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: 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.

WLW x MMC May 11, 2018 Review

In mainland China, you should be able to watch this show here. Anywhere else…I dunno, it might work for you if you’re lucky. It was originally broadcast as a livestream, so the matches start around 53 minutes in.

Mars Martial Championship, who previously worked with MKW to host their title match on an MMA show, partnered with We Love Wrestling to produce an all-wrestling show in Shenzhen just this May. Familiar talent from mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. were featured, as well as a few names that were new to me. I’m gonna review the show as a whole this time around.

Buffa vs. Chen Wenbin
A fine opener. Chen is confident and very game. He’s all, “Come at me, bro,” and Buffa’s like, “Oh, is that how you want to play it?” Buffa’s size and experience give him an advantage until the speed and striking come into play. This frustrates Buffa, and he becomes rather grumpy and indignant. Then they go back and forth until Chen reverses a suplex into a small package for the pin.
Winner – Chen Wenbin

Afterwards, Buffa holds up Chen’s arm but then sucker punches him and cuts a promo on the fans for booing him.


Saka & Black Ho vs. Xue Weigang & Yang Gang
Saka and Black Ho have teamed in New Taiwan Wrestling for a while. Saka is easily distinguishable because he only has one arm. Meanwhile, I haven’t seen Xue very often since the Gao Yuan/CWF split. He gets to be the big babyface power guy here, leaving Yang to take the heat. Interestingly, they don’t really do a hot tag. Instead, Yang comes back after the heat and has the advantage when he casually tags Xue. Saka and Ho don’t like to keep everything in the ring, and they manage to take out Xue on the floor so they can double team Yang. Saka gets annoyed at Yang refusing to lose, so he puts him in a read choke of sorts and refuses to release it when Yang gets the ropes. The referee calls for the bell, but the damage is done and Yang is out.
Winners by DQ – Xue Weigang & Yang Gang

Afterwards, Xue has to help Yang to the back.

Gao Yuan Promo
Gao comes out with VooDoo, Wang Qiushi, Xiong Kuohai, and someone else I should probably recognize. Gao talks about being the best wrestler in China and puts over how long he’s been WLW Fighting Spirit Champion (I think he says 500 days). He says his match with Liu Xing tonight will be no different from any of the others he’s had during his reign, and he’ll still be champion at the end. Then he introduces his group as the Army of Insolent Devil (Gao’s nickname), and they all pose.

VooDoo vs. Bitman
Much of this one is comedy, and it worked for me. VooDoo makes a big deal about Bitman’s abs, and it leads to a hip-swiveling competition that the referee also participates in, Then VooDoo puts on the ref’s shirt and tries to get him to fight Bitman, but they both smack VooDoo instead. Then they actually do some wrestling. VooDoo hurts his arm trying a low blow for some reason. Finally, the guy I didn’t recognize from the last segment puts on a VooDoo mask and distracts Bitman so VooDoo ca roll him up with a handful of tights for the pin.
(BTW, the ref for this match was Wang Qiushi from the last segment. He didn’t do anything heelish, though, so I guess I wasn’t supposed to recognize him.)
Winner – VooDoo

New Taiwan Wrestling Openweight Championship: A-Yong-Go (c) vs. Heisenberg
Heisenberg looks like a New Japan young lion with his black tights and Boston crab. A-Yong-Go is a veteran with a look that says, “I’m a cool, old cowboy.” This match is lengthy with a bit of fighting on the outside, but it’s mostly kept in the ring. Heisenberg is strong and takes the fight to the veteran, and Yong just can’t seem to keep him down no matter what he throws at him. In the end, he has to resort to cheating by pulling the referee in close while he kicks Heisenberg low. Then he pins him after a pedigree. Good stuff.
Winner – A-Yong-Go

There’s some kind of non-wrestling presentation before the next match. I didn’t pay attention.

