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: 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: Gao Yuan vs. Yang Gang (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 part of a mini-tournament to crown the KOPW Champion. The winners of the first four matches on the show will advance to a four-way for the title in the main event.
 Gao Yuan is a veteran of the Chinese wrestling scene, and in this reviewer’s opinion, he’s probably the best wrestler in all the mainland. He’s worked with guys like Pete Dunne, John Skyler, Zack Gibson, and Jason Lee, and he’s the founder of We Love Wrestling and the current Fighting Spirit Champion.
– I don’t know anything about Yang Gang.
Now on to the match!

They start with headlocks and arm wringers. Gao counters a leapfrog with a dropkick like a vet, but then Yang slips free from a suplex and surprises Gao with a roll up and a string of offense. They go to the floor for a moment, and Yang hits a second-rope crossbody. Yang looks to have things in hand until Gao finds an opening and capitalizes with a dropkick to the leg and then head. He controls his man with impactful offense and some nose gouging in a rest hold, taking time to boast to the crowd in the moments between moves. He even gives Yang a free shot, then punishes him for taking it. He also expresses his inner vampire by biting Yang’s neck during a camel clutch!

Yang gives a sense of his undying determination by fighting back with forearms, but Gao sends him down with one shot and tosses him from the ring so he can recline on the ropes. Once he’s back in the ring, though, Yang avoids a corner attack and fires up, running through a series of moves that caps off with an airplane spin and a DDT. Yang’s chest is quite red from Gao’s chops, but he fights on. Gao retreats to the outside, luring Yang to come after him. Gao counters a whips Yang into the post, then hits him with a piledriver on the apron.

Gao takes him back into the ring, but Yang avoids a frog splash and gets right back on offense (this is the part that kind of takes me out of things). A powerbomb out of the corner can’t get it done, but a superplex can’t get it done for Gao, either. Gao hits a sling blade, a tiger suplex, and a buzzsaw kick, but he can’t put Yang away until finally planting him with an electric chair into a DVD.

I really liked the tenacity of Yang Gang in this match. He reminded me a bit of a Japanese young lion going up against an experienced main roster member; I figured he had little chance of winning, but the heart he showed – constantly fighting back and refusing to give up until taking a finisher – really endeared him to me. Gao, of course, looked as good as ever. He was his typical cocky heel self, and thankfully, he played up the heel stuff without also trying to babyface himself at the same time.

The one thing I would change is the apron piledriver. I like seeing a normal piledriver being a finish, and an apron piledriver should always require someone being helped to the back, at best. The fact that Yang was up and fighting again less than two minutes later, not selling his neck or anything, just bugged me. I can’t really hold it against either guy because I doubt they have the same philosophy of selling in wrestling as I do. But I can’t say that it didn’t bug me.

Anyway, change that one spot – maybe make it a slam on the apron instead – and I would’ve had a much harder time complaining about this match.

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