GRAPS AND CLAPS REVIEWS – WXW FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT ONE (HAMBURG) & PROGRESS WRESTLING (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL)

Added by Andrew Ogden

Day 1

Hallo und wilkommen to this special International edition of Graps and Claps taking yours truly on a trip to Hamburg, Germany for Night 1 of WXW’s Fan Appreciation Night and also the bonus of a midnight PROGRESS wrestling show which on paper sounds like bloody hard work and a case of trying to power through the fatigue to watch two hours of wrestling. In this review I will take you through the trials and tribulations of 3 days in Hamburg from the beer on offer to the local prostitutes frequenting the red light district which was more than an eye opener I can tell you that. So without further ado let’s get down to business.

We start at 3:30am on a Thursday morning in Manchester after a grand total of around 3 hours sleep, we left the Travelodge on Ancoats to get to Manchester Piccadilly so we could catch our plane from the Airport at 6:30am which even now all feels a blur. Arriving at the airport for 5:00am the typical British thing of the airport pint was in action as I had a pint of J.W Lees Bitter costing £4.75 and even though this was like 5:30am it was a very good pint even for this early hour. Boarding the plane for 6:30am we were on our way, landing into Hamburg for 9:05am local time meaning there was plenty of time to discover what Hamburg had to offer before going to the hotel.

Pictured: Dick Sprinter 😮

Arriving at Hamburg’s main train station after a 20 minute journey where for once you didn’t have to stamp your ticket unlike the train to Oberhausen in which Indy Corner’s own Benno got royally fined 60 euros when he visited in March, so take that into account if you are visiting.

The train station is huge with a multitude of shops/currywurst stalls and also a German version of Spar with prices to die for especially the cans/bottles of foreign lager for about 80p each, which just showed how much we getting stiffed for in the U.K.

Pictured: ‘Rice to meet you, to meet you, RICE!“

With the rest of our Group (The Taffs, Shauna & Matt) decamping to there hotel, me and Geoff navigated our way to our humble abode for the next 2 nights – The Arcotel which was located in what I could best describe as a ‘German Cheetham Hill’ with grocers, sex shops, bookies and a number of hotels this was certainly the location and a half. Luckily when we arrived at the hotel, we were allowed to check in early for 10 euros extra which was a godsend as we didn’t have to hawk our bag around Hamburg all day, for a 4 star hotel this cost £75 per night and had a TV with the basic range of German TV Stations including a channel which had the German version of The Chase (sadly no Dark Destroyer or Anne Hegarty), The beds here were super comfy as well and worked a treat later on in the evening when we came back to the hotel at 7pm as we were both tired from walking around the city coupled with the lack of sleep from the night before.

Leaving the hotel, to check the sights of Hamburg we first visited the Schanzenbakeri near the Chocolate Museum, think of this place as the German Greggs but much better with a range of pastries, pasta bake’s and sandwiches on sale. For 6 euros I have a Tuna Pasta Bake and a bottle of Fanta which in my estimation was a bargain. Hamburg on first impression is a huge city just to walk round, in what seemed like an age we took in an old Church strangely also located across the way from a Scientology Church and also the City Hall which I would say maybe rivals Rochdale Town Hall for the best Town Hall in the world, this was just amazing to look at from the outside – a great bit of architecture!

With time moving along, we then decided to check what pubs are actually around in Hamburg which I can say not really that many as it seems a general rule of thumb in Germany that eateries combined with drink are the in thing, thankfully after much help for a change from Google Maps we found the Hofbrau Munchen Bierhouse which was a good 15 minute walk away from where we were. This place was very much in the style of the Bierkeller adorned with Hofbrau flags, a gift shop and lots of wood that needed a good dose of Ronseal. I do have to say the staff here were very fluent in English, which made us feel a bit more comfortable, service here is table service with obviously Hofbrau being the main brew of choice cost €4.90 for 0.5l of Schwarz Weisse, Kristall Weisse and Dunkel respectively that all hit the right spot – like last time with German beer you never feel like you have had enough once the fresh air hits you.

Drinks done, we waited for the arrival of Shauna and Matt who were passing time before they were meeting up with The Taffs at the Miniature Wonderland. We took a trip to another recommendation from Google of the Brauhaus Joh.Albrecht located in the more high end area of Hamburg, this was another restaurant/brewery as the venue served at least 4 of it’s own beers including two pints of the wheat beer costing €4.90. One great invention though in this pub was the automatic hand dryer in the toilet with its motion sensor, the paper towel automatically came at your hands just like that (German’s are at the forefront of toilet technology).

