Sunday, 5 November 2017

World Tag Team League 2017 Night Three Review // Ringkampf vs. Massive Product [Live]

On 8th October 2017, wXw held World Tag Team League Night Three at the Turbinhalle in Oberhausen, North-Rhine Westphalia. The show featured the final of the tournament that saw Ringkampf's Timothy Thatcher and WALTER battle Massive Product (David Starr & Jurn Simmons) over the vacant World Tag Team Championship and a decisive last match in Block A between the aforementioned Massive Product and then World Tag Team Champions The Young Lions (Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan), as well as action featuring Homicide, RISE (Da Mack, Ivan Kiev, John Klinger & Pete Bouncer), A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani), The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) & The Spirit Squad (Kenny & Mikey). But was it any good live? Lets take a look! 

Photo Credit - wXw

The Rottweilers (Homicide & Low Ki) kicked off the night with the news that Low Ki would be unable to compete against the Briscoe Brothers in their final Block B match, due to injury, meaning that The Briscoes would receive three points via forfeit. Bobby Gunns interrupted the pair, calling them "old timers", before a match was scheduled between Gunns and Homicide for later on the show.

World Tag Team League 2017 Block A Match: The Spirit Squad (Kenny [Kenny Dykstra] & Mikey [Mike Mondo]) [3] def. A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani) [3] (6:23)

This match featured one of the most memorable moments of the entire weekend as Absolute Andy turned on Marius Al-Ani and A4 exploded. The pair had just hit an aided leap frog body guillotine on Kenny and set up to do the same on Mikey, with Andy holding Mikey in place, Al-Ani bounced off the opposite ropes and charged directly into a superkick that echoed around Turbinhalle. The noise from the crowd was one of utter shock, a gasp and then silence for a moment. It took a second for my brain to realise what had actually happened. I'd really gotten into Andy and Al-Ani's act over the weekend and so ended up having a pretty legitimate reaction to their break up. Credit also to Kenny and Mikey who played the moment well, with their looks of confusion and Mikey keeping his eyes on Andy for the duration of the pinfall selling the moment and adding a little seasoning to the situation. 

World Tag Team League 2017 Block A Match: Massive Product (David Starr & Jurn Simmons) [9] def. The Young Lions (Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan) [3] (13:39)

The standing of the group meant that Block A was left with this Winner takes all match, whilst Young Lions would be forced to vacate the World Tag Team Championships if they were unsuccessful  A simple enough set-up, with the match following suit as The Young Lions and their RISE buddy Pete Bouncer did everything they could to keep the belts that Lucky Kid and Tarkan Aslan had been wearing since May, only for the seemingly unstoppable Massive Product to overcome and pick up the win with a Spike Piledriver. The winner takes all vibe produced a number of strong near falls for the Young Lions, especially once Bouncer arrived at ringside, with a distraction roll-up being followed up by a great false finish after David Starr took a title belt to the skull. For me, this was the best performance from the Young Lions across the weekend, with Massive Product providing the complimentary peaks to the Lions heely cheating troughs.

World Tag Team League 2017 Block B Match: Ringkampf (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) [6] def. EYFBO (Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik) [3] (11:30)

The final group match of the tournament was interestingly poised. If Ringkampf came out victorious they would go through the final, being level on points with The Briscoes but also having a victory over the ROH pairing, whilst had EYFBO beaten WALTER & Thatcher, the Briscoes would advance due to Jay & Mark defeating Ortiz & Draztik on Night Two. Whilst, the action was just as good, if not better than the final match from Block A, the match lacked some of the drama, with a general feeling that Ringkampf was the logical choice, rather than what would've been a flat way for the Briscoes to make the final. Whilst the contest felt like a forgone conclusion, there was still some good work put in by both teams, with another impressive display from WALTER as his explosive power shone when in control. WALTER's tiger bomb would get the win for Ringkampf, after a dominant sequence from the pair, setting up a fascinating final opposite the undefeated Massive Product.

RISE were out next with Unified World Wrestling Champion John Klinger [Bad Bones], new member Da Mack, Chris Colen, Tarkan Aslan, Shotgun Champion Ivan Kiev, Lucky Kid and Pete Bouncer all present, obviously I didn't understand the promo, but I imagine it was Bones discussing retaining his title on Night Two. This brought out Julian Nero...then Avalanche [Robert Dreissker]...then Ilja Dragunov...then the returning Adam Polak, before Dirty Dragan completed the Cerberus faction, getting a much deserved reaction with the two sides going to war in the middle of the ring.

Cerberus (Avalanche, Dirty Dragan, Ilja Dragunov & Julian Nero) def. RISE (Da Mack, Ivan Kiev, John Klinger & Pete Bouncer) (12:11)

As someone with very little experience of wXw prior to this weekend, this bout could have been difficult to get into. I had no knowledge of Cerberus or their importance in the promotion, beyond what a couple of fellow media personnel had told me and in fact having seen some of the performers earlier in the weekend, they appeared to be a rag tag bunch of lads and I was curious to see how the four would come together to make the whole. Luckily, however, I had no such problems, partly due to the crowd being into every movement and partly due to the bout being full of action, hitting the right notes at the right times and a thrilling back and forth closing sequence between Dragunov and Klinger. Would I have been more emotionally invested with more knowledge of the product? Of course and that would have made this bout even more enjoyable for me, personally. But that didn't stop this being a tremendously entertaining, rollercoaster of a story. From getting to know wXw over the four days, this contest was everything the company is about right now displayed across twelve minutes.

