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.

Advertisements

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.

Our Story So Far: KOPW

When I reviewed the matches from King of Pro Wrestling’s first show, I failed to recognize a storyline that had been building since before the show and now seems to be the top angle going into their second big show, “King of Pro Wrestling II” (《摔角之王II》). A lot of that is due to my lack of fluency in Mandarin Chinese and the fact that there were no subtitles on my version of the video (even Chinese subtitles can help me look words up or recognize words I can’t hear clearly). But thanks to KOPW’s official WeChat account and the video above, I think I can adequately rectify my error and also catch readers up on what’s been happening since the KOPW debut.

Our main players are KOPW’s CEO Ryan Chen (陈虾仁) and General Manager Barney Wong (大王蜂). Prior to the debut, Wong was assaulted not once, but twice, by a masked man. At the beginning of the debut show, Wong came out all bandaged up and in a wheelchair, only for Black Dragon (黑龙) to push him off the ramp. After he was helped to the back, Dragon had a match with Ho Ho Lun (何颢麟) which he lost by DQ for refusing to release a choke in the ropes. Then the masked man who had injured Wong came to the ring and left with Dragon.

During the main event KOPW Championship 4-way match – which Ho Ho Lun had advanced to thanks to his DQ win over Black Dragon – the masked man returned and attempted to help Gao Yuan (高原) win the title. Ho Ho Lun outsmarted him, won the match and the title, and unmasked the man to reveal…Barney Wong!

Yes, it was all part of a big ruse so that Wong could control the KOPW Championship, and even though it failed, Wong wouldn’t go away. He was belligerent on social media, particularly towards Ryan Chen. At a fan convention in April, he and Black Dragon took out their frustrations by attacking the referee from the championship match.

 

May 4th

So that’s a big deal. Meanwhile, KOPW did have a small promotional show in Shenzhen on May 4th that featured five matches and a couple debuts. Three match videos have been released, but rather than reviewing them thoroughly, I’ll just relay the results of all five matches with a bit of commentary about the ones I’ve seen.

 

At the start of the show, Han Guang (寒光) interrupted Ryan Chen to promote himself and more or less set himself up as a challenger to Ho Ho Lun’s title. He also furthered his feud with The Slam, saying that he beat him at the KOPW debut even though Ryan Chen restarted the match. Most importantly, he indicated his allegiance to Barney Wong.

 

In the first match of this show, The Slam defeated Jun Jie (俊杰, translated as “a person of outstanding talent”) in a no DQ match after powerbombing him through a makeshift table. Not a bad match, actually, and Slam even took a bump through the board himself before coming back to win. This Jun Jie guy could be a solid hand.

 

Next, in a match I haven’t seen, Shen Fei beat Assassin (阿萨辛, a transliteration). The WeChat report seems to indicate that it was a relatively easy victory, though the photos show some back and forth.

 

Bitman (贤必文) returned to defeat a Singaporean wrestler called Smart Dave (@Dave_gpmax). I believe he either does or has wrestled for Singapore Pro Wrestling as Dave Vindictus. Now he’s affiliated with a dojo called Grapple MAX. This was a solid match, though the German suplex finish didn’t look that good because Dave’s shoulders were hardly down.

 

The next two matches actually bleed into one. Hong Konger Chen Zai (陈仔), who looks like a skinnier Ho Ho Lun, technically beat Black Dragon, but it was by DQ. Dragon was accompanied by Barney Wong, of course, and refused to release a camel clutch. Ho Ho Lun came in for the save, and then Han Guang arrived, so Ryan Chen made a tag match. Ho Ho Lun ultimately got the pin on Han Guang after a pair of basement superkicks. Chen Zai was able to get some offense in during this match, too, so I guess he isn’t just a jobber.

