wXw AMBITION 14
March 11, 2023
We’re in Oberhausen, Germany at the historic Turbinenhalle. I had no intention of doing this, but Mike Kilby asked me to, and I can’t refuse a Mike Kilby review request. For those unfamiliar with AMBITION as a concept; it’s a shoot-style show, designed to ape early UFC championships. Eight guys in a tournament, winner gets a trophy. They, like UFC, have added “super fights” since the inception.
We begin with the ‘wrestler parade’. Fuminori Abe is out last, which is foreshadowing. There isn’t a more obvious winner in the field. Apart from perhaps Davey Richards. Speaking of which, after the allegations against Richards, this will be the last time he’s mentioned in this review.
Thomas Shire vs. Peter Tihanyi
Going deep in Carat and being a regular, you’d think Tihanyi would be a shoe-in. AMBITION doesn’t necessarily work that way though. Shire is the largest man in the tournament and arguably the most powerful. He certainly manhandles Tihanyi. I don’t appreciate Tihanyi throwing worked punches. Punches are illegal in a shoot wrestling. Shire mangles Tihanyi and taps him out inside three minutes. AMBITION is a different sauce.
Kevin Lloyd vs. Bobby Gunns
Sexy Kev! This is Lloyd’s third AMBITION tournament. He’s never won a match! This is much more to style. Gunns tries low kicks until Lloyd goes after his leg. They do some tasty reversals on the mat and Kev does a grand job of defensive mat wrestling. Often fighting out of Gunns’ more aggressive mat attacks. They trade on suplexes but Gunns headbutts Lloyd in the chest for the KO. Poor Kev, 0-3 at AMBITION. This was tidy. Lloyd is underrated as a grappler.
Sidenote: Gunns won AMBITION last year, defeating Fuminori Abe in the final. Could we be on for a rematch?
Fast Time Moodo vs. Fuminori Abe
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Moodo wrestle. This should be a good introduction to what he’s capable of, from a technical standpoint. The German chanting gets funny here as one guy tries to get a “Fast Time Moodo” chant going and the crowd, with initial frustration and then increasing humour, chant “nein” in response. Moodo has decent striking ability but every time Abe retorts, it’s a world of difference.
Is it me, or does this look exactly like the shot in Ace Ventura where he gets caught beating up the Eagles mascot?
Moodo gets a mount several times and seems unsure as to what to do. Moodo generally looks good and almost KO’s Abe with a head kick only to get caught immediately in an Octopus hold for the submission. Obviously, Abe is in his element here and led the match.
Video Control gives us a little shill promo from Patrick “Cy” Bork. WHAT A NAME. He’s a legitimate shoot fighter and has an open challenge. This came about because Bork trains in Gelsenkirchen at the same place as the wXw Academy. He may not have had a stand-out MMA career (1-0 as a pro, thanks Sherdog) but his skills will translate to AMBITION.
Patrick “Cy” Bork vs. Icarus
To add to the madness, Bork is accompanied by Thorsten Legat. Former Bochum, Werder Bremen, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Schalke midfielder turned German reality TV presenter. Legat’s career includes being fired by Stuttgart for racially abusing a teammate and pulling a samurai sword on a bunch of teenagers. He comes out here, head to toe, in white sweats and looks like a complete tool. If I’d paid front row ticket prices to have my view of the ring blocked by a six foot former Bundesliga player, I think I’d be a little hot about it.
Bork is lightweight, by wrestling standards. His technique is neat though and his selling is pretty good. Although Icarus’ spots look genuinely painful. It’s a good set up to have someone as aggressive as him across the ring. They do a lot of cool, high impact near KO shit that pops the crowd.
Icarus gets caught in a heel hook and has to tap out. If they’d finished this with a highlight reel style knock out, it would have been awesome. ***
BORK! BORK! BORK!
When all the borking is over, Dreissker gets angry with Bork’s posing on the turnbuckles and there’s a scuffle in the ring. Hey, I’d love to see that match.
Thomas Shire vs. Bobby Gunns
The chance of a repeat of last year’s final is still on. Gunns struggles with Shire’s size. He can’t find a way to use his mobility and technical superiority. Shire often just leans on the smaller man and takes him down. Gunns only successful tactics involve kicking, which Shire can endure, and a choke, which Shire is good enough to wrestle out of. Shire jacks poor Bobby up and kills him with a powerbomb to advance to the final. This was beautifully constructed for a simple sub 5 minute match. The bigger star trying different things and ultimately getting crushed by the big man. ***
Luke Jacobs vs. Axel Tischer
Jacobs was flown over for two matches. This and Gulyas Jr at We Love Wrestling #42. He can’t be far off a tournament spot in 16 Carat. He’s certainly tacked on a lot of mass since the last time I saw him. There are not enough barrel chested big men in wrestling. His physique has gone from Danielson to prime Regal. Can’t wait for WWE to sign him and re-name him Lord Cecil Thicclington*.
*don’t give them ideas Arnold.
Anyway, this match feels like a real struggle between two beefy big boys. Which is my favourite type of wrestling. The only criticism I have of this titanic struggle between large men is Luke clearly slaps his thigh at one point. Apart from that it’s fucking GOLD. I love how it develops as both guys get tired from throwing haymakers and struggle to recover. Tischer is beaten with a powerbomb but Shooter Schultz basically lets him recover instead of calling it and Axel catches Jacobs in a heel hook for the tap out. ***¾. Damn you, Schultz!
Remember this exchange, Shooter? “I don’t make mistakes”. I have 435 witnesses to this mistake!
Anyway. This was easily the best match of the night and arguably the best match of the weekend. Which 100% cements Axel Tischer’s spot as the MVP of the weekend. This could have been even better with a better finish and one of the best sub-10 minute matches you’ll see this year.
AMBITION 14 Final
Fuminori Abe vs. Thomas Shire
Abe has the same issue everyone else has faced tonight; dealing with Shire’s size advantage. The answer? Cravats. Control the head, you control the body. Shire is the one who makes an error as Abe frequently wants to mat wrestle and Shire just goes along with it, instead of staying upright where he has a clear advantage. There is a spell where Shire tries to control Abe with full nelsons and Abe just wrestles his way out. Abe even wrestles out of the powerbomb attempt. Shire ultimately doesn’t have a move. He’s just outclassed. Abe gets the Octopus right out of the powerbomb and wins via tap out. Somewhat underwhelming following on from the previous match but strong logic throughout. Shire did an excellent job of bringing logic into each of his matches. Probably Abe’s best showing of the weekend too.
I don’t know why I was going to skip this. It was great. Loads of short, high technique driven matches. It’s totally my shit. The super fight was wonderful. Thomas Shire, Kevin Lloyd and Icarus all delivered in this environment. Patrick Bork is a fascinating study. At 38 years old, he’s late entering the business but if he can wrestle this style, why can he not wrestle in general? For a guy who’s not had a match before I thought he was great. Overall this was the best show of the weekend for me. All killer, no filler.