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.

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: Ho Ho Lun vs. Black Dragon (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.
– Ho Ho Lun is the father of Hong Kong pro wrestling and had a brief stint in WWE, making it to the second round of the Cruiserweight Classic and appearing on NXT a handful of times.
– I don’t know anything about Black Dragon, but he shoves a man in a wheelchair into the side of the ring before the match, so he’s not a nice guy.
Now on to the match!

Ho Ho Lun starts hot against the bigger man (who looks like one of the Authors of Pain in a black Mephisto mask), but his running forearms have no effect. He doesn’t get squashed, but every time he seems to have an opening, Dragon cuts him off. He seems quite fond of choking the veteran, and he won’t let the referee boss him around. It isn’t long before he gets Ho Ho Lun in a dragon sleeper through the ropes and holds it through the ref’s five count. The ref calls for the bell and gets shoved down for his troubles.

So Ho Ho Lun advances via DQ, and Black Dragon looks like a beast and a punk. Good work in a short time by both guys except for one bit in the middle where they both seemed to pause and think about what to do next. Afterwards, Black Dragon watched Ho Ho Lun fall to the floor and then walks away.

MWA: Ho Ho Lun vs. Astro

The Macau Wrestling Association is relatively new and features talent from China, Mexico, and some foreigners who used to work for ZERO-1 in Japan. I think they hold their matches in a hotel or casino.

This is a solid match that showcases both guys’ strengths in a basic format. Ho Ho Lun does a little bit of stalling after their first exchange, using it to take control. He never really comes across as a jerk or chicken-y heel, but he does fight from the top for most of the match. Astro (AKA Astro Rey Jr.) makes a comeback and does some Rey Mysterio tributes. Ho Ho Lun eventually wins with a German suplex. The referee stutters before the three, so apparently he didn’t realize this was supposed to be the finish.

Pretty basic stuff, good for an audience that isn’t well-versed in wrestling.

The Summer of Chinese Wrestling

While I wait for MKW and/or Metro Pro to upload some new videos, I thought I’d take some time to look back at the advancements that pro wrestling has made in the People’s Republic of China over this quickly departing summer. This is my first year really paying attention to the Chinese wrestling scene (thanks to a quick Google search I did late last year), and it seems like things have really blown up in that short time. Continue reading