The CWF returns to crown a champion the day after WWE ran Shanghai. Unfortunately, they were forced to move from their intended venue in Shanghai to their training center in Jiaxing. No MKW or CWE wrestlers this time, but we do have talent from New Taiwan Wrestling as well as a joshi match between Emi Sakura and pop singer/wrestler Ai Shimizu.
There’s a lot of talking at the beginning, but nobody’s cutting any promos. Instead, the behind-the-scenes people thank the crowd, apologize for having to change venues, and explain to the fans and curious watchers what to expect. Ultimately, they hope that they can grow wrestling in China to the point where people actually come to China to see their wrestlers.
#1 Contender: Shooting Star 流星 vs. Gao Yuan 高原 (w/ Wang Qiushi 王秋實)
Most of the CWF guys have nicknames. Gao’s is “War Wolf” and Wang’s is “Sniper.” Wang is tall and incredibly skinny. Like, he almost looks malnourished. It takes one to know one, I guess. Anyway, the winner of this one gets the third spot in the main event title match. Gao backs star into the ropes and slaps him, so of course Star returns the favor. They exchange some basic moves before Gao retreats outside to stall. Gao chains together a Northern Lights suplex and a falcon arrow for two. He taunts the crowd, and this is when I realize that a lot of Chinese fans don’t say, “Boooo!”, they say, “Eeuuuu!” Standing moonsault by Star gets two. They chop each other pretty hard. Gao briefly works a chinlock. A forearm exchange ends in an eye gouge by Gao.
Gao takes Star outside and throws him into chairs. Wang blatantly holds Star so Gao can hit him; ref admonishes but doesn’t DQ. Gao throws Star into the wall. Star tries to get back into ring after Gao, but Wang puts him in a chinlock; the ref counts, but there’s no DQ. Gao chokes Star with a T-shirt. Standard suplex get two. Star slaps the taste out of Gao’s mouth for taunting him and gets two. Running senton gets two, as do a pair of roll-ups. Gao hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. He rubs his crotch in Star’s face and chokes him on the ropes. Star takes a DVD on the apron. Gao rests up while Wang gets some shots in on Star. The good news is that the fans are really chanting for Star now. Stomps and kicks by Gao back in the ring. Gao actually gets a couple two counts after spitting and dumping water on Star.
Star finally fights back and hits Michinoku driver for two. Samoan driver also gets two. “One more time” chant. Yakuza kick and dropkick in the corner by Gao. Roderick Strong-style gutbuster and running lariat get Gao two. “You look stupid” chant for some reason. Second rope Meteora for two. Gao is frustrated. Modified blue thunder driver by Star for two. Missile dropkick and a double chickenwing facebuster move for two. German suplex for two. Series of strikes and slaps by Gao lead to a hanging Ace crusher for two. Psycho driver for two. You read that right. Gao goes outside when Star sidesteps him, and Star does a rolling senton off the apron. Top rope frankensteiner by Star for two.
Star misses a frog splash and takes a sick kick and a release dragon suplex for two. Star escapes an electric chair, but Wang throws powder in his face. Gao turns an electric chair into a DVD to get three.
Winner – Gao Yuan
Rating – OK
Analysis: Way too long for an opening match. If it had been the main or semi-main, it would have been pretty good, especially if there was a title on the line. That would have explained how Star could kick out of so many things, at least. CWF does a better job than other Chinese promotions at rising above the backyarder level, but hitting so many finishers in one match is a very backyard thing to do. Also, an opening match really doesn’t need more than one heat segment. It’s a good way to burn out the crowd. On the plus side, this crowd did seem a lot more game than on most other Chinese shows I’ve seen. We’ll see if that continues.
After the match, Wang hits a Yakuza kick on Star and Gao steals his mask.
A-Yong-Go (NTW) vs. Roger 羅傑
Roger is rather tall, and despite the name, he is Chinese. This is his first match, which explains why he’s dressed like a New Japan rookie. A-Yong-Go has a cowboy hat and sunglasses, and I think he’s somewhat of a veteran. Hold exchange to start. A chopping contest is won by AYG’s kick and chinlock. AYG stretches Roger’s leg in the ropes. I notice AYG is a bit like Cactus Jack in that he makes a lot of noise from his mouth while walking around. He works over Roger’s leg for a minute or so until Roger hits a chokeslam. Well, that was early. Series of clotheslines and a bodyslam by Roger for two.
Torture rack by Roger. He’s a big dude. Step-up enzuigiri by AYG. Running palm strike and a facebuster get two. Roger fights back with several forearms and an over-the-shoulder powerslam for two. Ab stretch with a neck wrench by Roger. AYG gets out of it but gets powerbombed for three.
