wXw 16 Carat Gold 2017 – Night 1

Arnold Furious: March 10, 2017. We’re in Oberhausen, Germany at the Turbinhalle. This was my first live experience of the famous venue and it lives up to all expectations. The view is pretty solid regardless of your location, although being tall helps. I spent the evening milling amongst the mixture of travelling Brits and local (drunk) Germans. Various Twitter celebrities were on hand including Botchamania’s Maffew Gregg, Strigga, Allan Cheapshot and Golazo Dan. Everywhere I turned was a familiar face, whether it be Portuguese born “The King of Boom” or Ricky, who I first met in the pub next door to the WCPW show in London or Mark Ashford, who I simply recognised as a familiar face. It felt like BritWres had invaded 16 Carat. We were about to share a remarkable experience. There are very few wrestling experiences like Carat. Christian Jakobi himself compared the concept to IWA-MS’s Ted Petty Invitational but it’s already far grander than that tournament ever was. It feels more prestigious and globally important. Shout out to Dennis Birkendahl, wXw’s art director for that. His set design and production values were good enough for television and superior to several televised products in America right now.


Hosts are Alan Counihan and Rico Bushido.


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Cody Rhodes vs. Da Mack
An interesting start to proceedings and I’m immediately glad we get a good sample of the wrestler entrances and the glorious video wall. Mack is unpopular for not being Cody Rhodes, which is a little harsh. Cody has taken his time to slot into Indie wrestling, perhaps finding adjusting to a mass of new opponents a little tougher than expected. That’s clearly in evidence here as they have a string of communication issues after a fiery start. The most bizarre is when Mack gets caught in a tree of woe and Cody just stomps him a bit and then pulls him down again. Then Da Mack goes up top with Cody posted groin first and simply jumps down again, bizarrely selling the back. If you clipped these issues out you could probably turn the match into a rockin’ music video. Hopefully this won’t include the moment where Mack runs face first into Cody’s chest. To be fair to the wrestlers they do a solid job of covering for all the weird semi-botches but it’s an awkward match and they don’t click until the very finish when Mack Magic is caught and countered fluidly into Cross Rhodes. Cody advances.
Final Rating: **1/4


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Marius Al-Ani vs. JT Dunn
Marius has come a long way in the last year and wXw are looking at him for an upper card spot that he’d be entirely suited to. Both these guys are athletically gifted and they have a very solid little match. That is until Al-Ani slips off the ropes. Like in the first bout they cover quickly with JT acting fast to make it look like part of the action. Improvisation is key. With the level of difficulty in modern wrestling it’s remarkable there aren’t a lot more botches. Alan & Rico blame a knee injury, which is also solid work. The level of professionalism is quite wonderful and would be a feature of the tournament. Compare this to say Wrestle Circus and it’s like a different ball-game. These two build up and throw lumber, showing that Al-Ani is perfectly happy to go after JT at his strengths. Marius overcomes JT’s elbow-based abuse and hits the frogsplash to advance. This had a few issues but quickly overcame them.
Final Rating: ***


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Koji Kanemoto vs. Timothy Thatcher
Perhaps the weirdest piece of booking for 2017’s Carat was the inclusion of veteran Japanese wrestler Koji Kanemoto. Despite Japanese wrestling not having major mainstream attention upon it Felix Kohlenberg believes in including Japanese talent to make Carat seem more globally inclusive. While wXw’s relationship with Big Japan has soured somewhat they’re building a relationship with NOAH and going forward we’ll be seeing more interaction between those two companies. Kanemoto is somewhat passed his sell-by date and struggles with, what is presumably, jetlag. The aging process has not been kind to Koji and he’s simply not as fluid as he once was. There are flashes of the brilliance that made Kanemoto a legend in the 90s but it’s not what you’d call a great match. Oli called this a ‘greatest hits’ match with Kanemoto doing all his trademarks while Thatcher merely bided his time. The best visual in the match is Thatcher getting his mouth and nose busted before manning up and asking for more. Kanemoto tries to break his leg in response but Timmy has been spending all week rolling around the mat with Riddle, WALTER, Speedball, Starr and Jeff Cobb. Kanemoto doesn’t have the power to keep Big Tim grounded. Thatcher survives, manipulates and pins Koji to advance. Thatcher did all this without resorting to cheating because he’s Ringkampf and the Mat is Holy. I enjoyed this a lot more second time of asking.
Final Rating: ***1/4


Post Match: Bobby Gunns strolls out to antagonise Kanemoto for losing. Apparently Kanemoto hates smokers. This all sets up Kanemoto-Gunns on Night Three.