After another walk, we had a swift pint in this Irish pub that was a bit dingy inside and nothing to write home about, we moved onto our next pub of choice which I had researched – The Barley Craft and Malt Bar which from the name sounds like it would offer a lot of craft/real ale but in reality probably only served 6 if that costing around the €5 marker for 0.5l, Food of choice here was a Pulled Pork Burger accompanied with a side order of salad served by a lad who was born in Devon, but moved to Canada and is now working in Hamburg and you think I get around ha! Nice chap though 🙂

With our bellies suitably filled, we decided to travel back to our hotel but not before we decided to visit a local off-licence for a couple of cans to leave in the fridge at our hotel including a can of 10.5% Carlsberg Elephant which was very much the Tramp’s special of Germany costing €1.80 unbelievable that drinks like these exist from a well known brewery like Carlsberg.

With that said, back at the hotel we made the sensible decision to get some much needed rest (12 hours to be exact), so we would be fresh as a daisy for the next morning as we would be on a huge all dayer with the wrestling taking place until 2am.

Day 2

Refreshed for a 12 hour kip and a couple of hours watching German music television we set off from the hotel to the train station for the first of two visits to McDonald’s with the anticipation of another banger like the Big Rosti that was devoured in Oberhausen. That anticipation turned into disappointment as the general breakfast menu was on sale, so I had to put up with 2 Sausage and Egg McMuffins and a coke to fill my tummy till dinner time.

Plan of action for the day was to visit a few of the local shops including Karstadt Sports which is like Sports Direct but on 5 floors, a gift shop to buy a couple of badges to add to my growing collection on my bag and also a purchase from a supermarket of a 89p can of a 3% Beer/Cola mix that tasted like a stronger Bass Shandy – an acquired taste though.

With shopping done, we paid a visit to the Groninger Private Brewery located on Willy Brandt Strasse. The main bar/eating area is based in a cave like building with a lack of phone signal to send any sort of S.O.S to the outside world. Despite its cave like features, this is a huge venue with rooms stretching the length of this building with many coach trips taking in this place.

With this being Groninger’s brewery, there was an handful of beers from their collection including the €4.90 Pils which like the Hofbrau of the day before hit the right spot. Here we had some dinner and when I say this was a meat feast, I mean this was like a King’s banquet with 4 sausages, pork crackling, meatloaf, mustard mash and sauerkraut costing €17 and even with my big appetite I struggled to finish it – the mash potato was the winner on this plate.

Tummies filled, we went for a walk back to the hotel via a toilet break at a local shisha bar for a bottle of a Beck’s Radler which looks like a popular type of tipple in Germany, funny because Radler’s never took off in the U.K.

Once back at the hotel, Geoff went back to the room to have a kip before the show, myself though I went to check out the hotel bar ‘The Crystal Bar’ to see what it had to offer. This bar only had 2 beers on tap (Becks and Furstenbrau) the latter I gladly had a pint of with some dry roaated nuts provided by the bar, I was literally having the best hour of quiet time till I went back upstairs to my room to rest for an hour before going out for the wrestling at 5pm local time.

Arriving at the Markthalle, a crowd of around 400/500 took there places in one of the best settings I have seen wrestling in, with not a bad spot in the building. I was sat on the back row of the tiered seating facing the centre point of the ring.

Beer on offer in this venue included Astra and Duckstein both costing €4 but with a €1 deposit for the plastic pot which is refunded when you take it back – they are certainly enviromentally friendly in Germany. Food options included Currywurst and Pretzel which sadly I didn’t get a chance to savour but from reports they went down a treat.

First show of the evening was WXW Fan Appreciation Night One starting at 7pm and lasting a good 3 and a half hours, this was possibly one of the best atmosphere’s I have been a part of only exceeded by the 16 Carat Night Two event in March. So let’s get into the action!!

First up we had Tag Team Title action with Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) who since I last saw them live in March, have now gained a more cocky and arrogant side to their characters, their opponents on this evening were the ever popular Champions – Monster Consulting (Julian Nero and Avalanche). The match got started with Jay FK attacking both Nero and Avalanche from behind during there entrance, giving them the early upper hand especially on Nero who they beat down on for the bulk of the match.

Eventually though Nero managed to get the hot tag to Avalanche who came in and cleaned house and with his strength he lifted Skillet up in the air, with Skillet being hit with a knee by Nero and then finished off with a huge lariat from Nero for the win – Really fun match this certainly was.