Winner – Roger
Rating – OK
Analysis: Now that was appropriately short, more or less. Roger has size, strength, and a decent look. He still looked lost at least once, but it was his first match, so I’ve got to give him some leeway. This was my first time seeing A-Yong-Go, and he seems like a serviceable rule-breaking heel. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a thing for hardcore matches. For a rookie’s debut, this was all right.
Somebody chanted “Rocky” to Roger as he left. Not sure if it’s because “Eye of the Tiger” was his entrance music or if he thought AYG looks like Apollo Creed (he doesn’t).
Emi Sakura (Japan) vs. Ms. Ai Shimizu 清水愛 (Japan)
Sakura and Riho stole the show at the May CWF event. Ai Shimizu seems to split her time between wrestling and being a pop idol. She seems to wrestle a lot for DDT and has also worked for Ice Ribbon, Tokyo Gurentai, and Tokyo Joshi Pro. She was on a talk show in Japan bashfully displaying her Chinese-speaking and writing skills. She comes out in something like a Ultraman mask. Emi has a Robe because she’s a veteran. Ai takes the mic and speaks politely introduces herself in Chinese, saying it’s her first time in China and to please chant “Xiao Ai” (Little Ai) for her.
Emi rudely slaps Ai’s hand. They vocally vie for the crowd’s chants. Some feeling out to start. Emi turns a test of strength into a toss. She works over Ai in the corner. Emi pulls Ai’s hair while she’s in the ropes. Ai with an arm breaker over the top rope. She does Hakushi’s rope walk into an armdrag (think Undertaker’s Old School but with more walking). Emi scratches Ai’s back and starts stomping her. Mexican surfboard by Emi followed by a figure four. “Xiao Ai” chants. Ai reverses it, but then they roll into the ropes. Clubbing blow by Emi. Ai blocks a possible Pedigree but gets sunset flipped for two.
Leg drop by Ai. Emi cheerily goes for the ropes in a waist lock, but Ai pulls her back. Rana by Ai, and then she works a modified Fujiwara armbar until Emi gets a foot on the rope. Crossbody in the corner by Emi. Double underhook backbreaker for two. Funny sequence where they both try for a backslide before Ai gets it. Dropkick by Emi. Modified victory roll by Ai for two. Finlay roll and a top rope crossbody by Ai for two. Superkick floors Ai and Emi hits a Vader bomb for two. Top rope moonsault puts Ai away.
Winner – Emi Sakura
Rating – OK
Analysis: It wasn’t as good as the Riho/Sakura match, but it had its moments. I’m guessing that Ai wasn’t trained by Sakura like Riho was, so they didn’t have the same chemistry. They botched at least one thing and were a bit slower. Still, it wasn’t boring and the crowd liked it. Emi is good at playing the domineering veteran who the smaller wrestler has to fight hard to overcome. I think I would have liked it if they would have had more nearfalls at the end to make it look like Ai was getting closer and closer to winning before finally getting beaten.
They raise each other’s arms after the match. I suddenly want to listen to some BABYMETAL.
Black Ho (NTW) & Saka (NTW) vs. Xia Xingjia 夏星佳 & Xue Weigang 薛偉剛
Saka only has one arm and dresses like a horror movie killer. Black Ho looks to be a heavyset bruiser. Xia is nicknamed “Shark Jail” (that’s the literal translation) and Xue is “King of Beasts.” I saw Xia in one of CWE’s “Kung Fu Pro Wrestling” videos, so either he works for both groups or he jumped ship. Xue is big and wears a singlet that says “Wrestling Kingdom.”
Xia doesn’t want to do a test of strength with Saka’s one arm, so he pits him in a wrist lock instead. Saka powers free and does his own while biting Xia’s fingers. Ho seems concerned with Xue’s height, but he seems to be able to shoulder block him down. Xue clotheslines him and they start brawling outside. Xia does a somersault dive from the top rope. “CWF” chant. Xia clotheslines Ho in the corner after a British-style step on the second turnbuckle. He almost undershoots a springboard crossbody. Ho hits a front slam. Saka does a snapmare and a modified STF. I guess everything he does has to be modified, in a sense. Xia hits a series of strikes and an enzuigiri in the corner. Xia hits a double-arm DDT (yes, to the one-armed man) for two. Ho and Xue fight outside while Xia and Saka recover. Xue comes in and clubbers Saka. Headbut and clothesline get two. Ho makes with the emphasized punches on Xia, but Xia ducks a clothesline and hits tilt-a-whirl flying headscissors. Ho comes back with a sit-down fireman’s carry.
