wXw Inner Circle 13
Hello, and yes, it is me. “I thought you were retired Arn?” I hear you say. Well, you know how it is with wrestling and retirements. Those things never last. Terry Funk is still going, right? If there was one promotion that could bring me out of retirement it is wXw, a promotion that always treated me right and respected my opinions, even if they didn’t agree with them. So, once more into the breach old friends. We’re in Gelsenkirchen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany at the famed wXw Wrestling Academy. The last time I was at the Academy it was in Essen, but it moved during Covid.
March 13, 2023
To add to my confusion, wXw has moved to YouTube. Hey, I love YouTube! Before Tommy has even finished welcoming folks to Gelsenkirchen, I’ve spotted Ian Hamilton and Gadge at ringside and Allan Cheapshot with his majestic mane. English language commentary comes from Dave Bradshaw and Mett Dimassi. The lack of Alan 4L upsets me. I always wanted to call a show with Alan but in the style of Art Donovan. So whenever anyone came out I’d be asking Alan how much he weighed. “Whoa, how tall is this guy Alan?” I don’t think I could actually call a show. I got offered it once and I reckon I’d be unable to ignore botches. Also, I can’t talk for 2 hours.
Peter Tihanyi vs. Anil Marik
Marik was just breaking out of the academy when I last watched wXw. I’ve seen Tihanyi before, because I used to watch so much wrestling I saw shows from Hungary, but I don’t remember him. I always liked Inner Circle because everyone is right by the ring and the wrestlers cannot get away with loose technical work. While this match is very basic, everything is clean and crisp. The intimate venue means chops are an easy win. Tihanyi can’t get his trademark 450 splash but catches Marik in a choke for the win. This was perfectly fine. **½.
Massimo Pesca vs. Alex Duke
I’ve never even heard of Alex Duke. He wasn’t wrestling when I stopped watching 3 years ago. He has a posh boy gimmick.
Massimo Pesca looks a lot like Mike Kilby. Wait, that is Mike Kilby! Hi to Big Dohmi and Shauna. Pesca, also known as “Max Peach”, is someone I’ve heard of but never seen wrestle. He’s been working wXw the past couple of years and that can only be good for development. Duke is really green and makes me wince a few times. His reversals are bad and whenever he transitions a spot it looks notably fake. He’s only had like 60 matches, so I won’t be too harsh on him but there’s a lot to work on. Pesca tries hard to carry the match but he’s working face so that doesn’t work. He has some good ideas. The duck down into the Death Valley Driver is smart. Pesca starts throwing a bunch of spots in to try and make amends for all the basics not working. Duke tries the same in response and they have a weird finish where Pesca tries to reverse a big spot into a roll up but it’s a big old mess. A metaphor for the match as a whole. *
Sidenote: I appreciate the efforts of both gentlemen in that match. I criticise wrestling, or did, because I want it to be better. Neither man should take offence at that rating, but you need to highlight what’s wrong to appreciate what’s good. Otherwise everyone would think their matches were fine and coast by on bad matches and never improve.
Jaden Newman vs. Mike D. Vecchio
Mike D is probably overdue a push. The Belgian War Machine is over, jacked and knows how to have a good time. Newman is a good foil as he’s aware he’s not the star attraction and is here to enhance Vecchio ahead of 16 Carat. A lot of wrestling is personality and they both nail that immediately. It makes everything that follows an easy sell. Mike D has STAR written all over him. If he keeps it basic and sticks to what he’s good at (high octane spots, power moves, intensity) he’s made. He wrestles a bit like Goldberg. I mean that as a compliment. The only real criticism I have of this match is that it’s too long. Newman’s heel offence is fine but Mike D could use a blow away win here. In general matches on the Indies are too long. What’s impressive about Mike D is that all of his comebacks feel different but share the same intensity. He’s definitely won me over here. The way he jacks Newman up for the powerbomb, dead weight, at the finish is sensational. Just put the belt on him. ***¼.
