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

MKW: Coldray vs. Triple T (June 17, 2018)

Hey, everyone, my wife just had a baby last weekend, so my reviews are going to be fewer and shorter for the foreseeable future. But I don’t want to completely abandon my blogs. I’ll just make quicker posts and only review matches I really feel like watching.

Triple T is on a roll after his win over Uncle Money last time. Coldray hasn’t appeared since Shenzhen, but he’s back with manager Khan Spirasi. Guess he’s taking a break from calling out The Slam in KOPW. This match is for a spot in the Belt and Road Championship Tournament coming in August. That’s MKW’s new secondary singles title, and yes, they named it after a heavily-propagandized economic plan by the Chinese Communist Party. Search Google for “One Belt, One Road” and decide for yourself if it’s good for anyone besides China.

I was really into the first half of this match. Triple T was looking the best I’ve seen him (though I like his singlet better). Specifically, his Hogan leg drop was spot-on this time. Coldray’s promo skills are good, and he’s a fine hand in the ring.

Speaking of the ring, that’s my big negative. Both guys were slipped up by its size and the loose ropes, making a number of bits awkward in the second half of the match. I’m pretty sure I can blame the ring, because Coldray never seems to have these kinds of problems in KOPW. I’ve never seen Triple T anywhere else (but I’d like to), so I can’t speak to what kind of ring he’s most comfortable in.

The basic finish is Coldray accidentally bumping Khan Spirasi off the apron, setting him up to get squashed by a Swanton bomb from Triple T for the win. It’s scary to watch such a big guy do that move off of wobbly ropes, but he always manages to hit it.

Okay match that I would like to see again in a sturdier ring. I’m enjoying Triple T’s push, and I’m curious to see how far he goes in the tournament.

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.

MKW: Flat Earth Foundation vs. Man Bros (December 16, 2017)

I think this is the debut of the Flat Earth Foundation as a team. Hell Shark is Xia Xingjia from CWE and the CWF, and Coldray used to be a referee for the CWF. They’re managed by the subtly named Khan Spirasi. He talks a little before introducing the team, and then Coldray cuts a lengthy promo in Chinese about how the fans are foolish for believing the world is round.

The Man Bros – Jeff and Kevin Man –  (not to be confused with the Bromans from TNA) are long-time HKWF wrestlers, and they’re the current AWGC Tag Team Champions. The titles aren’t on the line, though.

Aside from a little sloppiness here and there, this is a pretty standard tag match that gets its point across. After a sneak attack by the FEF and a comeback by the Man Bros, they settle into regular tag format. The Mans are obviously the more experienced team, as evidenced by the smoothness of their tandem move combinations. Hell Shark appears to be the workhorse of the FEF; he at least has the more interesting move set. Coldray, though, has a swagger about him that gives the team more character. The cameramen don’t put much focus on Khan Spirasi on the floor, but he can be heard shouting “F-E-F!” a few times.

Kevin Man is the babyface in peril here, and he does take a beating, especially from Hell Shark. Hell Shark may want to work on protecting his opponent better during some of his moves. His fisherman buster, German suplex, and 450 splash seem rather carelessly executed. Jeff Man looks good when he runs wild after the hot tag, but man, he and his brother could really stand to get some ring gear that makes them look like wrestlers instead of club hoppers.

After the Man Bros hit double dragon – a fireman’s carry tossed into a superkick – Khan Spirasi distracts the referee and Kevin goes after Coldray on the floor. Hell Shark lowblows Kevin and eventually squashes him with a 450 for the (upset?) victory. Al Leung on commentary speculates that this might earn then a future title shot.

Again, standard tag stuff with some kinks that could stand some tweaking. Hopefully the FEF will get lots of opportunities to develop.