Second match up was my first viewing of Fred ‘How High’! Yehi taking on Chris Brookes. Yehi very much has the look of a Cedric Alexander in my opinion as he tried to use his speed and technical prowess to flummox Brookes, as he hit an impressive powerbomb for a 2 count. Brookes though rebounded from this as he caught Yehi by surprise with a CHEEKY ROLL UP! for the 3 count – Good stuff!!

Next up we had a WXW Shotgun Title match with the new Champion, Marius Al-Ani taking on Bobby Gunns for whom he won the title off at the Shortcut to the Top event recently. Gunns on the other hand got a bit of satisfaction elsewhere on that evening by becoming the No.1 contender to the WXW Heavyweight Title.

In a back and forth contest that took to the outside with both wrestlers fighting up on the staging area, both Gunns and Al-Ani had to keep one eye on the count with Gunns eventually making it back to the ring, as Al-Ani thought better and took his title and buggered off to the back causing the countout win for Bobby Gunns.

You can certainly tell that Gunns is well in line to be the next champion sometime in the future, maybe the end of the year, but I can easily see the dream scenario of Gunns winning the belt in front of the British and Irish throng at Carat next year – as we know though dreams like that tend to end up not coming true as per David Starr to win 16 Carat this year which ended in tears.

One thing of note as well was some fella attempting the ‘Baldy Baldy Over There’ chant during this match – I wonder who that could have been 🤔

4th match up was a very technical encounter with WXW Academy graduate Veit Muller who is a solid looking chap on first look, taking on the Ambassador of British Wrestling Doug Williams who as we all know is retiring from the scene at the Progress Wembley Arena show.

From the first bell, the crowd were instantly into this match entranced by the reversals and technical skills from both men (this was very similar to a Doug match from PCW last year, with the younger competitor Philip Michael proving very much Doug’s equal).

Chants of ‘There’s only one Doug Williams’ filled the Markthalle as Doug finally hit the Chaos Theory at the second time of asking to Muller to get the three count to end an excellent match with Doug putting over Veit at the end which was well deserved!

After the break, we returned with 3-way women’s action to become the opponent for Alpha Female on the next evening for the vacant Women’s title – we had Melanie Grey vs Killer Kelly vs Kris Wolf. Wolf who I saw for the first time at EVE this year is someone with an infectious personality that you instantly want to get behind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her grace a WWE ring some day.

At the start of this match, Grey jumped to the outside leaving Kelly and Kris to get down to business. Once Melanie wanted to get involved she did the dastardly thing of ripping off Wolf’s tail – Boooooo 👎👎👎

It sadly didn’t get any better for Wolf as Killer Kelly hit a perfect plex to Wolf for the 3 count to end an enjoyable contest.

Up next in a match that was supposed to be Ringkampf vs David Starr & Jack Sexsmith, but due to Sexsmith being unable to fly over due to personal reasons, Starr had to find a tag team partner for the night and my god didn’t he just with the sounding of Red Alert 3 reverberating around the Markthalle – Here comes Ilja Draganov to a fantastic ovation!!

This match was akin to The Rock & Stone Cold vs The Undertaker & Triple H in there prime, all 4 wrestlers were adored by this crowd. As ever with any match in which Starr faces Walter, poor Dave always ends up on the receiving end of a beating from the Austrian Chopping Machine and this match was no different as Team Ringkampf laid a beating to Starr, that was until Ilja got in the ring to try and attack Walter but he was swatted away with a huge side chop.

This attack was the catalyst for this match to be let loose, with big move after big move being hit with the precision of a Michael Van Gerwen 180. With the match coming up way past the 20 minute marker it was Starr who would be eventually ending up as the fall guy as he was pinned with a Full Nelson pin by Timothy Thatcher to end a breathless tag contest that richly deserved the standing ovation from the Hamburg crowd – All of the stars!!!! 😍😍😍😍

With the crowd trying to get there breath back, it was time for your Main Event with the sounds of ‘Mother’ by Idles out came Zack Sabre Jr. to take on everyone’s favourite German Dad, the WXW Champion Absolute Andy. Early portion of this match took to the outside with Zack throwing Andy around into the chairs to the right hand side of where I was sitting.

Once again Andy had his 2/3 fans in the standing section, roundly being shouted down by the other 497 in attendance! Zack was trying any which way to use submission holds to floor Andy, including when Andy went for an F5 but it was reversed into an arm submission which Andy managed to reach the ropes to break the hold.

Andy did hit the F5 eventually for a 2.9 count, but with Andy being Champion desperate times called for desperate measures as he grabbed a handful of Zack’s trunks with Tas not looking to get the 3 count to end another banger of a match!

