MKW: Belt and Road Tournament Round 2 (August 11, 2018)

Black Mamba 🇨🇳 vs. Baliyan Akki 🇮🇳 vs. Martin Pain 🇦🇹
Mamba defeated Hong Wan. Akki defeated Sandata. Pain defeated Vladimir Kulakov.

I like this match. Lots of good spots. Akki and pain team up on Mamba at first, and then Akki turns on Pain in the middle of an elaborate handshake. Mamba gets to pick his spots while the other two work with each other a lot. Akki does a big tope con giro. There’s some good stuff down the stretch, like when they’re trading off running into each other in the corner. There’s one major flub when Pain fails to catch Akki coming off the top, but he recovers well and lifts him into a military press. Mamba then kicks his leg out from under him so Akki falls on him. Mamba and Akki trade shots, and Mamba gets out of a Akki’s finisher attempt and hits a roll of the dice to get the pin and advance to the finals.
Winner – Black Mamba

Ash Silva 🇭🇰 (w/Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Nuwakote Tiger 🇳🇵 vs. Shiho 🇰🇷
Ash defeated Killer Kublai. Tiger defeated Triple T. Shiho defeated Mirko Panic.

I thought this match was OK, but I didn’t like it as much as the previous one. It doesn’t have as good of a flow to it, and some of it is a lot rougher. Shiho actually seems to be the weak link, as he messes up a leapfrog early (or did Tiger not duck enough?), and later, he awkwardly dawdles in the ring while waiting for his opponents to get in the right position for him to dive onto on the outside. He hits the dive rather well, though. And there are some bright spots, like when Tiger is unimpressed with his chops and makes him try a few times before chopping back harder. Ash does the proper heel thing and lets Shiho and Tiger fight until he feels like jumping in to catch one of them off-guard. It boils down to Tiger hitting a big flying elbow on Shiho, but Shiho rolls away, and while Tiger is staggering over to pin him, Ash comes in with a one-knee codebreaker and gets the three count.
Winner – Ash Silva

MKW: Sam, Money, Ferguson, and Suzuki vs. Gunderson, Su, Dragon, and Lee (August 10, 2018)

Big Sam, Uncle Money, Cam Ferguson, & Johta Suzuki (w/ Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Buck Gunderson, Michael Su, Zombie Dragon, & Junyan Lee (w/ Luan)

I like this match all right, but I’ll admit that I watched it in a bit of a rush and with no sound so as not to bother the other people in the room with me. Everyone looks competent; Su seems the greenest, but he gets a lot of experience taking bumps and selling for Big Sam here.

I’ve never seen three of these guys before – Gunderson, Lee, and Suzuki. Gunderson and Lee work for Battle Arts in Canada. I really like Gunderson’s intensity and hard work. Lee doesn’t get to do much in the match, but he does have one nice tope con giro spot. Pro Wrestling Alive’s Suzuki gets to do a bit more than that, and he looks fine, though I didn’t see anything that made me think, “Wow, I’ve got to look for more from this guy.”

The match starts as a brawl all over the place, then settles into the regular tag format. Su takes the heat for a long time. Then, in a bit of a reversal from the norm, multiple tags happen where guys on one side each challenge a specific guy on the other side to come face them. That usually happens earlier in these kinds of matches. Anyway, things get wonky when Zombie Dragon brings his flaming book into the ring and seems to hypnotize Uncle Money. Clips and images appear on the video screen that seem to be embarrassing old footage of Money. Dragon then chases Money out the door. This leaves Gunderson in the ring with Suzuki – the others are on the floor – and Buck pins him after a cross-legged suplex.

I definitely want to see more of Gunderson and Lee, especially to see what the latter can do in a less-convoluted environment.

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 3 (August 10, 2018)

Triple T 🇳🇿 vs. Nuwakote Tiger 🇳🇵
Triple T is representing New Zealand. Tiger is representing Nepal.

Triple T rides a train in Sri Lanka and chants “Belt and Road” out the window. Tiger says he never loses and anyone who gets in his way will get hurt badly.

