Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, March 18, 2019

WXW Ambition 3/9/19

This is the annual shootstyle show which WXW runs 16 Carat weekend. The quality of these show usually veers wildly, but it is always interesting to check out. This of course has an all time dream match Superfight, but I figured I would check the whole thing out

Rico Bushido vs. Veit Muller

PAS: Bushido has these really flamboyant kicks, they don't always land with the appropriate amount of thud, but they are flashy. His destiny should have been a guy carried by Masakatsu Funaki in a early PWFG show. Muller is another of the seemingly endless fash looking WXW guys. Their whole roster looks like they are about to burn down a mosque. Muller is able to get through the kicks and take him down with a nice judo throw, and hits some nasty body shots and stomps on the interior knee. There are a couple of other nice scrambles with Muller landing some nasty elbows and headbutts to the sternum, his offense was definitely less dynamic, but more painful looking. Bushido wins with a jumping enziguiri which didn't land full, but looked OK. Compact and fun.

Punch Drunk Istria vs. Danny Jones

PAS: This was pretty good too, mostly grappling, which was solid, with one really great taking of the back by Jones. We get one exchange of slaps which rang out, with Istria landing one on the ear and transitioning into a cross armbreaker for the tap. Too short to really get a great idea of either guy, but certainly solid.

Laurance Roman vs. Shigehiro Irie

PAS: Another short but solid match with Roman trying to wrestle with Irie and getting tossed around the ring. Irie does nice job of using his power here, and eventually smothers Roman with a choke. Really hard to get any idea of Roman who basically gets overwhelmed.

A-Kid vs. Chris Ridgeway

PAS: This was the longest and fanciest of the first round matches. Most of the Ambition matches feel like guys just sort of sparring until a finish, this was a match with spots. There were some cool ones, Ridgeway hits a high kick which A-Kid does a great crosseyed sell of. Ridgeway was really throwing heat.  Kid does a cool Minoru Tanaka armbar take down into a crossface, and Ridgeway hits some big chest kicks into a Fujiwara. The shortness of Ambition matches kept this from bloating and it was pretty good stuff. Wouldn't mind seeing more of both guys.

Punch Drunk Istria vs. Rico Bushido

PAS: I really liked this, much more mat work from Bushido then in his first match, and he looked perfectly content. He would do a bunch of really athletic pass attempts to try to get mount, while Istria would grab limbs and twist. He spent most of the match twisting the arm and working for a chicken wing. Finish was great with Bushido countering the hammerlock with an exploder and then hits a thrust kick to the stomach for a body shot KO.

ER: This was a fun bit of twisting, agree with Phil that the passes in this - which made up the bulk of the big moments - were fun and aggressive and it was neat seeing the risks taken. Bushido would roll in like an impatient Sakuraba, one time doing a shoulder roll and trying to come up with an arm, another time sliding in on his back which allowed Istria to shift his hips and affect Bushido's landing. We get several fun scramble moments, I really liked at the beginning of the match where Bushido accidentally fell hard out of the ring; I never know if things like that are planned or if that was a built in way to make him more aggressive, but either way I liked it. Istria kept looking like he would lock in something nasty about Bushido's arm or wrist, and I loved the surprise exploder with just a simple front kick to the stomach being the finish. Taking a big foot to the lower abdomen would surely put me down, and I thought it worked great as the finish here.

Shigehiro Irie vs. Chris Ridgeway

PAS: This was worked like a poor man's Vader vs. a poor man's Takada which is a fun match structure. Irie is eating his opponents up a bit in this tourney, so we didn't get to see as much of Ridgeway in this match as his first round. I really liked Irie's clubbing forearms, and the forearms to the back of the head are a hell of a finish. 

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Timothy Thatcher

PAS: An Ishikawa master class, the kind of all time performance we can expect from one of the true greats. Thatcher tries to hang on the mat but gets out thought over and over, and eventually just starts throwing big shots, he has the size advantage and is going for the KO before Ishikawa can wrap him up with a submission. Or he would use big shots to set up simpler submissions hoping to stun Ishikawa enough so that Ishikawa couldn't trade with him, but found opportunities to sneak in a body shot or a nasty chop to the shoulder blade. At one point he ties up Thatcher's limbs and cracks him with a headbutt. The finishing run was totally awesome, Thatcher slips out of a guillotine, gets mount and starts raining down big forearms, Ishikawa evades, grabs the leg and transitions from leglock to Fujiwara to leglock, to STF for the tap, everytime Thatcher would try to counter, Ishikawa would shift to a different attack, some of the coolest counter grappling I have ever seen, what a legend. Great, great match which is going to be in contention for a top of a MOTY list all year.

ER: Magnificent match. As I was watching it I was thinking this might be the best shootstyle match this decade, and by the time the match was over I knew it was among the best shootstyle matches all time. This really stands proudly next to the best fake fighting has to offer, a fully exhilarating use of 15 minutes. This may be the most actual offense we've ever gotten from a Yuki Ishikawa match, which is a weird thing to be happening now that he's in his 50s. I always viewed him as more of a Fujiwara-like defensive wrestler, and here even when he's taking shots from Thatcher it feels like he's setting something up. And both guys to lay in some savage shots, with Ishikawa dishing out hard downward strikes to Thatcher's trap and collarbone (while tying up his head and arm) and we get a huge KO punch moment that was timed perfectly. Thatcher threw some chilling strikes, a gorgeous combo when Ishikawa pulls guard and Thatcher punches stomach while immediately following up with an elbow to the jaw, and several punches right to Ishikawa's neck. Strikes seemed like the only way Thatcher had any kind of advantage. His slaps landed harder, he threw more elbows, but almost all of them seemed out of desperation because Ishikawa was sending him regularly scrabbling for the ropes.

Ishikawa is so masterful here, turning any pass into a dangerous submission attempt, and turning every submission attempt into two other submission attempts, some at the same time! There were several moments where Thatcher looked about to tap, and I wasn't sure what specific hold at that moment was going to be the breaking point. Ishikawa looked filled with glee as he would trap Thatcher's leg, work an STF, pull an arm aside and start bending that while never letting up on his original hold. We get great moments of Thatcher desperately reaching for ropes only to have Ishikawa grab his reaching arm and start punishing it. This honestly felt like the most master class of all Ishikawa matches, improbably arriving in his 52nd year. I loved the aggression from both, with every strike thrown with the intention of opening up an opponent for a more dangerous follow up, and every sub getting worked as a possible finish. There are several years where this would have been the #1 match, and this is now two years in a row where we've been presented with a very difficult to beat MOTY contender very early in the year. If any matches start approaching this one for the #1 spot, we'll be viewing some class.

Shigehiro Irie vs. Rico Bushido

PAS: That last match is a nearly impossible act to follow. I appreciate how they tried to work a much more theatrical and flamboyant match, and while it didn't fully work for me, I think it was a smart choice. Bushido really leans into the Bruce Leroyness of his attack, lots of lightning strikes and wild kicks. Irie probably oversold some of the goofier shots which took me out of it. I did really like the finish, with Bushido leaping into a crazy choke, only to see Irie backpack bomb him on the turnbuckles. Bushido does this really fun concussion sell and falls right into the Kata Haji Me for the tap. Fun if not a little silly, and a fine finish to a nifty card.


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