WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE BLOCK A MATCH:
RingKampf vs. Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani) - 6.75/10
A very hard-hitting match that makes me want to see more of Okami.
WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE BLOCK A MATCH:
Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham vs. Rey Fenix & Penta el 0M - 8/10
If Gresham & Brookes win, they go to the finals. If they lose or draw, RingKampf go to the finals. These guys went all out with a "flips and kicks and spots and MOVEZ" match, and while it wasn't insane or anything, they did have just enough crazy-looking things to make it work despite the relatively short amount of time they got. Brookes & Gresham picked up the win, so they are headed to the finals in their very first World Tag Team League.
WESNA vs. LUFISTO - 5/10
They were having a brawl you'd expect from these two when they spilled to outside. They proceeded to fight on the outside without being counted out. Then they did the stupid spot where the babyface gets some fans to hold the heel in place for a chop, right in front of the referee, and somehow this wasn't a DQ. It's a dumb spot on its own, but doing a comedy spot like that was even worse here because it also broke the rhythm of hard-hitting brawl these two had been having. They got back in the ring and did some suplexes and stuff, but the match never quite recovered that original intensity.
WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE BLOCK B MATCH:
Jay FK vs. Aussie Open - 4/10
They had a short match with Jay FK getting the cheating win to advance to the finals. One spot that really bothered me was the heels pulling the referee out of the ring while he was making a count but not being disqualified. They put their hands on the referee with the intention of preventing him from fulfilling his duties. How the hell is this not a DQ? If a match is "too important to end via disqualification" (as Rico Bushido said, even though he himself did first admit that this should have been a DQ) then the promotion should make it a No Disqualifications Match. But they didn't, so it clearly isn't so important that this match not end via DQ.
WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE BLOCK B MATCH:
Monster Consulting vs. Jeff Cobb & Angelico - 6.75/10
They had a fun match playing off of the Big Guy vs. Big Guy/Lanky Guy vs. Lanky Guy formula. There were times when they felt like they were going a step slower than usual, but it got pretty good towards the end.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Because the winner of World Tag League is awarded the wXw World Tag Team Titles, the current champions, Monster Consulting, had to relinquish the titles. While it does make sense that winning this big tag team tournament means you are the best team and therefore should get the belts, I really don't like this because it seems to me to be throwing away possibilities. For example, you can't tell a story where the champs do very poorly in World Tag Team League bit then set out to redeem themselves by defeating not only the winners of World Tag Team League but everyone else who defeated them in the league. It also seems to limit tag title reigns to a maximum of one year (even if the champs win the finals, they would still theoretically be vacating the belts, then winning them again), which seems silly to me. If there was one thing about wXw booking I would change, this would be it.
DIRTY DRAGAN, EMIL SITOCI, & SEBASTIAN HOLLMICHEL BACKSTAGE - Fine. Dragan & Sitoci say that even if they don't win tonight and Dragan must leave wXw, they're going to make sure they leave it all in the ring.
IF DRAGAN & SITOCI LOSE, DIRTY DRAGAN MUST LEAVE wXw:
Dirty Dragan & Emil Sitoci vs. Alexander James & Jurn Simmons - no rating, interesting segment
The Dirty Dragan Trial Series all comes down to this. Sitoci came out alone on stage, but this was just a distraction so Dirty Dragan could sneak out from the crowd behind the heels and whip them with his belt as payback for them doing it to him last night. They had a brawl before the bell rang, that ended with Jurn hitting Sitoci with a Piledriver but Dragan then nailed Jurn with a running kick right at the bell for an excellent false finish.
They proceeded to have a good but short brawl in which Dragan pinned Jurn but James but Jurn's foot on the rope at the last moment, to the point where they had the timekeeper jump the gun and ring the bell too early, with the referee then ordering the match restarted. Soon after the restart, Jurn nailed Dragan with the same running kick Dragan had nailed him with at the beginning to get the win. We then got the big tearful goodbye for Dirty Dragan, but I've got to imagine that this leads to him coming back under a mask or something, and if you were going to have the guy come back under a mask you'd think it would make more sense to have him get screwed in a much more heelish way in the match where he gets banished. And if he really is done with wXw, then why do a finish with so much confusion involved instead of a plain clean pin?
