King of Pro Wrestling is coming back this weekend with their second full show, “King of Pro Wrestling II”, and it’s loaded. They’ve got talent from the mainland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, the U.S., and the U.K. all scheduled to compete. Several wrestlers are returning from the debut show in March, but there are a number of debuts, too.
The big story looming over the entire show is the conflict between CEO Ryan Chen and GM Barney Wong. At the first show, Wong was revealed as a corrupt GM when he sneakily tried to help Gao Yuan win the KOPW Championship. He failed, and Ho Ho Lun became the champion instead, leaving Wong very bitter. He challenged Chen to put his preferred wrestlers against Wong’s in a series of matches, and whoever’s side loses the most matches, that man will have his head shaved at the end of the show.
Seven matches. Twenty wrestlers. Two bosses. One razor.
Outside kayfabe, this show has gone through a number of changes since it was announced, and since there are still a couple days to go, who knows how long it will be before this preview is obsolete? But let’s have a look at what’s on the card as of this writing. If you look at the pictures, you’ll see that the wrestlers on the yellow side represent CEO Ryan Chen, and the wrestlers on the blue side represent GM Barney Wong.
Disclaimer: Most of my information comes from KOPW’s official WeChat account, which is all in Chinese. My Chinese is nowhere near perfect, so I have to use WeChat’s built-in translator to read most of the posts. If you’ve ever used an online translator, you’ll know they aren’t always accurate. Therefore, I apologize for any misinterpretations.
Travelling Joshi puroresu wrestlers Riho and Makoto will battle for Riho’s Super Asia Championship. Riho has wrestled all around East Asia, and she’s coming off a victory of trainer Emi Sakura at the first KOPW show. Makoto has also been traveling Asia, facing Shining SAMURAIII in China and Alexis Lee in Singapore this year. Riho’s a spunky little flyer, while Makoto has a more methodical viciousness to her offense. This should be entertaining, and I hope it’s more heated than the regular, exhibition-like matches the Japanese women normally perform in China. I’m thinking Riho will retain her title.
China battles the West as Hong Wan, Bitman, and Yang Gang go against The Stable (Big Sam, Ash Silva, and Uncle Money) in an elimination six-man tag match. King Michael was originally scheduled to be on the CEO’s team, but health problems have required him to withdraw from the show. He’s being replaced by Yang Gang, who I thought had a pretty good match with Gao Yuan in March. Hong Wan, of course, has a bit of experience against Big Sam, so we’ll see if they do any callbacks to their matches together. Bitman is always a solid hand to have around. Then you have The Stable in what I believe is only their second trios match, and I did quite enjoy the last one in WLW. I like trios matches because it’s easier for guys to hide their weaknesses and emphasize their strengths when they can tag in and out. I predict that the dastardly foreigners will get the win.
In a rematch from the first show, the father of Chinese wrestling, The Slam, faces the thorn in his side that is Han Guang (Coldray). At the first show, Han Guang intended to retire Slam, but his brief victory in their match was rescinded by Ryan Chen because the referee missed The Slam getting the ropes. Slam went on to win, of course. Han Guang complained, and now we have this rematch, which has the added stipulation that The Slam cannot use his finishing move, unstoppable lightning, or he will be disqualified. I know Slam doesn’t like to lose, but I’m thinking the stip will lead to some confusion, and Han Guang will sneak out a victory to lead to a rubber match later.
(UPDATED: I originally wrote that Datin Z was the AWGC Champion.)
In another title match, Hong Kong’s Datin Z will challenge for the AWGC Championship against Smart Dave. The AWGC Championship is the Hong Kong Wrestling Federation’s top title. I haven’t seen Datin Z wrestle in a long time, but I recall him being pretty good in CNWWE. Smart Dave of Singapore had a decent match with Bitman at a KOPW promotional event back in May, and that’s about all I’ve seen of him. This match was recently made into something called an “Iron Chair Match,” so we’ll see what that entails. I expect a fine match, and Smart Dave will probably retain, though I really wouldn’t be too surprised if he didn’t.
The Lion Dance Brothers debut against the eclectic team of Zombie Dragon and PROGRESS Tag Team Champion James Drake. Drake was supposed to team with championship partner Zack Gibson, but Gibson had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict. KOPW went fairly local for his replacement, bringing in Zombie Dragon from MKW. I know Drake is a good worker, and Dragon’s been growing on me recently, but I’ve got no info on these Lion Dance Brothers. I’m guessing they’ll come out in that lion dance costume. I could see either side winning based on the outcome of the following match. If the LDBs win, it’ll probably be at Zombie Dragon’s expense.
Buffa takes on Barney Wong’s personal enforcer, Black Dragon. Even though Dragon only seems to have three matches under his belt (I’m guessing he’s wrestled under a different name elsewhere), he’s still proven to be a dangerous individual. He lost to Ho Ho Lun at the first show, but only because he was DQ’d for refusing to release a choke. The same thing happened against a rookie at a promotional event, but then Ho Ho Lun and that rookie won a tag match against Dragon and Han Guang when Ho pinned Han. Dragon seems to be pretty vicious, attacking anyone Barney Wong has a distaste for at public events, but Buffa is a seasoned veteran and a good deal bigger and stronger than Dragon’s usual victims. I expect him to put up much more of a fight, though I think Dragon will continue his heinous ways and get himself disqualified again.
And finally, two guys with WWE connections vie for the KOPW Championship when inaugural champion Ho Ho Lun defends against Sam Gradwell. Gradwell was in the fatal four-way match that saw Ho win the belt. Gradwell is a bigger, angrier, more powerful fighter than he seemed in the WWE UK Tournament, but Ho is a very wily vet with a lot of fan support in the Guangdong area. Honestly, I’m kind of torn on who will win here. Surely the seven-match series featured on the show will be tied going into the main event, so the victor will not only get the title but also determine whose head will be shaved. I’d be surprised to see Gradwell win the title, but I also feel like Barney Wong needs to get a win over Ryan Chen in their feud after he was royally foiled on the first show. Perhaps Gradwell will win by DQ or countout, giving Wong the win without taking the title off of Ho.
On the other hand, let me fantasy book a bit. I could also see Ho winning and Wong getting his head shaved. That would lead to Wong being even more bitter and frustrated. In desperation, he makes one final challenge to Ryan Chen to get a team together and face him in an eight-man, Survivor Series-style tag match – Wong and three heels vs. Chen and three babyfaces. If Wong’s team loses, he’ll quit KOPW and never come back, but if they win, Wong gets Chen’s job and becomes CEO. Ultimately, Wong’s team wins when someone on Chen’s team turns heel, and then we have the heel boss angle going forward. I know that’s been done to death in the West, but I could see it working in China for a time.
Anyway, back to this particular main event, I think that there’s likely going to be a good deal of interference and shenanigans before the finish, but I don’t expect Gradwell to leave with the title. I could be wrong, though.
Overall, I’m really excited for this show. I love the match-ups and the fact that everything plays into one over-arching storyline, even if it is a non-wrestler vs. a non-wrestler thing. I hope they knock it out of the park.