MKW: Belt and Road Tournament Round 2 (August 11, 2018)

Black Mamba 🇨🇳 vs. Baliyan Akki 🇮🇳 vs. Martin Pain 🇦🇹
Mamba defeated Hong Wan. Akki defeated Sandata. Pain defeated Vladimir Kulakov.

I like this match. Lots of good spots. Akki and pain team up on Mamba at first, and then Akki turns on Pain in the middle of an elaborate handshake. Mamba gets to pick his spots while the other two work with each other a lot. Akki does a big tope con giro. There’s some good stuff down the stretch, like when they’re trading off running into each other in the corner. There’s one major flub when Pain fails to catch Akki coming off the top, but he recovers well and lifts him into a military press. Mamba then kicks his leg out from under him so Akki falls on him. Mamba and Akki trade shots, and Mamba gets out of a Akki’s finisher attempt and hits a roll of the dice to get the pin and advance to the finals.
Winner – Black Mamba

Ash Silva 🇭🇰 (w/Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Nuwakote Tiger 🇳🇵 vs. Shiho 🇰🇷
Ash defeated Killer Kublai. Tiger defeated Triple T. Shiho defeated Mirko Panic.

I thought this match was OK, but I didn’t like it as much as the previous one. It doesn’t have as good of a flow to it, and some of it is a lot rougher. Shiho actually seems to be the weak link, as he messes up a leapfrog early (or did Tiger not duck enough?), and later, he awkwardly dawdles in the ring while waiting for his opponents to get in the right position for him to dive onto on the outside. He hits the dive rather well, though. And there are some bright spots, like when Tiger is unimpressed with his chops and makes him try a few times before chopping back harder. Ash does the proper heel thing and lets Shiho and Tiger fight until he feels like jumping in to catch one of them off-guard. It boils down to Tiger hitting a big flying elbow on Shiho, but Shiho rolls away, and while Tiger is staggering over to pin him, Ash comes in with a one-knee codebreaker and gets the three count.
Winner – Ash Silva

MKW: Sam, Money, Ferguson, and Suzuki vs. Gunderson, Su, Dragon, and Lee (August 10, 2018)

Big Sam, Uncle Money, Cam Ferguson, & Johta Suzuki (w/ Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Buck Gunderson, Michael Su, Zombie Dragon, & Junyan Lee (w/ Luan)

I like this match all right, but I’ll admit that I watched it in a bit of a rush and with no sound so as not to bother the other people in the room with me. Everyone looks competent; Su seems the greenest, but he gets a lot of experience taking bumps and selling for Big Sam here.

I’ve never seen three of these guys before – Gunderson, Lee, and Suzuki. Gunderson and Lee work for Battle Arts in Canada. I really like Gunderson’s intensity and hard work. Lee doesn’t get to do much in the match, but he does have one nice tope con giro spot. Pro Wrestling Alive’s Suzuki gets to do a bit more than that, and he looks fine, though I didn’t see anything that made me think, “Wow, I’ve got to look for more from this guy.”

The match starts as a brawl all over the place, then settles into the regular tag format. Su takes the heat for a long time. Then, in a bit of a reversal from the norm, multiple tags happen where guys on one side each challenge a specific guy on the other side to come face them. That usually happens earlier in these kinds of matches. Anyway, things get wonky when Zombie Dragon brings his flaming book into the ring and seems to hypnotize Uncle Money. Clips and images appear on the video screen that seem to be embarrassing old footage of Money. Dragon then chases Money out the door. This leaves Gunderson in the ring with Suzuki – the others are on the floor – and Buck pins him after a cross-legged suplex.

I definitely want to see more of Gunderson and Lee, especially to see what the latter can do in a less-convoluted environment.

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 3 (August 10, 2018)

Triple T 🇳🇿 vs. Nuwakote Tiger 🇳🇵
Triple T is representing New Zealand. Tiger is representing Nepal.

Triple T rides a train in Sri Lanka and chants “Belt and Road” out the window. Tiger says he never loses and anyone who gets in his way will get hurt badly.

