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By Nick Knowledge on 2010-03-17 09:01:44
This is Nick Knowledge reporting on  wXw "The Vision" from The Arena in Philadelphia, PA.  The promotion making their U.S. debut is Westside Xtreme Wrestling from Germany. I've personally been following this promotion on VHS/DVD for over 6 yrs and was excited to finally see their show live.

To start, the show drew between 450-500. That's not a bad draw by today's post-indy wrestling boom (2002-2005) standards. Keep this was the first part of a double-shot at The Arena with CZW. In fact, the crowd was made up of many CZW fans, which made a difference in the reactions that many matches received.

There was a video package at the start of the show highlighting the company's roster. Watching I couldn't help but wish that more wXw were on the card, such as Martin Stone, Absolute Andy, The Kartel (best current European tag team I've seen) & Adam Polak (probably the best heel in Europe today). 

Dan Jaboki, former manager & current co-owner, was the ring announcer. Though this might be an obscure reference, I couldn't help but think that Jaboki resembled a heavier, shorter version of Peruvian political activist, Jaime Bayle. That aside, he presented the 2 wXw referees for the night & the first match was on.

1. wXw World Lightweight Title Match: Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) retained over TJP (AKA TJ Perkins/Puma) via cross arm breaker (12:30).   I am not a fan of Sabre and made no bones about letting him know from my front row seat. Sabre reminds me of Trik Davis in his first year. In other words, terribly green. He has an MMA-style he tries to blend with highspots. The problem is he can't successfully string together a set of 2 highspots in a row. On the other hand, his opponent, TJP, is nearly perfect in everything he does in the ring. He's one of the finest athletes on the independent wrestling scene today.  TJP did what he could with Sabre working a Japanese UWF-style match mixing strikes with submission holds. It wasn't a bad opener.

2. Big van Walter beat Eddie Kingston with a power bomb (8:30).   This match was basically to showcase van Walter, who beat Chris Hero to win the company's annual 16 Carat Gold Tournament. Kingston got a monstrous pop from the mainly pro-CZW crowd. Big van Walter is a big, stiff guy. That's about as best as I can describe him after having watched at least a dozen of his matches. Kingston made him look like an unstoppable & got some heavy offense in before putting him over strong.

•At this point, Dan Jakobi announced that B-Boy was too ill to attend. Therefore, Chris Hero would now be facing Alex Shelley in a battle of former wXw World Heavyweight Champions. This meant that Tommy End would have a mystery opponent for his match.  

3. Hardcore Nick Gage beat Karsten Beck (2:23) after a choke-breaker.  Basically, Beck came to cut an in-ring promo in German. This lead to Gage dragging one of the wXw refs to the ring to start an impromptu match. Gage was all over Beck until Beck back body dropped Gage outside the ring, sending him over the guard rail & onto the tops of open metal folding chairs in the audience. The fans had scattered so the chairs were empty. Gage was still able to come back to get the win with his finisher.

4. wXw World Tag Team Title Match: Switchblade Conspiracy (Sami Callihan & Jon Moxley) (c) def. American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) to retain (18:41) when Moxley pinned Edwards with an inside cradle.  This was easily the match of the night! This match had everything, from MMA strikes to strong style to brawling & there were even moments where the respective teams kept an opponent in their corner ("cutting the ring in half"). The audience was split on who they favored. I was very impressed by Moxley        & feel that he has a really good future.

Since I sat near the timekeeper's table, I asked company co-owner/timekeeper, Dan Jakobi, (before the intermission) why there was no official wXw merchandise available for sale. His only response, "We screwed up!" Can't argue with that logic.

In post-intermission action...

5. Claudio Castagnoli beat Tommy End after a running European uppercut (13:28).   So Claudio Castagnoli was announced as the mystery opponent for Tommy End. Castagnoli got a pretty good pop during his entrance. As for the match itself, there's not much to say. End seemed off this night as he's looked A LOT better in almost any other match I've seen. I don't feel he either impressed nor disappointed the audience as not many were familiar with him to begin with. Well, maybe just the group of fans who traveled over from Germany just to see this show, but that's about it.

6. wXw World Heavyweight Title Match: Steve Douglas (c) retained over Bad Bones (19:20) after the second of two half-clutch suplexes.   Wow. Where to begin with this! First off, I'm not a fan of Douglas. I am, though, a fan of Bad Bones. I've always said he's what Kane SHOULD look like without the mask. I will, however, say that the audience never gave this match a chance with their incessant chants of "We want tables!" & "We want blood!"    Douglas came out sporting the colors of the German flag on his tights, along with carrying a German flag. He went for the "Nikolai Volkoff", demanding that the audience stand & pay respect as he sang his country's national anthem (off-key). He stopped midway through & said he knew what the fans really wanted. Douglas pulled out a U.S.A. flag & placed it over the ring ropes. Just as he was about to light the flag on fire, Bad Bones ran in to stop him.   The match itself was not that bad, but really wasn't given a chance to click anyway. It certainly didn't help that every time Bad Bones went for a metal folding chair, he would set it up so that Douglas could use it against him. The big outside table spot getting botched sealed the fate of this match.  

•I could see the stress on Dan Jakobi's face as these last two matches did nothing for the audience but rile them up.

7. Alex Shelley beat Chris Hero with an Mexican-style arm-clutch small package (16:00).  The crowd immediately erupted in cheers when these two came out. Shelley was in full Motor City Machine Guns regalia (music et al). Hero entered to his ROH theme music.   The match was just great. We saw shades of the previous incarnation of Alex Shelley as he & Hero chain wrestled to start out. Unfortunately, some members of the audience got restless with chants of "Boring!". This eventually led to Hero & Shelley working in more Mexican-style spots, which I thought was a shame since the change in pace didn't seem necessary. Surprising to see Shelley get the win here as Hero is more of a wXw regular.

8. "Pain in the Glass" match:  Thumbtack Jack beat Drake Younger (20:18) with a frog splash through a barbed wire covered pane of glass.  The crowd was really on its feet for the main event as they would be getting all the blood, tables, glass, barbed- wire & violence they wanted. This was the only time I regretted sitting in the front row as shards of glass went flying into the crowd several times. Jack had a gaping forehead wound early on. The biggest problem I had with this match was that the 2 opponents were smiling at each other & exchanged a friendly handshake as the opening bell sounded. I can't get into a death match unless there's a sense of hatred between the two combatants. I simply couldn't suspend my disbelief. This was your typical gorefest death match where the finish was not in question.

•Overall, I did enjoy my first-ever live wXw show, but I feel it could have been a lot better. The atmosphere of mainly CZW fans didn't seem to help. Unfortunately, wXw was unable to get their own stars (Big van Walter/Bad Bones/Steve Douglas) over enough with the U.S. audience as the best matches on the show involved familiar faces from the U.S. indy circuit. I'm hoping that if & when wXw returns to the U.S. that the line-up is stronger. This promotion is capable of a lot more. I know because I've seen enough of their shows on DVD. In the end, the show is worth picking up once it's released on DVD, if for no other reasons than for the tag team title match & Hero-Shelley.

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