I didn’t enjoy watching this match because Triple T got legitimately injured early on when he missed a jumping knee in the corner. He looked to be in a lot of pain from then on, but he gutted it out and went several more minutes against Tiger. He even climbed up and went for the somersault senton, but he missed. Tiger did well for his part. He didn’t attack the leg after the injury, but I think maybe he knew he might make it worse. Most of his offense was pretty basic. His finishing run was a codebreaker, a body slam, and a flying elbow off the top for the pin. They did well for what they were unfortunately forced to work through.
Winner – Nuwakote Tiger

Hong Wan 🇨🇳 vs. Black Mamba 🇨🇳
Both men are representing China. This is a rematch from April (which was actually a rematch from one of the first MKW shows, come to think of it).

Black Mamba says something I can’t understand because his mic is too low. Hong Wan says he deserves all the championships.

I like this match. Hong Wan, normally a babyface, gives Mamba a thumbs down as he takes a selfie with him, a callback to their first match when Mamba was the one giving the thumb. He leans heelish the rest of the match, though he thinks better of using a chair at one point. Aside from one botch at the beginning, things go pretty smoothly. Hong works the leg briefly. Mamba dodges a frog splash and hits a flipping kick, but gets caught with a Samoan drop. He kicks out of Hong Wan’s standing moonsault, though, and then counters a reverse DDT into a roll of the dice for the win to advance.
Winner – Black Mamba

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 2 (August 10, 2018)

Mirko Panic 🇸🇮 vs. Shiho 🇰🇷
Panic is representing Slovenia. Shiho is representing South Korea.

Panic says Slovenia isn’t a small nation, it’s a big nation. Shiho says he’ll beat whoever they put him up against.

I liked this match. It’s a good display of a big guy vs. a smaller guy. Shiho frustrates Panic early, but Panic is big and mean, so he takes over doing big, mean guy things. I’m actually quite impressed with him; I had no idea Slovenia had anything more than backyard wrestling, but this guy really seems to know how to work a match without just spamming moves. I particularly like his chain of suplexes because it’s quite different from the typical style. Shiho is good, too, but I guess Panic left more of an impression on me. I’m not a huge fan of the finish, as Panic misses an impressive moonsault attempt and gets pinned with a small package. I thought maybe Shiho should’ve done something more.
Winner – Shiho

Vladimir Kulakov 🇷🇺 vs. Martin Pain 🇦🇹
Kulakov is representing Russia. Pain is representing Austria.

Pain tells China to get ready for pain. Kulakov says that the god of war is with him.

I like this match. These two match up very well; two big European bruisers who know their way around a ring. I don’t know if they’ve ever worked together before, but they have great chemistry, and everything they do flows so well. They’re both very athletic for big dudes. Pain has a sweet flipping dropkick (though his running shooting star leaves a lot to be desired), and Kulakov can whip off a nice headscissors. Pain is more of the aggressor for this match, and Kulakov is the one who needs to mount the comeback. Ultimately, Pain resorts to a low blow out of the referee’s view, then gets the pin with something like an AA. I’d love to see both of these guys again.
Winner – Martin Pain

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 1 (August 10, 2018)

Ash Silva 🇭🇰 (w/ Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Killer Kublai 🇲🇳
Ash represents Hong Kong. Kublai represents Mongolia.

Hey, insert promos! Ash says that management tried to keep The Stable out of the tournament, but since he was born in Hong Kong, he’s eligible. (Remember, this tournament is only for people from countries that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.)

I had to mute commentary early when Al Leung went into the Belt and Road propaganda. I know any business in a country like China needs to placate the powers that be, but I just loathe propaganda, whether it be from a government or a company. That’s one reason I can’t take WWE seriously anymore.

Anyway, onto the match. I liked it at first, but it kind of lost me once I realized that the pace wasn’t picking up. Ash shows an appropriate amount of jerkiness, and Kublai has some good throws and submission holds, but there were things happening late that seemed like they should’ve happened earlier (such as Kublai going outside and letting himself be distracted by Al and Marie). Kublai didn’t look too rusty, though, for a guy who’s supposedly been retired for a long time. It was just kind of slow for an opener, and the finishing sequence wasn’t much of a sequence. Ash hit the zig zag for two, then moved Kublai over and hit a Superfly splash for the win. If Kublai had enough to kick out before, why did he stay there for the splash?
Winner – Ash Silva

Sandata 🇵🇭 vs. Baliyan Akki 🇮🇳
Sandata represents the Philippines. Akki represents India.

