It’s day three of a whirlwind of amazing wrestling.  So far, I’ve scratched **** or higher seven times as I’ve ran through the easiest watch in wrestling. This card shows no signs of relenting.

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
World Tag Team League Night 3
October 7, 2018
Turbinenhalle
Oberhausen, Germany

Watch: wXw Now

I feel like I’ve established a deep emotional connection to the heavily synthesised slap bass of the theme tune that pervades the VOD.  Consciously, I absolutely hate it, but I’ve burnt it onto a CD to listen to in the car, set it as my alarm tone and changed my will to specify it as my funeral song.

World Tag Team League A Block
Ringkampf (Thatcher & WALTER) (6) def. Okami (3)

Nobody lives and breathes the spirit of professional wrestling like Ringkampf.  The lost and listless Timothy Thatcher found a friend and a sense of belonging in WALTER, and together they have become the epitome of tag team wrestling in Europe.  A win over Ringkampf brings more legitimacy than any championship because they ooze authenticity. They have the perfect gimmick for the wrestling nerd like me: they believe professional wrestling is bigger than themselves. Otami, the travelling team of Big Japan behemoths, is just the kind of competition that Ringkampf crave.  They entered the ring with an extra bounce, knowing a loss would send them crashing out of the tournament, but would find solace in the competition.

The opening exchanges feel urgent from the start, but they quickly start to feel like they’re going through the motions.  It feels like a classic song that I’ve heard a million times, a smorgasbord of shoulder blocks and wristlocks. That is, until the sprinkling of great wrestling minds start to come forth.

I’ve said before that wrestling is like the twelve-bar-blues.  There are restrictions and rules, but the variations within it are almost infinite.  These two teams take a basic formula and add some little story nuggets. Kamitani takes the old wrestling trope of not being able to slam the bigger man and drags it straight up to date. There’re huge lariats, a series of powerbombs and a Japanese team that use their bodies as unstoppable weapons. This was one of the weaker matches of the league and it was still damn good. ***3/4

World Tag Team League A Block
Calamari Catch Kings (6) def. Lucha Brothers (3)

The terrifying Pentagon and his esoteric brother are eliminated.  They were beaten by Ringkampf on night one, so will lose the tie breaker.  However, taking a night off is not an option. Pentagon, the praying mantis of professional wrestling, sees only an opportunity for violence.

This match is a cacophony of incredible innovation.  It’s the wrestling equivalent of a Mitch Hedberg set.  If you don’t like a cool spot, just wait; another is barrelling along behind it at break neck speed. 

Fenix is out of the tournament and bitter. He starts this match with a wonderful chop to Gresham’s chest.  It was a ‘fuck you’ to the team; a signal that keeping them out of the finals is the new prize they seek.

This match had the pace of a runaway train.  It started off methodically, with constant run ins from the Mexican duo to keep their opponents at bay.  However it isn’t long before Gresham responds with a huge swinging DDT. In the blink of an eye, there’s a tsunami of Canadian destroyers, a hurricane of shooting star presses and a cavalcade of hurricanranas.

The competitors found the limits of their environment and smashed through them, dancing through, over and between the ropes in a match that reached its hands into the audience’s throat and pulled out a guttural, feverish love of danger and adrenaline. Gresham takes the fall and this is the match of the weekend. ****3/4

Wesna def. LuFisto

LuFisto feels like she’s playing at pro wrestler.  Her character is inconsistent; she goes from playing the chicken heel to the straight shooter on the flip of a coin. Wesna, on the other hand, has a terrifying legitimacy; she looks like a Wetherspoons regular who preys for a kick-off so she can crack some skulls.

There’s some solid work here once it gets going but it ends far too suddenly.  Wesna plays the face working from the bottom before grabbing her opponent for a DVD and the victory out of nowhere. This match moves at a snail pace, and while the work is fine, there’s not much to recommend. ’twas fine. **1/2

World Tag Team League B Block
Jay-FK (6) def. Aussie Open (6)

Aussie Open are one win away from a guaranteed spot in the final.  They wrestle like a pack of wolves; they circulate and contemplate, but when the stars align, they ignite with a whirlwind of speed and power.

If Aussie Open wrestle like wolves, Jay-FK must wrestle like trolls.  They’re faster, slower and much further away from the final. To win, they need to be smart and devious and that’s exactly what they were.

