wXw Shortcut to the Top 2017 (7/1/2017)- Koln, Germany
wXw SHOTGUN TITLE MATCH: Angelico(c) vs. David Starr vs. Emil Sitoci- 6.75/10
Standard fast-paced opener with a standard three-way story, but the fans were into everything, and popped big for the finish.
MARIUS AL-ANI vs. MATT RIDDLE- 7/10
GREAT match, especially for the time it got.
HANDICAP MATCH: Kim Ray vs. RingKampf (WALTER & Christian Michael Jakobi)- 5/10
WALTER told Jakobi that he would do all the work, but the first time WALTER got Kim Ray down and hit the ropes to go for something, Jakobi tagged himself in and WALTER just threw his arms up in the air and said “fine. Do what you want.”
CMJ, of course, ran away from Kim Ray at every opportunity. At one point he looked like he was going to tag back out to WATLER (who offered to make the tag rather than CMJ asking for it) but it was a feint to throw Kim Ray off his guard and CMJ spun around and slapped him in the face. Then he ran away, having the ring announcer tell everyone to be quiet (always a great spot) and then going to the back to get his kendo stick and announce that the match was now no DQs.
WATLER didn’t like this because RingKampf is about wrestling and not bullsh*t so he tries to take the weapon away from CMJ, confident in his own ability to defeat Kim Ray (especially if CMJ would stay out of the ring because he’s not a wrestler). Kim Ray took advantage of this to dropkick WALTER into CMJ and get the advantage on WALTER but eventually CMJ came at him with the kendo stick and while Kim Ray was able to avoid the weapon shot, it allowed WALTER to nail him from behind and take control of the match.
WALTER locked in the Gojira Clutch and CMJ went to hit Kim Ray with the kendo stick but WALTER let the hold go and yanked the weapon away from CMJ. Kim Ray came at them again and WALTER pushed CMJ out of the way but wound up eating the kick himself. CMJ then nailed Kim Ray in the head with the kendo stick. CMJ threw the kendo stick to WALTER and told him to hit Kim Ray with it but WALTER refused and walked out.
This was a good moment that led to another one when CMJ finally turned his attention back to Kim Ray, only to realize that Kim Ray was now awake and crawling towards the kendo stick and CMJ had to dive for the kendo stick and they wound up on the mat, both grabbing the kendo stick while going nose to nose.
Kim Ray came away with the kendo stick and CMJ begged off but then nailed Kim Ray with a low blow, which I thought made Kim Ray look stupid because he had no real reason to hesitate. CMJ hit Kim Ray with the kendo stick a few times and gloated a bunch, but Kim Ray eventually punched him in the balls and took his own turn with the kendo stick. The final one of these shots was right to the head… and maybe hitting the booker in the head isn’t the best thing for the future of the promotion.
Kim Ray went to get a table but after he set it up CMJ hit him in the nuts with the kendo stick. CMJ put Kim Ray on the table and teased doing a moonsault but Kim Ray got up and powerbombed him through the table for the win.
This was a hard match to rate… or, more correctly, it was a hard match to decide how to rate. This was really like a segment more than a match until WALTER left, at which point it became a match. I liked the segment part of this a lot, and if the match part had been shorter I would have just rated the whole thing as a good segment. The booking here is very clever, as it not only allows Kim Ray to get his revenge on CMJ and win the feud, but it protects WALTER by having him not actually lose in a handicap match and also turns him babyface, which would be important so that we could have a top babyface already in place for what would come later.
The match part of this wasn’t bad or anything, but it went longer than it really needed to. I think it would have been better to just let CMJ get in a cane shot or two and then have Kim Ray fire up and destroy CMJ with the cane and get the win. There was no reason for any of the stuff with the table at the end.
WOMEN’S TITLE TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCEMENT- fine
Melanie Gray comes out and announces that we’re going to be crowning a wXw Women’s Champion at the end of the year and there will be a tournament taking up the whole second half of the year to crown the champion. The names in the tournament will be Melanie Gray, Pauline, “Session Moth” Martina, and Jinny… and wouldn’t you know it, Jinny happens to be in the building tonight. She comes out and Melanie says something to her in German. Like me Jinny had no idea what Melanie said, but just out of habit Jinny grabbed the microphone and said several very rude things to Melanie. Jinny then kicked Melanie in the face and a brawl started. Melanie won the brawl because f*ck you, Jinny. That’s why.
wXw UNIFIED WORLD WRESTLING TITLE MATCH: Jurn Simmons(c) vs. “The Avalanche” Robert Dreissker- 6/10
Avalanche worked over Jurn’s midsection while Jurn worked over Avalanche’s head. They had a creative spot where Jurn went for his Piledriver but Avalanche countered it by essentially giving himself a back body drop and bowling Jurn over with his girth and landing right on Jurn’s abdomen. Other than that there wasn’t much here worth nothing. They told their story well and Jurn busted out a moonsault (which he hit but couldn’t go for the cover because it also hurt his own injured midsection), but other than that the match was pretty unremarkable. Jurn eventually picked up the win when he was finally able to hit the Piledriver.