Ava Everett, Jacob Crane & Yuval Goldshmit vs. B3CCA, Danny Fray & Psycho Mike
Ava is a gobshite and really leans into the gimmick. Psycho Mike has a terrible name but he’s mega over and does bodyslams so it’s ok. Fray is 6’5” but is less intimidating than the much smaller Mike D. He needs to learn to use that size better.
Psycho Mike has great facials, and he does bodyslams. They build the entire match, involving all six people, over one spot. It’s very smart work. Jacob Crane is the target of the abuse. I’m impressed with his heel persona. The heels work their heat on Fray, which speaks volumes about his lack of confidence as a big man. B3CCA is ok. Her character, “International Pop Star”, is confusing. That’s surely a heel gimmick? Singing is a heel act. Dancing is a babyface act. They spend 12 minutes here building to the bodyslam on Jacob Crane only for Ava Everett to sneak in and roll Mike up for the pin. Aww! Where’s my bodyslam? **¾.
Elijah Blum vs. Shigehiro Irie
Blum only debuted last year. This has to be the biggest match of his career so far.
The way Irie puts his weight into moves should be a training video for any big man. Also, his bumps have terrific snap on them. It’s the little things that separate a bog-standard wrestler from a truly great one. Irie is this incredible mix of humanity (e.g.: the apology to the fan for winging her on the rebound splash) and intensity. He’s so loveable and yet you know he’ll headbutt someone too. Like Winnie the Pooh crossed with Mike Tyson. For Blum the whole match is a learning experience. He’s a bright prospect but he’s clearly miles off Irie. Blum has some nice ideas, but the execution isn’t there yet. The chasm in talent results in the match going too long. Which is good for Blum’s long term development but doesn’t make for a good contest. Beast Bomber finishes and Irie comes across as somewhat mean for trading with Blum for ten minutes. Looking forward to more Irie this weekend. He’s a hell of a talent. **½.
Thomas Shire vs. Gulyas Jr.
Gulyas is another Hungarian. He’s a wee powerhouse. Shire is an American with a cowboy gimmick. He’s 6’3” so this is a hoss fight. Shire’s whole body type is a throwback. It’s refreshing. It doesn’t surprise me to discover he worked All Japan in his younger days.
When these two are duking it out, it’s a great time at the graps. Shire’s old fashioned approach in between the striking slows it down a bit. Shire finishes with a Rack Slam he calls the UFO. This was very solid. More of this sort of thing. ***
Vaughn Vertigo vs. Tristan Archer
I’ve seen Vertigo in Smash Wrestling in Canada. I never liked his name. It implies he’s scared of going up top, when he’s supposed to be a highflyer. Archer is the dullest worker on the show so far but it’s by design. He gives off the impression that he’s just going through the motions but that’s also his storyline for the match. I don’t know how I feel about that. When Vertigo finally makes his comeback, it gets better. He heads up top and gets picked off. Must be vertigo. Archer finishes with Coup d’état. This was boring for 10 minutes and then 3 minutes of spots. Long matches are a big problem for me nowadays. Has my attention span gotten worse or am I just seeing them for what they really are? **¼.
Adam Priest vs. Fuminori Abe
Priest was inexperienced when I stopped watching a few years ago but he’s been grinding on the Indies and has over 200 matches.
Priest works the heel role here. Often tapping the side of his head like Jeff Jarrett. Abe is technically superior, both IRL and in storyline, so Priest tries to play mind games to offset that. It’s interesting that the fancier Abe’s approach is, the more joy Priest gets countering it. As if the mind games lead to Abe overthinking his approach. Priest does an excellent job of targeting Abe’s left arm, giving the match focus. It doesn’t lead to anything though. It doesn’t stop Abe using his arm, nor lead to submission attempts. It just fills space and Abe wins with a submission. This whole contest was technically fine, and I like both workers, but it wasn’t a good match. **½.
Over my time off I have become a really harsh star rater. This should not reflect on what was a solid show from wXw and me easing my way into the weekend. I’m looking forward to 16 Carat and hopefully we can get some good wrestling and I don’t hate it and myself by the end of the weekend.
If anyone from wXw was reading this, I love you and thank you for all of your support over the years. If I was ever going to go back to live shows, it would be in Oberhausen x