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: Big Sam vs. Gabriel Martini (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Big Sam is the MKW Champion and the defacto leader of The Stable. His manager is Chairman Al. This match is Sam’s third title defense.
– Gabriel Martini from Italy doesn’t win a whole lot, but he won a battle royal at the last show to ear this shot (leaving me questioning the legitimacy of battle royals for determining worthy contenders).
– Before the match, Martini says that since Sam has Chairman Al in his corner, he’s bringing out his own backup in the form of local celebrity Luan Yanwu (or something like that). He’s an actor, martial artist, film producer, etc. He’s so famous that commentary doesn’t seem to know any of his films.

I liked this better than any other Gabriel Martini match I’ve seen. He seems to be trying hard, and he looks sober. I still think that his execution looks awkward most of the time, though. A lot of the moves he does require some finesse to make them look good, and he doesn’t seem to have it. I feel like he would be better suited as a brawler than a guy trying to do tilt-a-whirl headscissors.

Sam does a lot of roughneck stuff here, choking Martini and dropping him on the guardrail and apron. He’s pretty brutal in the early goings, but Martini seems like a guy who can take it. He also throws in tributes to Earthquake and Dr. Death, so that made me happy. 

Luan doesn’t do much during the match. He doesn’t get involved when Chairman Al punches Martini on the floor; he just stands there and lets Sam use him to distract the referee. He does face off with Sam for a moment on the floor before Martini jumps on the big man.

Martini kicks out of Sam’s powerbomb and manages to hit one of his own out of the corner, but Chairman Al grabs his leg when he climbs up the ropes (Luan does nothing about this, even though that was the whole reason Martini brought him out). This allows Sam to catch him and use the tombstone for the win. Logical heel finish, but I would have liked Martini to have a bit more offense before getting caught at the end.

Afterwards, Sam moons the crowd and mocks Martini, so Martini dropkicks him out of the ring. Al is left facing off with Luan. He makes fun of him, so Luan gives him a kick to the leg and a roundhouse to the head. Then he and Martini celebrate to send the fans home happy.

So “Pro Wrestling Is Alive” was a pretty good little show, all things considered. Not my favorite Chinese wrestling show, but perhaps my favorite complete MKW show since their inception.

MKW: Ash Silva vs. Michael Su (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– “Masterclass” Michael Su is the first graduate of the Middle Kingdom Wrestling school. Ash Silva was his trainer, but Su isn’t happy that Ash has joined with the rule-breaking Stable. At the last show, Ash and Uncle Money defeated Su and Gabriel Martini in a tag match.

Maybe I’m just in a good mood today, but I’m really liking the matches from this show better than the last one. Really, it should be no surprise that this one floats my boat. It’s a trainer and a trainee working to each others’ strengths like they probably did in the gym dozens of times without a camera on them. It reminds me of the Emi Sakura vs. Riho matches from the CWF and KOPW. They know each other and have good chemistry together.

It also helps that this is a grudge match and that they treat it like one. They don’t go right into a brawl, but they’re aggressive in their lock ups, their shoves, and their slaps. Ash is mean when he’s on offense. Fortunately, he’s in there with a guy small enough for him to muscle up and slam. He does some flying stuff, too, but most of that seems to be defensive. The match is pretty back and forth, though, once one factors in all of Su’s fiery comebacks.

Things come to a head after Su kicks out of a splash and Ash gets peeved at the referee. He throws Su outside and kicks his head into the barricade. He tries to get him counted out, but Su crawls back into the ring just in time. This just enrages Ash further, and he chokes Su in the ropes, shoving the referee down when he tries to break it up. This is enough for a DQ, so Su technically wins. Ash isn’t finished, though, as he takes Su outside again and DDTs him into the barricade. Then he jaws and poses for a bit before leaving. Su has to be helped out.

So, yeah, a nice, heated contest that’s obviously building to some sort of stipulation match down the line. Looking forward to it.

P.S., Sorry that I keep switching back and forth between the present and past tenses in my reviews. I was trying something different based on reviews I’ve read elsewhere, but I think I need to stick with the present tense, since it seems to be the one I’m most comfortable with.