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
The Avalanche vs. Ilja Dragunov
Dreissker, as the Avalanche is also known, is all that’s left of Cerberus, along with manager Adam Polak. As soon as Dragunov strolls to the ring I get a strong sense of desire. The desire to see Ilja win 16 Carat so I get to hear and see his theme music as many times as possible. Rico sums it up; “Ilja is special”. He has an intensity that’s unmatched in Germany, and comparable to the likes of Shibata only with an entirely different character. The match has a basic story; Dreissker is the big bully and Adam’s puppet, while Ilja is the charismatic up and comer. There’s one spot that sums up Ilja; a stalling backdrop driver on Dreissker, the 300lb grappler. That would be fairly impressive if a big wrestler did it. For Dragunov, who’s 5’9” and 187lbs, it helps to sum up his character. Nothing phases him. Nothing can break him. He is unbesiegbar. “Unbeatable”. Invincible. With every throw he completes and every vicious assault he survives Dragunov looks stronger. It’s not Dragunov alone that wins, it’s Dreissker who loses, thanks to Adam Polack. The manager distracts his charge and Ilja hits Torpedo Moscow, his flying headbutt, to advance.
Final Rating: ***1/2


Post Match: Dreissker gets pissed off with Polak and destroys him with a Vaderbomb. Cerberus is officially dead.


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Donovan Dijak vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle seems quite calm despite facing off against a larger man in Dijak. It gives Riddle a hill to climb, in a tournament where he’s one of the main favourites. Despite Dijak’s dominance from the bell Riddle manages to throw an overhand chop that’s one of the loudest noises the Turbinenhalle hears all weekend. Dijak size advantage is never more apparent than when he catches Riddle and floors him with the chokebreaker. Nothing seems to bother Riddle so him taking abuse off the 6’7” 270lbs Dijak barely causes him to get concerned. He waits for his moments and catches Dijak with an array of strikes, coming at the big man from all angles. The run of knee counters is a highlight and Riddle concludes that with clever ring positioning, getting his feet on the ropes to prevent a pinfall. Dijak misses off the top and the Bromission finishes for the King of Bros. This was a classic tournament sprint.
Final Rating: ***1/2


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Bad Bones vs. Paul London
London has his work boots on, after a very good opening Inner Circle bout with Absolute Andy the night before. Bones finds himself unpopular during this tournament, as native wrestlers often do, sometimes resented by taking a spot a big import could fill. This is unfair on John Klinger, who’s incredibly consistent. London wasn’t a name on many people’s lips at the start of the year but here he proves he belongs, taking an array of sickening bumps for his age. Plus he’s so smooth, going from a dropkick through the ropes to a magnificent slingshot cradle. The biggest moment of the match is when London decides to backflip onto his head to sell the immense nature of a Codebreaker though. Holy shit, mate. London almost gets the pin, twice hitting the SSP but Bones survives! Wrecking Ball knees finishes for Bones and the crowd are not best pleased. Both guys worked hard but London, off the back of that Andy match at Inner Circle, wowed Oberhausen and turned back the clock.
Final Rating: ***3/4


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
Mike Bailey vs. ACH
These two are both very fast and most of the Media Centre chaps were picking this as potentially MOTN. Jurn Simmons sneaks onto commentary to show off his talking skills while the boys show off their dancing skills. ACH’s Carlton is spectacular. The match is beautifully fluid with both guys happy to swing wild shots, knowing the other is fast enough to dodge them. They’re content to switch up to landing the strikes too. There’s no fear. The match escalates nicely and the two men know how to structure that kind of contest. ACH is one of the most entertaining wrestlers at 16 Carat, both inside and outside the ring, but Speedball doesn’t only keep up with him, he’s manages to slightly outshine him. That is until ACH turns the clothesline power up to eleven. It becomes a war of heavy spot attrition. It’s all beautifully timed. The near misses and big connections tell a story of near equality. I say ‘near’ because it’s not a draw and Speedball wins with his double knees SSP.
Final Rating: ****


wXw 16 Carat Gold 1st Round
WALTER vs. David Starr
This has a great storyline before we even get underway with Starr never having beaten WALTER and having lost to him in the main event of the lead-in show; Dead End XVI. Starr, considering his track record, and his opponent, is surprisingly confident. He feels it’s his time. WALTER promptly murders him. The story has Starr trying to avoid taking all the big shots he took at Dead End. He knows if he takes everything he took there he’ll merely lose again. The experience allows him to work around WALTER. It doesn’t always succeed, because WALTER is a machine, but it levels the playing field. Starr’s combination of smarts and heart makes him look like a possible winner, finally overcoming WALTER and confirming his status as one of wXw’s top players. WALTER is synonymous with wXw and they only ever seem to put big stars in with WALTER on the big shows. It reflects their confidence in Starr and he rewards Jakobi and company with another tremendous performance. His attempts at assortment of wacky spots are there to try WALTER’s skill. Starr fails with a Canadian Destroyer but hits a Code Red. The match starts to get really epic when Starr goes after Product Placement. WALTER powers out so Starr elbows him in the back of the head, three times, leaving WALTER motionless in the corner. From there WALTER recovers and they start unloading the big guns. My God it’s wonderful. The sleeper suplex/lariat combo from WALTER is incredible. That leads right into WALTER hooking the choke and that’s all she wrote. Best David Starr match I’ve ever seen. He’s come on leaps and bounds and working in Germany has been huge for his career improvement.
Final Rating: ****1/2


Post Match: Ringkampf stand tall, pointing out they crush the great hopes of others to remain the very best. That is until Jurn Simmons shows up to get in Axel Dieter Jr.’s face. He’s coming for the wXw Unified title and that’s the main event of night two.


Summary: Night One is traditionally the weakest of the three Carat shows. This year’s tournament is absolutely primed to be a world beater.

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