MKW: Sam, Money, Ferguson, and Suzuki vs. Gunderson, Su, Dragon, and Lee (August 10, 2018)

Big Sam, Uncle Money, Cam Ferguson, & Johta Suzuki (w/ Chairman Al & Lady Marie) vs. Buck Gunderson, Michael Su, Zombie Dragon, & Junyan Lee (w/ Luan)

I like this match all right, but I’ll admit that I watched it in a bit of a rush and with no sound so as not to bother the other people in the room with me. Everyone looks competent; Su seems the greenest, but he gets a lot of experience taking bumps and selling for Big Sam here.

I’ve never seen three of these guys before – Gunderson, Lee, and Suzuki. Gunderson and Lee work for Battle Arts in Canada. I really like Gunderson’s intensity and hard work. Lee doesn’t get to do much in the match, but he does have one nice tope con giro spot. Pro Wrestling Alive’s Suzuki gets to do a bit more than that, and he looks fine, though I didn’t see anything that made me think, “Wow, I’ve got to look for more from this guy.”

The match starts as a brawl all over the place, then settles into the regular tag format. Su takes the heat for a long time. Then, in a bit of a reversal from the norm, multiple tags happen where guys on one side each challenge a specific guy on the other side to come face them. That usually happens earlier in these kinds of matches. Anyway, things get wonky when Zombie Dragon brings his flaming book into the ring and seems to hypnotize Uncle Money. Clips and images appear on the video screen that seem to be embarrassing old footage of Money. Dragon then chases Money out the door. This leaves Gunderson in the ring with Suzuki – the others are on the floor – and Buck pins him after a cross-legged suplex.

I definitely want to see more of Gunderson and Lee, especially to see what the latter can do in a less-convoluted environment.

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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: 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: Zombie Dragon vs. Black Mamba (March 17, 2018)

Time for a new format.

Our Story So Far…
– Black Mamba hasn’t been seen since the MKW Thailand show. According to commentary, he and Big Sam have gone their separate ways, so he has no connection to The Stable. Normally a heel, he’s wrestling in his hometown of Harbin today.
– According to commentary, Zombie Dragon used to wrestle in the U.S. as Curry Kid until he was “sacrificed” and resurrected as this new persona.
– This match is part of MKW’s “Wrestle Rescue: Year of the Dog” benefit show in its home base of Harbin, China.
Now on to the match!

I did not like this match. Zombie Dragon’s got the look, the music, and the weird, reptilian way of slithering around the ring. But when the bell rings, he runs right into a boot, then takes a headscissors and a dropkick. Right out of the gate, he looks like a putz. He sort of no-sells the dropkick and hits Mamba with a nice leaping side kick, but his aura is already shattered in my eyes.

From there, he proceeds with some pretty slow and boring offense. Then Mamba just fights back after taking a leg drop on the apron. Oddly, his offense is more interesting than Dragon’s, but he really shouldn’t be the one getting his stuff in when he’s up against a debuting character of this sort.

Dragon crawls under the ring and tries to attack Mamba with a hammer, but the ref takes it away. While he’s busy disposing of it, Dragon spits green mist (and totally misses, but Mamba still sells it) and hits a shining wizard for the pin.

Commentator Al Leung says it was an impressive debut performance from Dragon. I strongly disagree.