The American Dragon: The Best of Bryan Danielson in wXw


Disc One

wXw Heavyweight Championship
Robbie Brookside (Champion) vs. Bryan Danielson

wXw “Full Force III” – Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 5.7.2005

Brookside has been champion since 12.11.2004 and this is his second defense. Danielson pulls Brookside to the ropes by his hair, but does break cleanly. Brookside fights through a double wrist lock pin attempt, and suplexes his way out of it. Danielson twists on his left wrist. Brookside kicks Danielson in the shoulders until he releases. They trade abdominal stretches until Brookside hip tosses Danielson to the corner. Danielson claims his tights were pulled, but the referee isn’t buying it. Danielson turns a double wristlock into a Japanese stranglehold, digging his knee into Brookside’s shoulders as well. Brookside goes under the legs to reverse it. Danielson backs Brookside to the corner and punches him in the kidney, angering Brookside. Danielson utilizes some closed fists shots, maneuvering himself so the referee can’t tell. Brookside snapmares him into a running back kick. Danielson spends some time stalling on the floor before coming back in and stretching out Brookside’s arms behind his back and digging his knee into his shoulder blades. Brookside front flips so he can kick Danielson away to the corner. Danielson brings Brookside down in a waistlock, but Brookside quickly rolls into a lateral press. Danielson shoulder blocks him down. Brookside leap frogs over him, but hurts his left knee upon landing. Of course, Brookside goes after it right away with stomps and a half crab. He twists up the knee in the middle rope. He applies a Muta Lock, but Brookside cravate’s Danielson to break it. Danielson chop blocks the leg and and drives his body weight onto it before reapplying the half crab. Danielson drops an elbow on the leg, but Brookside immediately grabs a cross armbreaker. Danielson grabs the ropes. Danielson drops the elbow again, but this time Brookside drives his boot into Danielson’s face. He puts Danielson in a tree of woe and delivers a dropkick. However, the damage it does to his own leg doesn’t allow him to capitalize, and Danielson is able to put on the Romero Special after freeing himself from the tree of woe. Danielson stomps Brookside’s knees into the mat and snapmares him into a back kick. Danielson dropkicks Brookside in a tree of woe. Brookside uses a desperation monkey flip and single leg drop kick to avoid a dragonscrew leg whip. Danielson crotches Brookside on the top rope and brings him down with a superplex for two. Danielson puts on a half crab and Brookside gets the ropes. Danielson goes up top but also gets caught. Brookside fires away with forearms, bringing down Danielson in an Iconoclasm and a hooking him in a European Clutch for the pin at 21:53. This was very oddly structured, as Danielson’s shoulder work up front was abandoned the moment Brookside tweaked his knee. Danielson then spent a long time working that over, but that ended up going nowhere with Brookside winning the match out of nowhere. The wrestling was solid and the crowd was super behind Brookside, so it was a worthwhile watch for that, but the story was so bizarre. **½
We cut to 2007 during PWG’s European Vacation tour. Kevin Steen tells the crowd that El Generico dislocated his shoulder last night, and thus he cannot wrestle. Bryan Danielson, then PWG World Champion, comes out and eggs on Generico until he agrees to compete in their scheduled match.

PWG World Championship
Bryan Danielson (Champion) vs. El Generico

wXw/PWG “European Vacation II: Germany” – Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 10.28.2007