LUCKY KID vs. TARKAN ASLAN - 6/10
At less than eight minutes, this was a lot shorter than a grudge match like this should have been. That being said, I'm certain Tarkan will claim that he tapped out "strategically" to keep this feud going.
What props this match up despite its short run-time was the outside interference (or rather then thwarted attempts at it). First Marius Al-Ani came out and tried to hit Lucky with his wXw Shotgun Title, calling back to the finish of the #1 contendership tournament earlier this year when Tarkan "accidentally" (or so it seemed at the time) hit Lucky with a title belt to cost Lucky the match and give Al-Ani the win. Lucky thwarted this interference, but Al-Ani soon tried to distract the referee so Tarkan could hit Lucky with the belt but Lucky's (and, until recently, Tarkan's) RISE comrade Pete Bouncer- the very man who exposed Tarkan's misdeeds and manipulations to Lucky- yanked the belt away from him, while Bouncer's tag team partner Ivan Kiev pulled Al-Ani down off the apron and Bouncer laid Al-Ani out with the title.
The symbolism of all of this- Bouncer, who had turned the remaining undercard RISE crew babyface after Klinger was fired this spring by encouraging them to be a better RISE (i.e. not cheat) was now leading them in preventing rogue member Tarkan Aslan and Tarkan's new pal Marius Al-Ani from doing exactly the sort of thing RISE would have done at the beginning of this year- was all very nice, but I also really love how well the booking pieces fit together. Al-Ani is now again getting involved in Lucky's match and trying to hit him with the title belt like he did to cost Lucky the #1 contendership match on night one. Factor in Lucky's growing cult-favorite babyface status and the motif of hitting someone with the title belt that was established in the aforementioned #1 contendership match and carried on several times with the Shotgun Title this year and we seem to be pretty clearly setting Lucky up to challenge Al-Ani for the Shotgun Title at the 18th Anniversary Show at the end of the year.
But we've got some time to go until then. What match also did was set up a tag team match between Tarkan & Al-Ani and Kiev & Bouncer, which will not only allow Bouncer to get some physical revenge on Tarkan for slapping that weird knock-out patch onto him on Shotgun when Bouncer confronted him about his manipulations and lies and for hitting him with the title belt in a RISE vs. Al-Ani & Aslan match on the August 2nd Shotgun, but will also serve as a solid tag team win for Kiev & Bouncer that can be combined with some other wins to establish them as the #1 contenders to the wXw Word Tag Team Titles at the Anniversary Show, with the story being them finally winning the titles as babyfaces to cap off their year of redemption. THIS is the sort of thing I consider to be truly top-notch booking. When the pieces all fit in place so perfectly.
WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE FINALS FOR THE VACANT wXw WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
Jonathan Gresham & Chris Brookes vs. Jay FK - 8.25/10
Jay FK jumped Brookes & Gresham before the bell, leading to a brawl through the crowd. Hopefully they got all of their chairshots and so forth out of the way here when it makes sense. Alan Counihan pointed out that Jonathan Gresham and Jay Skillet are actually former wXw World Tag Team Championship partners. I did not know that.
They had an awesome tag team with, with one heck a sustained heat segment on Gresham, with Brookes nowhere in sight after he was taken out with illegal tactics. Gresham persevered and persevered and kept kicking out and kicking out until he couldn't anymore. This felt like a little too much of a downer to me. If the heels are going to win, I'd rather at least have a hot tag and a comeback first. The match was still awesome and Gresham in particular looked like a star, but it felt like a little something was missing when it ended.
Another great show from wXw. We had some awesome matches (including the eponymous tag team tournament), some big storyline moments, and what somehow feels like a final stretch of the year that is both wide open in terms of storyline possibilities, but also like almost anything they do will have some feeling like it was set up beforehand. If the transition from Shotgun tapings to even more "featured events" like this one means we get more shows- and more weekends- like this, I will be very, very happy.