I don’t know a whole lot about the China Wrestling Federation (CWF). I know it’s run by Gao Yuan and runs out of the Shanghai area, in contrast to Chinese Wrestling Entertainment (CWE), which is run by THE SLAM and operates in Dongguan (close to Hong Kong). I’ve seen a couple CWF shows on Chinese video sites, and they usually take place in what looks like a renovated parking garage. They featured solely Chinese (mainland and otherwise) talent and very, very few spectators. You can see a few matches from these shows on Gao Yuan’s YouTube channel.
The CWF show on May 15, 2016, was different. This show took place in a dark nightclub with a lit ring and featured wrestlers from around the world performing in front of numerous fans. This show featured cooperation with Middle Kingdom Wrestling (MKW), a promotion whose YouTube shows I review on this site. This show got coverage on a handful of websites:
“OH YOU KNOW WE WENT TO THAT WRESTLING THING” (Smart Shanghai)
“Sino Smackdown!” (P.I.G. China)
“Spotlight On: Middle Kingdom Wrestling” (DukeLovesRasslin)
“Around The World: Middle Kingdom Wrestling – China” (DukeLovesRasslin’s YouTube Podcast)
“见证中国摔角腾飞的第一步！” (shuaijiao.com) (Chinese)
And this show had a pretty fast turnaround time as far as getting the video online. It’s available here, but there’s a caveat. Since I’m in China, I was able to watch the show easily when I wasn’t on a VPN. If you’re outside of China, it might be hard for you to get it to work without some kind of proxy. If you can’t get it to work, don’t worry; I’m here to tell you all that went down.
Special thanks to @sjdburgess for donating the non-screencap photos and helping me with some of the wrestler names and info. Now, onto the show…
After the ring announcer says some stuff, Gao Yuan comes out to welcome everyone to the show. He basically says that Chinese people usually have to watch wrestling on their computers, but now they can see it live. He gets a “CWF” chant going, but it doesn’t last long. I don’t think Chinese people are into chanting much.
Ash Silva vs. King of Man (人王)
King of Man comes out in a cape. He’s got horror clown face paint behind a black mask covering his mouth. Ash has longer hair and different tights than he did in any of the MKW videos. KoM jumps Ash before the bell and beats on him. They try to go at a fast pace, but KoM trips on a leapfrog, and then they both mess up a tilt-a-whirl headscissors attempt, so that slows things down a bit. KoM recoups in the corner, and the referee is obviously supposed to be checking on him, preventing Ash from keeping the pressure on him. Instead, the ref just walks around and Ash stands in the middle of the ring like an idiot, finally telling the ref to “check him.” Then both wrestlers just look at each other before going into a kick exchange. Ash takes a rather wild bump off of a not-so-violent kick, and then a clothesline takes them both outside. KoM flies onto Ash from the second rope. Ash starts a comeback but then misses a splash onto the apron (bad camera angle on that one). A white guy checks on him and insists that the match be stopped, but Ash refuses to quit. Ash gets back into the ring and takes a wild bump into the corner. KoM sets him up on the second rope and dropkicks his thighs. He taunts the crowd a fair bit, something that more heels need to do in Chinese wrestling. He hits some martial arts kicks – they seem to be his signature – but misses a dropkick. Ash makes a real comeback and hits a nice Zigzag. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of calling for the finish; I’ve only ever seen one match where a wrestler calls for the finish and then immediately hits his move and wins the match. It’s not this match. Ash misses a somersault off the top. KoM picks him up and hits a Death Valley driver (or maybe just a spinning Samoan drop), then takes his sweet time positioning Ash so he can hit a 180˚ splash for the pinfall victory.
Winner – King of Man
Rating – OK
How Was It?: It was so-so. They looked lost at least once, miscommunicated a couple other times. I think they failed to communicate with the ref, too. I at least knew who the good guy and bad guy were. I liked how King of Man taunted the crowd. I think Ash should’ve done more to get the crowd cheering for him.
