Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship
Tommy End might be the Ricochet of Western Europe. I say that because Tommy End – like Ricochet – has transformed himself from a pro wrestler with obvious upside but few tangible results, to a wrestler on the brink of putting it all together. Their wrestling styles are far different, but both Ricochet and End have (at times) during the first 4+ months of 2014 felt like wrestlers on the cusp of something bigger.
End enters this match just a couple of months shy of the one-year mark as the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion. Davey Boy Smith Jr. is the most well-known of End’s title challengers to date – a list that includes several wXw regulars and a trio of mediocre junior heavyweights with international resumes (Ricky Marvin, Zack Sabre Jr., and Jonathan Gresham). The son of the British Bulldog has maintained a relatively low profile since leaving WWE. He has found himself largely relegated to the tag team division in New Japan and is an infrequent presence elsewhere, only popping up from time to time in random promotions in the US and Europe.
On paper this match was intriguing to me because End works a kick-boxing, submission style that he has progressively become more adept at. Smith Jr. trained with the late Billy Robinson and has additional grappling & submission training experience even if he rarely shows it off in New Japan. There were all the makings for a strong stylistic pairing here.
Sure enough they do just that, beginning with a lock up that leads to some grappling and jockeying for position. It was all very smooth and fluid. The match ends up on the ground in short order with Davey Boy largely controlling things. There are a couple of standoffs thrown in for good measure and End bails out of the ring at one point to pout.
One of the reasons End appears close to putting it altogether is that he has developed a strong character and heel persona. “Angry Dutch kick boxer” might not seem like much of a gimmick but it totally gels with End’s look and wrestling style. I completely buy him as this jaded, wannabe, self-trained kick boxer who washed out of that scene, turned to pro wrestling out of necessity and now finds himself cursing his bad luck that it is Peter Aerts pulling in a $28,000 per match salary from IGF when it could be him.
The match goes to the outside but for only a brief moment. End slams Smith’s knee on the apron before he getting a taste of his own medicine. Back inside, Davey Boy goes for a stomp to the midsection and feels a tweak in his knee as he does so, which he gets across with a great subtle sell. Smith’s knee becomes something of an irregular target for End the remainder of the match. This is not a limb work match at all but End tends to attack Smith’s leg when the opportunity presents itself. Smith does the same with End’s arm. The selling from both guys is exactly where it needs to be given the match layout.
Smith locks on a nice rolling arm bar at one point that End might have stayed in for too long. For the stretch run of the match, Davey Boy pulls out his simple but effective array of power offense (slams, power bomb, and things like that). This is the one part of the match I was not completely enamored with although to be clear, it was perfectly fine. The crowd wasn’t really buying that Davey Boy – one of several outsiders working this Superstars of Wrestling card – was going to win the title. As a result, the attempted near falls didn’t register much of an impact and probably could have been downplayed some as a result. The ending was well-executed and the match ended at a good spot length wise.
I want to watch this again because I won’t dismiss the idea that some of my enjoyment came from the fact that they more or less wrestled the style of match I hoped they would. However, on first viewing I liked this quite a bit. It was a solid heavyweight match which is a rare commodity these days outside of the top promotions. The match felt like one that you could stick almost anywhere on a past or present WCW or WWE PPV card and the event would have be better for it.
Singles Title Match | Watch It | Quality