I didn’t enjoy watching this match because Triple T got legitimately injured early on when he missed a jumping knee in the corner. He looked to be in a lot of pain from then on, but he gutted it out and went several more minutes against Tiger. He even climbed up and went for the somersault senton, but he missed. Tiger did well for his part. He didn’t attack the leg after the injury, but I think maybe he knew he might make it worse. Most of his offense was pretty basic. His finishing run was a codebreaker, a body slam, and a flying elbow off the top for the pin. They did well for what they were unfortunately forced to work through.
Winner – Nuwakote Tiger

Hong Wan 🇨🇳 vs. Black Mamba 🇨🇳
Both men are representing China. This is a rematch from April (which was actually a rematch from one of the first MKW shows, come to think of it).

Black Mamba says something I can’t understand because his mic is too low. Hong Wan says he deserves all the championships.

I like this match. Hong Wan, normally a babyface, gives Mamba a thumbs down as he takes a selfie with him, a callback to their first match when Mamba was the one giving the thumb. He leans heelish the rest of the match, though he thinks better of using a chair at one point. Aside from one botch at the beginning, things go pretty smoothly. Hong works the leg briefly. Mamba dodges a frog splash and hits a flipping kick, but gets caught with a Samoan drop. He kicks out of Hong Wan’s standing moonsault, though, and then counters a reverse DDT into a roll of the dice for the win to advance.
Winner – Black Mamba

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 2 (August 10, 2018)

Mirko Panic 🇸🇮 vs. Shiho 🇰🇷
Panic is representing Slovenia. Shiho is representing South Korea.

Panic says Slovenia isn’t a small nation, it’s a big nation. Shiho says he’ll beat whoever they put him up against.

I liked this match. It’s a good display of a big guy vs. a smaller guy. Shiho frustrates Panic early, but Panic is big and mean, so he takes over doing big, mean guy things. I’m actually quite impressed with him; I had no idea Slovenia had anything more than backyard wrestling, but this guy really seems to know how to work a match without just spamming moves. I particularly like his chain of suplexes because it’s quite different from the typical style. Shiho is good, too, but I guess Panic left more of an impression on me. I’m not a huge fan of the finish, as Panic misses an impressive moonsault attempt and gets pinned with a small package. I thought maybe Shiho should’ve done something more.
Winner – Shiho

Vladimir Kulakov 🇷🇺 vs. Martin Pain 🇦🇹
Kulakov is representing Russia. Pain is representing Austria.

Pain tells China to get ready for pain. Kulakov says that the god of war is with him.

I like this match. These two match up very well; two big European bruisers who know their way around a ring. I don’t know if they’ve ever worked together before, but they have great chemistry, and everything they do flows so well. They’re both very athletic for big dudes. Pain has a sweet flipping dropkick (though his running shooting star leaves a lot to be desired), and Kulakov can whip off a nice headscissors. Pain is more of the aggressor for this match, and Kulakov is the one who needs to mount the comeback. Ultimately, Pain resorts to a low blow out of the referee’s view, then gets the pin with something like an AA. I’d love to see both of these guys again.
Winner – Martin Pain

MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 1 (August 10, 2018)

Ash Silva 🇭🇰 (w/ Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Killer Kublai 🇲🇳
Ash represents Hong Kong. Kublai represents Mongolia.

Hey, insert promos! Ash says that management tried to keep The Stable out of the tournament, but since he was born in Hong Kong, he’s eligible. (Remember, this tournament is only for people from countries that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.)

I had to mute commentary early when Al Leung went into the Belt and Road propaganda. I know any business in a country like China needs to placate the powers that be, but I just loathe propaganda, whether it be from a government or a company. That’s one reason I can’t take WWE seriously anymore.

Anyway, onto the match. I liked it at first, but it kind of lost me once I realized that the pace wasn’t picking up. Ash shows an appropriate amount of jerkiness, and Kublai has some good throws and submission holds, but there were things happening late that seemed like they should’ve happened earlier (such as Kublai going outside and letting himself be distracted by Al and Marie). Kublai didn’t look too rusty, though, for a guy who’s supposedly been retired for a long time. It was just kind of slow for an opener, and the finishing sequence wasn’t much of a sequence. Ash hit the zig zag for two, then moved Kublai over and hit a Superfly splash for the win. If Kublai had enough to kick out before, why did he stay there for the splash?
Winner – Ash Silva

Sandata 🇵🇭 vs. Baliyan Akki 🇮🇳
Sandata represents the Philippines. Akki represents India.

