MKW: Belt and Road Championship Tournament Round 1, Part 3 (August 10, 2018)

Triple T 🇳🇿 vs. Nuwakote Tiger 🇳🇵
Triple T is representing New Zealand. Tiger is representing Nepal.

Triple T rides a train in Sri Lanka and chants “Belt and Road” out the window. Tiger says he never loses and anyone who gets in his way will get hurt badly.

I didn’t enjoy watching this match because Triple T got legitimately injured early on when he missed a jumping knee in the corner. He looked to be in a lot of pain from then on, but he gutted it out and went several more minutes against Tiger. He even climbed up and went for the somersault senton, but he missed. Tiger did well for his part. He didn’t attack the leg after the injury, but I think maybe he knew he might make it worse. Most of his offense was pretty basic. His finishing run was a codebreaker, a body slam, and a flying elbow off the top for the pin. They did well for what they were unfortunately forced to work through.
Winner – Nuwakote Tiger

Hong Wan 🇨🇳 vs. Black Mamba 🇨🇳
Both men are representing China. This is a rematch from April (which was actually a rematch from one of the first MKW shows, come to think of it).

Black Mamba says something I can’t understand because his mic is too low. Hong Wan says he deserves all the championships.

I like this match. Hong Wan, normally a babyface, gives Mamba a thumbs down as he takes a selfie with him, a callback to their first match when Mamba was the one giving the thumb. He leans heelish the rest of the match, though he thinks better of using a chair at one point. Aside from one botch at the beginning, things go pretty smoothly. Hong works the leg briefly. Mamba dodges a frog splash and hits a flipping kick, but gets caught with a Samoan drop. He kicks out of Hong Wan’s standing moonsault, though, and then counters a reverse DDT into a roll of the dice for the win to advance.
Winner – Black Mamba

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.

MKW: Hong Wan vs. Black Mamba (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Hong Wan is headed to Japan soon to face Big Sam for the MKW Championship at Pro Wrestling Alive. He’s coming off a win over Cam Ferguson.
– Black Mamba is more experienced than Hong Wan, but he only recently returned to MKW in a loss to Zombie Dragon.

Finally, a Chinese guy against a Chinese guy, and it’s good! I mean, I think so, anyway. It’s definitely my favorite Black Mamba performance. He has a rather nondescript look and an unexpressive face, but he’s becoming a solid hand in the ring. I’d like to see him up his submission game; maybe attack a specific body part more often and base his offense around a certain type of submission. He goes for a couple armbar-type holds here, and it leads to Hong Wan doing the Rampage Jackson slam to get out of one. The only real drawback I see in Mamba’s work is that some of it can be a little slow in execution.

Hong Wan gets to be the powerful one this time, and he makes the most of it with a lot of German suplexes. Mamba’s success happens after they go to the floor (both times). Though he’s not a brawler, he seems more vicious when he has to be.

I liked what they were going for with the ending. They trade suplexes, no-selling a couple to keep the chain going. The part I didn’t like was that Mamba just did the same suplex twice. I would’ve liked to see some variety there. But it’s a minor quibble, because they were obviously going hard. Mamba seems to have the advantage after the last suplex, but Hong Wan catches him with a Samoan drop and the standing moonsault for the win.

Afterwards, Hong Wan puts Mamba over, saying he was his toughest opponent and that he’ll give him a rematch anytime. He raises Mamba’s arm in respect as the crowd applauds.

MKW: Hong Wan vs. Cam Ferguson (March 17, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
“Selfie King” Hong Wan recently lost the MKW Championship to Big Sam in Shenzhen, then lost a rematch at a big MMA show.
Cam Ferguson used to be the color commentator for MKW TV. This is his in-ring debut.

Cam cuts a pre-match promo. He insults the crowd and declares himself the “director of studies” of MKW. He also says that he’s the first graduate of the Middle Kingdom Wrestling school (even though we learned last time that Michael Su finished before him). He issues an open challenge, and Hong Wan answers. Hong Wan says that he respects Cam, but Cam needs to respect the people. Cam slaps Hong Wan, and it’s on. Pretty good segment here. Cam has a way with the microphone.
Now on to the match!

Now here’s a match that tells its story and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Cam gets the upper hand through crafty-yet-legal means and methodically works over Hong Wan. Hong fights back but gets caught with a big slam, and then Cam gets cocky and jaws with the fans. This of course allows Hong Wan to take over. Cam does get control again later, but he can’t put the former champ away, even after killing him with a lariat. After a confusing bit where the ref counts three but doesn’t actually call for the bell, Hong Wan gets the pin with his standing moonsault.

Cam impressed me. He knows how to talk with confidence and string sentences together in a more natural and impactful way than a lot of other guys around here. He looks comfortable in the ring. He knows how to milk holds and fill the gaps between moves; he doesn’t rush through things. He seems to me like he knows how to tell a story and not just copy the flashy stuff he’s seen on TV. He’s not Arn Anderson quite yet, but he’s certainly a breath of fresh air.

Hong Wan looked fine. There are still moments where he seems to me like he doesn’t quite know his way around the ring or where he wastes time trying to figure out what to do. But his moonsault looks better than ever.

The botched three count hurt things a little for me, but not as much as stuff like that usually does. I actually would have believed it as the finish if they would’ve gone with it, and maybe they were supposed to. I don’t know whose fault it was, but it’s not a big deal.

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.