2017 SHORTCUT TO THE TOP MATCH- no rating, good segment
David Starr and “Bad Bones” John Klinger started things off. Dirty Dragan was #3 and didn’t want to get in the ring yet but the next entrance, Rob Lynch, forced him in. More people came in, but they appeared to be mostly friends of Dragan. They all tried to team up on the large Michael Dante and eventually eliminated him. Rico Bushido was in next and Dragan raised his hand and assumed they would be friends so Rico brought his hand down and sack-tapped Dragan, then eliminated him. That made me laugh.
Also, Klinger hurt his knee so he rolled to the outside. He got carried to the back on what looked like a giant tarp because I guess they didn’t have a stretcher.
More stuff happens. The match now appears to be controlled by a makeshift alliance of Absolute Andy, David Starr, & Jay Skillet.
Jack Sexsmith came in next. He immediately sat down in front of David Starr and wanted to suck his dick. Starr seemed to be prepared to get blown right in the middle of this very important match but instead he struck Sexsmith in the face with a pelvic thrust. Sexsmith pretended to faint, then sad back up and headbutted Starr in the crotch, then scurried away and hugged the bottom rope for dear life because I guess he decdided he doesn’t like David Starr’s penis anymore. This all happened in the middle of wXw’s version of the Royal Rumble.
Next was Hakeem Waqur. After him was Jimmy Havoc, who got a massive pop and ran wild with all of his big stuff… and then got eliminated by David Starr before the countdown for the next entrant had even begun. The fans were extremely unhappy about this.
Next in was Rick Baxter. The front of his t-shirt (and his entrance video) said “Wrestling, Bier, & Titten” while the back of his shirt said “Here comes the porn.” Not a subtle man, this Rick Baxter. Jack Sexsmith propositioned him but he responded with violence, so that’s a no. Next in was his Posse In Effect stablemate “The Grannatic,” who had the same shirt and some sort of black tube which he pretended was his penis and stroked. Baxter crotched Sexsmith on the ropes, then The Grannatic stroked the faux-penis until it popped and sprayed pink confetti at Sexsmith, who took tumbled over the ropes and own to the floor. I swear to G-d I am not making any of this up.
Waqr then eliminated the lovers of porn, bier and titten, which was probably for their own good because the next entrant was WALTER and there is no telling what sort of beating he would have put on these two sleazy goofballs. WALTER ran wild on everyone until the next entrant, a large man named Michael Isotov came in. He and WALTER both ran wild for a bit until they started to fight. WALTER won that fight, then started to go at it with the next big man who came in front of him, Absolute Andy.
Next in was Da Mack and after that was Marius Al-Ani. Al-Ani ran wild on everyone, even his own tag team partner Absolute Andy but Andy talked him out attacking him. Andy then went to eliminate Al-Ani but pulled him back before he went over the top rope, smiled, and passed it off as a joke, and they began to work as a team.
Alpha Kevin was in next, and his video began with him getting the big elimination on Chris Hero in last year’s Shortcut to the Top. The eliminated Isotov in a “ha! That dumb heel thought he outsmarted the babyface but really he didn’t” way.
The other member of the London Riots comes in, as does Bobby Gunns, who eliminates Sitoci. Next is Matt Riddle, who eliminates Da Mack with a Bro 2 Sleep and then starts to team up with David Starr. Alpha Kevin eliminates other London Riots guy with a stunner, which looked a little goofy.
Melanie Gray came out to ringside at some point and started to yell at Bobby Gunns when he had Kevin in a front guillotine. He goes over to yell at her and she gets up onto the apron to yell at him from closer up. He then grabbed her hair and forcibly kissed her, then, when Kevin came charging at him, Gunns side-stepped him and sent Kevin tumbling to the floor right in front of Melanie. Kevin is angry at Mella, so I guess he only saw Gunns kissing her.
Gunns soon picked up two big eliminations. The first was on Marius Al-Ani, and the second was on Matt Riddle. The Riddle one was totally infuriating. Gunns hit Riddle with a Canadian Destroyer… which Riddle then no-sold, only to charge at Gunns and get eliminated via low-bridge. This really happened. He started to get braggadocios about it so everyone else teamed up and eliminated him.
Some more stuff and eliminations happened, and then Pete Bouncer of the small and heretofore mostly unimportant RISE faction. The only members of the group that have had any importance at all are the current wXw World Tag Team Champions Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan, who wen the belts at the previous big show in a major upset. Bouncer came in here and continued to be inconsequential.
David Starr (still in from the beginning) and WALTER had a big face-off in the middle of the ring. Angelico then came in, but everyone’s attention immediately went back to Starr and WALTER struggling near the ropes, and Starr, who was on the apron, managed to flip WALTER over the ropes and down to the floor to eliminate the big man and add a bit more fuel to the fire that has been simmering in the background about Starr wanting to beat WALTER (in an actual wrestling match. This battle royale doesn’t count).
