestling for season two of Shogun 2020 and that they will all be in tonight’s Shortcut to the top match. They’re all happy about this and their enthusiasm felt authentic, but then Kelly had to go and ruin it for me at the end by talking about excited she was to “make history.” Keep that WWE buzzword bullsh*t out of my good wrestling!
Also, seeing Killer Kelly be happy and smiley while wearing her gear was weird. She’s usually either hair-down backstage Kelly with emotions, or she’s in her gear with hair in those MMA braids in full Killer Kelly mode. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her be non-Killer Kelly while wearing her gear.
KILLER KELLY vs. SARA LEON - 2.5/10
Kelly won a relatively short match, but they let Leon sow a little bit of what she could do as well.
MARIUS AL-ANI MAKES FUN OF ALPHA KEVIN, JOHNNY EVERS, AND SOME OTHER GUY BACKSTAGE - Good. I’m definitely more interested in this Marius Al-Ani vs. Johnny Evers match than I was before.
DIE RAUCHERPAUSE BACKSTAGE - Fine. They’re dismissive of women wrestling. I kind of want to see Bobby Gunns vs. Killer Kelly just to see how it would move Kelly’s story with Alexander James forward. There are so many interesting directions that could go in, depending on how AJ reactions to things.
MARIUS AL-ANI vs. JOHNNY EVERS - 2.5/10
Al-Ani won a shot match, then cut a good heel promo afterwards.
LEON VAN GASTEREN, DIE PRUGELBURDER, & ABSOLUTE ANDY BACKSTAGE - Fine. Everyone is being friendly. Andy says that he won’t be competing in Shortcut to the top. Leon, his fellow veteran, questions his drive for not competing, but Andy insists he can’t because he’s the Director of Sport.
In other news, Schwarz and Leon finally got sick of Alpha Kevin constantly talking up the time he eliminated Chris Hero from Shortcut to the Top.
wXw WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Pretty Bastards(c) vs. Die Prugelburder (Mike Schwarz & Alpha Kevin) (w/Melanie Gray) - 5.5/10
Kevin has been in about six backstage segments so far, and we haven’t seen Melanie in any of them yet, including the one where Kevin arrived at the building. Did husband and wife not travel to the building together?
I was hoping for more out of this. Just because it’s a placeholder defense doesn’t mean you can’t go all out with it. Pretty Bastards retained cleanly.
BOBBY GUNNS DOESN’T BELIEVE THAT ABSOLUTE ANDY ISN’T PLANNING ON ABUSING HIS POWER TO MAKE HIMSELF THE FINAL ENTRANT IN SHORTCUT TO THE TOP - Good. Andy insists that he’s not even planning on participating. They argue about it, being outwardly playful but you can tell that they’re both deadly serious by the way it escalates. Bobby Gunns eventually talks Andy into making himself the #1 entrant in Shortcut to the Top. It seems to me that this would mean cancelling someone else’s booking, so I’m taking this as a nod that Andy really did plan to enter the match himself at some point. Then again, the sudden addition of the women today shows that everything was still in flux and Andy’s laziness has been the defining trait of his tenure in this position so far, so it’s possible that he didn’t actually have enough people booked- or, to be a little more generous, that adding the women has thrown everything else about that match into a state of flux, so Andy doesn’t feel bad bumping one more person if he’s already bumped four others to make space for the women.
wXw UNIFIED WORLD WRESTLING TITLE MATCH:
Bobby Gunns(c) vs. Tristan Archer - 6.5/10
You can copy and paste my statements from the tag title match about how it would have been nice to see these guys go all out.
2020 SHORTCUT TO THE TOP - 7.25/10
This is wXw’s Royal Rumble (with an MITB stip added) so like I do with the Rumble,s I’m just going to share my running thoughts and some recap stuff, lightly edited to make it flow better.
Andy is #1. #2 is Vincent Heisenberg, who doesn’t fall for any of Andy’s poor attempts at mind games. #3 is our first female competitor, Baby Allison. We got some good comedic stuff based on around the size difference between Baby Allison and the other two. #4 was Paris Ballis, adding another shorter person to the match. The two big dudes beat the crap out of him, then started fighting amongst themselves.
#5 was Marius Al-Ani, who came in just as Andy had Heisenberg in a position to hit one of their old A4 tag team moves. People kept saving Baby Allison from getting hit with moves. The next three entrants were Anil Marik, Dennis Zimmer, and Leon van Gasteren.
Leon confronted Andy about being in the match despite Andy saying that he wouldn’t be. Then Leon ran wild and stunnered a bunch of people (though the one on Anil Marik went wrong and turned into an Ace Crusher). Paris was the first one out
Someone finally hit Baby Allison with a move when Andy gave her a stunner. Leon was not okay with this because she’s just a mere girl and not trained combat athlete. Oh. Wait. She is a trained combat athlete. What did you want to happen, Leon? That everyone should just hop over the top rope and let her win?
