Arnold Furious: May 13 2017. We’re in Oberhausen, Deutschland for Westside Xtreme Wrestling’s Superstars of Wrestling show. They’ve put together an intriguing card mixing current global stars like Matt Riddle with a host of Lucha Underground talent and a couple of old WCW dogs. It’s a show to appeal as broadly as possible. Lucha Underground has become a draw in Germany because it’s being shown on TV over there. Hence the sudden influx of lucha talent on this show. The event itself is sponsored by Tele 5, the channel that airs Lucha Underground. CMJ is never one to pass up an opportunity to capitalise on trends and success of others. Hosts on the English language commentary is Rico Bushido and Adam Polak. Alan Counihan is actually in hospital and missed this show. Get well soon, Alan!
Chris Colen & Francis Kaspin vs. Hurricane Helms & Da Mack
Yep, that Hurricane Helms, in full WWE superhero get-up and mark belt. Polak slaughters Colen, calling him a has-been while ranting about his distaste for Tacos. Colen gets his own back by being in better shape than Hurricane. This is in turn met by Helms doing gay jokes and forcing Kaspin to hump his senior tag team partner. Helms’ limitations are there for all to see. He’s not chasing glory, he’s not out here to impress, he’s here for the paycheque. I can’t say I blame the 42 year old grappler. He has a steady string of booking based on nostalgia and is still dining on his WWE run that ended in 2010. In Helms’ defence I don’t think he’s ever recovered from a motorbike accident in 2011. The crowd enjoy everything he brings to the plate and politely applaud his spots. Every time I see Colen and Kaspin team I’m waiting for Colen to turn heel. It seems like a no-brainer and I’m guessing it’ll happen eventually. Colen takes the pin here, chokeslammed by Nostalgia Shane. This was fine.
Final Rating: **1/2
Bobby Gunns vs. Drago
The Lucha Underground TV connection immediately works as the crowd react heavily for Drago. It’s notable that there are three luchadores in the main event and it’s going on after the title match. Bobby has major communication issues with Drago, frequently being out of position and it leads to clumsy looking sequences. Drago soon realises that Gunns is not the maestro he was expecting and runs through his spots. Bobby Gunns is a great heel because I hate him. However part of that hatred comes from Bobby’s awkward looking transitions and dodgy in-ring movement. Admittedly part of it comes from his heel persona and the smoking. Bobby needs to iron out those flaws in his game if he wants to be taken seriously in professional wrestling. Gunns takes this with an armbar. I can see what they’re doing with Bobby Gunns, it’s reminiscent of ECW’s push of Justin Credible and they’re around the same talent level too.
Final Rating: **
WALTER vs. Kim Ray
They’ve been building this up since Carat where Kim Ray made a dramatic return from retirement. They’ve done a solid job of putting over his kick-heavy offence and capacity to upset a larger opponent. The bigger story is outside the ring though with Christian Michael Jakobi and Karsten Beck cornering their respective wrestlers. Beck had to retire with a brain tumour but has recently received clearance to return to the squared circle. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out with him currently in an office position. WALTER continues his good work in getting Kim over and making the crowd forget how tame and uninteresting Ray was before his retirement. Kim is currently using a very strike heavy offence, which has helped his popularity no end but WALTER is still very popular because he’s awesome. The way he pounds Kim down in the corner is beautiful. It’s a constant battle during WALTER matches to get the opponent to be a believable threat when WALTER’s offence is so devastating. WALTER is also very good at selling so he’s able to get Kim’s kicks over as a threat. It’s a well structured match and is aided by outside interference, especially from CMJ. It’s incredible how they’ve got CMJ over as a bully who beats up Karsten Beck. The distraction is enough for WALTER to kick Kim’s leg away and submit him with the anklelock. The way WALTER applies the hold is devastating, incorporating an added knee across the back for added viciousness.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Bad Bones vs. Vampiro
I didn’t care for Vampiro when he was young and healthy. Now he’s a 49 year old commentator in makeup who hasn’t wrestled in two years. It’s a novelty booking, there’s no doubt about that, and the crowd love Vampiro…for some reason. He’s a mess. I feel bad for Johnny Klinger, who’s been great so far this year and spends this match taking chair shots in mid-air and overselling to allow the tubby old wreck to set up his spots. The ‘relaxed rules’ allow them to use smoke and mirrors to cover for Vampiro’s shortcomings. I’m shocked at how over Vampiro is in Germany. The relaxed rules helps that too with the crowd popping the violence rather than the wrestling. I’ll give Vampiro some props though, he does try a lot harder than Hurricane Helms. Like with Sugar Shane, time has not been kind to Vampiro although he benefits from wrestling a couple of matches a year. I honestly think that having a hot crowd helps immensely and Klinger makes a point of doing sufficient crazy things, like jumping off the lighting rig, to get the match over. Bones rolls Vampiro back inside for the pin. There was enough effort from Vampiro here to get the match over and the carnage that Bones created was enough for a standing ovation from Oberhausen. I’m not feeling that generous but at least it wasn’t a disaster, which it could have been because Vampiro is an old mess. The crowd generously cheer him for ages afterwards. If Vampiro had put this much effort into his entire career he could have been a really big star.