Danielson has been champion since 7.29.2007 and this is his fourth defense. Generico wins a forearm strike battle, following up by chopping Danielson in multiple corners. As he comes off the top, Danielson catches his injured shoulder and drives him into the mat. He twists the arm and ties it up in the top rope. He drives Generico’s shoulder over his own shoulder, then digs his knee into it while pulling up on Generico’s wrist. He snaps the shoulder when Generico makes his way to the ropes. Danielson pushes the elbow into the mat with his foot. Danielson repeats some of his previous offense before taking Generico to the corner and drilling him with chest kicks. He then stomps Generico’s elbow into the apron. When Generico won’t stay down for a three count, Danielson sends him shoulder first into the ring post. Danielson tries bringing in Generico from the apron, but instead Generico suplexes Danielson to the floor! Generico somersault sentons off the top and to the floor. In the ring, Generico chops Danielson with his healthy arm in the corner. He whips Danielson across but misses the yakuza kick. Danielson hits a running chest kick for two. He also gets two with a German suplex. Danielson goes for a top rope headbutt but is met by Generico’s knees. Danielson misses a corner elbow and Generico hits the yakuza kick twice! He gets a close nearfall with a half-nelson suplex, but does damage to his own shoulder. He calls for the brainbuster. Instead, Danielson pulls him down by his bad arm and applies the Cattle Mutilation. Generico gets his feet on the ropes to break it. Danielson drives his elbow into Generico’s head repeatedly, trapping the head against his knee. He covers Generico when he thinks he’s knocked out, but Generico gets his shoulder up at two! Generico escapes a second elbow barrage and unleashes one of his own. He cracks Danielson with a boot and hits the brainbuster! Danielson kicks out at two. Generico brings Danielson to the top turnbuckle. He goes for the top trope brainbuster. Danielson instead drives him down into the mat and goes for the Cattle Mutilation. Generico cuts back and pins Danielson’s shoulders. Danielson kicks out. He stomps Generico’s head into the mat before putting on Cattle Mutilation. Generico submits at 14:05. Danielson’s aggressive limb work and Generico’s relentless nature are a match made in heaven. The fans were frothing at the moth for Generico to beat Danielson, living and dying with every comeback and kick out, despite the insurmountable odds against him. Of course, it did become too much, and Generico eventually was vanquished by the conquering champion. It was a terrific match fueled by the atmosphere but a sadly forgotten footnote in PWG’s history. ***¾

After the match, Danielson announces he will be in the 2008 16 Carat Gold Tournament, which leads nicely into…

2008 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament First Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Mike Quackenbush

wXw “2008 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 1” – Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.7.2008

Danielson grounds Quackenbush in a headscissors. Quackenbush pops out. He goes for a side headlock but Danielson quickly maneuvers into a chinlock. Quackenbush transitions into a wristlock. Danielson rolls his way free and forearms Quackenbush to the corner. Quackenbush armdrags him to the corner to even the playing field. Danielson baits Quackenbush into a kick to the stomach and an uppercut. He then takes Quackenbush to the mat in a waistlock. Quackenbush ties up Danielson’s legs and tries hooking his arms. Danielson gets the ropes before that can happen. Quackenbush picks up the pace and armdrags Danielson to the floor. He follows out with a tope con hilo. Danielson’s right knee seems to have been damaged as he tries re-aligning it before coming back into the ring. Naturally, Quackenbush smartly targets that very leg putting on a figure seven and twisting his foot. Danielson gets the ropes. Quackenbush ties up Danielsons’ legs around his own. After shoving each other, Quackenbush steps on Danielson’s right foot while twisting the left leg and knee. Danielson grabs the ropes. He kicks Quackenbush’s left shoulder away. Danielson then begins focusing his offense on Quackenbush’s left shoulder and arm. He delivers an uppercut before continuing his attack on the mat. The fans have been jeering Danielson the entire match but have gone even more firmly into the Quackenbush camp. This passion allows Quackenbush to dropkick Danielson’s leg out and roll him into a Magistral Cradle for two. Danielson drives Quackenbush’s arm into the canvas. He puts him up in the Romero Special, then grabs onto his shoulder and pulls back while still locking his legs. Quackenbush rolls back pinning Danielson’s shoulders to the mat for a two count. Danielson suplexes him and heads to the top rope. He misses a diving headbutt. Quackenbush chops up Danielson in the corner. He connects with a running elbow smash before hitting the Black Tornado Slam. Danielson kicks out. He knees Quackenbush in the gut and goes for the Cattle Mutilation. Quackenbush escapes and schoolboys Danielson into a crucifix pin for two. Danielson kicks him in the shoulder twice. He puts on the triangle choke. Quackenbush’s arm only drops twice. He rolls Danielson into a pin but Danielson gets his foot on the ropes. Quackenbush ducks a kick and delivers a dragonscrew leg whip. He then puts on a modified ankle lock. Danielson again gets the ropes. Quackenbush comes off the top rope with double knees to the chest. He goes after Danielson’s leg. Danielson counters into a Fujiwara armbar. Quackenbush escapes. Both guys roll around in a small package trading pins. Quackenbush delivers a palm strike for two. Danielson throws him off the top rope but Quackenbush rolls through. He schoolboys Danielson. Danielson rolls him over into the Cattle Mutilation! Quackenbush taps out at 24:57. As one would expect, the wrestling was exceptional. The crowd, however, is what really made this match. Outside of CHIKARA, you might be hard pressed to find another company where the fans are happy to favor Quackenbush over Danielson. Both guys played their roles perfectly and always focused on the story of Danielson’s knee/leg and Quackenbush’s shoulder/arm. It was really fun to watch and the fluidity in the ending was terrific. ***¾

