Category Archives: wXw

(04/26) Tommy End (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.

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

(03/15) Tommy End (c) vs. Jonathan Gresham

Turbinenhalle Oberhausen (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXw Unified World Heavyweight Championship

This match had a lot of hype from fans that witnessed it live and I could definitely see why. It wasn’t quite the MOTYC that some have made it out to be, but I enjoyed it quite a bit in spite of some of its flaws.

They actually billed Gresham at 5’2 or 5’3 (I don’t remember exactly which one) which in the world of professional wrestling worked heights and weights stands out for its accuracy. Poor guy really is so small – even by US indie standards – and far more solid than spectacular that you can see he would struggle finding regular gigs. He is extremely solid and well-rounded but if you are just eclipsing the five-foot mark you likely need more than “well-rounded” on your resume in order to stick out.

The bulk of the match is worked cat-and-mouse style with Gresham using his quickness advantage to get spurts of offense while End cuts him off in short order each time Gresham starts to get something going. End is hit or miss for me. I thought he was off versus Zack Sabre Jr. in January but this was a much better showing from him. His kicks generally looked good, his cut-offs were on the mark, and both guys worked a smart match. The mat work at the beginning was basic but effective. I thought all of Gresham’s dives looked good and were well placed within the body of the match.

They probably would have been better off stretching the mat work for a few extra minutes because the final few minutes of the 19-minute match got a little kick out and pop up happy. The cat-and-mouse sections worked well because you look at the two – End much bigger with a kickboxing arsenal and Gresham as the small but technically proficient wrestler – and that dynamic makes a lot of sense. Gresham taking copious amounts of punishment, shrugging it off, and hitting his own offense fits the visual expectations of this match up far less.

On the positive side, they could have gone much further with it. Like the Hero/Styles match from the following week, the match ends quickly via submission just when the match seems in danger of veering way out of control. I don’t know if sudden submission endings are turning into a new thing, but I would certainly welcome that trend on the indies over long kick-out fests.

US Indie | Worthwhile | Quality & Hype

(01/18) Tommy End (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXW Heavyweight Championship

I watched this match twice because I really did not know what to think of it the first time.

First time through, I really dug the opening 5 minutes of mat work and got all giddy hoping the match would build off of the early groundwork and turn into something great. The transition from holds to the true body of the match was accomplished via what I thought (and still think) was sort of a neat, if not perfectly-executed sequence. End and Sabre Jr. traded forearms and kicks at ringside before the ref told them to get in the ring. They moved to the apron, where they again traded strikes. The ref again admonished them, so they got in the ring where they continued going at it. It was played for half-comedy and half ramping up the action from holds into something more heated.

From that point on – as the match moved into near falls – it was not as good as the first few minutes, but at just about 10 minutes total match time, it never really felt apart either. I watched it again later hoping I would enjoy it more the second time, but got less out of it the second go-around. Sabre Jr.’s weak strikes (forearms and uppercuts) stuck out to me more, especially in relation to how stiff he worked in the opener. The opening mat work did less for me the second time around as well, perhaps because this time I could no longer hang my hope on the match blossoming into something even better in the second half.

These two had a fine match in the finals of the 2013 16 Carrot Gold Tournament last March would I would seek out well before this one where something – like most of the matches from this card – was just a tad off.

Nondescript Singles | Skippable | Title Match

(01/18) Chris Hero vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)

This would be Chris Hero’s triumphant return to Germany where he won the wXw Heavyweight Championship at this very same event (“Back to the Roots”) eleven years ago. John Klinger’s claim to fame is winning the online TNA Gut Check fan vote and the promotion largely just ignoring it. TNA is using him during their impending tour of Europe for a couple of shows, so there’s that.

In the write ups for Hero’s recent matches against Kevin Steen and Ricochet, I praised him for reeling those two in and providing both matches with a semblance of structure. This is the first 2014 Hero I have watched where he fell into the “going to long” problem.

The match fell apart for me a little more than halfway in when both wrestlers ended up on the outside. Up until that point the match there were slowly building with a lot of holds/counter holds and basic early-match ring work that you get in any Chris Hero match. They ended up on the outside and had a strike exchange which was out of the place given the flow up until that point. Then Hero laid out on one of the bars while Klinger took a powder outside the ring as well. It might seem nit-picky to write that a break in the action completely threw off the match, but it did here.

Once the action headed back to the ring, it was for a seven minute end stretch involving a lot of repeated moves from earlier (Hero hit at least a half dozen running kicks throughout the match) and a few too many near falls. I am being a bit harsh – this is still certainly watchable – but nothing altogether memorable.

Nondescript Singles | Watchable | Individual Performance (Hero)

(01/18) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Big Van Walter

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXw Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender’s Match

Originally, the main event of this show was scheduled to be Daisuke Sekimoto challenging Tommy End for the wXw Unified World Heavyweight Championship while Walter and Sabre Jr. wrestled for a title match on a future show. Sekimoto was scratched due to injury turning this match into an opportunity for a title shot later in the night.

The long knuckle lock sequence to begin the match was neat and avoided getting repetitive. Sabre’s striking is hit or miss (see his match later in the same evening versus Tommy End) but with a big target like Walter, he really lays it in. Being the big fat guy that he is, Walter makes a good punching/kicking and you’ve to like the sound of Sabre’s boot connecting squarely with flab. Walter, of course, gives it back pretty well himself.

The match seems to stall out sometime before the finishing sequence. It kind of meanders towards a finish over the last five minutes or so, with Sabre Jr. getting the title shot with some sort of arm wrench. The finish itself came a little out of nowhere. These two have better matches in them (they have had better matches versus one another) but this was fine overall.

Holds | Watchable | Quality