 

King of Pro Wrestling II Preview

I’ll probably write a full preview for the show when it gets closer and the card is filled out (unless I’m too busy with the new baby). Until then, here’s what’s been announced so far…

KOPW Championship Match
Ho Ho Lun (c) vs. Sam Gradwell

Riho vs. Makoto

The Grizzled Young Vets (James Drake & Zack Gibson) vs. ??? (a team of Ryan Chen’s choosing)

The Stable (Big Sam, Ash Silva, & Uncle Money w/ Chairman Al) vs. ??? (a team of Ryan Chen’s choosing)

 

That’s all I’ve got for now. Looking forward to KOPW’s future. It’s definitely a good time to be a pro wrestling fan in China.

Photos courtesy of King of Pro Wrestling’s official WeChat account. Used with permission. 

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.

KOPW: Gizzled Young Veterans vs. Bitman and King Michael (March 17, 2018)

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

Our Story So Far…
– James Drake and Zack Gibson are the Grizzled Young Veterans and current PROGRESS Tag Team Champions. PROGRESS is a storyline-heavy promotion out of the U.K. Drake and Gibson are also under WWE deals, though they still get to work elsewhere. Gibson wrestled in China previously during the first couple runs of CNWWE.
– Bitman has wrestled for the Hong Kong Wrestling Federation for a while. He’s also worked for Singapore Pro Wrestling and We Love Wrestling, among others.
– King Michael was on some early MKW and CWF shows, and he also has worked for the HKWF and SPW. He plays American football in Hong Kong, or he used to.
Now on to the match!

The Grizzled Young Veterans are defending the PROGRESS Tag Team Championships.

Bitman starts with Drake and gets the better of him. Then he gets the better of Gibson, so they try to double team him, but King Michael saves his partner. The Vets seem nervous about Michael and bail to the floor. When they get back in, their double teaming proves more effecting, and they take down Michael, too, with a dropkick off the apron from Drake and a dive from Gibson. They hit something on Bitman on the floor that the camera totally misses. They bring Bitman back in and take turns working him over. He eventually fires up and manages to escape Gibson with an enzuigiri and tag Michael, entering him legally into the match for the first time. He runs through the Vets with clotheslines, avalanches, and butt attacks. He hits a couple slams and lets Bitman jump off his shoulders with a (weak) splash. The Vets are able to get the upper hand with several strikes and team up to slam Michael. Bet he’s not used to that.

Michael runs the Vets into each other and tags Bitman back in. He fires off some offense including a nice German suplex to Drake. He and Michael set up something on Drake, but Drake backdrops Bitman and pulls the referee into the corner. Mochael stands on the bottom rope like a dummy for several second until Gibson hits him with a title belt. He can’t hit Bitman, who still has some fight left, but he ultimately gets a doomsday device and an assisted codebreaker, ending his night and keeping the titles on the Englishmen.

Afterwards, the Vets celebrate right in front of Michael until he runs them off. Then they celebrate up the ramp.

I thought this match was pretty good, but it certainly didn’t blow me away. Bitman worked well with Gibson and Drake, and they were probably wise to keep Michael out of most of the match to hide his limitations. He looked competent when he was in there, though, and I think they could’ve let him in for a couple more moves earlier instead of keeping him out until the hot tag.

The weirdest part of the match was the size differential. Gibson and Drake look like giants compared to pretty much everyone else on the show (besides Sam Gradwell). They even tower over King Michael, even though he’s considerably wider. So it was strange to see them running scared from him in the early parts of the match. Also, the part where Michael had to wait like a deer in headlights for Gibson to hit him with the belt made me cringe.

So, yeah. Very few bad points, everyone looked good, but there wasn’t anything I would insist on anyone going out of their way to see.

KOPW: The Slam vs. Han Guang (March 17, 2018)

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

Our Story So Far…
– The Slam is China’s first pro wrestler, the founder of CWE, and the trainer of many other Chinese wrestlers, including Ho Ho Lun and Gao Yuan.
– Han Guang was in CWF teaser videos, but I never saw him wrestle there. He did work as part of the Flat Earth Foundation for MKW in Shenzhen, though, under the name Coldray.

According to the commentators on the QQ version, The Slam has to retire if he loses this match.