Big Sam, Ash Silva, & Uncle Money vs. Xiong Kuohai, King Michael, & Shen Fei
The Stable have Chairman Al with them. Xiong is accompanied by the guy from the VooDoo match. The Chinese team are the babyfaces, though. The pairings at the beginning are all fun. Shen Fei and Ash, Xiong and Uncle Money, Michael and Sam. The good guys shine for the most part, so the heels have to yank Shen Fei out of the ring and beat on him to get the heat. They then proceed to have their way with him in classic heel team fashion, just tossing him about and taunting his teammates at their pleasure. There’s a great tease of a hot tag, and then the Hart attack shows up before Shen Fei finally makes the real hot tag. The big guys run wild, and there are a couple slip-ups, but they set Shen Fei up for the 450 splash on Ash. He hits it, but Xiong pulls him off and takes the pin for himself.
Winners – Xiong Kuohai, King Michael, & Shen Fei

Afterwards, we get some bad camera work. The camera follows The Stable as they go and pose on the stage (even though they lost), mostly missing Xiong and Shen Fei having words and Xiong taking him out with a slam.

Makoto vs. Shining SAMURAAAI
Makoto seems to be making the rounds through Asia these days. SAMURAAAI is Hikaru Shida. I don’t know much about either, but I just discovered that Shida’s English is pretty good (and maybe her character here is based on the one in that video?). They both show aggressive sides here, but SAMURAAAI is presented as more of the plucky underdog. She seems super hopeful whenever she’s on offense or going for the pin, and she plays to the crowd a lot. Her umbrella gets involved without any DQ’s called, but it’s fun. They fight really hard on the top at one point, and the superplex that results feels really well-earned. After that, they trade a couple kicks, Makoto kicks out of a falcon arrow, and SAMURAAAI finally puts her away with a running knee. This definitely felt like more than just a Joshi exhibition to me, so I liked it a lot.
Winner – Shining SAMURAAAI

After a video about the Mars Martial Championships’ MMA stuff, we get our main event.

We Love Wrestling Fighting Spirit Championship: Gao Yuan (c) vs. Liu Xing
Gao’s whole Army of Insolent Devil is at ringside for this one, while Liu Xing is all alone. This doesn’t go very long before Liu Xing hits a somersault to the floor and both guys stay down for a bit. Eventually, Gao recovers first, rolls Liu Xing into the ring, and…pins him.
Winner – Gao Yuan

Xue Weigang, Yang Gang, and Shen Fei come out (in WLW shirts) to help Liu Xing to the back. I guess he hurt himself on the dive and they had to call an audible. That’s a bummer of an ending to…wait a minute, he’s back in the ring already and seems fine. He wants an immediate rematch. They shove each other and Gao angrily says something into the mic, but it cuts out. The bell rings, and we’re starting over.

We Love Wrestling Fighting Spirit Championship: Gao Yuan (c) vs. Liu Xing
I don’t know what all that was about, but here we go. This one’s much longer, and maybe a bit of overkill, but since it’s for the title, I can understand it. There’s no long-term selling, unfortunately. Liu Xing takes a piledriver and a Canadian destroyer at different points, but he never acts like his neck or head have been specifically damaged. Ditto for Gao after he takes a reverse DDT onto the apron. Gao’s friends get involved several times, but Liu Xing’s are nowhere to be found. It all boils down to Liu Xing surprising Gao with a couple of spears, then hitting a shiranui. Gao’s too close to the ropes, so Liu Xing does a pump handle side slam and a second shiranui to get the pin and win the title.
Winner and new champion – Liu Xing

Gao is helped out by his crew, and VooDoo does some lamenting. Liu Xing seems appropriately exhausted and Wei and Yang come out to check on him. Unfortunately, they don’t do much in regards to celebrating his victory.

Overall: Pretty good show, I thought. There was a good deal of variety to the matches, and I didn’t dislike any of them. My favorite was probably the six-man, even with the flubs near the end and the convoluted bit with Xiong and Shen Fei. There seemed to be a lot of little angles happening, and I hope they get followed up on whenever WLW has another show. The overbooking of the main event was weird, and I hope it isn’t just a way for Gao to get an instant rematch and win the belt right back.This is actually Liu Xing’s second time with this belt, as he won it briefly when he and Gao were in the CWF. I hope he gets to hold it longer this time, maybe defend it against someone besides Gao at least once.

