Ryan Alcatraz – TWL Staff writer

Last Tuesday night, W3 officially drew competitors’ names for this weekend’s inaugural Ultimate Survival tournament. The two-night event occurs this Friday and Saturday night, with the entire first round taking place on Friday night. The winners of the tag tournament then square off in a one-on-one encounter where the winner takes home $250,000 and a title shot of their choice. I was fortunate enough to be asked to join them as they pulled the names from a roller at W3 headquarters. It was quite the night.

With many reputable wrestling publications abuzz, like The Wrestling Lantern, many experts have started their predictions. While picking a winner is next to impossible considering the pairings, we have developed a tier system to better look at the tournament’s participants.

We’re identifying the brackets as the broadcast crew did on the selection show. The teams presented on the “West” side of the bracket appear to be full of finesse and unpredictability, while the “East” side consists of some of the world’s best wrestlers. Sixteen teams. Four tiers.

S Tier (The Real Dawgs)

[EAST] HANNIBAL & BOLT JAMISON – As I stated previously, this team should be the odds-on favorite to win the tag portion of the tournament. Brothers of the road, both of their track records speak for themselves. Their opening rounds opponents, former W3 Hvy. Champion Sumo Jo and Grizz Lee present interesting foils to Jamison & Hannibal’s plans.

[EAST] EXECUTIONER (#2) & KIM CHEE – On paper, you could argue that this team is highly favored as well. These two represent some of W3’s hardest hitters. Kim Chee is one of the roster’s deadliest strikers. Cuesh can overpower a lot of his opponents in many ways. The only reason why they wouldn’t be favored is due to their opening round opponents…

[EAST] BLACK WIDOW & URAKI (#2 Jr) – Uraki is proving to be Master Fuji’s greatest apprentice. No one wants to get in the ring with this guy. He’s tapped out opponents left and right with the Chevelle Lock and is on a one-way ticket to a Jr. Championship shot. Black Widow could not have asked for a better dance partner through this tournament, if successful. If she shows up this weekend, these two stand a strong chance of advancing into a “conference final.” Remember: they’re staring across the ring at #CuesChee. What an opening bout that will be.

[WEST] WU FANG (#4) & PUCHTECA – One of the most interesting pairing results from last Tuesday night. This poses an interesting threat. Wu Fang, who many still feel is the ace of W3, teams with Puchteca—the ultimate wild card. Tec is coming off a huge win vs. Executioner that may have cooled off the big man. In this climate, that’s not easy. Wu Fang has kept fairly quiet since his W3 title loss to Aztec Dragoon. A break-out is due. Will we see it this weekend? If so, this team will brutally finesse its way to the Grand Final—and that match would be insanity. NOTE: #WuTecClan is honestly the best team name I’ve heard out of the W3 community.

A Tier (“Don’t sleep.” – Gwen Stefani)

[EAST] GRIZZ LEE & SUMO JO (#1) – “No more deplorables,” said Sumo Jo as he waged his war with Prickly Pete a little over a month ago. If you ask Jo or Mr. Ganbaat, all of Jo’s opponents are deplorable since that epic declaration. That said, here’s an interesting duo. Grizz Lee is a veteran. A deplorable? I think not. Grizz is one of wrestling’s greatest “tough guys.” You would think these two can work together. Expectations are high for this team.

[WEST] BEAST SASORI & BAD BLOOD – The most visually appealing team entering the fray. Both wrestlers have the ability to even out their offensive attack. Speed, power, savvy, resolve—Bad Blood and Beast Sasori check all the boxes. Their also exceptional tag team wrestlers. If Bad Blood can line up opponents for Beast to knock down, this team may fare extremely well.

[EAST] BLACKHEART & MACK TUCKER – Another hard-hitting team of Ultimate Survival’s “Eastern Conference.” Both Mack and Blackheart are exceptional pugilists, with Mack having one of the deadliest knockout punches in W3. Then there’s Blackheart with the punches, headbutts, and the greatest brainbuster ever made. Recently, both men have also competed mainly in tag team contests at this point in their careers. This team could sneak their way into a conference final.

[WEST] DOJO (#5) & SHAMAN – Another scary pairing. Dojo recently added “putting a former W3 Hvy. Champion on the shelf” to his list of accomplishments. Where’s Major Tom in this tournament? Ask Dojo. Shaman has knocked out and submission capabilities as well. Their match-up in the first round versus Wu Fang and Puchteca highlights the slate of matches on hand this weekend.

