The CZW 2005 reviews took forever to do so if I’m going to type essay-length reviews to entertain myself they may as well be about something relevant, so let’s look at the efficient German indie Westside Xtreme Wrestling instead.
Over the last few years they’ve gone all-out to make the company as accessible as possible for non-Germans to get into. They have their own Network but this one is dual-language (the wrestlers/interviews will either be in English or sub-titled if they don’t speak it) and the shows have multiple commentary language options. The appearances of Axel Tischer (Sanity’s Alexander Wolfe), Axel Dieter Jr. and Da Mack (Cruiserweight Classic) on WWE TV as well as Ringkampf’s matches in PROGRESS and PWG have helped raise the profile of the company where it can no longer be thought of simply as ”that German company.”
I’ll preface this by saying they treated me and other UK/Ireland twitter botherers like Arnold Furious & Voices of Wrestling very well at the 16 Carat and World Tag Team League tournaments last year so this is hardly going to be unbiased. The higher-ups take criticism well (as I saw when VOW said the Koji Kanemoto matches were the worst thing of the show right to their faces) but I enjoy the product regardless or I wouldn’t be wasting my time with it. The weekly Shotgun show is an easy watch, they hype their characters better than most companies and explain the storylines very easily with video packages galore. Oh and the wrestling at it’s best is amongst the best in the world (go watch 16 Carat).
Their first big show of 2018 is Back To The Roots XVII, so-called because there’s more gimmick matches than usual as wXw started off hardcore before making the switch in the late 2010s to the style they enjoy now. wXw has a rotating selection of English-speaking commentators and this time around we are joined by Christian Jakobi (owner/promoter/everything) and Emil Sitoci (wrestler/gobshite).
Session Moth Martina vs. Melanie Gray (Hardcore Match)
Martina was supposed to wrestle Melanie in the tournament final for the wXw Women’s Title at the 17th Anniversary Show in December but was unable to compete after a Melanie sneak-attack. Jakobi wasn’t impressed with this so Killer Kelly replaced her and won the title via sunset flip. Now Martina’s back and healthy (as she’s going to be) and wants revenge for the attack.
The German-to-English translations during the video package gives us Gray’s wonderful ”I will not wrestle that smoking, drunk something!” All the music on wXw Now is replaced by non-copyright infringing audio which is understandable but it’s like watching old ECW on the WWE Network. Gray is wearing a shirt saying I GOT SCREWED which infuriates Moth. Crowd chants for BIER as Martina’s gimmick is ”council flat Sandman.” Martina runs the ropes to get ready for a tope, but she knackers herself and falls asleep standing up. Referee fetches her a beer which powers her up and she goes for the dive again…only to run into Gray’s chair. Martina recovers to suplex Gray on the non-folding front row chairs and enjoys a fan’s pint. Martina goes up top but Gray goes twat-happy with another chair to halt that. The BIER BIER chants continue so Moth cross-bodies Martina in the corner and follows with her Are You Fucking Serious offence that is several rungs below the rest of the wrestlers here but the fans are happy to accept it. Melanie unleashes thumb-tacks over the canvas and ducks a clothesline to squish Moth with a Finlay Roll. ”Women’s flesh isn’t designed for that!” Gray tries to pin her with one foot but Moth’s able to kick out so Gray sets up a table instead. The punctured Moth is spread across but she intercepts to superplex Gray to a two. Moth tries a chair-shot but Melanie punts it into her face. Gray tries for a swanton which seems a very bad idea with all the thumb-tacks lying around and aye, she misses. Moth finally puts her away with a chair-assisted codebreaker.
Winner: Session Moth Martina (Well this a great way to introduce non-fans reading about wXw for the first time: A hardcore match featuring the Tracey Smothers of women’s wrestling. This was sillier than I thought it was going to be considering how important and long-running the wXw Women’s Title Tournament was but then again I don’t think I’ve seen any serious/non-hardcore Moth match so more fool me. You’ll either love or hate Moth and this was definitely her type of match.)