Sandata says that he’ll show the Chinese fans how a Filipino fights. Akki says he doesn’t care who his opponent is, but asks that management makes it fun. They should turn the arena noise off when they play these promos; Akki is hard to hear.

I like this match. It’s rather rough around the edges – I’ve never seen a sunset flip pulled off like that – but they seem to be working hard. The ring doesn’t always cooperate with their ideas, but they make it work, I think. Neither guy works as a heel, but they stay competitive. Most importantly, there’s a good finishing stretch where Sandata avoids a 450 and lands a dropkick, but then gets caught coming in with a kick to the head, and Akki finishes him with a fisherman buster on the knee.

MKW: Big Sam and Ash Silva vs. Buffa and Michael Su (June 17, 2018)

Since my wife and I just had a baby about a month ago, I haven’t been using my moments of free time to watch or write about a lot of wrestling. I think, if I’m going to continue with match reviews, they’re going to have to be more succinct. So here goes.

Previously, Ash lost to Michael Su by DQ and continued beating him after the match, to the point that Su had to be helped to the back. Meanwhile, Buffa is replacing Hong Wan, who had been feuding with Big Sam but is out with an injury.

I like this match. Sam and Ash are a dastardly heel team. They’ve even got two managers at ringside this time: Chairman Al and a blonde woman named Lady Marie. She’s actually really good as a ringside personality, arguing with fans and cheering her men on. She looks and acts very natural in her role as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Michael Su is looking pretty good for his experience level, and Buffa is always a solid hand. I’m glad he’s been hanging around the Chinese scene.

After Michael Su refuses a Stable T-shirt, the faces are jumped, and it settles into a standard tag format. Buffa finally does the bit where he has trouble getting Sam up for a slam. Too many guys have been able to pick the big man up with ease, so this was refreshing to see. The match didn’t seem too long, either. The hot tag to Buffa doesn’t lead to a very long final segment, though, as he gets booted out after a few minutes and Su is finished off with a doomsday powerbomb.

Two little things I would have changed: First, I would have liked Su to have been a little more heated against Ash. He kind of treats this like a normal match, not a chance for getting back at the guy who viciously assaulted him at the last show. Second, I think it would’ve made more sense for The Stable to offer a shirt to the new guy, Buffa, since he doesn’t have a grudge against them. People might actually believed he would accept (though he shouldn’t have).

Anyway, good match with a big post-match segment. Ash and Sam continue to beat on Su, and when Buffa comes in to help, Uncle Money appears and spears him. Then the three heels get a ladder and hold it on Su so Ash can dropkick and stomp it into him. Hong Wan is shown in normal clothes, and he wants to run in, but Adrian the promoter holds him back because he’s injured. But eventually he breaks free and hits Sam in the back with the MKW title belt. Luan and Black Mamba appear to back him up, and The Stable is on the floor yelling at them while Luan shows off his nunchuck skills to end the video.

KOPW King of Pro Wrestling II Review (August 18, 2018)

UPDATE: KOPW seems to be adding matches from this show to their YouTube channel, so I’ll be adding them to this review as they appear in my subscription feed.
You might be able to watch this whole show here, though it may not work outside of mainland China.

The big story for this show is the feud between CEO Ryan Chen and GM Barney Wong. Each match features a wrestler or team representing each man. The leader of the side that wins the most matches at the end of the show gets to shave the other’s head.

To simplify things, I’ve listed each match with Ryan Chen’s representative(s) first and Barney Wong’s second.

The show opens with Ryan Chen and Ho Ho Lun talking, then Barney Wong comes out with Black Dragon and Sam Gradwell. He talks a lot and runs down Chen’s team. Gradwell says some things in English, but the video gets choppy and I can’t make much of it out. Gradwell and Dragon attack Ho, but Buffa runs in for the save. They all brawl to the back.

