Tuesday, January 3, 2017

wXw World Tag Team League 2016: Night 1 Review

wXw's annual World Team League gets underway!

While the 16 Carat Gold Tournament is certainly an important event on wXw’s calendar, it isn’t the only tournament that they hold every year. They also hold a tag team tournament that usually (at least, to my knowledge) takes place every fall, called the World Tag Team League. The format is essentially a smaller version of New Japan’s World Tag League, with two blocks made up of four teams each. Of course, the winners of two blocks meet in the finals, but this particular tournament has a unique twist to it. The wXw World Tag Team Titles are on the line in the Finals, regardless of it the current champions (in this case, Cerberus) are in the Finals. What that means is that if Cerberus didn’t win their block, then they would be stripped of the titles, and new champions would be crowned in the Finals. This certainly puts a lot of pressure on the Cerberus, who had to go through a lot just to retain their titles. The field is stacked with a ton of really solid teams, so lets see how this tournament unfolds!

I should also mention that I watched the English Commentary version of all three of these tournament shows.

wXw World Tag Team League 2016: Night 1
Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany 9/30/16

Similar to the 16 Carat Gold Tournament earlier in the year, all of the participants in the tournament (teams, in this case) are introduced individually and gather in the ring for a group photo. I think I said this in my reviews of the 16 Carat Gold Tournament, but I think the group photo beforehand is a nice little touch that adds a lot to the excitement for the tournament.

With regards to points, a team gets 3 Points for a win, 1 Point for a Time Limit Draw (I believe all of the tournament matches, save for the Finals, have a 30 Minute Time Limit), and obviously, you don’t get any points if you lose.

1.) wXw World Tag Team League 2016 - Block A - Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Ringkampf (Big Daddy Walter & Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher): ***1/4

Axel Dieter Jr. was originally scheduled to team with Big Daddy Walter as part of Ringkampf, but he suffered an injury before the tournament, so Timothy Thatcher (a fellow member of Ringkampf) is stepping up here to take his place. Their opponents, Moustache Mountain, are a team that’s been on a rise in the European/UK scene as of late. I thought this was a fine opening match. Both of these are practitioners of the technical wrestling style, and that’s what we saw here, for the most part. There was some fine back & forth action here, though some performers in this one were more interesting than others (take a wild guess as to who was the least interesting). In the end, Ringkampf gets the victory here, and becomes the first team in the tournament to score points.

2.) wXw World Tag Team League 2016 - Block B - A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani) vs. The LDRS of the New School (Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr.): ***3/4

I got to see a bit of Absolute Andy, a veteran in wXw, during the 16 Carat Gold Tournament (specifically in the Main Event of Night 2), but this is my first time seeing Marius Al-Ani. The two of them are collectively known as A4, and they’re taking on The LDRS of the New School, who are (of course) Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr., who had to be one of the favorites. I thought this was a really good match. The LDRS were awesome, as you would’ve expected, but A4 were also impressive here. They worked very well as a team, and in particular, Marius Al-Ani looked very good, holding his own with the three veterans. While this match did feature some really good back & forth action, my only knock on the match was that it was a little too long for my liking (going around seventeen minutes or so). Other than that, I really enjoyed this one. The LDRS of the New School scored the win here, getting themselves on the board first in the Block B.

3.) Alexis Rose vs. Leah Vaughan: **1/2

Leah Vaughan was formerly known as Leah Von Dutch (for those of you who really follow women’s wrestling), while Alexis Rose is a young wrestler from the UK. This was a pretty solid women’s match, in my opinion. There really isn’t much else to say, other than that. It was fine for what it was, and in the end, Leah Vaughan picked up the win.

4.) wXw Shotgun Title - Da Mack vs. Pete Dunne: ***3/4

Da Mack was able to successfully capture the wXw Shotgun Title after he won a #1 Contender’s Match during the 16 Carat Gold Tournament. He’s held the title for a few months at this point, and he’s defending it here against Pete Dunne, a guy who’s really changed and progressed a lot since the last time I saw him. This was a very good back & forth match, in my opinion. I had a feeling that this match had the potential of being solid, but I was really surprised by how good this actually was. This was the best Da Mack match that I’ve seen (from the small sampling size I’ve seen of him in wXw plus the one match he had in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic), but I think the larger share of the credit has to go to Pete Dunne. He’s gotten so good in such a short amount of time. His “Bruiserweight” thing is awesome, and he’s great in the ring. Don’t sleep on this match, because it was a lot better than you would think. Eventually, Pete Dunne was able to put Da Mack away to capture the wXw Shotgun Title!