MKW: Big Sam vs. Gabriel Martini (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Big Sam is the MKW Champion and the defacto leader of The Stable. His manager is Chairman Al. This match is Sam’s third title defense.
– Gabriel Martini from Italy doesn’t win a whole lot, but he won a battle royal at the last show to ear this shot (leaving me questioning the legitimacy of battle royals for determining worthy contenders).
– Before the match, Martini says that since Sam has Chairman Al in his corner, he’s bringing out his own backup in the form of local celebrity Luan Yanwu (or something like that). He’s an actor, martial artist, film producer, etc. He’s so famous that commentary doesn’t seem to know any of his films.

I liked this better than any other Gabriel Martini match I’ve seen. He seems to be trying hard, and he looks sober. I still think that his execution looks awkward most of the time, though. A lot of the moves he does require some finesse to make them look good, and he doesn’t seem to have it. I feel like he would be better suited as a brawler than a guy trying to do tilt-a-whirl headscissors.

Sam does a lot of roughneck stuff here, choking Martini and dropping him on the guardrail and apron. He’s pretty brutal in the early goings, but Martini seems like a guy who can take it. He also throws in tributes to Earthquake and Dr. Death, so that made me happy. 

Luan doesn’t do much during the match. He doesn’t get involved when Chairman Al punches Martini on the floor; he just stands there and lets Sam use him to distract the referee. He does face off with Sam for a moment on the floor before Martini jumps on the big man.

Martini kicks out of Sam’s powerbomb and manages to hit one of his own out of the corner, but Chairman Al grabs his leg when he climbs up the ropes (Luan does nothing about this, even though that was the whole reason Martini brought him out). This allows Sam to catch him and use the tombstone for the win. Logical heel finish, but I would have liked Martini to have a bit more offense before getting caught at the end.

Afterwards, Sam moons the crowd and mocks Martini, so Martini dropkicks him out of the ring. Al is left facing off with Luan. He makes fun of him, so Luan gives him a kick to the leg and a roundhouse to the head. Then he and Martini celebrate to send the fans home happy.

So “Pro Wrestling Is Alive” was a pretty good little show, all things considered. Not my favorite Chinese wrestling show, but perhaps my favorite complete MKW show since their inception.

MKW: Big Sam vs. Triple T (March 17, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
Big Sam is the MKW Champion and essentially the leader of The Stable. Chairman Al is his manager. He won the title from Hong Wan in Shenzhen, then successfully defended it against him at a mostly MMA show. This will be his first defense against someone other than the former champion.
– Tommy Tuamasi Tamati (Triple T) is a 16-year veteran from New Zealand. He once trained at the Heartland Wrestling Association, a former WWE developmental territory.
Now on to the match!

I like the layout of this match. They’re both big guys, so Sam can’t throw Triple T around like he’s used to. He’s still cocky at the start when T is unable to move him, but as soon as T takes him over for the first time, Sam retreats to the floor. A distraction from Chairman Al allows Sam to get control, but T actually counters a slam and hits Sam with several moves before Sam retreats once again. T looks like a threat already, but he makes the mistake of going after Sam on the floor.

The ringside area seems to be Sam’s wheelhouse, at least in this match. He bails whenever he’s in peril, and he ends up taking the advantage soon afterwards. Triple T tries to hit him with one of his trademark left hands, but he punches the ring post instead, and Sam works over that hand a bit. When they get back into the ring, T fights out of a sleeper and goes back on offense, crushing Sam with a top rope somersault senton. Another distraction from Al allows Sam to kick T low and powerbomb him, but T kicks out.

It boils down to Sam retreating to the floor again and T going after him. This time, Ash Silva appears to argue with the ref, and Uncle Money spears T on the floor. Sam takes T back into the ring and tombstones him to retain the title.

The story of the match worked well for my tastes. It had ups and downs, and they didn’t seem like they were trying to go long to make it more “epic” or whatever. Sam is firmly entrenched as a heel with a gang of pals who will always be around to help him keep his title.

I liked the big man vs. big man aspect, but there were a couple points where Sam had trouble getting Triple T up for things, particularly the side slam and the drop onto the guardrail.