2008 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Naomichi Marufuji

wXw “2008 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.8.2008

The two reach a stalemate on the mat. From a double knuckle lock, Danielson monkey flips Marufuji out of the corner. Another exchange leads to Danielson dropkicking Marufuji to the corner. Marufuji breaks a wristlock with his own dropkick to the corner. They reach another stalemate by throwing stereo dropkicks. Marufuji gets Danielson to the apron. He tries a sunset flip to the floor, but Danielson blocks it with a boot. Marufuji does however successfully pull off an apron brainbuster for two. After recovering from a chinlock, Danielson throws some uppercuts, but Marufuji keeps control with chops and an eye poke. Marufuji spends time wearing down his neck. Danielson goes to the eyes himself, but Maurufji stays dominant with a corner choke. Danielson catches Marufuji coming off the ropes with a knee to the stomach and drives his knee into Marufuji’s face for two. He gives Marufuji a taste of his own medicine, deciding to target his neck as well. Marufuji catches Danielson with a clothesline to cut him off. He weaves under Danielson’s clothesline and hits a straight jacket German suplex for two. Danielson comes out of the corner with a running chest kick for two. He drills Marufuji with elbows to the head before attempting to lock on Cattle Mutilation. Marufuji gets his foot on the ropes before it can be applied. Marufuji flips out of a Tiger suplex attempt. Danielson sole butt kicks Marufuji and gets two with a German suplex. A strike and kick exchange ends with Marufuji getting a nearfall from a superkick. Danielson crotches Marufuji to counter a Shiranui. He places him in a tree of woe. Marufuji escapes a superplex attempt, hangs Danielson in the tree of woe himself, and hits a springboard coast to coast dropkick for two. Danielson escapes the Shiarnui again. He pulls referee Bryce Remsburg in the way to halt Marufuji from hitting a superkick. Danielson then small packages Marufuji for the pin at 19:22. As they usually do, Danielson and Marufuji had a very good wrestling match but not a great one. Their styles mesh well enough and they told a decent story, but instead of going into overdrive they finished up the match. I think for the story that they wanted (Danielson going up against wXw champion Chris Hero in the next round), the ending was a nice way to have Danielson further get under the fans skin before that bout. As it stands, this was a very good professional wrestling match, but maybe a tad disappointing considering the competitors. ***½

2008 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Semi-Final Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Chris Hero

wXw “2008 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.9.2008

The fans chant “overrated” at Danielson as he and Hero carefully trade holds. The intensity picks up when Danielson goes for Hero’s leg and Hero gets the ropes. Hero does some damage to Danielson’s left arm. Hero gives Danielson guff for going to the ropes to escape Hero’s submission attempts. Hero breaks half crab, pulls Danielson out of the ropes, and goes back to work on the arm. Danielson responds by going after Hero’s legs. Danielson has the referee pop his arm into place. He puts Hero in a cravate, but Hero grounds Danielson and outstretches both his arms while digging his feet into Danielson’s shoulders. Danielson is able to fight out, but Hero hammerlocks his arm and gives him a backbreaker to keep control. Again Danielson goes to the apron to escape, and the fans chant “Best in the World” for Hero. Hero peppers him with chops upon Danielson re-entering the ring. Hero snaps his wrist, causing Danielson to hit the floor in pain. Danielson throws some desperation kicks when he comes back in the ring, but Hero kicks his arm and keeps the momentum going. Danielson finds an opening for a potential cross armbreaker when Hero takes him to the mat, but Hero is able to maneuver out and dropkick Danielson in the arm twice. After taking some chops, Danielson tackles Hero’s leg out and goes for the Romero Special. He instead puts on a chinlock while digging Hero’s knees into the canvas, then settles for a grounded chinlock. Hero hooks the arm. Danielson shoots Hero off the ropes and catches him with a knee to the stomach. Danielson wears down Hero’s chin and uppercuts him to the apron. He dropkicks Hero to the floor and follows with a suicide dive. Danielson tries to suplex Hero off the apron and to the floor. Hero holds onto the top rope, sending Danielson toppling to the floor. Fired up, Danielson smacks Hero in the face and drops a knee onto his nose. They trade blows on their feet. Hero tags Danielson with a rolling elbow before falling to the mat himself. Hero holds onto Danielson’s arm so he can repeatedly chop him and bring him up from the mat. He then suplexes Danielson by his arm for two. Hero locks on his own Cattle Mutilation! When Hero converts into a chickenwing, Danielson suplexes his way free. Danielson tries a diving headbutt. Hero catches him in a cravate upon landing, then picks up Danielson for the Cravate Countdown. When Danielson kicks out, he puts on the Hangman’s Clutch. Danielson escapes. Hero ascends the top rope. Danielson crotches him on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a superplex. Worn out, both men throw chops after getting to their feet. This turns into a battle of running forearm strikes off the ropes. Hero nails a rolling elbow. Danielson bounces off the ropes with a headbutt to the face. Hero accidentally bumps into the referee. While the referee is turned around, Danielson kicks Hero in the groin! He small packages Hero for the pin at 36:45. This was long for the sake of being long, which is especially disappointing given the screwy finish. The limb work in the beginning didn’t go anywhere substantial. This could’ve been a lot worse, but the hot crowd really helped keep this match going along and helped to highlight the higher portions of this match. That said, a hot 12-15 minute match would’ve been just as effective and much more satisfying. **½

Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness
wXw“Dead End VIII”/NOAH “European Navigation” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 6.22.2008

After stalling to start, the two trade wristlocks. McGuinness drives his body weight onto Danielson’s locked up shoulder. Danielson breaks another McGuinness wristlock and dropkicks him away. He takes McGuinness to the ropes and hits him with a sole butt kick. Danielson snapmares McGuinness into a back kick for a one count. McGuinness responds in kind. He brings Danielson down in a wristlock. After a one-arm suplex, McGuinness puts on a Fujiwara armbar. Danielson gets to his feet and stomps McGuinness to break the hold. McGuinness gets angry from Danielson’s forearm strikes, causing Danielson to find refuge in the ropes. McGuinness slingshots him to the floor. Danielson drives McGuinness back first into the ring frame before going back into the ring and driving his knee into McGuinness’ face. He applies a firm headlock, which takes McGuinness some work to break out of. They end up trading cradles on the mat to no avail. Once again Danielson drives his knee into McGuinness’ face before reapplying the chinlock. McGuinness reverses it, but Danielson escapes, drops the knee, and puts his chinlock back on. Danielson uses the ropes for extra leverage, then digs his feet into the back of McGuinness’ knees. A slap from McGuinness makes Danielson angry, so he of course drops the knee and puts on a chinlock. He brings McGuinness to the corner for an uppercut and chest kicks. Danielson misses a diving headbutt. McGuinness connects with some uppercuts. Danielson goes to the eyes to stop him. McGuinness headstand kicks Danielson out of the corner. Double hand chops to the throat from McGuinness lead to him going for another headstand kick. Danielson instead catches him with an upside down dropkick and a running chest kick. Danielson misses a corner attack. McGuinness kicks him in the back before driving him into the mat for two. Danielson escapes the Tower of London and comes off the top with a dropkick. McGuinness follows that with a lariat for two. Danielson runs up the turnbuckles when being whipped to the corner. He flips over McGuinness and brings him down into the Cattle Mutilation. Danielson converts into the elbow strikes to the head before attempt to re-apply the submission. McGuinness rolls up to pin Danielson for two. Danielson puts on the triangle choke. McGuinness gets the ropes. Danielson goes for a superplex. McGuinness pushes Danielson to the top rope and lariats him to the mat! He gets a two count, thanks to Danielson being close enough to the ropes to break the count. McGuinness pulls up Danielson by the leg. Danielson misses an enzuigiri. McGuinness lands his own elbows to the side of the head, then applies the London Dungeon. Danielson gets his foot on the bottom rope. He hits a rolling elbow. McGuinness goes for the Rebound Lariat. Danielson catches his arms. McGuinness drives him into the corner back first. Danielson low blows McGuinness discreetly and then small packages him for the pin at 24:18. For the story of Danielson’s wXw run this worked well, with some good wrestling leading to yet another low blow/small package win. Although in a vacuum on a compilation it’s a bit deflating, you can at least say that they put in the time and effort to build a character and story with Danielson over time. Obviously these two have excellent chemistry, but there’s nothing here to go out of your way to see, especially if you’re familiar with their work in Ring of Honor. ***¼

Disc 2

2009 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament First Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Doug Williams

wXw “2009 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 1” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.6.2009