Saka hits Xia with a backdrop for two. Xue comes in and hits a neck-hanging tree slam after much deliberation so Xia can get two. The guys are paired off and brawling now. Saka hits a Manhattan drop and then finishes Xia with an airplane spin into a neckbreaker or slam or something. I’m not totally sure, but it looked like a finisher, at least.
Winners – Black Ho & Saka
Rating – OK
Analysis: Not bad. It didn’t blow me away, but I was engaged most of the time. Xia seems like he’s pretty good at the basics and can work hard to get better and develop his own distinct style. Xue is fairly mechanical, but being the strong guy in a tag team could suit him. Ho and Saka make a good team; I’d like to see some of their other work against the (slightly) more experienced guys in Taiwan. And since I have to say it, yes, Saka is pretty good for a guy with one arm. You do have to suspend your disbelief a little bit more with him, though.
Afterwards, some fans chant for Saka. Xia takes the mic and criticizes the fans for chanting for the Taiwan guys instead of the CWF guys. He says that, starting today, he will dominate the CWF. “Wait and see.”
CWF Fighting Spirit Championship: Super Daichi 超級大支 (NTW) (c) vs. Raging Fire 烈火 (NTW) vs. Gao Yuan 高原 (w/ Wang Qiushi 王秋實)
Raging Fire is new to me, and he looks to be about the same build as Gao. Daichi is the big older guy who wrestled King Michael in May. Apparently, he’s the incumbent champion. I guess this match isn’t to crown the inaugural champion after all? Now I’m confused. Both NTW guys offer Gao handshakes, and Gao actually accepts but gets double-teamed. I think this was supposed to represent Gao getting some comeuppance for all his dirty tactics in the opener, but it seems to have turned at least some of the crowd to cheer for him instead.
Daichi disappears while Fire works over Gao’s arm. Turns out he’s in the front row, mocking the fans and Gao. Fire no-sells some chops and floors Gao with his own. Gao fights back with an enzuigiri for two. Rear chinlock by Gao as Daichi comes back in to break it up. Daichi decides not to let it be a handicap match anymore and beats on Fire. Gao joins in and gets a two after a Daichi bodyslam. Fire cleans house on both guys and does a plancha to the floor. Wang takes the opportunity to tie Daichi’s wrists to the post. In the ring, Fire gets two off a running kick in the corner. Back suplex cuts off Gao’s attempted comeback and gets two. Daichi has already gotten free of his bonds, and he watches Gao hit an Ace crusher on Fire for two. A frog splash gets two, and Gao gets frustrated. Fire catches him in a flying armbar (though he has trouble holding it) until Gao grabs the rope.
Daichi trips up Fire. He comes in with Mongolian chops and a headbutt. Pedigree gets two (so he DOES want to be the Chinese Triple H). He sets up for a Rock Bottom, but Fire yanks the referee, who then runs into the corner and takes a bump. Daichi’s subsequent slam is weak. Daichi tries to revive the ref, and Gao comes in and low blows him. Small package gets the win and the gold.
Winner – Gao Yuan
Rating – OK
Analysis: Watchable but kind of confusing. I felt like all three guys were playing heel to some degree. Daichi and Gao are always heels, so I think it would’ve made more sense for them to double team Raging Fire at the beginning. I also would’ve had Wang do a little cheating and get sent to the back early on. If the referees are going to be super lax with disqualifications, what’s stopping Wang from taking one guy out so Gao can have an easier time? Having the ref grow a pair and give him the boot gives the officials more credibility. Plus, even though it was pretty obvious Gao was winning (being the only CWF guy in the match), getting rid of his insurance policy would’ve put his back against the wall at least somewhat. That and throwing in some more three-way spots would’ve made this a lot better. The offense in this match was mostly punches and kicks.
Gao gets the mic and yells about how he told everyone he would do it. He’s been doing this for three years, and now he’s the best wrestler in China (which he even repeats in English). He gets a CWF chant going as he leaves. Then the CWF owner comes out and says the requisite thank yous and everyone (and I mean everyone) gets in the ring for a photo.
Overall Analysis: OK. It’s not going to rival any top U.S. indy shows, but I had a good time watching it. I like their presentation a lot better than that of other Chinese feds. I wish the opening match could’ve either been shorter or been the main event, and I wish that the main event had had a bit more comprehensible of a story. I look forward to the next event, however, and I hope the CWF can keep a good relationship with NTW as well as Emi Sakura. They don’t have much of a roster on their own so far, so they need a lot of outside talent to fill shows. I’m sure it’ll be a long time before they can make any sort of profit, but I hope they can keep trucking along, because I like a lot of what I see.
All right, I’ll say it. He’s the best wrestler in China.