B Tier (The Fun Bunch)

[WEST] SHOGUN (#3) & DIM SUM – A contrast of style and personality. We have a striker and an opportunist. You have to think Dim Sum sees Shogun as his ticket to $250,000. If they can convincingly work together, they stand a good chance of advancing a round or two. Can they make it all the way? Hard for me to believe. Shogun has a short fuse, and Dim Sum does not want to awaken that quiet storm. Fun team to watch here.

[WEST] THE UNKNOWN & BLACK NINJA – In a fantastic bout, “The Unknownjaz” managed to score a win over Han Zo Mon and Shaolin last Saturday. This was the only time we’ve seen this tandem in action. Riding off that win, this tag team seemingly thrown together was serendipitously drawn at random on the selection show. At the time, most of the analysts—including myself—failed to realize we just saw this team successfully team-up. The combination is both random but a wonderful mesh in styles.

[WEST] MAKIO KHRONOS & AKI MAN – Their code name: #Superhookers; Their mission: ensure all of their opponents keep their mouths shut (for lack of actual submission maneuver monikers). Both competitors are masters of the STF. There is Khronos’ Organized Crime Kick, and AKI Man’s ankle-grabbing body splash that ass to their attack. Their weakness is mainly their lack of experience in the ring together as a team or opponents. It adds to the intrigue of this tandem for sure.

[EAST] THE COUNT & JAGUAR (#4 Jr) – Speaking of intrigue, how are these two going to fare as a team. Both are experienced competitors; that’s a fact. Can the contrast in technical ability be their downfall or advantage? I’m looking forward to the Jr. Drewperstars teaming with the big bois. Jags and Count contain knock out power. The former Jr. Champion will likely take to the sky when the chance presents itself. A well-timed Drac’s Lariat into a standing shooter would be a brutal and spectacular combination.

C Tier (The Uncertainties)

[WEST] MASTER FUJI & MEGA MEAT – Possibly the biggest story that could develop throughout the tournament if successful. Master Fuji has improved the careers of wrestlers like Dr. Frank and Uraki. While Mega Meat could be considered a prolonged project for most professors of the ring, Master Fuji isn’t your everyday teacher. Can he get through to Mega Meat? And what will a tournament victory mean for either man? Fuji’s seen and done it all. Mega Meat’s feasts. Neither seems to be worried about the accolades. Are we going to witness a pet project weekend for Master Fuji? They have The Unknownjaz off the rip. It could be interesting watching Mega Meat herd the highflyers.

[EAST] LE MASQUERADE & TROY CONSTANTINE – Let’s face it, Troy Constantine’s time in W3 hasn’t been a portrait of consistency. He landed himself in the Top 5 for a brief period. He won his debut match in an 8-man eliminator at …Or the Highway. In September, at the Blood & Steel PPV, Troy successfully teamed with his tag partner this weekend, Le Masquerade (and The Claw), to win the six-man opener that night. My point: while Constantine’s run has been up and down, the dude shows up on the big stage. Le Masquerade is a wrestling legend. Similarly, like Master Fuji to Mega Meat, Le Masquerade could help propel Troy’s game and potentially give us one hell of a Grand Final.

[WEST] ONE HOT GEMINI (#5 Jr) & PRICKLY PETE – The wildest of all sixteen teams. Their styles clash is evident. Two wrestlers that couldn’t be any more different (save Fuji and Meat) were forced to team up in a prestigious tournament where no one thinks they’ll succeed. Imagine if we see a PeteDT into a Dirt Devil? If these two can manage to work together, anyone can. I don’t expect much, but I will be pleasantly surprised if they end up winning a match or two.

[EAST] THE CLAW & HAN ZO MON – The only reason these two aren’t a tier higher is based solely on the fact that Claw is not a tag team wrestler. While we’ve seen him have some success, most of his tag team matches ended in miscommunications and unfortunate events. He’s been given the stigma of being W3’s worst partner a wrestler could have. These two men are no strangers to one another. They fought one another a couple of weeks ago, where we saw Hanzie bested Claw. Lest we forget, Hanzie is one half of the first W3 Tag Team Champions. He is fully capable of turning Claw from ridiculous to reliable as a teammate.

Along with the tag tournament, W3 scheduled additional features this weekend.

