KOPW: Ho Ho Lun vs. Sam Gradwell vs. Buffa vs. Gao Yuan (March 17, 2018)

If you have access to China’s QQ video service, you can watch the whole show here.

Our Story So Far…
– This is the finals of a mini-tournament to crown the first KOPW Champion.
Ho Ho Lun defeated Black Dragon when Dragon refused to release a dragon sleeper in the ropes and shoved the referee.
– Gao Yuan defeated Yang Gang with an electric chair into a Death Valley driver.
– Sam Gradwell defeated Chen Wenbin in fairly dominant fashion with a spirit bomb.
– Buffa defeated Shen Fei with a flying facebuster in a very competitive match.
Now on to the match!

One fall to a finish.

After some chest-thumping and crowd-pandering, Gradwell and Gao jump Buffa and Ho. Gradwell beats on Buffa on the floor while Gao and Ho go at it in the ring. They all sort of take turns in the ring – one guy hits a move and sends the other guy out, and then another guy comes in and mixes it up with the first guy. Buffa and Ho team up on Gradwell, but then Ho tries to take advantage with a school boy on Buffa. Gradwell and Gao then isolate Ho and keep Buffa out of the ring for a little while. But they eventually have a disagreement, allowing Buffa to come in with a high crossbody on both. He briefly runs wild but gets cut off. Then Ho comes in and runs even wilder. A knee to the back of Gradwell’s head followed by a superkick is a highlight.

Buffa saves Ho from a powerbomb. Gao ends up taking a powerbomb from Gradwell, but after the pin is broken up, everyone stays down for several seconds. They slowly get up and have a four-way slugfest. I like the part where Ho catches Gao’s kick and throws it at Gradwell instead. Ho does a crossbody to Gradwell on the floor, and the Gao does a somersault senton onto everyone. He and Ho get back in the ring, and Ho is whipped into the referee. Gao low blows him and hits an Ace crusher, and a dude in a mask runs in to count. Ho kicks out, however, so the dude goes and grabs the title belt. Ho ducks and Gao gets hit. Ho – no longer selling the low blow – tosses the masked dude out and plants Gao with a fisherman suplex into a Michinoku driver, and the referee recovers and counts three, making Ho Ho Lun the first King of Pro Wrestling Champion.

Afterwards, Ho forcibly removes the mask of Gao Yuan’s cohort…and I don’t recognize him. Ryan Chen presents Ho with the KOPW Championship belt, and Ho says that history was made today. Gao, Gradwell, and the formerly-masked dude attack and beat Ho down. He takes a Gradwell powerbomb and a Gao Yuan frog splash. Black Dragon also comes out to join them. Buffa tries to help Ho, but he’s outnumbered. Then BitmanKing Michael, and The Slam make the save. Dragon takes a DDT on the floor. Gao and Gradwell get away, but the other guy takes an AA from Slam, a running European uppercut from Bitman, and a splash from Michael. All the babyfaces celebrate, Ho says some things, Ryan Chen says some things, and they do an “all for one, one for all” thing with their hands (including Chen, which seems like a conflict of interests).

So this was a pretty entertaining match, I thought. Probably my favorite of the show, which is a good thing for a main event to be. Lots of action, everyone got a chance to shine, and they all worked well together. If you don’t like the kind of four-way where the guys sort of take turns in the ring, then there are parts that will likely annoy you, but really, pretty much every four-way has those.

Gradwell looked like a beast, Gao looked like a crafty snake, Buffa was kind of the plucky underdog wild card, and Ho was the “hometown” hero (he spoke Cantonese in a Cantonese-speaking part of China, so that’s close enough). Really, this line-up would make a nice tag match sometime.

My only real complaint about the match itself was how Ho stopped selling as soon as Gao got hit with the belt. He’d just been low-blowed, and we all know how much that sucks. I’m fine with him kicking out of the subsequent pin, considering that the title was on the line, but I’d have liked him to at least keep hobbling a bit.

The post-match shenanigans seemed to work, though I thought that the babyface save looked awkward in practice. It took them a while to finally come out, and when they did, Black Dragon didn’t seem to know how to react. I also didn’t like how Dragon was so easily laid out. In the opening match, he seemed like a threatening monster. Getting dropped with one move so easily by The Slam was a rather unceremonious end to that.

Those quibbles don’t really hurt the match itself for me, though. I’d recommend it – and this whole show, really, to anyone interested in an introduction to the Chinese wrestling scene. I hope KOPW can keep running steady shows of this quality.

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