MKW: Zombie Dragon vs. Cam Ferguson (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
Zombie Dragon is creepy and mysterious. He’s coming off a green mist-assisted win over Black Mamba.
– Cam Ferguson is arrogant and loud. He claims to be the first graduate of the MKW wrestling school even though Michael Su finished before him. He’s coming off of a loss to former champion Hong Wan in a match I really liked.
– before the match, Cam comes out with a book and says that he’s the new MVP in MKW based on his performance in his debut. Since no one is man enough to face him, he decides to read from The Ferguson Family Book of Winners, but he only gets through “America” and “Donald Trump” before the book mysteriously catches fire (clever effect). That cues Zombie Dragon.

So this wasn’t quite up there with Cam vs. Hong Wan on my enjoyability scale due to a couple slip ups early on and at the finish, but I definitely liked it better than Zombie Dragon’s match with Black Mamba. I thought that match didn’t do Dragon any favors in his first appearance because Mamba got too much offense. It probably helped this match that both guys had already debuted before, so they weren’t working uphill to create a first impression.

Cam got to use his size to his advantage and throw Dragon around. Dragon’s a pretty good bumper, so this worked for me. Cam used a lot of Japanese-inspired offense, like a chop and punch rush in the corner and a sliding D. Dragon got a couple little comebacks; one came with a funny spot where Cam caught a kick and handed the foot off to the referee, but Dragon did an enzuigiri, the ref ducked, and Cam got hit. There was a big lariat after that, but then Cam missed a leg drop, and Dragon went after him with a couple high-flying things. It didn’t last long before Cam hit a big slam.

Cam wasted time arguing with the ref and taunting Dragon, giving Dragon enough time to load up a fireball and toss it at Cam. This was enough to put Cam down for the count.

Poor Zombie Dragon can’t seem to catch a break with his finishes, though. In his first match, he spit green mist at Black Mamba, but it was obviously off target. And then in this match, his fireball lit up in his hands but quickly flashed out before he threw it, so it never looked like it got even close to Cam’s face. Cam sold it anyway, which was probably the best option. Otherwise, they would have had to set the spot up again (if possible) or call an audible and do another finish. And honestly, it looked more believable than that fireball Hogan threw at Warrior at Halloween Havoc ’98, so I can’t complain too much.

Hopefully the third time will be a charm for Dragon’s creepy finishers.

MKW: Taisuke Kimura vs. Syuuou Fujiwara (April 29, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– These guys are both from a Japanese promotion called Pro Wrestling Alive that MKW is working with. All I could find about them is this old Puroresu Central subpage.
– Taisuke Kimura is the founder of Pro Wrestling Alive. He approached MKW about forming a partnership because he wants to expose Japanese wrestling to a Chinese audience.
Syuuou (Shou) Fujiwara is a graduate of the Pro Wrestling Alive school. He won the Canadian Heavyweight Championship in a Canadian promotion that is now defunct, but he continues their legacy by keeping the title alive.

This match was for Fujiwara’s Canadian Heavyweight Championship, and it was perfectly fine. Fujiwara worked in a mask, a green dress shirt, and slacks at first, but after Kimura sent him out of the ring with a dropkick, he got serious and removed the mask and shirt.

Both guys look middle-aged and seem like they’ve been doing this for a while without a lot of reward (check out their photos on page to see how young they used to be). There’s something to respect in that. I didn’t notice any mistakes; everything fits together really nicely. Fujiwara is the aggressor (once he’s removed his mask and stuff), using a lot of chops and holds, occasionally mugging for the camera. Kimura comes back with some fire and gets a bunch of nearfalls. Fujiwara counters and ultimately retains his title with a backdrop suplex.

Straight and too the point. I thought it was pretty enjoyable and easy to watch, though it’s not going on my match of the year list. I think both of these guys would be good to have around to help the young MKW trainees develop the fundamentals. I hope they can keep up the relationship with MKW.

Discovering these guys reminds me that, even with all the publicity that groups like New Japan, All japan, Dragon Gate, Stardom, and even DDT get, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of dinky little promotions in Japan whose wrestlers will never be well-known outside of their small reaches. Good for Pro Wrestling Alive for getting a bit of inroads into a new market with this MKW partnership. (And good luck to Big Sam and Hong Wan as they travel to Japan this weekend (June 3rd) to work a PWA show.)