wXw We Love Wrestling Tour 2018: London
March 24, 2018
Tufnell Park, Greater London, England, UK
Watch: wXw Now
WXW has recently become one of my favorite promotions to follow in all of pro wrestling. Known for their stellar 16 Carat shows, this company not only has sleek production but boasts a crop of engaging and interesting talent to follow. This show will see that talent compete against some of the UK’s best, in what feels a lot like a “PROGRESS vs WXW” type of show. As an avid PROGRESS fan this is exactly what I want. And that main event…oh man does it beckon my very soul. Let’s get right into it.
Bobby Gunns def. TK Cooper
This match was for Bobby Gunns’ Shotgun championship, the mid-tier singles title in wXw. This was a battle of two charismatic pricks. Gunns had a breakout year in 2017 and since becoming Shotgun champion has really come into his own. He’s one of wXw’s rising stars to be sure. TK, I feel, hadn’t quite been the same since his return from injury, but he stepped it up in this match. I always enjoy TK reminding his opponent and the audience that “he’s Samoan” before unleashing a headbutt. Gunns style of limb work mixed with small joint manipulation brings to mind the likes of Sabre, Scurll and Pete Dunne. The man oozes charisma and works masterfully from the top. He always feels like he’s truly trying to hurt his opponent, nothing feels cooperative. TK did a fine job selling and there’s good back and forth action down the stretch. Gunns wins with a leg trapped cross armbreaker in a fun opener. ***1/2
Killer Kelly def. Millie McKenzie
These women are two of my favorites to follow, especially in the UK. Kelly works a shooter gimmick while Millie is a suplex machine. Millie is 17 years old and a year into wrestling and I can’t even believe that. She’s a prodigious natural and future star no doubt. I enjoy Kelly but it’s clear that even at the little things she has to work harder than Millie to get right. Sometimes her offense feels disjointed. Millie’s comeback was simple yet effective as she nailed Kelly with multiple German suplexes. Watching a 120 pound teenager do what the current WWE Universal champion does is oddly compelling. At some point here Kelly got cut open hard way. Kelly got the somewhat surprising win with a package German. **3/4
Marius Al-Ani def. Chris Brookes
Marius is an athletic machine. He’s the type of wrestler I’d expect to see in PWG at some point. Chris Brookes has been working singles for a while due to his partner’s unfortunate injury. I feel bad for saying this, but as a singles wrestler Brookes does not quite do it for me. It’s obvious why he’s such a hot commodity in Europe but his singles work is a step behind his push, in my humble opinion. Marius is a guy chomping at the bit to break out. He rolled Brookes through with a sunset flip, kipped up right into an exploder. That was cool. Brookes hit a slingshot cutter and applied the octopus stretch. It’s moves like these that help establish Brookes’ identity as a wrestler, which I feel he tends to lack. Marius hit a frog splash for the win; again a bit of a surprise as Brookes is a pushed commodity. ***
Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) def. The Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter)
This was a World Tag Team League 2018 Qualifying Match. The thought of either of these teams not being in the Tag League was disheartening. I’ve been on a bit of a tirade recently about people throwing around the term, “underrated” for wrestlers who don’t deserve it. You know who’s underrated, The Hunter Brothers. Because where are they? Every time I see this team they kill it, and then I don’t see them for six months.
This match was terrific. The Hunter Brothers are as good a tag team as any. Their tandem offense is great, their psychology and pacing is perfect, their spots are unique and they bump their asses off. Aussie Open is also really good. Fletcher is always improving as the babyface in peril, and Mark Davis made about the best hot tag you’ll see all year. He killed both Hunters and it was a joy to watch.
Another thing I appreciate about the Hunters is they feel like a real team, in a way only The Usos and Young Bucks do right now. Their sum is truly greater than their parts. Together they are an overwhelming force, but isolate them and they’re vulnerable. That was the story here as Davis killed a Hunter dead with his “Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck” lifting piledriver, leaving the other Hunter alone to get hit with the Fidget Spinner, a double pumphandle driver. I hope wXw finds a way to get the Hunters into tag League anyway. ****
Alexander James def. Jack Sexsmith
Lucky Kid was originally supposed to wrestle James here, but had visa issues. Sexsmith makes for a more fun character dynamic. Alexander James has a polish to him that reminds me of Kazuchika Okada. Despite being American his style is very much a European grappling style. He took Sexsmith’s head off with a beautiful running uppercut to get the heat early. Sexsmith went for 3 of his signature moves in a row, and James countered all 3, all while maintaining control of Sexsmith’s arm, which was neat. James is really good but not in ways that are necessarily obvious. He’s not flashy at all. Sexsmith feels outclassed here which plays into his underdog character. James hits a back elbow and an arm clutch lifting DDT for the surprisingly dominant win. Seems like all the wXw talent is going over on this show. **3/4
Ilja Dragunov (c) def. David Starr, Travis Banks and WALTER
This match is for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title. Ilja beckoning each challenger to come at him during his entrance gave me goosebumps. I would love to see Ilja wrestle all of these men in separate singles matches, as well.
This match was awesome. These men all killed each other. Walter was the most dominant force, chopping and big booting each of his opposition to near death. Banks, the current PROGRESS champion, had to be somewhat dominant here as well. Every combination of these guys was great. Starr desperately wants to beat Walter. Ilja and Banks are the unbreakable men. Ilja and Walter have unfinished business from 16 carat. Banks and Walter was the original match and made a great pairing. At one point the 3 men ganged up on Walter to stop his seemingly endless path of destruction. It merely slowed it.
The story was that Ilja could take out Banks and Starr, but Walter could take out everyone. I’m incredibly happy to be watching Ilja in his role as champion. It feels so right. The man wouldn’t back down from Walter an inch, despite Walter being capable of overwhelming everyone on his own. As incredible as the rivalry between Starr and Walter is, the Ilja/Walter rivalry is more physical, visceral and intense.
The brutal chop exchanges, the hard kicks, the jaw breaking lariats…this may have been the most hard hitting fourway I’ve ever seen. I certainly don’t know if I’ve seen a better one. Starr hit Ilja with his signature lariat, the “Han Stansen”, which Ilja fighting spirit no sold and came right back with a lariat of his own, taking Starr’s head off before putting him down for good with Torpedo Moscow, retaining the title in a MOTY contender. Unbesiegbar. ****1/2
At around 90 minutes this show was a breeze to watch. The tag match was great and the main event was awesome, possibly the best fourway I’ve ever seen. Ilja Dragunov’s title reign is the most exciting reign in pro wrestling right now. wXw has a lot of momentum and it’s a promotion worth following.