The Slam vs. Han Guang
If The Slam uses his regular finishing move, unstoppable lightning, he’ll be disqualified. Their match at the first KOPW show is probably my favorite Slam singles match. This one isn’t as long, I don’t think, but it’s fine. After Han attacks before the bell, it’s pretty straightforward. Slam fights back, then Han gets some more in, but Slam comes back again. Slam apparently wasn’t paying attention when the rules were made, because he tries for his move a couple times. The second time, the referee tells him no, so he shoves him. Han takes the opportunity to boot him in the loins, then hits a pair of codebreakers and gets the three count.
Winner – Han Guang (CEO 0-1 GM)

Afterwards, Slam gets his heat back by hitting his move (it’s actually a TKO now, I see).

“Selfie King” Hong Wan, Bitman, & Yang Gang vs. The Stable (Big Sam, Ash Silva, & Uncle Money)
This is an elimination match. Yang Gang is replacing King Michael. This is the second match in a row to start with an attack before the bell. Hong Wan gets beat up for a while before the first elimination. Ash looks rather foolish when he spends a long time jawing with fans, back turned to Hong Wan, allowing Hong to recover and tag Yang. Yang dropkicks Ash into his partners, then school-boys him and gets the first pin. (I’d forgotten the elimination stip, so I was like, “Wow, that was sudden.” But then I remembered.)
After some time, Hong Wan is in control of Uncle Money, but Big Sam fusses with the ref about Bitman, and this distracts Hong (his turn to look foolish) so Money can spear him and pin him.
At 2-on-2, Yang Gang and Bitman show some fine teamwork. Big Sam and Uncle Money isolate Bitman like pros. Sam looks particularly vicious. Bitman suplexes Sam a little too easily, IMO. Yang gets to run wild on a hot tag, but he ultimately gets pinned with something like a doomsday powerbomb.
Bitman is overwhelmed until he outsmarts them a couple times. There’s a little too much convenient wobbling here for my tastes; Sam and Money standing around looking woozy while Bitman sets his stuff up. Bitman pins Uncle Money with a backslide after he accidentally runs into Sam.
Sam stalls on the outside for a bit before he gets back in. He takes control until Bitman throws more suplexes. After a big German, Ash and Money run back in. Bitman knocks them off the apron, but Sam boots him low (right in front of the ref) and hits the tombstone to end the match.
Winners – The Stable (CEO 0-2 GM)

Afterwards, Sam kicks the ref around (he should probably be thanking him for not disqualifying him) and The Stable throw Bitman out of the ring. Uncle Money goes over and shakes Barney Wong’s hand.

AWGC Championship: Datin Z vs. Smart Dave (c)
This is a chair match, and both guys go grab one at the bell. Datin Z gets the better of the duel when Dave’s fingers get hurt. He slides out and won’t get back in until Z puts his chair aside. They wrestle for a bit, then Z gets some offense with a chair. These chairs, by the way, are plastic with metal frames, not like the all-steel chairs we’re used to in America. Dave smashes Z’s leg with a chair against the post (though the leg doesn’t specifically come into play again). Dave methodically takes Z apart in the ring without chairs. Z fights back with high-impact moves. Dave lays a bunch of chairs in a couple rows but ends up powerbombed onto them. Dave gets a nearfall with a spin kick similar to Aleister Black’s, and then he’s able to finish Z off with a brainbuster on a chair. Solid work, but I would’ve liked more selling of the leg.
Winner – Smart Dave (CEO 0-3 GM)

Barney Wong gets on the mic to point out that his side only needs one more win.