Final Rating: **1/4
wXw World Tag Team Championship
A4 (c) vs. Young Lions (Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan)
A4 are having a glorious tag title run, which has helped to establish Marius Al-Ani as one of the companies most exciting young talents and has gotten him noticed by WWE. Meanwhile Andy is the consummate veteran pro and has been killing it in this role. The Young Lions are busy and make frequent tags, while hitting a blizzard of offence. Lions is probably the wrong word for them because they’re more like hyenas. Absolute Andy is an old lion. The hyenas have an interesting team set up with Tarkan being the Andy of the team and Lucky Kid being the young buck. The trouble they have is running headlong into A4, with Al-Ani being more athletic than Lucky Kid and Aslan being outsmarted and overpowered by Andy. While the Young Lions have good tag team continuity they’re clearly outclassed here. The match is going finer until the insertion of a ref bump and three masked guys run in wearing “Rise” t-shirts. They hit a bunch of moves and the Young Lions get thrown on top for the belts. This was a shocking turn of events. The masked boys expose themselves, faces that is, and one of them is Chris Colen. He’s finally turned heel and it wasn’t even on Kaspin. I’m doubly shocked. We are seeing a new stable it seems in wXw, although it’s a slightly underwhelming birth for Rise.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Jaxon Stone vs. Buff Bagwell
I think we can all accept this is the kind of match that exist for fans of wrestling that don’t care about workrate and excitement. It’s here for nostalgia purposes. Jaxon has no chance to getting a decent match out of Buff and can’t even do a passable Bagwell impression pre-match. Buff Bagwell is easily in my top ten least favourite wrestlers of all time. It’s a shame really because Marcus Alexander Bagwell was genuinely quite good at professional wrestling. The pre-match heated stalling is holiday camp crap. Jaxon has never looked less capable on a big stage. His shtick is lazy and outdated. Rico gets a bit carried away and calls Buff a “WCW Legend”. “He’s an aging stripper and I hate aging strippers” retorts Adam Polak. Eventually Polak takes the piss so much that Rico breaks on the air. Buff takes one bump, manages to bust himself open while sitting in a nerve hold, no sells a low blow and gets the win in relatively short order. This absolutely stank.
Final Rating: -*
Julian Nero vs. Avalanche vs. Ilja Dragunov
Cerberus collide here with all the former members in a triple threat and former manager Polak on commentary. While Avalanche has been a minor success after Cerberus, there’s no doubting that Ilja is the big star to come out of Cerberus. This is a tremendous sprint with everyone firing on all cylinders. Avalanche is great fun in sprints. It does feel like they’ve been told to trim five minutes off their match and instead of removing spots they just speeded it all up. Ilja’s rush results in poor Nero taking a backdrop driver on his head. It looked like a horrible bump. The speed of the match is breath-taking but it also causes issues beyond Nero almost dying. If someone gets a bump wrong they have no time to get back into position. To compensate for this they batter each other. It’s tremendously stiff. Nero gets eliminated and Avalanche scores the upset with the Blue Thunder. At some point Avalanche had to get a win over Dragunov or he’d be permanently relegated to second class citizen in wXw and they need him to be a bigger star than that. This was a cracker but it did feel a bit rushed.
Final Rating: ***1/2
wXw Unified World Championship
Jurn Simmons (c) vs. Matt Riddle
This is a sturdy test for champion Jurn Simmons, facing one of the best independent talents in the business today. Riddle is getting booked so much in Europe nowadays he might as well move here. Riddle catches Jurn cold in the opening and it swiftly becomes a battle of who can be calmer and yet focused. These are two wrestlers with a lot of belief in their own abilities. Plus they’re both likely to continue their meteoric rise in pro wrestling. It’s interesting to see them clash at this stage in their career. The match structure is similar to Riddle vs. WALTER with Jurn throwing Riddle around and Matt refusing to take the abuse. Jurn has assembled a remarkable array of power moves as a babyface but Riddle meets that power and refuses to back down. Jurn eventually overpowers Riddle and wins with a piledriver. This was all out war but like the previous match it felt a little rushed. Maybe a touch of inexperience on both guys behalf, maybe because it wasn’t the main event but regardless it delivered. Riddle looks like a bit of a ‘happy to be here’ goof in his post match embrace, compared to the intensity he showed during the match itself. A minor complaint. Both these guys are great.
Final Rating: ***1/2
wXw Shotgun Championship
Emil Sitoci (c) vs. Angelico vs. Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr
Thanks to the Tele5 TV deal wXw are free to use Fenix and Pentagon Jr with reckless abandon. All other Indies are jealous. Emil is better than most people credit him and he’s able to hang with all the lucha business at the start of the match. Pentagon is over huge for blasting everyone with stiff kicks and posing like a motherfucker. Penta & friends on tour around Europe has been a sensational experience. The matches in the UK were brilliant, especially the Lucha Brothers tags for Fight Club Pro. Penta brings that same energy here, along with Fenix bringing the flipz. The match is somewhat spotty but the execution, especially from Pentagon and Fenix is excellent. The camera pans around the crowd and almost everyone is standing, enjoying the madness. There is the odd timing issue but the execution makes up for it. Pentagon in particular seems hesitant at times, not wanting to go too early and botch something. After a rain of flipz and divez Angelico hits his Crucifix Bomb into the corner and gets the pin on Sitoci. New champion, fun spotfest main event. Good work especially from Pentagon in the striking and personality department but the stand-out on high spots was Fenix.
Final Rating: ****
Summary: This was a card of high highs and low lows. The top end of the card was excellent and the spotty main event was tremendous fun. The pacing of the show was excellent throughout. The issues stemming with bringing in talent from WCW’s heyday was in evidence but Vampiro tried very hard to achieve something with Bad Bones and Hurricane Helms was a good novelty act for the opening match. The only massive failure on this show was Bagwell vs. Jaxon Stone. Not only was Bagwell exposed for being old and lazy but Jaxon was exposed for being a low level worker. The whole thing left a sour taste in the mouth and it was a really bad match. If you skip that it’s a solid show. I know wXw were thrilled with how it came off and how into it the crowd were. Almost a thousand people in attendance and with the popularity of wXw on the rise, thanks in part to Tele5, this could be the start of something big for the promotion.