I haven’t watched much of wXw in the past, maybe just a match here or there. They’re in the big pile of wrestling I’d probably enjoy if I took the time to watch, but there are limits to time. There’s a little more time right now, so I kept their three-day tournament in reserve for when I needed something with actual fans in attendance to watch. This year’s tournament features Bandido, Black Taurus, and Puma King as Mexican guests. What I knew about this year’s shows was the tournament overall being good, though the winner wasn’t well-received, and there was drama around the losers leaves town match. Other places (use your Google) can explain that stuff better than I; I’m mostly focusing on the lucha libre part.
You can watch this show, and all of wXw, at wXwNow. You need a Vimeo account, and it costs 10 Euros ($11.34 USD) a month. Some of their content also shows up on other wrestling promotion Pivotshares account.
(spoilers for two-month-old matches)
lucha libre matches
The Rotation beat Puma King [good]
El Bandido beat Julian Pace [good]
Shigehiro Irie beat Black Taurus [good]
Rotation versus Puma was along the lines of a Puma King versus CMLL flying tecnico lightning match, setting up Rotation well and surprising the fans with some of his usual spots. Rotation has some lucha experience from his time with DTU, and they meshed well. Bandido might have done a little more than he needed to in the first round of the tournament, as far as pulling out all of his big moves, but he made Julian Pace look great for surviving them. Pace does a race car bit, though running around a lot set up a dropkick has to end with a better dropkick than he did here. He did fine otherwise. Irie & Taurus gave the crowd exactly what they wanted out of that match, two bigger guys running in each other a lot. They smartly saved Taurus doing his in-ring tornillo until the end, when I don’t think the crowd was expecting something like that. I would’ve liked to see more of Taurus in this tournament, but Irie’s around wXw much more, it’s tough to find fault in any of the outcomes with these matches.
Mike Bailey beat Bandido [excellent]
Taurus & Puma King participated in a tag team gauntlet [good I guess]
Bailey & Bandido was the match of the weekend. The crowd was fired up for it existing at all, to the point where they seemed to be over-enthused to things early. The match caught up the reactions and surpassed them. It’s very much a match of how far they can go, but both are great drawing the crowd in on how very close the match is to being over. Bailey’s been very good for a while, but I haven’t watched him regularly since his trivia note 2015 AAA stint. He’s clearly improved a great deal, mixing his martial arts character with more traditional (or at least indie) professional wrestling. Bailey showed a lot more personality as a heel on the third day than I was expecting. As much as I like Vikingo, Speedball’s the best guy who can’t work the US right now.
The tag team gauntlet was lengthy on a very long show (nearly four hours, with a forty-minute main event). Taurus and Avalanche was a big guy team put in advantageous spots and taking advantage of them. It was sad to see them go away, even if they probably could’ve used a break after four mini-matches.
Jeff Cobb, El Bandido, Julian Pace b Black Taurus, Puma King, Hektor Invictus [great]
This looks fun in printed and turned out better in reality. It was a light match just there to be entertaining on a show with a lot of gravity seriousness. It was also on with everyone hard to get in one last strong performance before the weekend ended. Taurus was the best guy, being a destructive force when he needed to be and making the tecnicos look super. Bandido has a brighter presence, and the crowd reacted to him as a major star all weekend, but Taurus was the man of this match. Between this weekend and his AAW debut scheduled a couple of weeks later, it feels like Black Taurus was about to break out outside of Mexico. No idea what happens now.
I saw a lot of Julian Pace’s running dropkick spot this weekend. I’m not sure it went correctly anytime. It’s not a great bit. Pace’s bits with Jeff Cobb went a lot better. The wXw guys fit in despite the unfamiliarity. It was weird as a person who’s watched too much PWG to see Bandido & Jeff Cobb teaming, but Cobb finally got to do the finger gun to someone else, so that was great for him.
I watched everything on all three shows, even the dark match (sort of by accident to be honest), though I wasn’t as actively watching everything. Ten hours of wrestling is a lot, even when there’s not a lot going on. I’d recommend both the Kingston/Makabre and Kingston/Rotation matches as my other favorite tournament matches. The Ishikawa/Thatcher vs. Ikeda/WALTER gave the fans the match they wanted. Starr/Gunns seems review-proof; either you’ve already watched it because you care about the story or you’re not going to invest 40 minutes in it no matter what anyone says. Forty minutes is a long time to invest in a match; I find myself getting cranky when matches go 20 minutes unless I’m really invested in it.
Cara Noir. I don’t know. I was not sold on this whole thing. I knew of Cara Noir but had not seen him, and the presentation here was as if we were all supposed to be in awe of Cara Noir already. I was not and didn’t feel at the end either. The announcers explained Cara Noir as seeing wrestling as art. He’s committed to that idea, but the idea is also a strong reason why I’m not much into his matches. The selling of limp mute death for the first half of the match only to fire up like an 80s babyface every time just wasn’t a captivating performance. (It’s one of those weird modern mixes where the performer has put in deep thought to every action he’s taking as part of a story, though none of that story is evident to a heathen like me just watching it. It’s also one where none of that story matters about 15 minutes in when they reset to full strength to make their hot moves.) None of the Cara Nori matches were terrible, none of them would be recommended, and the final match was the biggest struggle at all. The mid-match conversations were meant to dramatic but mostly ended up as frustrating breaks out of the moment. It’s a WWE & NXT overdone thing, a reason I’ve not watched many of their recent high profile matches. It’s distressing to see the concept spread elsewhere. I’ve just spent a paragraph or three raving about a man in a bull mask, so I can’t really be against unusual attempts at gimmicks, but Cara Noir’s balance between being a character and a wrestler is off.
There was generally less obvious overt WWE/NXT influence on this shows than I would’ve expected. Given the general negative sentiment towards those brands on the European wrestling twitter accounts I see, it was surprising to hear a brief NXT chant (and for those people to escape with their lives.) Alexander Wolfe used that name, but he and Walter were still billed as RINGKAMPF, not required to be Imperium. I kept thinking about how that’d be different if this were an Evolve show. WWE certainly loomed as presence over departures (and returns), but it was not a visible one.
The difference in production with wXw and most lucha libre is just astounding. It’s an unfair comparison: wXw is selling a video product, most lucha libre (everything besides AAA) is just doing a simple video for the sake of doing it. The production still feels like worth noting: the building set up looked great, the announcing had done their homework, and the captioning was a godsend. (This is hard to explain, but even though the wXw announcers may not have been native English speakers, I felt like they got the cadence and style of announcing I’m used to hearing from US-based announcers in a way I don’t get from Mexican groups when they try to do English.) I would also buy the people who captioned the show a coffee or a beer if I knew how because it made such a difference in enjoying the show. Having production credits at the end of each file was a little thing that kind of blew my mind. There are nits to pick bit, but this felt like the gold standard in that production regard.