Next in was Ivan Kiev of RISE, who has been just as inconsequential as Bouncer in his few wXw appearances. Shockingly, the two of them managed to run wild for a bit. They managed to eliminate Kim Ray and then controlled things for a while until Absolute Andy got another turn to run wild on anyone… but got low-bridged by Pete Bouncer while trying to do his signature taunt against the ropes and eliminated. Angelico started to dominate things but got kicked in the nuts but Kiev and eliminated him, leaving David Starr alone against the two members of RISE.
Then “Bad Bones” John Klinger- his knee extremely heavily taped up- came out from backstage and limped back down to the ring. The referee seemed reluctant to let him back in, but he was never actually eliminated, and Starr, sensing a potential ally, happily welcomed his presence, so the ref let him back in. The two babyfaces got all fired up and Starr charged at RISE… only for Klinger to grab him from behind and eliminate him. Klinger then knelt down- showing that his knee was not really injured at all- and spread his arms wide, and Kiev and Bouncer climbed the turnbuckles and hopped over the top ropes, eliminating themselves and making “Bad Bones” John Klinger your winner of the 2017 Shortcut to the Top.
Starr watched from the outside in disbelief. Fans started to throw trash at Klinger, who got up (again with no trouble from his knee) and took off his usual “101% Rebel” shirt to reveal a RISE shirt underneath it. wXw got some awesome crowd-shots here, including fans having that same “hands on your head in total disbelief” pose that was part of the “The Streak is Broken” montage of fan reactions, fans giving Klinger the bird and booing him, etc. The other two got back in the ring and they did the RISE salute, and the show ended with the three of them soaking in the hatred.
I normally dislike turning a major show’s main event into a something that is really more of a segment, but I think it’s the kind of thing that it’s okay to do on very rare occasion (and if you do it well), and this one certainly fits. The most famous example of this in wrestling history is the Hogan turn at Bash at the Beach 1996, and that is certainly the moment that this most compares to for me, with a long-term babyface turning heel and joining a faction of outsiders in a shocking manner in a big main event (plus some other little things like the trash-throwing and there being three heels in the ring when this happens).
Not everything lines up, obviously, as Hall and Nash were portrayed as two megastars who had been running wild over everyone from the moment they came into WCW while RISE- aside from the Young Lions’ upset tag title victory, have been doing pretty much the opposite. It is precisely this difference, though, that not only gives this angle its own feel, but also helps establish everyone’s motivations.
Klinger’s are obvious in that he wants the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title, which despite being a mainstay of wXw for well over a decade at this point, he has only held twice. His most recent title reign came about two years ago and only lasted a single day, and the reign before that was long enough ago that he dropped the belt to Bryan Danielson. Klinger, therefore, sees in RISE an army (he is the sixth member of the group) of mostly young and moldable soldiers who will follow his lead. He witnessed their effectiveness last month in Hamburg when the Young Lions used underhanded tactics to retain the tag titles over himself and Alpha Kevin, and decided he wanted in.
What RISE gets out of Klinger is the weakest point in this story. After all, if they need to win the world title so that they have power to get themselves booked more often then why would they need to make a deal with Klinger when Bouncer and Kiev both have very late numbers and good shot at winning? The answer, I think, is threefold. First there is the aforementioned leadership experience. Second is the fact that a third man in on the plan- and one coming in with a major surprise advantage- only increases their chances of success. Thirdly, I think they see in Klinger someone who is already an insider, and thus even if the plan fails and Klinger doesn’t soon capture the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title, they still might be able to use the combination of the tag champs’ stroke, whatever stroke Klinger has, and the babyface outrage their plan would create to get the rest of the crew booked, even if it is just so the babyfaces can have a shot at kicking their asses.
This was a very risky and bold choice by wXw, both to take a group of relative nobodies and try to make them your top heel stable, and to book a “Fingerpoke of Doom” style of finish in such a major match, but it definitely worked. They got the right kind of heat in the moment, and as I sit here nearly a year later I have the hindsight that this gable paid off, as RISE became one of the two hottest heel stables in all of wrestling in 2017 (British Strong Style in PROGRESS being their only competitor).
The intermediate parts of this match were fine. They furthered some storylines and were mostly entertaining, if not particularly exciting. One would think that with the role Starr played in this match that he would have been one of the first guys to feud with Klinger over the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title once Klinger won it, but the two actually haven’t had any sort of singles match, be it one-on-one or multi-man, since this angle. Odd.
This was a pretty good show from wXw. The wrestling was decent to good, but the major thing on this show was the storylines. If you’re a wXw fan then it’s must-see, but if you’re strictly looking for workrate, there are many better wXw shows out there.
NJPW, PROGRESS, RevPro, CMLL, etc
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