Edit: I think that read a bit harsh, I meant a hardcore match with a mostly-comedy wrestler is the exception rather than the rule in wXw, not ”oh my god this is shit and in no way represents the company.” Gray is a fine character as shown by the long Marius van Beethoven storyline last year and Moth is super-over wherever she goes, the sesh transcends languages. So my apologies if this sounded overly-critical, this was exactly what it was supposed to be: Moth getting revenge in her own style.
Bobby Gunns is here! He’s the reigning Shotgun Champion (the secondary singles title) and he smokes a lot. It’s a live promo so Emil does translation. ”Everyone thought Gunns was a little shit…and he was but he’s come into his own.” I hope these aren’t direct translations. Absolute Andy shows up and he’s a Cimapa-level complete and utter bastard after his betrayal of his tag partner Marius Al-Ani at WTTL last year. He emerges smoking a cigar, calling Gunns a rookie because he only does cigarettes. Commentators are playing catch-up so we only get the highlights translated. Gunns wins with the ”I’d call you retired but that’d mean you actually worked” and ”We both have weight around our waist but mine’s a title” combo but Andy’s ”You’d need to reach 100 to have fucked as many women as I have” is a close second. Andy sees red after Gunns calls Al-Ani the only reason Andy is still employed and a match is made for later tonight. I enjoy the talking in wXw even if I have to have someone explain to me what’s being said.
Jurn Simmons vs. Dirty Dragan
Jurn Simmons has been slowly turning after he failed to win the WTTL with Massive Product partner David Starr, after Starr took the fall in the finals. They remained friends but after Starr won their ”friendly” singles match at 17th Anniversary, Simmons snapped and beat the hell out of him with a Singapore cane, the same way he vanquished rival Alexander James a few months earlier. Simmons continues to be a dick by challenging good friend Dragan tonight and has stopped showboating on his way to the ring. Dragan is a mullet-headed party nerd who went from being hated for being shit to being loved for being a bit shit so this is a huge mis-match for him.
Massive DRAGAN chants to begin but Jurn easily beals him across the ring. Jurn imitates Hogan but this causes Dragan to get a cheeky roll-up for two. Simmons misses a charge and ends up outside and falls victim to Dragan’s Tomahawk Chop from the apron. Jurn sells it too! Emil notes the similarities of Dragan’s aerial abilities to Moth’s and I’m surprised they haven’t teamed yet. Dragan soaks up the crowd adulation so Jurn kicks him out the ring. He makes it back in and the crowd ironically applauds Dragan not getting counted out. Jurn starts firing off Gutwrench Powerbombs but Dragan kicks out every time to his surprise. Jurn tries one off the top but Dragan inexplicably counters into a Frankensteiner. Dragan stomps away on a stunned Jurn as the crowd shakes the camera with their approval but he runs directly into a Massive Boot. Piledriver should finish but Jurn decides to pick him up at two because he didn’t enjoy the crowd chanting for Dragan. Dirty can barely stand as Jurn toys with him for a bit before getting another piledriver and stretching the barely conscious Dragan until the ref calls for the bell.
Winner: Jurn Simmons (Nearly a complete massacre with Dragan getting a few glimmers of hope just to fuck with us. Imagine Bruan Strowman being a dick to Heath Slater and you’re nearly there.)
Post-match Jurn gets the Singapore cane and demands Dragan bow to him. Dragan answers with a spit so he gets caned until he cries. Jurn’s a dick.
Da Mack vs. Chris Colen
Mack was a nice guy until he betrayed Ilja at WTTL to join RISE, the Nexus-esque faction that held all of wXw titles at that point. Some fans had taken to calling him Robo-Mack or Mackintosh due to his robotic promos so turning was for the best. Strapping young lad Colen was a member of RISE but made the mistake of asking leader Bad Bones for a shot at his wXw Unified World Title. Bad Bones agreed but sent RISE members to break his arm first. Colen still got his title shot at Broken Rules XVII, but didn’t succeed due to the numbers advantage (which is the theme for a lot of RISE matches). He was able to team with Ilja to beat RISE Members Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan at Fight Forever: Hamburg despite Mack’s interference so we get this match. There’s a lot of plot in this company, which is fine if you’re paying attention every week. If not, just wing it.