After stalling for a few minutes, Williams goes for an armbar. Danielson converts into a headscissors, which Williams pops out of and picks the ankle. Danielson rolls to his feet and takes the corner. When Williams escapes a wristlock, Danielson attempts the Romero Special. Williams muscles Danielson off of his knees. After a short push-up contest, Danielson goes back to Williams’ wrist. Williams takes Danielson down with a running uppercut. He rolls through Danielson’s snapmare and schoolboys him for two. He also gets two with a Gedo Clutch. Angry at Williams’ showing him up, Danielson spits in his face. He takes to the corner when he angers Williams with uppercuts. Williams gets in some shots before ascending the ropes. As he comes down, Danielson dropkicks him in mid-air. He knees Williams in the stomach as he comes off the ropes. Danielson does further damage to Williams’ stomach. He ends a strike exchange with Williams by applying an abdominal stretch. Williams hip tosses his way free. Danielson immediately kicks him away and stomps on his midsection several times. Danielson comes off the top with a knee, akin to Williams’ Bombs Away. Williams catches the leg mid air and applies an ankle lock! Danielson desperately grabs the ropes. Williams dragonscrew leg whips Danielson to the corner and follows in with a running knee. A knee trembler and lariat take down Danielson and allow Williams some time to recover. Williams hoists Danielson over his shoulders and drives him chest and stomach first to the corner. He attempts a superplex but Danielson drops him off the top with a Gourd Buster. Williams catches Danielson coming down with an uppercut, then delivers a German suplex for two. Danielson attempts another abdominal stretch, but Williams counters with a gutwrench suplex. Two running high knees lead to a Bombs Away attempt. Williams misses, but lands on his feet. Danielson nails a running chest kick before reapplying the Adominal Stretch. He throws elbows to the ribs. Williams falls into the ropes. After taking some chest kicks, Williams hits the Chaos Theory and a lariat. Danielson kicks out! Williams puts on his own abdominal stretch. Danielson throws him into the referee. Danielson kicks Williams in the dick and then rolls him down into a pin for the victory at 21:31. Finally, a match where all the work put in (Danielson working on Williams’ ribs and stomach) paid off. Sure, Danielson used the dick kick again, but for this particular company it fits. Williams and Danielson have tremendous chemistry and had the crowd in their palms of their hands the entire time. The twenty plus minutes flew and I had a good time watching these two wrestle. ***¾

2009 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

wXw “2009 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.7.2009

Danielson aggressively twists on Sabre’s wrist. He offers Sabre the opportunity to grapple him from the mat, but Danielson easily gets him in a half crab after Sabre takes the bait. He rolls Sabre into a hammerlock and goes back to manipulating his wrist. He applies all his body weight onto Sabre’s shoulders while holding onto the arm, very casual about the whole situation. Danielson then drives his knee into Sabre’s locked arm, keeping it locked while twisting the other wrist and pulling it around the back and to the mat. He ends the process with a stomp to the arm. Sabre throws kicks to Danielson’s shoulders, but gets cut off with an uppercut. He puts Sabre in the Romero Special, rolling with the surfboard before putting Sabre in a Dragon clutch. Upon releasing, Danielson taunts Sabre with brushes of his boot. He pummels Sabre with forearm strikes in the corner, which Sabre is able to reverse. He whips Danielson to the corner and follows in with a running chest kick. Sabre nails a springboard dropkick before a few more chest kicks. He locks Danielson in a cross armbreaker. Danielson gets his foot on the bottom rope to escape. Danielson pretends to have a hurt arm, only to bait Sabre into a forearm strike and multiple chest and arm kicks. He spits into Sabre’s face with anger several times, with slaps to the face thrown in. Sabre ducks a chest kick. He brings down Danielson into a Mouse Trap pin for the upset victory at 13:15! The finish was super abrupt, and a bit illogical with Danielson controlling so much of the contest. Danielson came off as too arrogant as opposed to Sabre looking smart, or that Sabre truly bested one of the best in the world. Despite that, it worked, as the fans ROARED when Sabre won. There are certain expectations when you read “Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.”, and while this checks off some of those boxes, this won’t satisfy most people’s expectations. ***

Not shown on the DVD, Danielson would win the wXw Heavyweight Championship from Bad Bones later in the evening.

wXw Heavyweight Championship
Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli

wXw “Dead End IX: Alpha” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 5.1.2009