Hong Wan (洪湾) vs. Big Sam (大力 Sam) (w/ Royal Stu) vs. Dalton Bragg (布拉格)
This match is interesting because it’s got three MKW regulars, but they’re all doing somewhat different gimmicks than usual. Hong Wan is the Selfie King, and while he’s still taking selfies with the crowd, the ref, and the ring announcer, he’s a total babyface this time. Big Sam is still a heel, but he’s accompanied by Royal Stu (whom you may recognize from the Royal Ramble at Wrestlezone, as well as The C4 Show) for the first time. They’re both British. Dalton Bragg, an American, has his MKW title belt with him, but he’s firmly a heel, and he spends a lot of time trying to rile the crowd up.
Hong Wan has the support of his fellow Chinese, who even chant his name and sing the Chinese National Anthem! Bragg and Sam attack him from behind, and it’s essentially a handicap match for a bit. Hong bumps off a slap, which I don’t think he was supposed to do. Bragg does a leaping sidekick to Hong while Sam holds him. Sam swings Hong around and taunts the crowd in Chinese. Bragg chops him and then does the most obvious telegraph ever of a superkick that’s going to be dodged. Sam ends up superkicked a bunch of times as Hong and Bragg try to kick each other and miss. Hong throws Bragg with a kinda-scary German suplex, and then he punches Sam in the corner. Here’s another instance where a ref doesn’t seem to know how wrestling works; he lets Hong punch and punch without giving him a count. Hong, meanwhile, punches really slowly and doesn’t stop with ten, so it’s hard for the crowd to count with him. Bragg gets revenge for the German by suplexing Hong onto his head. A series of Irish whips sees Bragg in the Tree of Joey Lawrence with Sam getting a drop toe hold into him. They go outside, and Hong does an apron moonsault onto both heels. He and Bragg get back in the ring, Hong puts Bragg in an ankle lock, but Sam breaks it up. Slam catches Hong and goes to slam him into the corner, but Hong slips out and pushes him into it. There seems to be some miscommunication, because nothing really happens until Sam takes over again. Bragg gets thrown out and Hong hits Sam with a Samoan drop and a good frog splash. Stu distracts the ref, and the fans start singing the “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” song for some reason. Sam drops Hong with a tossing Razor’s Edge-type powerbomb, but then he goes to the corner for some reason, and Bragg handcuffs him to the corner. Bragg takes some time to sarcastically taunt Sam, then covers Hong for the pinfall victory.
Winner – Dalton Bragg
Rating – OK
How Was It?: I liked it better than the first match because the crowd cared more and the spots were cooler and/or funnier. Still, they, too, seemed lost on a number of occasions, and things didn’t flow together well. Bragg’s first superkick (which hit the wrong guy) was so telegraphed; seemed like he had to make sure Hong knew he needed to duck. I would’ve liked to see some three-way moves (like the tower of doom out of the corner spot we’ve seen in pretty much every multi-man match over the last decade) and things that strung together better. They had a lot of good spots, but they didn’t always flow together well. Also, Bragg stayed out of the ring a lot, though that may’ve been him playing a cowardly heel.
King Michael (King 帝王) vs. Super Daichi (超级大支)
We’ve seen King Michael before in MKW, and he doesn’t look any smaller here. Daichi is from Taiwan and carries around his own title belt that he made himself. They’re both large men, so they start with a large men lock-up, pushing each other around without anyone getting an advantage. Then they start throwing weak-looking slaps, forearms, and punches to the back. Michael drops Daichi and steps on his back like Big Show does sometimes. Daichi rolls out and stalls for a while. When he comes back, Michael does some avalanches in the corner, then does a running butt bump and a stinkface (with the pants up, thankfully). There’s a sleeper followed by a much better forearm exchange. Daichi gives Michael a nipple twister. Daichi gets his foot caught in Michael’s shirt after kicking him. The ref gets bumped so that Daichi can hit his finisher, a testicle slam, to win without getting disqualified. That’s right, I wrote, “testicle slam.” He grabbed him by the groin, lifted him up, and slammed him. And by “lifted him up, and slammed him,” I mean that Michael jumped a centimeter off the mat and fell back.
