Middle Kingdom Wrestling returns to YouTube with matches from Thailand! Sadly, Tony Jaa does not compete, but we do get to see the Selfie King, Ash, Jason Wang, and the return of the 50-something-year-old Claude Roca!
The new intro for season three does away with the Nintendo-inspired imagery (though the music sounds similar) in favor of flashing images of wrestlers and clips of scantily clad Thai women. It has a very rave-like atmosphere to it.
As the graphics appear to introduce the first match, we get a big ol’ typo:
Not a good start for a grammar nazi like me. I guess it’s to be expected when most of your crew aren’t native English writers, but I think it’s likely to leave a bad impression on new eyes.
I like this. Take a photo of the match and label the wrestlers. There are plenty of other (usually Japanese or Mexican) matches I’ve watched where I wished they’d’ve done something like this. This is perfect and I hope it continues.
What I hope doesn’t continue is such small crowds. I don’t know how many people are behind the hard camera, but I can count the number of visible people on two hands. I know that the king of Thailand had recently died when this was filmed. Not sure how much that has to do with it.
“Selfie King” Hong Wan vs. Candy Brother vs. Mickey Rawaz
The winner of this match becomes #1 contender for Dalton Bragg’s MKW Championship. They’re wrestling in a large kickboxing ring, not their usual wrestling ring, so the ropes are looser, the mat is harder, and the area appears much wider. They start off by clotheslining and dropkick each other over and over. There are a number of three-way-centric moves – a Russian legsweep/vertical suplex, a spear/Samoan drop, and the goold old Tower of Doom powerbomb out of the corner. There are also bits where one guy is dumped so the other two can work together. Candy Bro does this gimmick where he twists his wrist like a Twizzler to throw a punch, but it gets blocked both times, so he just kicks the guy instead. That’s kind of funny.
Candy Bro impresses me with a Christo armbar on Selfie, but he’s too big for Selfie to hold up, so he falls over. At least it comes out looking like a pinfall attempt. He also pulls off a double ab stretch of sorts (very lucha-esque).
Hong Wan is the standout performer. He looks like a wrestler, he’s athletic, and he’s got a gimmick (he likes to stop and take selfies). He’s far from polished, but he’s young. I have high hopes for his future.
Mickey Rawaz is really an afterthought here. I knew nothing about him before the match, and between watching him in the ring and listening to the commentary on the match, I still know nothing about him except that he’s Thai. He’s fine, but he has no character or personality.
The Tower of Doom powerbomb spot leaves Candy Bro prone for Selfie to climb up and hit a frog splash for the pin. He stops to take selfies between the ToD and the frog splash. Normally, I’d complain about Candy Bro having to sell for too long, but it’s Candy Brother. He’s not meant to look strong.
Winner – “Selfie King” Hong Wan, now the #1 contender to the MKW Championship
Rating – OK
Afterwards, Hong Wan takes selfies with Candy Bro’s defeated body.
We see a short clip of Dalton Bragg on the phone saying that the doctor won’t clear him to defend the MKW Championship in Thailand. He doesn’t seem to notice that he’s on camera.
ABC Tag Team Championship: Tony Trivaldo & Claude Roca (c) vs. Ash Silva & Jason Wang
(This match is available in an unedited form here.)
So it looks like Claude Roca’s retirement tour – which he was on when he wrestled for MKW in January 2016 – is still going. Or it was in November when this was filmed, at least.
This is a pretty solid match, all things considered. Everyone gets a chance to look good. Roca schools Ash in European catch style. Trivaldo, the largest man in the match, overpowers Ash, but Ash manages to hit a Zig Zag. Jason takes the big man over with a fisherman’s suplex. After a hard running knee, Ash makes Jason tag him so he can hit a frog splash (from quite some distance). Then he holds Trivaldo for Jason, but, in classic fashion, Trivaldo moves and Jason hits Ash. While they squabble, Trivalodo clotheslines both of them (after the ref gets out of the way, anyway).
Roca comes back in and tests strength with Jason. Jason ultimately biels him across the ring. Jason and Ash keep Roca in their corner, beating on him and grounding him with stretches. Roca backflips while they have him in a double keylock and monkey flips both of them.
Trivaldo tags in, slamming Ash and Yakuza kicking Jason. Roca European uppercuts Ash out of the ring and Trivaldo hits a flipping spear on Jason. Ash tries a crossbody, but Trivaldo rolls through, puts Ash on his shoulders, and tosses him in something like an F5. He tags Roca, picks him up, and throws him onto Jason for the pin.
Winners – Tony Trivaldo & Claude Roca
Rating – Good
Afterwards, Jason and Ash argue, and Ash shoves Jason down.
A preview for next week teases Big Sam and Black Mamba against an Indian team as well as THE SLAM taking on Dalton Bragg’s replacement (even though it looks like Bragg will be there with crutches).
Overall: I liked this one. It’s nice to see them working somewhere besides the same gym. The matches told stories that I could follow, especially the tag team match. The new commentator, Al Leung, is fine, but it might be good if he had a partner to share the load with. None of the wrestlers looked bad, and Hong Wan looked very promising.
On the negative side, I don’t like the ring. The ropes are loose and it hardly makes a sound when someone takes a bump. Also, it’s huge, so it makes everyone look small. I can’t hold it against MKW, though, because I’m sure they would’ve chosen a real wrestling ring if they could have. One thing I can hold against them, though, is the editing. I hate the instant replays and sound effects, especially in the tag match. I believe replays should either be shown after the match has ended or (technology permitting) displayed in an inset so that match isn’t interrupted. They way they do it now is just obnoxious, as is the gunshot sound when Trivaldo tosses Ash. Just hokey.