FRIDAY NIGHT:

W3 Tag Team Champions: Turknical Deyviculties vs. Blessed Brutality Alliance (#1) – The junior division took flight in the late summer, leaving the tag team division on the back burner up until this weekend. Not only is the tag division getting fuel-injected, but two of the best duos in the world are set to square off. The Turk and Deyv Kirilenko won the tag titles at Certain Consequences and have scored wins over Sisters of Vengeance and arguably their most impressive victory to date against W3 double champion Aztec Dragoon and Abispa.

One glaring smudge on their recent success was a defeat at Uraki and Master Fuji’s hands at Mega Meat’s Birthday Brain Bash. It’s a loss that some experts thought would come at W3’s Thanksgiving event. While that clearly wasn’t the plan, Turk-Deyv need to get that win back, but at what cost? That is yet to be determined. And while that doesn’t play into their title defense against BBA, I can’t help but wonder if that loss is still on Turknical Deyviculties’ minds. Interestingly enough, this match is their first official defense of the W3 Tag Team Championships.

The Blessed Brutality Alliance captured W3 tag team gold this past summer after an impressive string of wins. Unfortunately, SoV was on a heater just the same. Before BBA could successfully defend their newly won titles, Black Widow and Beast Sasori thought otherwise, and then Turk-Deyv thought otherwise…

I’m trying to say that if we’re looking at the trends, BBA stands a good chance of regaining the tag titles. Jekel and Powder Keg are heating up once again and are back in the number one contenders’ position. The deck is stacked against the champions. BBA has won each encounter (3) with Turk-Deyv to this point. All signs seem to be pointing at new champions being crowned once again this weekend.

A Career Threatening Match: Brickowski vs. David Harley – It looks like the blow-off to one of W3’s major storylines comes to a head-on Friday night. After months of seeking revenge against former W3 executive Tim Curd and his lackeys, Brickowski has his chance to take care of business at Ultimate Survival. The parameters are pretty simple: if Brickowski defeats Harley on Friday night, that sets up a match, Saturday versus the returning Joe Bruiser—who hasn’t appeared on W3 television in well over a month.

There is a lot of intrigue heading into this scenario. If Brick can manage to topple both Harley and Bruiser, the reward is five minutes alone inside the ring with Tim Curd. From a fan perspective, I think it’s clear what we’re looking at here. A loss to either Harley or Joe Bruiser would be devastating to Brickowski—who is arguably one of W3’s most popular competitors. I like his chances. It is hard to imagine Brickowski being ill-prepared for the fights at Ultimate Survival.

SATURDAY NIGHT:

W3 Jr. Hvy. Champion (& W3 Hvy. Champion): Aztec Dragoon vs. Abispa (#1) – This all started on August 8, when Aztec Dragoon captured the W3 Jr. Hvy. Championship from Abispa. Then, on September 26, the title changed hands back to Abispa. That led to their October 17 rubber match that saw Dragoon regain the championship from Abispa for the second time. One week later, Aztec Dragoon pinned Wu Fang in a tag team dream match that set up Dragoon’s W3 Hvy. Championship shot—the rest, they say, is history.

Aztec Dragoon ends up taking Wu Fang to “Critty City” in a non-title encounter. On the next show, Mega Meat’s Birthday Brain Bash, Dragoon completed his quest to become the first-ever W3 double champion. Since those tremendous victories, Aztec Dragoon claims to be the new “ace.” That remains to be seen as the champ-champ has yet to defend either title. The main question is: how capable is Aztec Dragoon? He has a lot to prove, especially this weekend as he tries to prevent Abispa from winning the Jr. Championship for the third time.

What else is there to say about Abispa? He’s been in the ring and beaten some of the best wrestlers in the world. Plus, Abispa has that knock out power that is so key. It’s rare that we ever see one Abispabomb. Many wonder how many it would take to knock off Dragoon.

It’s funky. Suppose Abispa pins the W3 Hvy. Champion, wouldn’t you think he deserves his shot at being a champ-champ as well? Rumors stated that Dragoon faced defending both titles over the weekend. The booking committee knows the asset they have in Dragoon, so I think that is why the W3 Hvy. Championship isn’t up for grabs at Ultimate Survival. It makes sense with everything else going on. Do not sleep on this match.

TWL subscribers can expect a full report in the newsletter, including any backstage news and rumors from Survival weekend. Enjoy the shows, and best of luck to all competitors!

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