wXw Ambition 8 on March 11, 2017
Turbinenhalle – Oberhausen, Germany
Ambition, running once a year since 2010, is one of the most fun wrestling events in the calendar year. A group of eight guys are chosen from the wXw roster/16 Carat field and are inserted into a shoot style tournament. You can only win via submission or TKO. The shows are as short as the Inner Circle extra shows because of match length and realism. You’ve got no excuse to not check these out.
Ambition First Round: David Starr vs. Bobby Gunns
It’s great to see both these guys in the field this year. Gunns is the one wildcard addition I didn’t see coming. Starr showed charisma from the jump while grappling, he always feels like a star no matter what he does in the company. Gunns took a HUGE shot at Starr’s face in which Starr responded with a slap and more intensity. Gunns toyed for a submission and locked it on; just like that–Starr taps. Starr complained that it was a fluky call, leaving before his hand would be joined with Gunns in the “decision”. It did come off well as a fluke. Great storytelling.
Ambition First Round: WALTER vs. Jeff Cobb
This is an Ambition dream match, a super heavyweight collision. Cobb was out with no boots, to boot (I’m so funny), as he’s taken a more serious approach to the tournament. The match wasted no time getting to super collision grappling, but even that didn’t last long. This was about three minutes of goodness, as Cobb deadlifted WALTER out of a triangle choke into a suplex. Out of nowhere Cobb locked in a front choke in a scramble to make WALTER tap. Cobb advances in a wonderful finish. One of the better super short matches that’ll happen this year.
Ambition First Round: Timothy Thatcher vs. Marius Al-Ani
Thatcher is in his element in Ambition. You couldn’t pick a better participant to anchor the tournament till the end. A double submission roll kicked us off as Ani was out to proof that he could hang with Thatcher on the ground. Tons of swagger oozed from both guys in cool, calm, collected ways as they frolicked on the mat. Thatcher not only brought out gut punches throughout the tournament, but gator rolls! Thatcher also carries over his smug character and got to turn it up to 1000% during the tournament, always smiling or bantering during rolls. An Ani kick and takedown was stuffed, as Thatcher got a choke in and Ani tapped. Thatcher moves on in one of the longer matches of the tournament. Virtually every Thatcher match was the longest in the bracket. Great finish to a super well done match.
Ambition First Round: Matt Riddle vs. Speedball Mike Bailey
These two had a banger of a short match in Beyond Wrestling last year. This match was booked twice on the same day by wXw. Where as Thatcher was the MVP of the tournament, Bro had my favorite matches of the tournament. This one being my absolute favorite of the bunch. Bailey held onto the ropes for his life after takedowns and sub attempts. I found myself smiling a few times at the action. Bailey hit a knockout kick out of nowhere but Riddle got back up. Riddle got dropped again and they found themselves on the ground. Speedball locked in a rear naked choke but found himself tapping to a shock arm bar applied by Riddle. Fantastic finish to a fantastic match that was a load of fun. Riddle out grappled Speedball yet Speedball took the advance standing up. This was exactly what Ambition is all about, and is absolutely one of my favorite matches of the year.
Ambition Semi-Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Matt Riddle
I would have never guessed this would be an Ambition 8 semi-final, but here we are. I also had a gut feeling that this would be the shortest match of the tournament, and I was right. It was exactly what I wanted. About a minute in Riddle tapped Gunns in the bromission. There was zero chance that Gunns was going to hold his own, and it was also a perfect cowardly loss after beating Starr in controversial fashion. Highlights in the short time included Gunns slapping Riddle right away, a gut wrench into rear naked choke into arm bar combo from Riddle, and that’s all the time allowed for! Great stuff.
Ambition Semi-Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Jeff Cobb
This was one of those matches you’d hope to happen in the tournament. Pre-match Thatcher got on the mic, and in German, explained that this match would be dedicated to their trainer, Oliver John. Random side addition, but watch John vs. Thatcher, as it’s one of the best “unique” matches of all time. Thatcher was smiling like a mad man in the opening stages, as the struggle portrayed became great. Highlights of the struggle included multiple times both men grabbed the ropes, arm bars, gut shots from Cobb and not just Thatcher, Thatcher bridging up out of mounts, Thatcher putting Cobb in a headlock while grinding his face, and most importantly, THE BANTER. Whether it was Cobb going “oh shit!” after being kneed, Thatcher going “jeezus” while being pressed down on, or Thatcher going “Jeff Cobb’s tight waist, ahhh, bastard!” the bickering really made the interactions that much better. The finish was out of this world with Cobb finally getting a suplex and back mount on, but Thatcher held on through that for a sneaky arm bar for the shock finish. Great match for this style and tournament, keeping me engaged a lot of the time. The lucky win advanced Thatcher to the finals vs. Riddle.
Rico Bushido, former Ambition competitor and English presentation anchor for the promotion was out for a neat promo;. He talked about the origins of Ambition, starting in 2010 in a small venue with Danielson winning, worrying it wouldn’t get over with fans. He’d be wrong, as he’d also go on to name past names associated with the tournament. Bushido announced he’d be back in the future to kick ass in Ambition. He added general hype to the rest of the weekend and the finals. He also did a parody “let’s get ready to rumble!!!!” ring introduction.
Ambition Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle
It was time for the finals as these two are no strangers to being in high stakes matches with each other. This time it’s Bro that’s all smiles during the opening exchanges. Lots of back and forth nearly the entire time as both are equal on the ground; although Riddle kept getting the “better” of Thatcher in the 50/50 exchanges. Some side notes are a great pan shot of the crowd and someone sneakily whistling Warren G to elevate the match. Riddle used his long legs to prevent Thatcher from advancing in mount, Thatcher locked in a leg lock on THAT leg though. Lots of grinding and back and forth in the finals. Riddle struggled after being mounted and nearly was TKO’d but got up at 8. Riddle tried his damnest to choke out Thatcher but it wasn’t happening yet. My favorite parts of the match came in the last few minutes. Riddle got stuck in an insanely angled kimura but rolled around to prevent the rap. It took three knees but Thatcher was finally knocked out as the ref called for the bell. Your winner of Ambition 8…THE KING OF BROS, MATT RIDDLE!
Post-match Thatcher was bloody as hell, barely able to walk off the set. Riddle celebrated as the closing shot.
wXw AMBITION 8 ON MARCH 11, 2017
Great - 8/10
This is the best Ambition I've seen take place thus far. It gave us tons of variety in matchups, that also served as good-great matches. The storytelling was out of this world at times, with the highlight being Thatcher's arch through the tournament as the happy go lucky MVP in his element that would go on to lose in the finals, bleeding, walking away dejected as everyone's favorite Bro celebrated. At only just over an hour, this tournament is another must watch show from the 16 Carat Gold weekend. Riddle/Speedball made me smile ear to ear so that's a plus on top of everything. Check it.