Danielson has been champion since 3.7.2009 and this is his second defense. After a lot of stalling, Danielson dropkicks Claudio after a wristlock exchange. Claudio teases Danielson with a test of strength request, but it’s all a diversion so he can hit his own dropkick. Danielson escapes another wristlock but is shoulder blocked to the corner. Another wristlock exchange leads to Danielson attempting the Romero Special. Claudio rolls to his feet before it can be applied. On Danielson’s second attempt, Claudio grabs his arm and maneuvers Danielson down. Claudio puts on his own Romero Special. Claudio outstretches Danielson’s arms behind his back. Danielson turns it into his own belly-to-back suplex. He backs Claudio to the corner and slaps him in the face. Claudio attempts the Giant Swing but Danielson grabs the bottom rope to prevent it. He stomps on Claudio’s upturned elbow. He jams his shoulder before doing it again. From the mat, Claudio headscissors Danielson to the ropes to stop his arm attack. He successfully Giant Swings Danielson into a Boston Crab. Danielson gets the ropes, but nurses his knee on the apron and uses the ropes to get to his feet. The damage has been done. Claudio taunts Bryan with the title belt, causing an angry Danielson to unload with uppercuts after attacking him from behind. He drives his knee into Claudio’s head before applying a chinlock. He transitions into the Romero Special. Danielson stomps his knees into the mat and knee strikes Claudio in the head. Claudio uppercuts Danielson multiple times after flipping out of a snapmare. He goes for a running uppercut, but Danielson moves and Claudio tumbles outside. Danielson sends him head first into a ring post and jams up his arm before bringing him back into the ring. Claudio escapes a chinlock. He absorbs Danielson’s uppercut and puts Danielson in a Boston Crab. Danielson gets the ropes again. Chinlocks are traded before Claudio gets the Boston Crab back on. Claudio converts into a Hangman’s Clutch. Danielson crawls to the ropes. Claudio comes off the top turnbuckle with a diving uppercut for two. After a backbreaker, Claudio bends Danielson’s legs forward to apply pressure to the back. Danielson again gets the ropes. He kicks Claudio’s leg and then grabs his arm, jamming it up across his shoulder twice. They wear each other out with uppercuts. Danielson pokes Claudio in the eye to end the exchange. Despite this, Claudio is able to duck a clothesline and come off the middle rope with an uppercut. Claudio Giant Swings Danielson back into the Boston Crab. He drags Danielson back into the middle of the ring before reapplying the Hangman’s Clutch. Despite this, Danielson is able to crawl to the ropes. Danielson counters a pop-up European uppercut with a backslide for two. Claudio nails Danielson with a running uppercut into the corner. Danielson slides out of the Ricola Bomb. He brings Claudio down and nails several elbows to the side of the head. Danielson puts on the Cattle Mutilation. Claudio’s foot is able to get on the bottom rope. Danielson calls Claudio a pussy as he lays into him with slaps in the corner. Claudio runs up the ropes when he’s whipped to the corner. He hits Danielson with Swiss Chin Music and goes for the Alpamare Waterslide. Danielson counters with more elbows to the side of the head. Claudio hoists Danielson up onto his shoulders and muscles him into a pop-up Europeean uppercut! It takes time for both men to recover, and are still dazed when they get to their feet. They exchange uppercuts, desperately fighting to stay on their feet. Claudio gets in a succession of uppercuts. Again Danielson goes to the eye. Claudio recovers with a big boot. He hits the Ricola Bomb. Danielson’s foot is placed on the bottom rope when Claudio lands in the move and stays to try and pin him, which the referee notices at the the two count. Danielson pulls the referee in the way to avoid an uppercut. Claudio avoids the groin kick! However, Danielson slides out of the Ricola Bomb attempt, running into the referee again. The second groin kick connects and he small packages Claudio for the pin at 40:29. I can’t justify this going 40 minutes for that finish, even if they did a really good job crafting a story of Claudio wearing down Danielson’s back and Danielson wearing down Claudio’s arm and Claudio looking incredible during his comebacks. The fans were dying for Claudio to win, which made him blocking Danielson’s first groin kick not going the way he wanted satisfying, since they knew that’s how Danielson was used to winning his bouts. There’s many positives to say about this match, but it felt every bit of it’s 40 minutes. ***¼

wXw Heavyweight Championship
Bryan Danielson vs. Absolute Andy

wXw “Dead End IX: Beta” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 5.2.2009