After the match we had a face off between Ilja and Andy to build up the anticipation for the next night in Oberhausen.

What an all round excellent show that flew by and one that was very much the topic of conversation during the break between shows as we waited for Progress to start at Midnight. In that time though I took the opportunity to get pictures with Kris Wolf and Absolute Andy both of whom were very good to meet, Wolf especially as stated before.

Pictured: The Lads

Pictured: IT’SSSSSSSS WOLFIE!!!!

With the pleasantries out of the way, we finally got to enter back in for the Progress midnight show, which started 15 minutes thanks to a number of travel issues hindering the Progress roster on this evening. I would say there was about 250 in attendance who stayed behind to watch this show including a fella dressed up in full El Generico garb which I give props to them for doing that.

First up on this 5 match show we started with a match in the ‘Sillybastard Tag Series’ between The Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson) taking on The Welsh Bus Service No.198 (Wild Boar and Flash Morgan Webster) the latter whom are currently top of the league and on there way to being the final entrants in the big Wembley showdown of this series.

After the opening promo from Gibson who decreed in no uncertain terms of this tourney being a joke (quite a few nodding heads in agreement to this), we got down to business. Gibson and Drake worked on Webster for the most of the match until a communication error between the former champions proved there downfall as Drake was rolled up by Wild Boar for the 3 meaning The 198 are now guaranteed to enter last.

Second match was Chief Deputy Dunne with Santos Jr. in his corner taking on Fred Yehi. A lot of this match was Yehi controlling the action and well on his way to victory until Santos got on the apron to distract Tas who had a bad evening enough for Dunne to sneak up from behind for another CHEEKY ROLL UP!! Victory. This I think was the point where the audience had hit a bit of a brick wall.

More singles action next with Timothy Thatcher taking on T.K Cooper who had only just arrived at the venue before this match. In my opinion this was match was possibly the best on this Midnight show in which Thatcher picked up the victory in around 10 minutes with a underhook suplex

Next up we had a 3-way women’s match between Killer Kelly, Jinny and Alpha Female in a sort of the winner stays on type deal over the weekend with the one who submitted/pinned being eliminated going out.

After an earlier confrontation at the WXW show, it was intriguing to see what would happen once Kelly and Alpha Female got at it, to be fair though it was Alpha Female who proved the dominate force at times throwing Jinny into a prone Kelly in the corner. Kelly though did recover from this attack to pick up a surprise submission victory over Alpha Female to advance to a Progress Women’s Title match vs Jinny in Oberhausen.

The final match of the evening was supposed to be Walter vs Chris Brookes which is started off being, but was interrupted by Absolute Andy who was flanked by Marius Al-Ani and Bobby Gunns which at the time having just seen WXW’s show was head scratching to say the least (as I found out later, Brookes and Walter had picked up earlier injuries so this got changed to a 6-man with David Starr partnering Walter and Brookes).

To be honest this was an alright match, but due to the late hour and the head scratching nature of Al-Ani, Gunns and Andy being a team I did feel this made the audience tune out a bit. Starr, Brookes and Walter got the victory here but sadly it deserved more!

To be honest, the Progress show did have an hard act to follow the WXW show which was amazing, plus the late start didn’t help from an atmosphere point of view – This is maybe one show to skip on demand once it arrives.

Show done, we got back to the hotel for 2:15am to end Day 2 and to dream what Day 3 and the trip to the Reeperbahn had to offer.

Day 3

Well what a great night’s sleep that was and not an hangover in sight leaving the hotel at 11am local time ready to move on to another hotel across the way for our final full day in Hamburg. First of all as we were past breakfast time in Maccy D’s, the hope there would be a special burger was a possibility and it came true with a huge Special Bacon Double Cheese Burger with some cronkly fries for around €8 with a drink – this would become strangely enough our only food for the day showing how filling it was.

Once done we made the walk in the hot sunshine to the IBIS Hamburg City and thankfully because we were checking in early we didn’t have to pay any extra which was a bonus. The rooms in this Intetnational Ibis are much better than what you get in the UK, plus you get the German version of the standard Sky package on your box, so the German Sky Sports News was constantly on our screen.

After an hour and a bit’s worth of rest, we made our way to the notorious Reeperbahn area for a planned afternoon of sightseeing with obviously drinks involved as this area is known for being the more party centric area of Hamburg. Before we took to the bars, we took a detour on the 35 minute walk to visit FC St.Pauli’s football stadium, which originally we had hoped to visit there match against FC Koln, but due to the fixture being re-arranged till the next day when we were flying back, we had to give it a miss.