They work their way through the cheater’s handbook – sneak attacks at the bell, cheap chopblocks, mugging Dunkzilla on the apron before a tag – but they’re just not smart enough.  They pin Fletcher too close to the ropes allowing him to get a rope break. They try the same, cheap tactics too many times and the dreaded Dunkzilla hot tag finally happens. Davis destroys everyone in his sights and it looks like victory is assured.

Kaspin then hits a low blow that leads to the win. This had a lot of tropes in it that I don’t like, but it demonstrated that context is important.  It would have defied character and kayfabe for Jay-FK to go one-on-one with Aussie Open and everything they did here made sense.  ‘It made sense’, however, is very different to ‘exciting.’ ***1/4

World Tag Team League B Block
Team SPLX (Cobb & Angelico) (3) def. Monster Consulting (3)

Jeff Cobb, the loveliest man in wrestling, needs a revamped character.  With the international indie scene feeling as barren as it is, there’s a huge spot for a nasty powerhouse.  He seems like a perfectly pleasant chap, but I never get the impression he takes anything seriously. If he doesn’t, then why should the audience?

The Block B quagmire continues with another confusing set of outcomes on the table. Luckily Alan Counihan is there to demystify the match. If Monster Consulting win, it’s a three-way tie and the finalist will be pulled out of hat.  If Team SPLX win, Jay-FK go through.

This match stumbles out of the starting blocks, with a series of confusing snapshots that promise at something brilliant.  It feels like Nero is always a step behind; he can’t quite match the ethereal fluidity of a wrestler like Angelico.

Suddenly, at the half way point, something clicks.  A barrage of big-man brutality from Cobb and Avalanche ignites a tired crowd, before an amazing deadlift from Cobb amplifies the running-on-empty adrenaline everyone is feeling. A rollup finish isn’t the most satisfying way to end things, but the hard work and grit of all four competitors saves this match. It’s CCK versus Jay-FK in the final! ***1/2

Alexander James & Jurn Simmons def. Dirty Dragan & Emil Sitoci

The stunted high school drama promos couldn’t kill the heat of this feud.  Dirty Dragan comes out fighting, determined to avenge the attack from the night before.  He was whipped like a child, and now he’s returning the favour.

A cavalcade of moves bounce around the ring in this pithy five-minute whirlwind. Dragan’s strength isn’t between the ropes and thankfully it was over before his shortcomings became pronounced.

Losing this match means he might not appear in wXw again. If you like Dirty Dragan, you’ll like this. **

Lucky Kid def. Tarkan Aslan

Lucky Kid is another gimmick that doesn’t resonate with me.  I find it awkward and unnatural. Watching someone squirm and gurn like a 90s hard house casualty does not scream ‘wrestling’ to me.

I do like stories, however, and we definitely have one here.  A story of betrayal and epiphanies. A good, solid story can elevate mediocre wrestlers into something much more special.   That’s what this story has been. Solid. I watch the segments, appreciate them, then forget everything.

They fight with the fire the grudge dictates.  The work is fast paced and angry with spit and tears to amplify the hatred these two have for each other.  All the surrounding cast get their moment in the match. Aslan taps out. I get on with my life. **3/4

World Tag Team League Final
wXw World Tag Team Championships
Jay-FK def. Calamari Catch Kings

Matches this weekend have been littered with innovation.  I’ve leapt out of my seat at multiple points, yelling ‘look at this’ to a disinterested dog.  It’s been a whirlwind, with eight matches at ****+. This match should have been the moment before the precipice of the bungee jump.  The split second everyone’s arms are aloft before the bass drops. The moment you see your waiter with the ridiculous amount of food you ordered.

It didn’t start that way.

It was a boring walk and brawl, cliched trash talking and a clear delaying tactics to cover up for inadequacies in talent. Gresham, as always, is the clear MVP.  A stunning moonsault off the ramp declares his intentions to treat this spot with the gravitas it has been given this weekend.  He takes the pace of this match into mach-1, with perfect work at an unbelievable pace.

Once this match truly started, it was a blur of top rope dives punctuated with the archaic heel tactics of Jay-FK.  It was a desperate rush for victory that seemed to build and build and showed no sign of stopping. Gresham and Skillet put together an incredible closing stretch with multiple late kickouts that played me like a banjo.  This match may have started as background noise, but it ended with a scream. ****

Final Thoughts:

Night 3 was a disappointing finale to an excellent tournament.  It seems an odd thing to say when there’s the best match of the tournament and another **** match, but companies are victims of their own standards.  A lot of this plodded and would better skipped, but the tournament matches are must see.