Buffa vs. Black Dragon
Buffa doesn’t take as long as usual to get his bling off, so he’s obviously taking this fight seriously. He gets some good stuff in on Dragon. Seriously, I think he looks really good here. But when they take it outside, Dragon starts whooping on him. He rams his back into the post. Back in the ring, he continues dominance until Buffa mounts a comeback. It doesn’t last too long, though, and Dragon catches him with a powerbomb out of the air (he falls down on it, though). He can’t seem to put Buffa away, so he ultimately grabs a chair and whacks him in the back, getting disqualified. Barney’s not too happy about that.
Winner by DQ – Buffa (CEO 1-3 GM)

Super Asia Championship: Riho (c) vs. Makoto
It’s the battle of the traveling Joshi wrestlers. The pace here is much faster than anything else so far. There’s a lot of back-and-forth action. Makoto is vicious with her submissions on Riho’s arms and back. Riho is bendy and takes big bumps. There’s a great sequence where they trade moves off the ropes – forearm, forearm, jumping knee, spear, sunset flip into double stomp. Very well done. This is definitely more my cup of tea than the exhibition-y style match Riho had with Emi Sakura last time. Makoto crushes Riho with cartwheel knees a couple times. The ending is sadly marred when Riho hits a flying double stomp and Makoto kicks out, but the ref calls for the bell anyway. Not sure if it was planned.
Winner – Riho (CEO 2-3 GM)

Makoto kicks the ref afterwards, but Riho pulls her away. Makoto doesn’t attack her, but she leaves very upset, like…well, like she lost a big title match by no fault of her own.

Dancing Lion Brothers (Shen Fei & Jun Jie) vs. Zombie Dragon & James Drake
Zombie Dragon is replacing Zack Gibson because Zack’s busy challenging Pete Dunne in NXT. The Brothers come out in the traditional lion dance outfit to a traditional lion dance song, and the crowd sings along. Dragon and Drake don’t play up the weirdness of their team, unfortunately. They work together all right, but Shen and Jun are better with the combos. Shen Fei and Zombie Dragon are both guys who look better each time I see them. Shen could maybe sell a little better, and Dragon ought to tighten up on some of his kicks, I feel, but otherwise, I enjoy them. Jun I’ve only seen a little of before. He seems to have good fundamentals and looks to have a good base for throwing suplexes. James Drake is a fine heel, though he doesn’t do anything for me yet that makes him more than the guy who tags with Zack Gibson. Anyway, Shen eventually gets put in peril and has to make the hot tag. He and Jun do a synchronized cutter spot that’s cool. They squash Zombie Dragon with a frog splash and a 450, but Drake makes the save. In the end, Dragon accidentally mists Drake before accidentally kicking him. The Dancing Lions put Dragon away with a powerbomb/flying forearm. I like the Dancing Lion Brothers as a team; I hope they stick together.
Winners – Dancing Lion Brothers (CEO 3-3 GM)

Barney Wong is not so confident anymore. Ryan Chen shows off the electric clippers.

KOPW Championship: Ho Ho Lun (c) vs. Sam Gradwell
Forgot to mention it in my preview, but this is a lumberjack match. Most of the male wrestlers from before are at ringside. No Black Dragon or Zombie Dragon though. Maybe they’re at a dragon meeting. And no Slam. And James Drake is still wiping green liquid from his eyes. Anyway, Gradwell starts aggressively. Ho Ho Lun gets distracted by the heels, allowing Gradwell to catch him. The faces get back at him by beating on him when he rolls to their side. Pretty soon, everyone’s brawling at ringside, but then they actually settle down again. Gradwell keeps pounding on Ho until Ho fires up and battles back. Ho does a dive onto the heels on the floor, so Gradwell does a tope onto the faces. Ho is lining Gradwell up for something when Barney Wong punches him from the apron. Ho kicks out of a sit-out powerbomb, though. Wong tries to interfere again, but the faces beat him up. They go back and forth in bursts before Gradwell misses a flying splash. Ho has Gradwell beat with a fisherman’s suplex, but Wong breaks it up (kind of; he barely touches them, but the ref just calls it two). The faces hold Wong back so he can’t break up the next pin (which comes after a move the camera misses), and Ho retains. Pretty good, but the camera missing the finish really hurts my enjoyment.
Winner – Ho Ho Lun (CEO 4-3 GM)

Wong is dragged back to the ring. The babyfaces hold him down while a long-haired guy (commentator Shuai Ge, whom Black Dragon attacked at a press conference previously) shaves his head. Wong throws a major tantrum around the ring before he leaves. Then a bunch of non-wrestlers talk to the fans to end the show.