Sandata says that he’ll show the Chinese fans how a Filipino fights. Akki says he doesn’t care who his opponent is, but asks that management makes it fun. They should turn the arena noise off when they play these promos; Akki is hard to hear.

I like this match. It’s rather rough around the edges – I’ve never seen a sunset flip pulled off like that – but they seem to be working hard. The ring doesn’t always cooperate with their ideas, but they make it work, I think. Neither guy works as a heel, but they stay competitive. Most importantly, there’s a good finishing stretch where Sandata avoids a 450 and lands a dropkick, but then gets caught coming in with a kick to the head, and Akki finishes him with a fisherman buster on the knee.

MKW: Big Sam and Ash Silva vs. Buffa and Michael Su (June 17, 2018)

Since my wife and I just had a baby about a month ago, I haven’t been using my moments of free time to watch or write about a lot of wrestling. I think, if I’m going to continue with match reviews, they’re going to have to be more succinct. So here goes.

Previously, Ash lost to Michael Su by DQ and continued beating him after the match, to the point that Su had to be helped to the back. Meanwhile, Buffa is replacing Hong Wan, who had been feuding with Big Sam but is out with an injury.

I like this match. Sam and Ash are a dastardly heel team. They’ve even got two managers at ringside this time: Chairman Al and a blonde woman named Lady Marie. She’s actually really good as a ringside personality, arguing with fans and cheering her men on. She looks and acts very natural in her role as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Michael Su is looking pretty good for his experience level, and Buffa is always a solid hand. I’m glad he’s been hanging around the Chinese scene.

After Michael Su refuses a Stable T-shirt, the faces are jumped, and it settles into a standard tag format. Buffa finally does the bit where he has trouble getting Sam up for a slam. Too many guys have been able to pick the big man up with ease, so this was refreshing to see. The match didn’t seem too long, either. The hot tag to Buffa doesn’t lead to a very long final segment, though, as he gets booted out after a few minutes and Su is finished off with a doomsday powerbomb.

Two little things I would have changed: First, I would have liked Su to have been a little more heated against Ash. He kind of treats this like a normal match, not a chance for getting back at the guy who viciously assaulted him at the last show. Second, I think it would’ve made more sense for The Stable to offer a shirt to the new guy, Buffa, since he doesn’t have a grudge against them. People might actually believed he would accept (though he shouldn’t have).

Anyway, good match with a big post-match segment. Ash and Sam continue to beat on Su, and when Buffa comes in to help, Uncle Money appears and spears him. Then the three heels get a ladder and hold it on Su so Ash can dropkick and stomp it into him. Hong Wan is shown in normal clothes, and he wants to run in, but Adrian the promoter holds him back because he’s injured. But eventually he breaks free and hits Sam in the back with the MKW title belt. Luan and Black Mamba appear to back him up, and The Stable is on the floor yelling at them while Luan shows off his nunchuck skills to end the video.

KOPW King of Pro Wrestling II Review (August 18, 2018)

UPDATE: KOPW seems to be adding matches from this show to their YouTube channel, so I’ll be adding them to this review as they appear in my subscription feed.
You might be able to watch this whole show here, though it may not work outside of mainland China.

The big story for this show is the feud between CEO Ryan Chen and GM Barney Wong. Each match features a wrestler or team representing each man. The leader of the side that wins the most matches at the end of the show gets to shave the other’s head.

To simplify things, I’ve listed each match with Ryan Chen’s representative(s) first and Barney Wong’s second.

The show opens with Ryan Chen and Ho Ho Lun talking, then Barney Wong comes out with Black Dragon and Sam Gradwell. He talks a lot and runs down Chen’s team. Gradwell says some things in English, but the video gets choppy and I can’t make much of it out. Gradwell and Dragon attack Ho, but Buffa runs in for the save. They all brawl to the back.

The Slam vs. Han Guang
If The Slam uses his regular finishing move, unstoppable lightning, he’ll be disqualified. Their match at the first KOPW show is probably my favorite Slam singles match. This one isn’t as long, I don’t think, but it’s fine. After Han attacks before the bell, it’s pretty straightforward. Slam fights back, then Han gets some more in, but Slam comes back again. Slam apparently wasn’t paying attention when the rules were made, because he tries for his move a couple times. The second time, the referee tells him no, so he shoves him. Han takes the opportunity to boot him in the loins, then hits a pair of codebreakers and gets the three count.
Winner – Han Guang (CEO 0-1 GM)

Afterwards, Slam gets his heat back by hitting his move (it’s actually a TKO now, I see).