Danielson has been champion since 3.7.2009 and this is his third defense. An aggressive wristlock exchange ends with Danielson simply stepping into the ropes. Andy taunts Danielson by slapping on the mat with the wXw faithful. Danielson tries a baseball slide dropkick but Andy avoids it. When Andy comes back in, Danielson slaps him in the face, then backs to the corner so Andy can’t retaliate. Danielson chops Andy against the ropes, leading to a shoving match. Andy chops Danielson once and Danielson again takes the corner. He gets Andy down in a chinlock. Andy jams Danielson’s arm onto his shoulder to escape. Andy taunts Danielson some more, leading to a frustrated Danielson kicking out Andy’s leg and stomping the heck out of him. Danielson yanks on his face before going for the Romero Special, instead deciding to stomp Andy’s knees into the mat. He snapmares Andy out of a chinlock and digs his foot into Andy’s face. Danielson drops his knee into Andy’s head. Andy grabs his leg and goes for a sharpshooter, but Danielson gets the ropes before it can be applied. Danielson jams Andy’s arm across his shoulder a few more times. He does some damage to the neck and back before getting two with a lateral press. Andy halts Danielson on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a superplex. Andy gets in a succession of punches before Danielson cuts him off with an eye rake. Despite this, Andy strings together a flying forearm, atomic drop, and clothesline. He clotheslines Danielson in one corner, then brings him out of another with a side slam for two. Danielson flips out of the corner and sends Andy to the floor with a running elbow strike. Andy comes back in before Danielson can attempt a dive and hits an F5 for two. Danielson stops another superplex attempt and comes off the top with a dropkick. He hits a running chest kick for two, immediately putting on Cattle Mutilation after. Andy gets his foot on the bottom rope. Danielson spits in Andy’s face as he slaps him against the ropes. Andy gets in a desperation bodyslam. Danielson moves the referee in the way to avoid a corner attack. Andy blocks a groin kick. He and Danielson fight for a small package with neither getting a three count. Danielson jams up Andy’s arm three times across his shoulder. Andy counters a rolling elbow with a spinebuster, then comes off the top with an elbow drop for two. He locks in the sharpshooter. Steve Douglas jumps up on the apron to distract Andy. From behind, another man enters and superkicks Andy! Danielson kicks Andy in the groin and small packages him, but only gets two! After multiple elbows to the head, Danielson tries another pinfall but again gets two. He puts Andy back in Cattle Mutilation. Andy gets up and backs Danielson to the corner, accidentally backing the referee in. Andy gives Danielson a taste of his own medicine, kicking him in the groin and small packaging him. Danielson kicks out! After getting to their feet, they trade forearm strikes until Andy superkicks Danielson to the corner. Danielson retaliates with a running chest kick. He comes off the top, but Andy catches him in a spinebuster and puts on the sharpshooter! Andy pulls Danielson away from the ropes when he’s close to grabbing them. Danielson taps out at 26:30, giving Andy the win and the title! This was a fantastic way to pay off all the nonsense low blow/roll up victories Danielson had utilized during his wXw tenure. Andy gave him a taste of his own medicine, but wore down Danielson during the match enough to finally get him to submit in the sharpshooter. The crowd really hated Danielson, went nuts for Andy getting the nearfall with his own groin shot/small package, and it felt like a hard fought, well deserved win when Danielson tapped out. If Andy wasn’t already a star in wXw, this solidified it. This is a match where watching Danielson’s body of wXw work beforehand helps elevate it, as you get the context of Danielson’s character and company run going into the contest. I can say what I want about the previous matches and the finishes in a vacuum, but the payoff was excellent. ****

This was Danielson’s final match in wXw before heading to WWE. In the Summer of 2010, Danielson was released from WWE after choking out Justin Roberts with a necktie during an angle. Danielson’s first appearance on the Indies was with CHIKARA and AIW, but the following weekend he would travel back to Germany for wXw.

Bryan Danielson vs. TJP
wXw “Broken Rulz X” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 7.3.2010