Winner – Super Daichi
Rating – Bad
How Was It?: At least it was short. Honestly, they didn’t botch much, they just did a lot of things weakly. Michael has a pretty good look, but it would be good all around if he could drop some weight. His girth really limits him. Daichi doesn’t do much for me. He doesn’t do much in the ring that interests me, and his finisher is silly. He seems like he wants to look like Triple H but can’t pull it off. Maybe I need to see him against other people; I’ve only seen him one other time, and it was also against King Michael.
Jason Wang (王俊杰)/Shooting Star (流星) Altercation
Jason Wang has wrestled in MKW as JASON and was trained by THE SLAM. He comes out, gets the mic, and gets cheap heat by insulting Shanghai. It’s the first time he’s ever been, and he’s quite disappointed. The only person who can help Shanghai is Jason, because if someone who looks as good as him comes to Shanghai, it can only mean positive things. Shooting Star, a masked wrestler, comes out and chastises him for his attitude. Jason makes fun of him for hiding his ugly face behind a mask. Jason initially refuses a challenge to a match, but when Star accuses him of being afraid, Jason ultimately accepts and says that, once he beats Star, no one will dare challenge him again.
How Was It?: Basic and mostly to the point. The crowd was into it, it wasn’t too serious, and it set something up for later. They didn’t try to reinvent the promo, and they didn’t need to.
Emi Sakura vs. Riho (里步)
If you’re a fan of Japanese women’s wrestling (aka joshi puroresu), you probably recognize Emi Sakura. She’s wrestled for FMW, DDT, JWP, NEO, etc., and she founded the Ice Ribbon promotion. After leaving Ice Ribbon, she started a promotion in Thailand called Gatoh Move. Riho is one of her trainees from Ice Ribbon who followed her to Gatoh Move. According to Wikipedia, she debuted when she was nine years old. Not sure why Riho gets a Chinese name while Emi’s is only rendered in English characters.
Both women have big smiles on their faces early on. They try to get the crowd clapping and start with chain wrestling. Emi takes over as the de facto heel since she’s bigger. She chokes Riho on the ropes and stretches her in a Mexican surfboard. Riho comes back with a modified octopus hold and a 619. Emi hits a Last Rites/Cross Rhodes/whatever you want to call it. Emi kicks Riho a bunch. There’s a northern lights suplex, a flying crossbody by Riho, some strong style no-selling, and a much better forearm exchange than the last match had. Riho hits three types of double stomps in a row. First, there’s a standing one out of a roll up. Next comes one from the top onto Emi in the Tree of Joey Lawrence. And then there’s a flying double stomp onto a flat Emi. None of these are the finish, surprisingly. Emi hits a double-arm backbreaker. Riho hits a jumping knee. Emi hits a superkick and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. There’s a Vader bomb, but then Emi misses a moonsault. Riho does a lucha-style tilt-a-whirl roll-up for two, and then she finishes it off with running double knees to a seated Emi. The student overcomes the master.
Winner – Riho
Rating – Good
How Was It?: Would you be shocked if I said that this match, which features the two most experienced wrestlers who also happen to be trainer and student, is the best match on the show? It was a spotfest, more or less, and it got the crowd chanting “This is awesome” and “Holy s***” at different points. It wasn’t a clinic in technical prowess or storytelling, but it was entertaining, on-point, and energetic. Couldn’t ask for more in this spot on the card.
Shooting Star (流星) vs. Jason Wang (王俊杰)
They’re back! They start with a lock-up, a little showboating, and some chain wrestling. Star does a nice hammerlock thingy, but it’s all just feeling out stuff. They do some rope running and corner moves. Everything is solid; they look like real wrestlers. Wang makes with the rule-bending by running Star’s face along the top rope. Wang does a running knee in the corner. He has the heat for a bit until Star does a nice flip out of a snapmare and fights back. He does a fireman’s carry into a flapjack and a sloppy blue thunder driver. There’s a lengthy forearm exchange (because we needed more of those on this show). Wang hits a big lariat and a fisherman’s buster. Star reverses a powerbomb into a slow hurricanrana roll-up. Wang hits a sloppy side slam and puts on a half crab. Wang, of course, must make the mistake of signalling for the finish before going for a suplex. Star counters it into a stunner (ala Dragon Kid), then hits an Asai DDT and a frog splash for the pin.