The Wolverine-shaped Colen smacks Mack around to start before showing off a stalling suplex. Mack recovers to send him outside and kick him in the chest which takes Colen out for a while so it must have been a hell of a kick. The smaller Mack uses his agility to avoid Colen’s strikes and take him down with a dropkick. Colen keeps on coming so Mack has to slap the spit out his mouth to take him down. Mack locks in a sitting Abdomible Stretch but Colen hip-tosses out. Mack can’t keep Colen down at all, not even with a Double-Arm DDT or neckbreaker. A knee to the head sends Colen air born but Mack takes too long doing the RISE taunt so Colen comes off with a high cross body and goes back to throwing Mack around. Top rope elbow only gets two to Colen’s surprise. Mack gets a sling-blade to attempt a slingshot clothesline but lands right in a Rock Bottom but kicks out at two. That should have been the finish. Mack immediately recovers to get a top rope kick. He tries Angel Wings but Colen backdrops him out the ring and follows with an over-the-ropes crossbody. He walks into a small package but shrugs it off to plant Mack with another Rock Bottom. Mack cuts Colen off with a rolling Shotei to nail a second-rope Frankensteiner and end the match with a Mack Magic (RKO).
Winner: Da Mack (They were telling a decent story with Mack’s speed over Colen’s strength but then it turned into you-do-a-move-then-I-do-a-move with no rhythm or selling so I (and the crowd) switched off. Mack getting a clean win without RISE is something though, not even Colen can deal with Mackbook.)
Bobby Gunns vs. Absolute Andy
Andy attacks Gunns during his entrance and the crowd is somehow split between the two despite Andy being a Judas piece of shit. Oberhausen fans are as weird as the rest of the world. Andy connects with a F5 hoping for a quick win but Gunns kicks out. Andy doesn’t let Gunns get anything and locks in a rope-assisted abominable Stretch, playing with the ref and getting help from the timekeeper too. Andy tries for a F5 on the concrete (!) but settles for a kick to the face instead. Gunns tries a German Suplex off the apron (!!) but settles for an arm-wringer-into-a-Divorce-Court instead. They slug it out on the apron with Gunns attempting the rope-assisted armbar and eventually getting it after a fight. Gunns now with the advantage starts working over Andy’s arm but this leaves him open to a huge backcracker. Andy shouts in Deutsche and whatever he shouts riles Gunns up enough to go slap-happy and do the Marty finger-snap. Gunns soaks up the cheers but gets clotheslined on his fucking arse. Andy didn’t do it hard enough as Gunns halts him with coming off the top and delivers a superplex. Both men recover at the same time and the battle of sluggers is won by Andy. Gunns kicks Andy in the back of the head though (”he works over the arm but he also does things to annoy the shit out of you”) which dazes Andy enough for Gunns to stretch Andy with a Double Armbar. Andy was selling the life out of that too, moaning like a whore being paid in bitcoin. Andy gets the ropes and tries for a moonsault, misses but connects with the spinebuster, but this puts him prime in the armbar position and that might be it…but Andy powers out and bombs Gunns instead. Andy staggers about so Gunns locks it in AGAIN but Andy rolls into a pinning position so Gunns releases and walks into a F5. Gunns kicks out of two (Gunns loves kicking out of established finishers, beating Kanemoto and Homicide in 2017 the same way) pissing off Andy enough for him to grab the timekeeper’s hammer and a wrench. The ref takes them away and Andy walks right into a rolling armbar. He escapes yet again but grabs the wrench for real this time. Gunns doesn’t care and locks in the Kanemura lock so Andy drops the wrench but doesn’t tap. Andy tries again and again to apply any kind of arm-bar but eventually Andy gets the A4 Killing Superkick to win via pin-fall.
