A major international tag team match! France and Hong Kong vs. China and the U.S.! Does it live up to the hype?
Not gonna lie, I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. This is as big an all-star lineup as you’re going to find in Mainland China these days.
You’ve got Ho Ho Lun, Hong Kong veteran and recently announced participant in WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series thingy.
You’ve got Claude Rocca, an aging French catch-style grappler on a worldwide retirement tour.
You’ve got Dalton Bragg, the first and current MKW Champion.
And you’ve got THE SLAM, the current CWE champion and the highest profile wrestler out of the Mainland.
All in one match! But do all these ingredients come together, or do they end up undercooked?
After the regular intro, we get a really good hype video for the match. The voice-over guy gets progressively more excited as he explains Roca’s retirement tour and goes over the match participants. This short promo vid may be my favorite thing MKW has ever done, and I don’t say that in jest.
The commentary team for this episode is made up of Eddie Strong and some guy named Presley King. Is that an Elvis reference? King sounds like someone doing a Southern (American) stereotype gimmick. His language is fraught with cliches about honky tonks and taters. It’s not offensive, but it is trite. Cam Ferguson is supposed to be back next time. I’m indifferent.
Claude Roca & Ho Ho Lun vs. Dalton Bragg & THE SLAM
I can’t help but compare Roca to British great Johnny Saint, as both are
European from west of the Atlantic and have wrestled at age 70. Roca does show flashes of greatness when he overshadows Bragg while running the ropes and out-wrestles both Bragg and THE SLAM in the European style. He also shows some agility, like when he uses the ropes to flip out of an arm wringer. Unfortunately, there are a number of blatant miscommunications between Roca and his opponents, which I suspect can be chalked up to the language barrier between the Frenchman and everyone else. At other points, he seems a little lost, and he and his opponent will just stand there for a few moments, wondering what to do next. He doesn’t take a lot of bumps, but the ones he does take are significant, like when THE SLAM bodyslams him onto Ho Ho Lun.
When Ho Ho Lun is in there, things go at a much quicker pace. He doesn’t get a whole lot of offense in; I’m guessing he’s the designated bumper for THE SLAM since Roca can’t get thrown around a lot. When he is on the attack, he mostly does kicks. He and THE SLAM – probably the two who are most familiar with each other – do a short-yet-cool sequence of dodges early on. There’s not a lot to go on here, but hopefully Ho will get to show more in WWE’s tournament, whomever he’s against.
Bragg and THE SLAM have a built-in rivalry coming off of their staredown at the end of last season after Bragg won the MKW title. However, there are no signs of that rivalry during the bulk of this match. They get along swimmingly for pretty much the whole affair, tagging in and out, doing a double-team side slam/leg drop, and hitting stereo DDTs. They even high five. It kind of seems like a lost opportunity to build up to their inevitable one-on-one match down the road. It does give hope for a possible future tag team run, though.
As far as their individual performances, Bragg finally hits that wrap-around DDT well on Ho Ho Lun, and that made me happy. THE SLAM throws a T-bone suplex and lands his flying forearm. He also takes a longer beating than I’ve ever seen him do before. As much as a heat segment there is, he takes it, which surprises me.
Early on, you’ll notice King Michael orbiting the ring with a Singapore cane, so you know something’s gotta happen with him. Sure enough, near the finish, he whacks Bragg with the stick as Bragg does a springboard. Roca capitalizes with an airplane spin, knocking THE SLAM to the floor in the process. Then the old bugger climbs up top and lands a crossbody on Bragg to get the win.
Winners – Claude Roca and Ho Ho Lun
Rating – OK
As Roca and Ho celebrate, THE SLAM looks at Bragg in disgust and throws his belt at him before leaving. Bragg gets the mic and calls out King Michael, announcing a main event title match.
As far as options for a finish go, I think this one works in spite of its flaws. You’ve essentially got four wrestles you can’t beat cleanly; I mean, I would’ve preferred Roca putting someone over since he’s on his way out, but maybe that’s not how they do it in France. At least this way, the veteran’s happy, the champions don’t lose clean, the guy with WWE ties doesn’t take the fall, and there’s a grudge added to the upcoming title match (which was actually announced before the show started). Logically, Roca deserves a title shot now, but let’s just assume he’ll waive that right and move on.
Overall, I think the match is decent for a showcase of the different wrestlers. There isn’t much in the way of storytelling, but it’s worth a watch if only for the sake of its eclecticism.
Next episode is supposed to feature another French wrestler, Tony Trivaldo, taking on Taiwan’s LEN BAI in singles action, plus a recap of the events that led to the upcoming trios match featuring Ash, Black Mamba, and more.
P.S., Sorry about the lateness of this review. I’ve had vertigo. It sucks.