5.) wXw World Tag Team League 2016 - Block B - Cerberus (Ilja Dragunov & Julian Nero with Adam Polak) vs. Death By Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn): ***3/4

As I mentioned earlier, Ceberus are coming into this tournament as the wXw World Tag Team Champions, and because the way the World Tag Team League is formatted, they need to win Block B if they have any hope of keeping their titles. They have a tough task ahead of them, as they’re taking on Death By Elbow of Chris Hero & JT Dunn, who became a team in Beyond Wrestling, but then started appearing in places like PWG. I thought this was a very good match. Of course, Death By Elbow were great, but Ceberus showed a lot here as well. The first time I saw them as a team (against JML on Night 3 of the 16 Carat Gold Tournament a few months prior), I thought they were good, but I felt like they could do more. They certainly showed more in this match, and I would say that it was probably their best match in this tournament, which really shouldn’t be a surprise, since they were going against Chris Hero. Death By Elbow would end up scoring the victory here, getting their first points of the tournament, and putting Cerberus in an immediate hole.

6.) #1 Contender’s Match - John “Bad Bones” Klinger vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey: ***3/4

The winner of this match would get to challenge Jurn Simmons the next night for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title. Bad Bones was part of the Fatal Four-Way Match that took place during the 16 Carat Gold Tournament where Jurn Simmons won the title. Meanwhile, Mike Bailey (for those who don’t know already) has been barred from entering the United States for a number of years, meaning that his available for places like wXw is much more open. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, since I’ve never seen Bad Bones in a singles, but when it was over, this was probably the surprise of the night. This was a really, really good match, bordering on great. Mike Bailey was awesome in this match, as was Bad Bones, who is another longtime veteran of wXw. There was some really good back & forth action throughout this one, and the fans were very much into it at points. The big guy vs. little guy dynamic also played into this match, and that added to this one as well. In the end, Mike Bailey got the victory to secure himself a title shot against Jurn Simmons!

After the match, Mike Bailey takes the mic. He says that while he won’t shake the hand of Bad Bones, he will bow to him, and does. Bailey says when he wins the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title, Bad Bones will get the first shot, anywhere in the world (besides the USA, of course). This brings out the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion Jurn Simmons. He congratulates Bailey, but calls him a “Vanilla Midget”, and says that he’s going to get squashed. Bailey says that he talks because he has to, not because he likes the sound of his own voice, like Simmons does.

7.) wXw World Tag Team League 2016 - Block A - Los Gueros Del Cielo (Angelico & Jack Evans) vs. JML (David Starr & Shane Strickland): ***3/4

Angelico & Jack Evans start this one off immediately by going right after JML before the bell. This match was very much a fast sprint. It only went about eight minutes or so, but they packed a ton of action into that time frame. The crowd was really into this one, and because it was such a sprint, it helped to make it stand out from the other tournament matches. It was honestly a lot of fun to watch from start to finish. Los Geros Del Cielo end up scoring the victory here, being the final team of the night to get points on the board. They celebrate as the show comes to a close.

Here are the block standings after Night 1:

Block A

Los Gueros Del Cielo (1-0-0) – 3 Points
Ringkampf (1-0-0) – 3 Points
JML (0-1-0) – 0 Points
Moustache Mountain (0-1-0) – 0 Points

Block B

Death By Elbow (1-0-0) – 3 Points
The LDRS of the New School (1-0-0) – 3 Points
A4 (0-1-0) – 0 Points
Cerberus (0-1-0) – 0 Points

Overall: 8.0/10

Even though this show didn’t have one truly great match (in my opinion), I thought it was still, as a whole, very good. The reason why I say that is because this show had five really strong matches (all of which I gave ***3/4) that were just shy of being great. The opening tournament match and the women’s match were the only outliers here, and even then, those matches were both perfectly fine in their own regard. This show was really consistent from start to finish, and that alone makes it worth checking out.

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