Han Guang cuts a very stuck-up promo. He refers to The Slam as a middle-aged wrestler and makes it known that he will retire if he loses this match, so he made a sign that read something like, “Congratulations, Slam, on your honorable retirement.” He makes fun of The Slam for being from Guangdong, just like the rest of the crowd. The crowd chants “Shut up” in Cantonese. When Han Guang asks if they think The Slam will prevail, they chant, “Yes!” Then The Slam comes out.
Not a bad job on the mic from Han Guang, I must say. He seems to carry himself well for his character.
Now on to the match!

For the first few minutes, all Han Guang gets in is an eye rake. The Slam beats on him, drops him, and spears him. He takes him to the floor and does a springboard forearm off the apron. Han Guang fights back, though, and DDTs Slam on the floor. In the ring, he stays on him and attacks his left leg. Slam punches his way free of a side leg lock and lands a spin kick. He gets Han up for a slam, but his leg gives him too much trouble. Han hits a codebreaker, but Slam kicks out. He hits a sort of delayed codebreaker, and the referee counts three on the pin, but Slam’s hand is clearly on the rope. After getting his bearings back, Slam argues with the ref while Han celebrates. KOPW promoter Ryan Chen talks to the ref and announces that the match will continue. Then he high fives Ho Ho Lun.

Slam hits Han with a punch or kick or something (cameraman misses it) and tears up his sign. Han tries to fight back but gets a clothesline. We finally get the match graphic here for some reason. Slam does his unstoppable lightning suplex move and gets the pin, saving his career.

I wasn’t into this at first, but it grew on me. I was surprised to see The Slam selling his leg as well as he did. He doesn’t usually seem like much of a seller. Of course, after the restart, he seemed to have forgotten about it, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m not always a big fan of the guy – I think he often cares more about getting his stuff in than making his opponent look good – but he is the father of Chinese wrestling, so he’s got my respect.

Han Guang was a decent foil, I think, and I liked the personality he showed in his promo. His offensive style was moderately interesting, though I feel like he might be better suited as half of a tag team, maybe with a bigger guy he can talk for. Either way, I’m interested in seeing what both guys do next. Hopefully, they both can appear for KOPW again and not have to be stuck in the old CWE gym looking like backyarders.

KOPW: Buffa vs. Shen Fei (March 17, 2018)

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

Our Story So Far…
– Buffa was once known as K-Pusha in a team called All Money Is Legal on the US indies. Later, he worked for ZERO1 and other Japanese indies, and has recently appeared on Macau Wrestling Association and New Taiwan Wrestling shows. When he works in the US, he goes by Cooley-K.
– Shen Fei appeared on the MKW Shenzhen show in a losing effort against Uncle Money. He’s inspired by AJ Styles.
Now on to the match!

This is easily the most cordial of the matches on this show thus far. Neither man displays any heelish tendencies in the early going. In fact, Buffa is rather respectful of Shen Fei’s insistence that he take off his chains, hat, and other accessories before they begin (he can’t take off the bits in his beard, though).

They both show good fundamentals to start. Things pick up when Shen Fei whips out a quick rana, but he misses a slingshot plancha and gets a tope from Buffa. Buffa has a little bit of fun as he does what I assume are some of his signature moves. When Shen Fei fights back, he does start to show an aggressive side with some sinister-looking facial expressions during a strike exchange. He barely lands a moonsault to the floor and gets some extended offense. He does his best AJ Styles with a Pelé kick, and he’s pretty fired up about it. Then he does the most heelish thing in the match when he mocks Buffa’s dancing. Buffa tries to make him pay, but Shen Fei shuts him down and lands some flippy stuff and a springboard forearm that isn’t quite on Styles’ level, but it’s still admirable.

Buffa gets a second wind and runs wild, crumpling Shen Fei with a full nelson slam after making him boogie a little. Shen Fei catches him with a German suplex, but he can’t hit the phoenix splash. Buffa goes up and catches him with a flying facebuster to get the pin. He’s the final entrant into the main event title match.

Very nice showing by both guys. I thought Shen Fei looked better here than he did at the MKW show. Buffa seems like a solid hand to keep around; China needs a boombox-carrying dancer in its wrestling universe.