First, a bit of history…World League Wrestling was started as World Legion Wrestling by Harley Race in 1999. Their home base used to be in Eldon, Missouri, but has recently moved to Troy, Missouri. WLW has had working agreements with WWE and Pro Wrestling NOAH in the past, and the WLW Heavyweight Title has actually changed hands on NOAH shows before. They’ve also had TV in the St. Louis area featuring veteran announcer Larry Matysik, but that was a while ago. Wrestlers who have held titles in WLW include Haku/Meng, Ace Steel, Takeshi Morishima, Rick Steiner, Simon Gotch (as Ryan Drago), and Trevor Murdoch (first as Trevor Rhodes and then as Trevor Murdock). Other names that have passed through include Curt Hennig, Kenta Kobashi, Hideo Itami (as KENTA), Bobby Fish, Richie Steamboat, and even CM Punk and Sabu.
The first wrestling show I ever attended was a WLW show at a school gym in Richmond, Missouri. The main event featured Takao Omori defending the WLW title, I think against Meng. I remember Omori because I got his autograph. I also once travelled several hours to Eldon to see Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, Kensuke Sasaki, and Katsuhiko Nakajima wrestle.
Enough nostalgia. Onto the show!
Brian Thompson and Leland Race host; they introduce matches and push merchandise and upcoming shows. Thompson used to be the heel color commentator for Traditional Championship Wrestling, a promotion that had a decent YouTube show for a while until they just suddenly disappeared. He looks like Brian Christopher (Lawler), and based on some things I remember him saying on TCW shows about negative comments from YouTube, he doesn’t take criticism well. He also appears the be the ring announcer for WLW these days. Race is Harley Race’s son, pulling double duty as host and wrestler. He actually wrestled under a different name for a while so he could make his own path. He’s a decent host, but there’s definitely room for improvement. He loses track of what he’s saying and repeats himself sometimes, kind of like I did back in speech class in college.
Play-by-play is handled by…someone. I don’t know, he never identifies himself. He’s all right, though he might be well advised to let the matches breathe a little more.
The intro video uses the exact same animation as the Metro Pro Wrestling TV show’s intro, except with the WLW logo and blue ring ropes. Must be affordable.
“The” Ace Hawkins vs. Jon Webb
Two small, agile wrestlers facing off is usually a good way to go for an opening match, and this time is no different. They start off slapping each other in the face, and then they get into the moving and flipping. Hawkins gets tripped on the apron and Webb hits a somersault dive within the first couple minutes or so. Once they get back in the ring, Hawkins takes over after escaping Sliced Bread #2. He does some good moves, like a leg drop on the apron and this front facelock suplex, but he also jerks around with the crowd a lot. He yells that them over the mic and fakes them out by refusing to chop Webb when they get quiet. Hawkins controls most of the match, but Webb has his comebacks. He hits Sliced Bread #2 at one point, but Hawkins rolls out of the ring to avoid getting covered. Webb soldiers through, though, and he gets the pin after a frankensteiner and another Sliced Break #2. I thought the match went maybe a little too long, but both guys looked good and kept it entertaining most of the time.
Winner – Jon Webb
Rating – OK
WLW Tag Team Championships: Elite Aggression (c) vs. The Black Hand Warriors
Superstar Steve (Fender) and Dangerous Derek (McQuinn) make up Elite Aggression (back in my day, they were part of The Gold Exchange), while Dave DeLorean and Jayden Fenix are The Black Hand Warriors. Despite having a creepy cult-sounding team name, DeLorean and Fenix are the good guys.
So I said the last match might’ve gone a little long, right? Well, this one definitely did. It started fun when the BHW ran wild on EA. One would think that they would go from that to having the babyfaces continue to have the advantage on the heels until some sneaky shenanigans put the heels in the driver’s seat for an extended heat segment. Instead, both teams turn the tables on their respective opponents fairly often. Also, the pace is rather plodding and it seems like none of the wrestlers have enough offensive moves in their repertoires to keep things interesting. I can’t really remember any of the moves besides the pair of sentons by the BHW at the beginning.
At the end, Steve gets a chain and goes to hit Fenix, but Fenix dodges it. Steve escapes a suplex and tries an O’Conner roll, but Fenix rolls through into his own pinfall attempt and get the three to win the titles. BUT WAIT! Derek picks up the chain and tells the ref that Fenix used it on Steve, and Steve holds his head like he’s been hit! The ref is gullible, as most refs are, and he reverses the decision and gives the belts back to Elite Aggression. The Warriors attempt to hit a double team move on Derek for revenge, but he escapes.
Winners – Elite Aggression by DQ
Rating – OK
Overall: OK. It was a fine first episode, not great. There isn’t much that a little promotion can do to bring in big numbers to their show. All I want is exciting matches and simple, logical stories. Some promos would help, too. I don’t know how much time the Race Wrestling Academy spends on promo skills, but in the past, their wrestlers’ vocal stylings left a lot to be desired. We’ll see if they get that going when I check out episode ten soon.