The one thing I would change about the match is Triple T’s selling of his hand after punching the ring post. I would have liked that to have played more into the story, but after Sam slams it on the apron a couple times, it’s kind of forgotten. T hits his big left punch once or twice afterwards with no sign that the hand is suffering. I’d have liked to see him hit the punch but be unable to capitalize due to the pain. In fairness, though, I see a lot of matches that do the hand-into-post spot and seem to forget about it later.

Overall, this was a pretty decent main event, at least by MKW-in-a-bar standards.

Now, one last complaint I have is actually about the entire “Wrestle Rescue: Year of the Dog” show. I hate the lighting. It’s dark, and every match seems to be tinted in red through the hard cam. Meanwhile, when the dynamic camera follows wrestlers fighting on the floor, they’re nearly impossible to see. The camera work is particularly hindering to the interference of the main event, because I couldn’t even tell that Uncle Money was there, nor could I see the spear he hit Triple T with. If MKW runs at this bar again, I hope they can fix the lighting for the sake of their videos.

MKW: Big Sam vs. Hong Wan (January 5, 2018)

This match is the main event of a Mars Martial Championship AllStars show in Shenzhen. Big Sam is defending the MKW Championship against the man he won it from the month before, “Selfie King” Hong Wan. Sam’s colleagues in The Stable are banned from the building because of their interference last time.

This is a back-and-forth match, as their last one was, but Sam definitely gets the edge in the amount of time spent on top. There aren’t any callbacks to their first match that I could see, probably because very few of those in attendance have seen it. They work as if it’s their first meeting. Case in point: Hong Wan accepts Sam’s handshake at the start and gets a beating for it. Hong Wan fights back but gets cut off. Sam throws him around with some power moves. When hong Wan fights back, he tends to throw his body at Sam. Later in the match, he shows his strength with a Samoan drop, but mostly he goes for splashes, cannonballs, and his standing moonsault (which Sam kicks out of again). Sam does a lot of slams and some choking, but he can’t hit his powerbomb. Hong Wan seems to have things in hand at the end as he climbs to the second rope, but Sam pushes the referee into him. Then he hits him with a tombstone piledriver to get the pin and retain the title.

This match was all right; I don’t have many complaints about the work in the ring, except that Sam’s Michinoku driver and vertical suplex looked a little off. Also, the ref bump was very blatant and seemed to justify a DQ, but the referee didn’t even seem to mind. Stuff like that always bugs me. Even if the match was under no DQ rules (which I didn’t hear if it was), I’d expect the official to at least be upset that he was used.

My biggest gripe is that I just don’t like the ring. Every other match on this show was an MMA fight, so the ring is like a octagonal boxing ring with a short cage on the bottom to keep the fighters from rolling out. The ropes are super thick, and the turnbuckles are covered by one large pad. When Hong Want wanted to do a flying move, it was too much trouble to squeeze through the ropes to climb to the top from the apron, so he just backed up to the second rope from inside the ring. It looked silly and left him open to an attack. Also, the ring was huge, and they didn’t even bother trying to run the ropes. I much prefer my wrestling matches to be in a wrestling ring.

I was not a fan of the music playing during the match, either. I just don’t like it when they do that. I’d rather hear the crowd or the silence. Music makes it seem like they’re trying to hide something.

However, I do not begrudge them for doing this match in this setting. This looked like a big, professionally-produced show, and MKW needs to get their name out there to gain publicity. I think this probably helped.

MKW: Hong Wan vs. Big Sam (December 16, 2017)

Here it is, possibly the biggest match in Chinese wrestling history, and surely the biggest and most hyped in MKW history. The video before the match will fill you in on the story, but the gist of it is that Sam and The Stable formed to counter MKW owner Adrian Gomez. They blame him for picking favorites like “Selfie King” Hong Wan and propping him up without giving chances to guys who deserve it. Sounds like a babyface position in writing, but when you see it in practice, it’s easy to tell who the heels are. Anyway, there was a big press conference a week or so before this title match, so they went all out to highlight its importance.

This is for Hong Wan’s MKW World Championship.