Overall, I think this was a good show. Everyone seemed to be working hard, and all the matches were solid or better. My favorite was definitely the women’s match. It was full of so much action and kept surprising me even though I already knew who would win. Shame about the finish. I also really liked that there was an overarching angle throughout the show. This was similar to their first show, which featured a tournament to crown a champion. I wonder if they’ll continue this theme with their next show.

Was it better than the first show? Hmm…I think it was at least on par. The first show had Gao Yuan in two matches, but it also had an inferior women’s match. I both shows ended with some chaos, but the good guys ultimately sent the fans home happy. I figure a third show has to have Barney Wong come back with a vengeance and perhaps even take over the company, so that could be interesting.

Anyway, I would easily recommend this show to someone interested in Chinese wrestling.

King of Pro Wrestling II Preview

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.

MKW Belt and Road Championship Tournament Preview

Big pair of shows coming up from MKW tomorrow and Saturday. They’re crowing their first Belt & Roach Champion in a 12-man tournament that features wrestlers from countries that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. I’m not going to get into what that is or what I think of it; just look it up and read both sides. Instead, I want to look at the first-round matches that have been announced and make some predictions.

The first round of the tournament will consist of six singles matches, all taking place on night one (August 10). Then, to streamline things a bit, the second round will include two triple threat matches, taking place on night two (August 11). Finally, the last two survivors will battle in the main event of night two in a ladder match for the title.

 

Both of Mainland China’s representatives will square off right away when “Selfie King” Hong Wan faces Black Mamba in a rematch from April. Former MKW Champion Hong won that match, so Mamba has something to prove. He’s coming off a June victory over Uncle Money. I’m a fan of both guys, and Mamba has particularly impressed me since returning earlier this year. From a pure sports perspective, Hong Wan is probably the favorite to win the whole tournament, but I’m going to be bold and say that I think Black Mamba will pull off the upset. This will even their score and set them up for a rubber match, which could be for the title.
Prediction: Black Mamba

South Korea’s Shiho takes on Mirko Panic of Slovenia. Shiho has been wrestling for six years. He works (or at least has worked) for Professional Live Action in Korea, and he seems like a bit of a flyer.. Here’s a highlight video of a match he had with a guy called Rockstar. Panic wrestles for WUW, a promotion that looks like they don’t use ropes. I can’t find any videos from them, but I did find this old match of Panic wrestling in a ring in a German-speaking country.
Neither of these guys are regulars in MKW, but Shiho lives closer to China, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned every once in a while. And he seems to fit better into my predictions for the second round.
Prediction: Shiho

Russia’s Vladimir Kulakov battles Austria’s Martin Pain. Kulakov has held multiple titles in the IWF in Russia and has also worked in Singapore for SPW. Here’s a highlight video of him wrecking people from a couple years ago. Martin Pain is an 11-year veteran and has wrestled around the world. He also participated in a New Japan Dojo training camp in LA. I can’t find any videos of him on YouTube, unfortunately.
This one’s a toss-up because they actually seem pretty similar. I’ll pick Pain to win because why not?
Prediction: Martin Pain

Triple T of New Zealand faces Nuwakote Tiger of Nepal. Triple T is on a roll in MKW ever since falling to MKW Champion Big Sam. He won a grudge match with Uncle Money and then took out Coldray. Tiger wrestles for the Nepal Ring Wrestling Association, and he looks like a big fellow. Here he is in a ladder match against the Pro Wrestling Gamer. Despite his experience in ladder matches, I don’t think he’s going to make it to the one on night two. Triple T ought to continue his winning ways here.
Prediction: Triple T

The Philippines’ Sandata battles India’s Baliyan Akki. Sandata has wrestled for Philippine Wrestling Revolution and the Manila Wrestling Federation. He looks to be a masked high flyer. Here he is against The Apocalypse (a wrestler, not the world-ending event, I assume). Akki wrestles for Wrestle Square, an Indian promotion that has worked with MKW in the past. He’s also wrestled the Eurasian Dragon and has worked for SPW. I’m predicting Akki will advance because he seems like a bigger star.
Prediction: Baliyan Akki