“Selfie King” Hong Wan, Bitman, & Yang Gang vs. The Stable (Big Sam, Ash Silva, & Uncle Money)
This is an elimination match. Yang Gang is replacing King Michael. This is the second match in a row to start with an attack before the bell. Hong Wan gets beat up for a while before the first elimination. Ash looks rather foolish when he spends a long time jawing with fans, back turned to Hong Wan, allowing Hong to recover and tag Yang. Yang dropkicks Ash into his partners, then school-boys him and gets the first pin. (I’d forgotten the elimination stip, so I was like, “Wow, that was sudden.” But then I remembered.)
After some time, Hong Wan is in control of Uncle Money, but Big Sam fusses with the ref about Bitman, and this distracts Hong (his turn to look foolish) so Money can spear him and pin him.
At 2-on-2, Yang Gang and Bitman show some fine teamwork. Big Sam and Uncle Money isolate Bitman like pros. Sam looks particularly vicious. Bitman suplexes Sam a little too easily, IMO. Yang gets to run wild on a hot tag, but he ultimately gets pinned with something like a doomsday powerbomb.
Bitman is overwhelmed until he outsmarts them a couple times. There’s a little too much convenient wobbling here for my tastes; Sam and Money standing around looking woozy while Bitman sets his stuff up. Bitman pins Uncle Money with a backslide after he accidentally runs into Sam.
Sam stalls on the outside for a bit before he gets back in. He takes control until Bitman throws more suplexes. After a big German, Ash and Money run back in. Bitman knocks them off the apron, but Sam boots him low (right in front of the ref) and hits the tombstone to end the match.
Winners – The Stable (CEO 0-2 GM)

Afterwards, Sam kicks the ref around (he should probably be thanking him for not disqualifying him) and The Stable throw Bitman out of the ring. Uncle Money goes over and shakes Barney Wong’s hand.

AWGC Championship: Datin Z vs. Smart Dave (c)
This is a chair match, and both guys go grab one at the bell. Datin Z gets the better of the duel when Dave’s fingers get hurt. He slides out and won’t get back in until Z puts his chair aside. They wrestle for a bit, then Z gets some offense with a chair. These chairs, by the way, are plastic with metal frames, not like the all-steel chairs we’re used to in America. Dave smashes Z’s leg with a chair against the post (though the leg doesn’t specifically come into play again). Dave methodically takes Z apart in the ring without chairs. Z fights back with high-impact moves. Dave lays a bunch of chairs in a couple rows but ends up powerbombed onto them. Dave gets a nearfall with a spin kick similar to Aleister Black’s, and then he’s able to finish Z off with a brainbuster on a chair. Solid work, but I would’ve liked more selling of the leg.
Winner – Smart Dave (CEO 0-3 GM)

Barney Wong gets on the mic to point out that his side only needs one more win.

Buffa vs. Black Dragon
Buffa doesn’t take as long as usual to get his bling off, so he’s obviously taking this fight seriously. He gets some good stuff in on Dragon. Seriously, I think he looks really good here. But when they take it outside, Dragon starts whooping on him. He rams his back into the post. Back in the ring, he continues dominance until Buffa mounts a comeback. It doesn’t last too long, though, and Dragon catches him with a powerbomb out of the air (he falls down on it, though). He can’t seem to put Buffa away, so he ultimately grabs a chair and whacks him in the back, getting disqualified. Barney’s not too happy about that.
Winner by DQ – Buffa (CEO 1-3 GM)

Super Asia Championship: Riho (c) vs. Makoto
It’s the battle of the traveling Joshi wrestlers. The pace here is much faster than anything else so far. There’s a lot of back-and-forth action. Makoto is vicious with her submissions on Riho’s arms and back. Riho is bendy and takes big bumps. There’s a great sequence where they trade moves off the ropes – forearm, forearm, jumping knee, spear, sunset flip into double stomp. Very well done. This is definitely more my cup of tea than the exhibition-y style match Riho had with Emi Sakura last time. Makoto crushes Riho with cartwheel knees a couple times. The ending is sadly marred when Riho hits a flying double stomp and Makoto kicks out, but the ref calls for the bell anyway. Not sure if it was planned.
Winner – Riho (CEO 2-3 GM)

Makoto kicks the ref afterwards, but Riho pulls her away. Makoto doesn’t attack her, but she leaves very upset, like…well, like she lost a big title match by no fault of her own.