Winner – Shooting Star
Rating – Good
How Was It?: It was a good match for cooling down from the women’s match. Almost everything was competently done; really, aside from a couple moves being slightly off, they didn’t botch anything. Nothing felt awkward like in the earlier matches. I’m interested in seeing both guys develop.
Jason Lee & THE SLAM vs. Ho Ho Lun (何颢麟) & Gao Yuan (高原)
Jason Lee is from Hong Kong and has worked for ZERO-1 there and in Japan. He and Gao Yuan worked together at both of the previous CWF shows I’ve seen. Gao won both times, but since there were no crowds at those shows, I doubt it matters. We’ve seen THE SLAM and Ho Ho Lun a few times on MKW TV, and Ho Ho Lun will, of course, be in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic soon. I don’t know much about Gao Yuan, but his matches tend to be pretty good.
King Michael comes out with Jason Lee, and Super Daichi comes out with Gao Yuan. That’s odd to me, considering that Daichi was the heel in his earlier match, but now he’s seconding the show’s top babyface.
SLAM and Ho start with wrestling. SLAM does some kung fu spin kicks. When Lee and Gao come in, they look much more slick and fluid together. Both teams do double team moves; Gao and Ho do a sequence of kicks. Lee dropkicks while SLAM hits a sloppy suplex. Lee and SLAM get heat on Ho Ho Lun. Continuing my confusion, King Michael is suddenly a heel, distracting the ref so his buddies can double team. At one point, Ho takes a series of punches to the gut in the corner, but he sells them like he’s getting uppercuts to the face. Odd. Ho turns the tides mostly out of nowhere and tags in Gao, who is a house of fire. He hits a sling blade, among other things. SLAM takes control again, though, with his signature flying forearms and an exploder. Gao hits a Michinoku driver. Ho runs wild on SLAM, but SLAM takes him down with a press slam and a spear. Gao hits SLAM with a running knee, then Lee hits Gao with an enzuigiri. He’s still considerate enough to go back out and get tagged in afterwards. Lee comes in and takes on both Gao and Ho as if he’s the babyface. There’s a superkick/gourdbuster double team. Gao flies onto SLAM with a tope con hilo, and they fight outside the ring while Ho takes it to Lee in the ring. A series of kicks and a knee don’t get it done, so Ho puts Lee away with the German suplex hold.
Winners – Ho Ho Lun and Gao Yuan
Rating – Good
After the match, THE SLAM attacks Gao and Ho Ho Lun while they celebrate. Some other wrestlers come out to pull SLAM and Gao apart. After SLAM is taken away, Gao cuts a promo about how this is the CWF’s arena, not SLAM’s, so how dare SLAM attack him? He says that Chinese pro wrestling has just started, and there isn’t a top guy yet, but all the people there are Chinese wrestling’s fans. Then he gets them to chant “CWF” to close the show.
How Was It?: The angle afterwards seemed forced, but the match itself was good. Everyone got to show his respective strengths. Lee and Gao looked very good together. Ho Ho Lun looked good with Lee. SLAM looked as good as he can, but the fact that he dresses like a mini-Goldberg makes him come across as a bit of a poser to me. Maybe if he stuck to one style instead of switching back and forth between power wrestler and flying striker, I’d get behind him. I think SLAM and Lee should’ve been a little more heelish, and I definitely wouldn’t have had Lee suddenly fight like a babyface, taking on two opponents near the end.
Overall: Good. Before the mid-show promo, there were good moments, but it was mostly meh. The first two matches featured guys who didn’t seem too prepared or good at communicating in the ring. The third match was just uninteresting. After the mid-show promo, though, things totally turned around. The women’s match wasn’t a must-see for Japanese wrestling fans, but if you’re new to the genre, it’s a good taste test. The semi-main surprised me in how solid it was, and the main event was very watchable. Remember that Chinese pro wrestling is still in its infancy, so even if it doesn’t measure up to your favorite show from New Japan, it’s still a positive step for the sport/business/art/whatever.
I’ll leave you with this photo of Big Sam and Royal Stu because I love it.