Anyway’s in among the caravans and travelling circus that was hanging around the car park close to the ground, was a beautiful stadium with many an artistic motive adorning its wall, with one expectation that this stadium must be rocking on a matchday.

Walking up the Reeperbahn, you notice in the daytime that it is very much like an upmarket Blackpool with a one mile street full of bars, takeaways and sex shops – the latter mainly down the bottom end of the street with some right seedy door people (Think Albert Steptoe) trying to entice you in for a jump ha!

First bar we went in was the Kuhstall which had the Liverpool vs Leicester game on with drinks on tap being either €5 Lowenbrau or the radlers in bottle as mentioned before as being popular in this country.

Next up was the Pyjama bar which had a good seating area outside but we kept on this day getting interrupted by what must have been a plague of wasps flying round the city on this day – annoying as fuck to say the least!! Drinks here was either two Grimbergens which you can buy in bottles in the U.K and also Duckstein all served in 0.3l glasses.

Walking down the rest of the right hand side of the street, the bars are all very similar and touristy, with holiday makers taking in the rays of the sun whilst even openly drinking bottles of lager in the street. Mind you I do say one thing that the streets in Hamburg are much cleaner than the ones you would get in Piccadilly Gardens – less homeless people as well!

Having reached the bottom end of this street, we made our way across the road to sample the delights of the other side with a trip to a bar called Schweinske which must mean ‘Sex Pig’ or something to that effect as you are greeted with this statue at the bar in the below picture 😯

Plenty of outside seating in this bar gathered with the wasps once again, drinks on offer were the usual Duckstein, Astra and the local brew of what I had – a €5.50 pint of Holsten Pils (posh lager who would have thought that).

After this we did try the local Hooters establishment as it was showing a lot of the afternoon’s football action on many a big screen, but due to confusion on service in this bar we made a swift exit up the road past a local gun shop of all things.

We did eventually find another street of bars which we stopped around for quite a length of time, first off was The London Pub which as you guessed it most of the Brits in Hamburg visited as Sky Soccer Saturday was on the box and most of the drink on tap was U.K and Irish influenced including the Murphy’s Red Ale I had which went down a treat costing €4. In among this, the pub had a good jukebox of tunes mostly playing Oasis that tipsy brits tend to like to sing along to when they are abroad.

Next place was less brilliant, which was some Hamburg Supporters Club bar that had the type of toilets where you could easily have mistaken them for a back street where you was going to get jumped from behind, these were Giffard level toilets so a swift exit was made from here.

Thankfully we found a much better pub for the next two hours or so called the Pils-Borse which was an old fashioned type pub with one oldest jukebox’s known to man (€2 for 10 songs – meaning Uhaa Nation’s old music got an airing – ah wrestling fans!) There was also 4 screens showing the Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich game and also Warsteiner (known as War Starter in the U.K) being poured from a nautical helmet – certainly a winner in my book was this place.

Leaving this place at about 8pm, we were met with first sight of local prostitutes literally on the door of the next 4 pubs on what must have been to celebrate some sort of ‘Pint and a blowjob’ promotion, before they could get to us. We made a detour back up the road for the last drinks, one in a local music bar and one on the ‘We love St Pauli Bar’ which was an outside bar adorned with the bright lights of love hearts lighting up the night.

Drinks done, we wanted to see one more sight of the famed Reeperbahn, this was the ‘Window Shopping’ area which is a gated off area in the Red Light District that only men can go down.

As you go down this street, it is like from Oliver in the ‘Who Will Buy’ scene with Prostitues knocking on windows trying to get my attention, as giddy 34 year Andrew was trying not to be drawn in, but on inspection there wasn’t a bad looking one on show but no chance I was dropping €100 for 15 minutes of awkwardness.

As we made a dart for the end of this street, on the pavement prostitues were trying to grab you to see if you wanted whilst they were clad in their Bianca from Eastenders puffa jackets – it was like a scene from Shaun of the dead except with Zombie Prozzies.

So that was that as we got back to the hotel for 11pm, ready to get up early for our flight back to the U.K on Sunday morning – wow what a night and a real eye opener that Reeperbahn was 👀👀👀👀👀👀👀.

Hamburg is certainly one place that you could easily spend at least 2/3 days around if you fancy a trip away. For three days I spent about €250 so it won’t break the bank unlike a trip to London which you can spend that in just one night.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this ever so long review about my trip to Hamburg, any feedback and shares are very welcome.

Thank you and Guten Nacht!

@oggypart3

#grapsandclaps