Soon afterwards, Baby Allison got to give Andy a stunner and he took a big, goofy bump for it and then stumbled around the ring, with Leon eliminating him via low-bridging him (Leon had already bee on the apron from when Andy tried to eliminated him). Baby Allison then eliminated Leon with a dropkick.
Next came Sara Leon. At this point it became clear to me that there are not consistent intervals here. She and Allison were about to go at it when Dennis Zinner stumbled towards them. He went to throw a punch at them but backed off when he saw women. As he was starting to throw his punch, Sara Leon but her dukes up, ready to block and respond, but Baby Allison started to beg off. Playing the “don’t him me! I’m just a girl!” card is NOT a babyface move. I don’t see how they can expect anyone to want to see Baby Allison do well at this point.
Marius eliminated first Anil Marik and then Heisenberg in quick succession after a spot where Heisenberg could have eliminated Marik but offered to form an alliance with him instead. Currently in the ring are Marius Al-Ani, and three people who no one can possibly think have a chance of winning.
Speaking of people who no one can possibly think have a chance of winning, the next entrant was Levaniel. Levaniel did his whole shtick, and the wrestlers in the ring stopped to watch him with disgust. He thought this was time for his talk show. That was dumb. When he was corrected, he said he was more than prepared for this because his father once won a 1,000-person battle royale in 1977 in Japan. I laughed at that.
Levaniel got into the ring and was immediately pinballed back and forth between the two women. Baby Allison licked his face, which Levaniel was not okay with at all. Baby Allison then turned on Sara Leon and eliminated her, only to be eliminated herself moments later when Levaniel snuck up behind her and dumped her over the top rope. Baby Allison then attacked Sara Leon even though it was Allison who betrayed Leon and not he other way around. Baby Allison is just a jerk, attacking Sara for no reason.
#11 was Fast Time Moodo. #12 was Alpha Kevin. They both did stuff.
While #13 Stephanie Maze was making her entrance, Dennis Zinner was eliminated by… someone. Kevin, I think, but we didn’t see it happen. Maze and Fast Time Moodo had a nice little MMA strikers face-off. That’s respect right there. Gender is ignored, and, as the announcers put it, they are “just two fighters” going at it.
#14 was Abdeul from Ezel. I now know hat he is the one with the moustache. He went right after Kevin to avenge the humiliating loss he and Aytac suffered to Die Prugelbruder in season 1 of Shotgun 2020, but it didn’t work out well for him, as Kevin was their little fight.
#15 was Goldenboy Santos, but #16 was our first BIG return: Emil Sitoci. He doesn’t appear to be a nihilist anymore, so that’s good, because that character wasn’t going anywhere. Hopefully he’ll cut a promo explaining to us how he broke himself out of his depression. He faced off with Marius, who he had unresolved issues with over the Shotgun Title when he left. Marius eliminated Kevin, so Sitoci went and eliminated Santos so as not to be one-upped. Marius eliminated Fast Time Moodo, and then he and Sitoci finally went at it.
#17 was Avalanche, who went right for his current rival, Al-Ani. #18 was Prince Ahura, who ran around attacking a bunch of people, then made an alliance with Abdul. Hmmm… didn’t Norman Harras propose an alliance between these two factions on the final episode of season one of Shotgun 2020?
#19 was Ivan Kiev, who immediately went after Abdul, the stablemate of Ivan’s former enemy Metehan, FKA Lucky Kid.
Levaniel was eliminated just before the entrance of Killer Kelly. Prince Ahura tried to seduce her and was generally a douche, and got his ass kicked by the ladies for it. I will say one thing for this dude, though: He is NUTS. He went for a springboard dropkick with his pants around his ankles.
#21 was Johnny Evers, who went right for Marius after the mean things Marius said abut him earlier. #22 was Aytac, and he and Abdul immediately got into a thing with Killer Kelly and Stephanie Maze. Ezel told the women they didn’t want to fight and them and then turned their backs on them to go after other people, so of course Kelly and Stephanie attacked them from behind. Did those two really think that saying “I don’t want to fight you” would stop the other side from attacking you in a battle royale? Maze charged at the two Ezel members and they both low-bridged her, eliminating her. Unfortunately, this spot went so slowly that Maze looked like an idiot. Not to be outdone, Ezel turned their backs on the ring to taunt Stephanie, and thus were easy pickings for Killer Kelly to eliminate.
#23 was Hektor Invictus. Al-Ani eliminated Johnny Evers, then dropkicked Avalanche from behind, sending him into Killer Kelly.
