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.

KOPW: Sam Gradwell vs. Chen Wenbin (King of Man) (March 17, 2018)

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

Our Story So Far…
– Sam Gradwell has wrestled for CNWWE in China as Ricky J. McKenzie,  but he’s probably most well-known for getting attacked by Pete Dunne after the first round of WWE’s UK Championship Tournament.
– Chen Wenbin is also known as King of Man. He started training in CWE but jumped ship to the CWF and has appeared in MKW and WLW.
Now on to the match!

Sam Gradwell was a victim of Pete Dunne in the WWE UK tournament, but he’s definitely the victimizer against Chen Wenbin here. He waylays Chen as he steps into the ring and chucks him into the corner, then taunts the crowd and sneers at the referee’s admonition. A couple fans seem to really be getting their dander up at him. He keeps on Chen, knocking him out of the ring, dropping him on the apron, and tossing him into the crowd, then getting into the ring and waiting for him with a sadistic smile.

After absorbing some throws and slams, as well as several uppercuts, Chen is able to flip out of a backdrop and fire off some spinning kung fu strikes. He’s busted open from either the mouth or nose, but he has the fire to (barely) hit a tope con hilo. Back in the ring, he lands a rolling kick in the corner, a low dropkick, and a tilt-a-whirl DDT that gets him close to victory. But he gets caught throwing kicks to the chest, and Gradwell hits him with a reverse TKO and a sit out last ride powerbomb to finish him off.

I liked the intensity of this match. Gradwell makes for a good monster heel when he’s able to be the bigger man, and I think Chen looked better than ever as a major underdog fighting back from behind the 8 ball. Gradwell’s interactions with the crowd were money. It was great to see Chinese fans getting into the action.

MKW: King of Man vs. Mad Tiger (December 16, 2017)

New MKW video has surfaced, and quite quickly after it was filmed, too!

This is my first time seeing Mad Tiger (unless he’s worked under a different gimmick). I like his gloves and his tiger-like mannerisms before the bell. He also gives his cape to a kid and takes a photo with him. King of Man comes out in a WLW T-shirt.

King of Man shows his cruel side in this match. Mad Tiger shows him up a bit in their first exchange, and I guess he takes it personally. He sneak-attacks Tiger and tries to remove his mask. Something seems to be (legitimately) wrong with Tiger after a flip kick to the back of his head. He deadweights KoM when he tries to pick him up and stays nearly limp on his knees. The ref checks on him while KoM taunts the crowd, and he eventually gets to his feet.

KoM goes right back at him rather mercilessly, but Tiger survives and eventually catches KoM and slams him. He seems to have his wits back as he grounds, pounds, and slams his enemy. KoM comes back with a dive, but his high-flying hubris bites him when he misses a flipping leg drop off the second rope. Tiger hits him with a falcon arrow and gets the close three count.

This was a decent opener. I’m guessing the stuff in the middle where Tiger was lethargic was due to a shoot injury, and if so, I can’t really criticize them for the awkwardness of it all. If it was a work, however, then it was a really weird sell job.

I personally would’ve like the match better if it had been a couple minutes shorter and had a quicker pace. I like opening matches that are exciting and succinct. King of Man did show some sweet agility before the weird stuff, so maybe that was their plan before Tiger got hurt.

I also think Tiger should have varied his offense. He went back to the scoop slam later in the match when it seemed like it was time to do something more elaborate. Also, the finish would’ve looked better if Tiger had went immediately to the falcon arrow after KoM missed the leg drop instead of hitting him with a clumsy club to the back first. Meanwhile, if King of Man kicking out right after the three count isn’t part of a build to a rematch, then it just looks unprofessional.

That was the match. Now I want to comment on the look of the venue and the ring.

I like the video screen behind the right. I like how the ring is lit well while the crowd is fairly dark. I like the strobe and spotlights. I don’t like how the door in the back is open and sunlight is coming in; it messes with the rest of the lighting. I also wish that the red carpet coming in from the back door was actually coming from the curtain where the wrestlers enter. And I wish the ring ropes were tighter and the ring apron actually wrapped all the way around the ring. All in all, it looks like a bigger deal than the CWE gym did, and the camera situation is better than the stuff from Thailand was.

Last but not least, let me throw in that Al Leung is sounding much more natural as a commentator. His voice has grown on me, and his excitement sounds more genuine this time around.

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