And finally, representing Hong Kong and The Stable, Ash Silva will face a mystery man from Mongolia, Killer Kublai. Ash is on a vicious streak, having taken out his former trainee Michael Su in brutal fashion a couple months back. He’s also got manager Chairman Al in his corner, and you never know when Big Sam or Uncle Money might show up. Kublai is apparently a wrestler from a while back who has experience in Mongolian freestyle wrestling. There are no pictures of video of him, and for all I know, this could be a big swerve and its really VooDoo in another mask and traditional Mongolian dress or something. Either way, I’ll pick Ash to win.
Winner: Ash Silva

So, based on all those predictions, I’m looking at the second round being Ash Silva vs. Triple T vs. Shiho and Martin Pain vs. Baliyan Akki vs. Black Mamba. I would then choose Ash and Mamba to advance to the ladder match, which I think Mamba will win, putting the gold on a babyface. I think a time will come when The Stable will consolidate every belt in MKW (maybe after the introduce tag titles?), but I don’t think that time is now.

Outside of the tournament, two other matches have been announced…

 

In association with Canada’s Battle Arts promotion (run by former WWE star Santino Marella, by the way), MKW is presenting a big 8-man tag match on night one. MKW Champion Big Sam teams with Stable-mate Uncle Money, arrogant rookie Cam Ferguson, and a guy I know nothing about, Johta Suzuki. They take on Battle Arts regulars Buck Gunderson and Runyan Lee (or Junyan Lee) team with Zombie Dragon and a mystery partner (just recently revealed to be Michael Su). Have a look around Battle Arts’ YouTube page to see some of Gunderson and Lee. This match should be a heck of a thing with all these personalities and debuts in one segment. I’m looking forward to it.

Then, on night two, Zombie Dragon and Uncle Money will lock up again, this time in a singles match with managers in each corner. Uncle Money will have Chairman Al, of course, while Dragon will be seconded by Harbin native, martial artists, stuntman, and film producer Luan. Luan KO’d Chairman Al back in April after Big Sam won defended his title, so Al probably has some revenge on his mind.

 

And that’s that, I think. Maybe there’s another match on night two that I missed, but I’m running out of time to post this, so this will have to do. I’m looking forward to seeing this show on YouTube in the coming months since I can’t be there live. I can’t guarantee that I’ll review everything, though, since my life has gotten a bit more hectic recently.

Anyway, really hoping for more from MKW’s partnerships with international promotions, as I like seeing wrestlers from places I didn’t even know had wrestling.

MKW: Coldray vs. Triple T (June 17, 2018)

Hey, everyone, my wife just had a baby last weekend, so my reviews are going to be fewer and shorter for the foreseeable future. But I don’t want to completely abandon my blogs. I’ll just make quicker posts and only review matches I really feel like watching.

Triple T is on a roll after his win over Uncle Money last time. Coldray hasn’t appeared since Shenzhen, but he’s back with manager Khan Spirasi. Guess he’s taking a break from calling out The Slam in KOPW. This match is for a spot in the Belt and Road Championship Tournament coming in August. That’s MKW’s new secondary singles title, and yes, they named it after a heavily-propagandized economic plan by the Chinese Communist Party. Search Google for “One Belt, One Road” and decide for yourself if it’s good for anyone besides China.

I was really into the first half of this match. Triple T was looking the best I’ve seen him (though I like his singlet better). Specifically, his Hogan leg drop was spot-on this time. Coldray’s promo skills are good, and he’s a fine hand in the ring.

Speaking of the ring, that’s my big negative. Both guys were slipped up by its size and the loose ropes, making a number of bits awkward in the second half of the match. I’m pretty sure I can blame the ring, because Coldray never seems to have these kinds of problems in KOPW. I’ve never seen Triple T anywhere else (but I’d like to), so I can’t speak to what kind of ring he’s most comfortable in.

The basic finish is Coldray accidentally bumping Khan Spirasi off the apron, setting him up to get squashed by a Swanton bomb from Triple T for the win. It’s scary to watch such a big guy do that move off of wobbly ropes, but he always manages to hit it.

Okay match that I would like to see again in a sturdier ring. I’m enjoying Triple T’s push, and I’m curious to see how far he goes in the tournament.