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

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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.

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.