Of course, it would've been silly to have The Briscoe Brother in attendance and not have them compete, so Jay & Mark headed to the ring, issued an open challenge which was subsequently answered by Jay-FK (Francis Krispin and Jay Skillett)

The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) def. Jay-FK (Francis Krispin & Jay Skillett) (11:39)

Veteran team vs. rookie team (Jay-FK have only been tagging regularly since August) is one of my favourite arrangements for story-telling, giving lots of avenues to develop narrative and action, so this bout made a happy boy. The Briscoe Brothers controlled much of the match, able to cut off a number of hope spots and fire ups from Jay-FK with superior team work and know-how. Skillett would eventually get a hot tag that managed to showcase a lot of what Jay-FK are about, including a nice diving double stomp neckbreaker combination, but the section that elevated the bout and Jay-FK in general was Kaspin going toe to toe with Mark Briscoe, taking a massive chop, before firing back with slaps to the face. It was a well crafted moment, with both men playing it perfectly. The final stages saw Jay-FK get a near fall off a Spike Michonoku Driver II, before a flurry of offence from Mark and Jay, including Redneck Boogie (Crucifix Powerbomb/Neckbreaker combination), a Jay Driller (Double underhook piledriver) and a Cut-throat Driver (Inverted death valley driver) from Mark. Jay-FK showed they are capable of working high-profile matches against the world's best tag teams in this one and hopefully this will lead to bigger things for the talented duo in wXw and potentially a spot in next year's World Tag Team League.

Relaxed Rules Match: Bobby Gunns def. Homicide (9:41) 

A great example of how wXw is brilliant at pacing their shows (and indeed the entire weekend), as this bout was completely different from anything on the rest of the show, allowing the audience to take a break from the tag team action and revel in a scrappy, weapon-filled brawl, that was peppered with comedy and generally just an entertaining near ten minutes of wrestling. The two weren't going to feature in anyone's match of the weekend list, but that wasn't what they where here to do. Homicide had a fork, there was a bin, hip tosses into chairs, the steps being used a rudimentary sled, a table spot and the shocking win for Gunns against the former ROH World Champion and whilst not everything came off as well as it potentially could have, the bout was rarely boring and managed to hold a tired crowd eager for the main event. Show pacing and variety is something that is often forgotten when discussing professional wrestling, but it's something that becomes extremely notable across wrestling weekenders. Not everyone gets it right, but wXw have it nailed on. 

Post-match, Bobby Gunns continued to show disrespect towards Homicide, leading to The Notorious 187 nailing the Cop Killer (Vertebreaker) to a sizeable pop.

World Tag Team Championship World Tag Team League 2017 Final Match: Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) def. Massive Product (David Starr & Jurn Simmons) (21:25)

Was this ever going to be anything other than magic? So much tag team loveliness and the perfect culmination to the weekend as David Starr & Jurn Simmons went to war with Timothy Thatcher & WALTER. The similar composition of the teams played a massive part in this, with the various combinations offering plenty of diverse options, in terms of both one on one duels and the narrative of the bout as a whole. Big hoss battles between WALTER and Simmons, smooth technical exchanges between Starr and Thatcher and everything in between, before the match had even begun there was a solid foundation for the four to play around with and build upon. With duelling chants from the very beginning the atmosphere inside the Turbinhalle had reached it's peak as an emotionally drained audience, was pulled up by the scruff of the neck and sent them wild with hot tags, near falls and gorgeous, physical, sexy and gritty wrestling. 

The storytelling here was rich, like a well-made quiche, with ingredients pulled in from across the weekend to produce those dramatic near falls, whilst also taking unexpected avenues before building to it's thrilling conclusion. Both teams used what got them to dance to try and put their opponents away, including repeated attempts from Ringkampf to lock in the rear naked chokes that bested the Briscoe Brothers and a tantalising false finish when Massive Product hit the sequence that had got them past A4, the Spirit Squad and the Young Lions in the group stage, only for Thatcher to kick out when it felt like it was all over, made even more impressive because Starr had pulled out a front flip piledriver to set up the move! There was A LOT more to the bout and I would tell you to go and watch it, but I honestly don't think you'd enjoy it as much without having watched (at the very least) Massive Product and Ringkampf's three previous matches across the weekend. Each bout played into this one in one way of another and whilst the bout stands up on it's own merits, there's certainly more enjoyment to be found in watching it as part of a set. Get yourself a wXwNow subscription and get your binge on. 

By the end of the weekend, I walked away with a tangible feeling of exactly what wXw is all about. Their style of professional wrestling at first appears to lean on a variety of styles, giving it a familiarity, but just like pro wrestling as a whole, when looked a little deeper, there really is very little else out there like this product. When taken on their own each show was good, but not excellent, hitting the right notes at the right times, rarely dipping below a high average standard and offering variety, but not hitting you over the head with incredible matches either. But the weekend as a whole, when each piece of the puzzle was factored in, when stories were built up and subsequently paid off, when strings were left hanging for future shows, I was left having one of the most complete wrestling weekend experiences one could wish for. This won't be my last experience with wXw and I can't wait to get to know this product even better going forward.

Review by James Marston 

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