Winner: Absolute Andy (I was loving all of this until the ending. Gunns repeatedly applying the arm-bar riled up the crowd something rotten and neither men were letting anything down…then Andy got some weapons which didn’t come into play and won via superkick. Match wasn’t building to that finish so if it’s the first of more then fair enough, until then it was the highlight of the show.)
Killer Kelly vs. Toni Storm (wXw Women’s Title)
Kelly is one of the many wXw Academy graduate success stories having emigrated from Portugal to learn the ways of the much-revered Schule. Toni Storm may be the best female wrestler in the world, having tremendous matches in PROGRESS and STARDOM and wherever the hell else. And like every other UK wrestler she’s like 20 or something ridiculous. Toni won the excellent Femmes Fatale tournament 2017 to win this shot, against someone who technically didn’t earn it.
Kelly quickly attacks Toni to start but it doesn’t last as Toni drags her outside like a kid. Toni misses a wild dive into the chairs and Kelly keeps her subdued with forearms until Toni recovers and gets the hip attack into the chairs she was wanting before. Toni wastes no time and tries another hip attack in the ring but Kelly dodges and connects with a dropkick. Toni gets a lovely Air Raid crash variant where she lands twice then immediately converts it into an arm-bar. Kelly gets the ropes and gets a messy back suplex drawing some boos. Northern Lights looks better and a follow-up German gets two and Toni rolls outside to recover but Kelly takes her (and a security dude) out with a crossbody. Kelly gets a Straight-Jacket German Suplex but Toni kicks out to her disbelief. She misses the Rainmaker-Into-A-Kick as Toni turns it into the Ground Zero for the sudden win and title.
Winner and new wXw Women’s Champion: Toni Storm (Kelly tried here but it was clear to Stevie Wonder (currently blind) that Toni was on another level to her so this being kept short was OK with me. That’s not supposed to be an insult to Kelly but again, Toni’s at least in the Top Five in the world.)
Die Käfigschlacht III: Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) & Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev, John Klinger, Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan)
Four-on-four War Games-style cage match here with plenty to type about before it starts. Ringkampf are my two main reasons for watching wXw, they have matches like no-one else on the planet with their psychology and holds. RISE are the lead bad guy stable in wXw, being made up of talent who believe they were being mis-used by the company. They were fairly low-tier until Bad Bones shockingly joined them and won the World Unified Title with their assistance. Ringkampf defeated Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan for the Tag Titles at 17th Anniversary, (EDIT: no you idiot, it was at WTTL. You should know as you were there.) Ringkampf asked Avalanche to join them in this match as he was able to make WALTER submit when they faced each other at Die Käfigschlacht I in 2015. The other interesting thing is Nero & Avalanche using their tag name Monster Consulting rather than Cerebus, the stable they in with Ilja Dragunov. Ilja lost to Bad Bones at 17th Anniversary in a bloody affair and left in tears as wXw aired ”thank you Ilja”. Everyone has been silent about this being the last of Ilja but I hope not. Anyway, after that War & Peace-sized introduction let’s begin.
WALTER & Bad Bones start off and the crowd is LOUD to begin, WALTER brings that out of people. Large chops and a quick German messes with Bones but he’s tough so he comes back with his own quick German (!) on WALTER and hurls him into the cage wall. Both men are beating the scheisse out of one another to start, with Bones using eye-pokes and cage-walls. Earthquake splash puts him down so WALTER paints his chest as the crowd sing New World Symphony for him.