Dancing Lion Brothers (Shen Fei & Jun Jie) vs. Zombie Dragon & James Drake
Zombie Dragon is replacing Zack Gibson because Zack’s busy challenging Pete Dunne in NXT. The Brothers come out in the traditional lion dance outfit to a traditional lion dance song, and the crowd sings along. Dragon and Drake don’t play up the weirdness of their team, unfortunately. They work together all right, but Shen and Jun are better with the combos. Shen Fei and Zombie Dragon are both guys who look better each time I see them. Shen could maybe sell a little better, and Dragon ought to tighten up on some of his kicks, I feel, but otherwise, I enjoy them. Jun I’ve only seen a little of before. He seems to have good fundamentals and looks to have a good base for throwing suplexes. James Drake is a fine heel, though he doesn’t do anything for me yet that makes him more than the guy who tags with Zack Gibson. Anyway, Shen eventually gets put in peril and has to make the hot tag. He and Jun do a synchronized cutter spot that’s cool. They squash Zombie Dragon with a frog splash and a 450, but Drake makes the save. In the end, Dragon accidentally mists Drake before accidentally kicking him. The Dancing Lions put Dragon away with a powerbomb/flying forearm. I like the Dancing Lion Brothers as a team; I hope they stick together.
Winners – Dancing Lion Brothers (CEO 3-3 GM)

Barney Wong is not so confident anymore. Ryan Chen shows off the electric clippers.

KOPW Championship: Ho Ho Lun (c) vs. Sam Gradwell
Forgot to mention it in my preview, but this is a lumberjack match. Most of the male wrestlers from before are at ringside. No Black Dragon or Zombie Dragon though. Maybe they’re at a dragon meeting. And no Slam. And James Drake is still wiping green liquid from his eyes. Anyway, Gradwell starts aggressively. Ho Ho Lun gets distracted by the heels, allowing Gradwell to catch him. The faces get back at him by beating on him when he rolls to their side. Pretty soon, everyone’s brawling at ringside, but then they actually settle down again. Gradwell keeps pounding on Ho until Ho fires up and battles back. Ho does a dive onto the heels on the floor, so Gradwell does a tope onto the faces. Ho is lining Gradwell up for something when Barney Wong punches him from the apron. Ho kicks out of a sit-out powerbomb, though. Wong tries to interfere again, but the faces beat him up. They go back and forth in bursts before Gradwell misses a flying splash. Ho has Gradwell beat with a fisherman’s suplex, but Wong breaks it up (kind of; he barely touches them, but the ref just calls it two). The faces hold Wong back so he can’t break up the next pin (which comes after a move the camera misses), and Ho retains. Pretty good, but the camera missing the finish really hurts my enjoyment.
Winner – Ho Ho Lun (CEO 4-3 GM)

Wong is dragged back to the ring. The babyfaces hold him down while a long-haired guy (commentator Shuai Ge, whom Black Dragon attacked at a press conference previously) shaves his head. Wong throws a major tantrum around the ring before he leaves. Then a bunch of non-wrestlers talk to the fans to end the show.

Overall, I think this was a good show. Everyone seemed to be working hard, and all the matches were solid or better. My favorite was definitely the women’s match. It was full of so much action and kept surprising me even though I already knew who would win. Shame about the finish. I also really liked that there was an overarching angle throughout the show. This was similar to their first show, which featured a tournament to crown a champion. I wonder if they’ll continue this theme with their next show.

Was it better than the first show? Hmm…I think it was at least on par. The first show had Gao Yuan in two matches, but it also had an inferior women’s match. I both shows ended with some chaos, but the good guys ultimately sent the fans home happy. I figure a third show has to have Barney Wong come back with a vengeance and perhaps even take over the company, so that could be interesting.

Anyway, I would easily recommend this show to someone interested in Chinese wrestling.