Hong Wan can’t match Sam’s strength at first, of course. He gets clubbed, tossed, and slammed before dodging a corner charge and getting some shots and cannonballs in. Sam’s manager, Chairman Al, gets in his way when he tries an apron moonsault to the floor, and Sam takes over and slams him on said apron. He manages to fight back in the ring but still can’t suplex Sam. He gets an ankle lock attempt in between taking moves from Sam, but then he wriggles free and pulls off a release German suplex. Then he’s finally able to get that traditional suplex. He hits the standing moonsault (his finisher), but Al throws money and distracts the ref. Hong Wan is still able to maintain offense until the ref is accidentally (or not) bumped. Ash Silva and Uncle Money run in and attack. Hong Wan is able to repel them, but Sam kicks him in the junk and drops him with a jackknife powerbomb to get the pin and become the new champion.

Notably, Adrian Gomez refuses to hand Sam the title belt. Instead, he flippantly tosses it into the ring and walks away.

So it’s not a great match, but the story made sense and it was far from a trainwreck. Things looked a bit awkward at points. My impression is that Hong Wan got a little ahead of himself, trying to rush from spot to spot and not letting things breathe long enough. Sam tried to slow things down when he was in control, but it was really obvious when Hong Wan bumped weird off a clothesline or dropped Sam on his first fireman’s carry attempt that he wasn’t operating with a firm foundation. Sam did his best to slow it down when he was in control. His character work was mostly on point; he came across as an entitled bully, especially when he shoved the ref around before and after the match. Chairman Al looked good at ringside. He’s like a Hong Kong businessman supporting in a big athlete and breaking rules to make sure his investment pays off.

I definitely recommend watching this one. It’s not a masterpiece, but I think it’s important in the overall scope of Chinese pro wrestling.

WLW: Big Sam and Rupert Holmes vs. Ash Silva and King of Man (May 20, 2017)

I know the date of this match because I was there! Unfortunately, you can’t see me in the video because I’m behind the main cameraman. But they do use one or two of my shots of the match in their edit.

Anyway, this was my favorite of the three matches on the show because I thought it told a better story and had more elaborate characters than the other two. Rupert is like a cocky 9-year-old in an adult’s body, and Sam is kind of like his father (though, at one point, he gets mad and grabs Rupert by the head; my dad never did that to me, thankfully). Ash and KoM are straight-laced babyfaces who get to make Rupert look like a goof but have trouble getting through the brick wall that is Big Sam. Then KoM jumps off the turnbuckle to the floor and almost hits his head. That would’ve been bad.

Gaz and Dan Williams provide English commentary on this particular edit of the match. They’re the hosts of the Wrestling Babble YouTube channel, and they do an OK job on their first try. My biggest knock on them is that they sound so darn similar, it’s hard to remember which one is the straight man and which is the heel color guy. They do throw some funny lines out there, like when one of them says that Rupert is strong enough to bench press a skateboard with a cat on it. That’s my kind of humor right there.

I’ve long felt that commentary is best when it’s done live, of course. I really think it’s hard to commentate on a match one has already watched at least once and make it sound like one is really into it. While live announcers can feel the energy of the crowd and don’t have much ceiling to the level of excitement in their voices, it’s quite difficult to match that sort of enthusiasm when recording alone in one’s home. So with all that taken into account, I think the Williams brothers do a decent enough job on this, their first try, and I think they might well improve if they keep at it.

I Saw Live Wrestling in China!

Gao Yuan with the Fighting Spirit Championship

Sorry I haven’t been updating Panda Power-Plex recently. There just haven’t been many new matches to review. I was considering reviewing a bunch of older Singapore Pro Wrestling matches just to keep things moving, but since the National Wrasslin’ League has been producing so much content, I’ve been pretty busy keeping up with it at Hook the Leg, Man! and haven’t had as much time for PP-P.

There have been some significant developments in Chinese wrestling, however, and perhaps the most notable has been the split between the China Wrestling Federation and their champion and co-founder, Gao Yuan. A couple months ago, Gao took his Fighting Spirit Championship belt and left the company, bringing a few other wrestlers with him. He set up shop in Shenyang in northeast China and started a new group called We Love Wrestling (WLW). Luckily for me, Shenyang happens to be my homebase these days, so when I heard the news, I knew I’d get to see some wrestling sooner or later… Continue reading