This was the final match of a Round Robin Challenge, with both men defeating Wade Fitzgerald earlier in the evening. Neither man is able to get control on the mat to start. TJP takes Danielson down in a headscissors, which Danielson converts into a modified Indian Death Lock. He rolls TJP onto his shoulders, where TJP is able to roll away free. TJP brings Danielson down into a Skayde schoolboy for two. Danielson wrenches on a side headlock. TJP converts into a top wristlock, bringing Danielson to the mat. Out of a regular wristlock, Danielson breaks away. TJP evades his dropkick and jams Danielson’s arm across the shoulder. Danielson backs him to the corner. They get in a shoving match, escalating into uppercuts after Danielson spits in TJP’s face. TJP takes down Danielson with a Busaiku knee. Danielson is able to get him in a Romero Special position, but TJP grabs the ropes before it is applied. TJP snapmares Danielson into a chinlock. He pulls back on Danielson’s arms while digging his boot into his shoulder clades. Danielson kips up and belly-to-back suplexes TJP. He successfully applies the Romero Special. He grabs TJP’s face before releasing. Danielson blasts him with multiple uppercuts. TJP hops over Danielson out of the corner and drops him with a neckbreaker. TJP holds onto the arm and brings Danielson up into a leg capture cravate. He brings down Danielson by the wrist, hooking the arm with his leg while outstretching the other. Danielson rolls up while holding onto TJP’s leg. He dragonscrew leg whips TJP and stomps on his ankle. Danielson wears down the ankle and goes for the ankle lock when TJP foolishly throws a kick. TJP enzuigiri’s Danielson to escape. TJP back elbows Danielson down and drives his knees into his sternum. TJP does some damage to the shoulder, but Danielson takes him down with a running chest kick. After a strike and kick exchange, TJP and Danielson roll in a sunset flip position looking for a pin. Neither man gets it. Danielson tries a triangle choke. TJP grabs his leg. Danielson rolls forward, sending Danielson into the corner. They switch waistlocks until Danielson O’Connor rolls TJP for two. He also gets two with a diving headbutt. Danielson unloads with forearm strikes. TJP grabs his arm and rolls him into a cross armbreaker. Danielson switches into the Cattle Mutilation. He rolls TJP to a seated position and blasts him with repeated elbows to the head. He tries the Cattle Mutilation. TJP cuts back trying to pin Danielson, but Danielson turns it into a Tiger pin for the victory at 16:25. Danielson’s absence made the wXw audience grow fond of him, and the majority of the crowd were firmly behind him here. Aside from that fun shift in tone, the wrestling here was excellent, with some very creative counters and a creative finish too. Both men wrestled a smart match, but also showed aggression and urgency in what they did, conveying their desire to take the Round Robin series. Despite his recent success, 2010 TJP was maybe my favorite run of his career, and matches like this show just why that is. ***¼

AMBITION I Tournament Final Round Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Johnny Moss

wXw “AMBITION I” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 7.4.2010

Danielson defeated Tommy End and TJP to make it to the finals, while Moss defeated Wade Fitzgerald and Jon Moss. Neither man are wearing kneepads, which might be a rule? Both men look to lock-up but are hesitant. Danielson kicks at Moss’s knee. Moss grabs his legs, taking Danielson to the corner where Moss must break. Moss throws down Danielson and tries for a front facelock. Danielson escapes and kicks Moss in the leg. Moss blocks a kick from Danielson. They go towards the ropes where Moss tumbles to the outside. Back in the ring, Moss suplexes Danielson. Danielson rolls into a front mount where he gets in some hard forearm strikes. He goes for a cross armbreaker but Moss immediately gets his feet on the bottom rope. Moss catches Danielson’s kick this time and tosses him overhead. Danielson throws some shots to Moss’s mid-section before kicking him in the leg. Moss throws Danielson down. He goes for the arm but Danielson moves his way to the ropes. Danielson purposefully stays grounded and approaches Moss. He brings him down in a reverse mount throwing shots to the face. He laces Moss’s legs. Moss crawls to the ropes. An open handed shot to the temple, knocks down Danielson. While clearly dazed, he is able to get up on his own. Moss butterfly suplexes Danielson and holds onto the arms. Danielson clasps his hands together to avoid a Kimura lock. He rolls Moss into another cross armbreaker attempt. Moss rolls up into a front facelock near the ropes where he is forced to break. Danielson kicks his leg out. Moss gets to his feet, but Danielson kicks his leg twice to take him back down. Danielson BLASTS Moss with a kick to the head when Moss gets back up. Moss makes it up just before the ten count. He drops Danielson on his head with a German suplex. Danielson also barely makes it to his feet in time. Danielson kicks at Moss’s leg while Moss throws slaps to the face. He belly-to-belly suplexes Danielson into a Kimura Lock. Danielson rolls Moss into a vertical press where he drives his elbow into Moss’s head. He transitions into a triangle choke. Moss powerbombs Danielson, but Danielson holds on! Danielson drives his elbow into Moss’ head repeatedly. The referee calls for the bell at 11:26, making Danielson the winner of the inaugural AMBITION tournament. Your mileage may vary here, but as someone who really enjoys this type of wrestling, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Ryan and Danielson had some focus on limbs, but also seemed just as content settling for a knockout win, and were very calculated in their approach. It’s a match that makes me want to go check out the entire tournament and see how both men got to this point, because it was really fun on it’s own. ***½

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