#24 was Jurn Simmons, who got a great reaction to the crowd for his first appearance since Coronavirus. He went right for Marius Al-Ani, who he had began to feud with right before the shutdown. Jurn dominated with his power and eliminated Al-Ani, who was doing so well that you knew he wasn’t going to win simply because his victory felt too obvious.
#25 was Prince Ahura’s tag team partner, Maggot. Jurn flattened the both of them, then outpowered Hektor Invictus. Marius Al-Ani reached into the ring to grab Jurn’s foot, distracting him, and allowing Hektor to take advantage of it and eliminate him.
On Jurn’s way to the bac he had a stare-down with entrant #26, Dirty Dragan, who Jurn beat to force him to leave wXw. I’m not really a fan of Dragan being back. I know that the stipulation was only that he had to “leave wXw” and he has been gone for almost two years now, but at least to me, being forced to “leave wXw” should be the same as having to leave forever, or else the guy could skip one show and then just come back. If you don’t want to get rid of the guy forever, you should give it a time limit like one year, and then if you don’ want to bring the guy back after that you don’t have to.
Dragan punched Killer Kelly in the face, then hit both Pretty Bastards in the testicles. Then he came face to face with his partner in his feud against Jurn Simmons (and Alexander James), Emil Sitoci. They had a stand-off, then hugged… and then each got hit in the nuts by one of the Pretty Bastards.
We got a count-down for #27… and then no one came out. Odd.
Avalanche eliminated Hektor. #28 did show up. It was The Rotation. He hit Avalanche with springboard dropkick, setting up for the duo of Prince Ahura and Dirty Dragan to eliminate Avalanche. That was pretty shocking on all fronts. #29 was Mike Schwarz. He formed an alliance with Killer Kelly and went after the Pretty Bastards and Ivan Kiev.
Pretty Bastards eliminated Dirty Dragan. He tried to get back into the ring and attack them so they slid under the bottom rope to the outside and kicked his ass. Maggot was going to hit Sitoci with a chair on the outside but Sitoci reached out and snatched it away from him. Unfortunately for Sitoci, this meant he wasn’t paying attention to the match, so he was eliminated from behind by #30, Norman Harras.
By my calculations, the no-show was Metehan, which seems odd if his stated goal is to get more money to support his family… unless the deal Harrias wanted to strike between his faction and Metehan’s Ezel was that neither group would go after the other’s titles, in which case him staying out of the match would work with that, although Abdul and Aytac’s presence is odd. Then again, we havne’t been given any evidence that someone like Bobby Gunns should view those two as threats, so maybe he was happy to have them in the match on the off chance that they did win.
Pretty Bastards got back in the ring to save Harras from The Rotation. The Rotation had the chance to eliminate Pretty Bastards but took so long setting his move up that they were able to recover, catch him, and send him flying through the air and crashing face first to the floor. They eliminated Kiev after a cool double-team move as well, but then Kelly eliminated Maggot. This one was weird because Maggot actually went under the top rope, but he headed to the back as if he had been eliminated.
This left us with a final four of Killer Kelly, Mike Schwarz, Prince Ahura, and Norman Harras. The heels are stablemates, so they worked together. They beat Schwarz down, then eliminated Kelly. They beat Schwarz down some more, at which point Ahura set up for Norman to help him with the Red Light Driver but Norman doesn’t know the move well enough to do so, allowing Avalanche time to reverse it with a back body drop. He then hit a double-chokeslam, followed by a double-clothesline, eliminating both opponents...
And here comes that sneak Maggot, from behind, with a chair… but Schwarz had been paying attention to Maggot’s “elimination,” so he was on alert for this and eliminated Maggot as well. Schwarz winning this match kind of feels like a waste. This is a BIG spot, and he’s just not a guy that I think people can see them really putting the belt on, so why give him the big win in this spot?
Al-Ani feels like a guy who is ready for a title shot. Leon winning would pay off a storyline about him trying to earn a title shot. Kelly and Harras would have some interesting storyline implications. Avalanche is a not-quite main event guy who feels like the top babyface available to them right now, and winning a big event like this could give him that much-needed truly main event credibility. Alpha Kevin and The Rotation winning as underdogs would set up a title match with a great built-in underdog story. Giving Hektor Invictus the win could have told us that this relative newcomer with something of a push really is someone to keep an eye on and believe in. Jurn or Sitoci winning would have put a nice exclamation point of their big returns. So why the hell did Schwarz win?
This was a pretty disappointing show from wXw, all things considered. Yes, there are some limitations on talent due to the pandemic, but they had plenty of talent here to at least have better undercard, and they didn’t. This felt like “Road to…” show rather than the actual big event itself. Hopefully the next show will be better.