Former Shotgun Champion Ivan Kiev is first in for RISE, turning a backdrop into a cage vault and falling hard onto WALTER. WALTER gets isolated until…
Julian Nero is next in, taking down RISE with his double dropkick and evening the score. Irish Whips into the corner keep RISE down until…
Lucky Kid enters to loud ”fuck you kid” chants, a crowd favourite. The little hyena takes down WALTER with a head-scissors DDT and RISE use the numbers to rub foreheads across cage walls. Kid is very animated until…
Thatcher is next in and everyone dies to belly-to-belly suplexes. RINGKAMPF chop the soul out of everyone while they can, with Bones taking a big boot because he’s special until…
Aslan the old rookie is the last RISE member in and he brings an arsenal of stomps with him. Ring fills up until…
Avalanche strolls in. RISE try to batter him but he does the HULK ROAR and they scatter. The other goodies stay down while Avalanche slams everyone and delivers a double Samoan Drop to the Young Lions. Bones uses this opportunity to fly off the top of the cage with a chair-shot to take out Avalanche. Avalanche is the secret weapon of the team so with him down and bleeding, RISE keep the rest of the pack down. Thatcher has a surge of energy after seeing his ear bleeding and everyone’s taking suplexes. Nero comes off the top with a knee drop which sets up Bones taking a Doomsday Device from Avalanche. Avalanche locks in the Camel Clutch (the move he used to defeat WALTER) but Pete Bouncer of RISE scales the cage so the goodies turn their attention to him. This bad idea means Lucky Kid gets a Frankensteiner off the top onto WALTER, taking him out for a while. Nero starts spamming high knees until Bones hurls a chair at his knee to take him out for a while. Bouncer gets the cage door key and RISE take in turns slamming RINGKAMPF into the door. RISE start dragging everyone outside where they’ll have the advantage but get distracted by their own carnage and slam the door into Bad Bones’ face. RINGKAMPF realise Bones is now left alone with Monster Consulting so they brawl back in and hold the door shut. That could be it…until Kiev scales the other side of the cage and flies off with a swanton and taking out everyone. Dammit, that would have been a great finish. RISE return in-ring armed with weapons and commence pounding. However, Bones is furious Bouncer fucked up so he goes outside to shout at him so the other members have to come out to stop him killing Bouncer. Bones calms down so RISE drag Avalanche to the entrance ramp to put him through a table with a Three-Man Powerbomb to remove him from the match. Ringkampf recover enough to chop RISE back into the cage (the only place the match can end) but not before launching Bones into the front set of chairs. Eventually Nero and Kid make it into the cage, with Nero no-selling Kid’s chop. Nero flies off the top with another knee-drop but misses. Young Lions are both in and connect with a Circle Of Life (double chop into a German Suplex). They try it again on Thatcher but WALTER moves him out the way and Kid accidentally hits Aslan. RINGKAMPF get double sleepers and that might be it….no, low blows release the holds. Bones gets a crossface onto Thatcher so WALTER converts Kid’s armbar into a powerbomb on Bones to break it up. Jesus there’s been a lot of action with no end in sight. Kid takes a WALTER dropkick but Kiev is there to put him down as Bouncer gives them a table to play with. Kiev scales the cage for something high-risk but Thatcher locks in a sleeper hold until both men fall backwards through the table. Bones applies a crossface on WALTER until he counters to a rear naked choke but Bones counters again so WALTER goes ”fuck this” and powerbombs him before applying another rear naked choke. Bouncer tries to enter the cage to save but Avalanche returns from the dead to cut him off so Bones has no choice but to tap.
Winners: Monster Consulting & Ringkampf (Well that was a journey and a half. All the wrestlers had to live up to the expectations of Die Käfigschlacht while delivering violence and advancing storylines and they achieved this over forty minutes. Every wrestler got at least one moment to shine or have one moment, Bones and Bouncer went at it and the crowd were there the entire time. And the false finishes were well done, I was sure the cage door moment was going to be it but maybe this would have made RISE look like Pain & Panic rather than the Hades they’re supposed to be. I’d have laughed though.)
Overall: The thing with wXw is, they’re not afraid to have matches be part of a story arc rather than shoot for star ratings. So looking at this show you may think ”yeah well it’s an indie show with a cage gimmick and some OK matches, so what?” but it’s not about the show itself, it’s what it’s leading to that’s the appeal for me. So if you’re wanting guaranteed balls-out action then just stick to the 16 Carat/WTTL/Femme Fatales extravaganzas. I’m here the male soap opera or whatever we’re calling it nowadays, but I still recommend checking out Gunns vs. Andy and the main event from this show.
If you’re interested in wXw then here’s the English link to their wXw Now and I’ll be sticking with this until someone reads something they don’t like and slaps the shit out of me.