Who’ll follow Absolute Andy as the winner of wXw’s 16 Carat Gold? Who’ll win Ambition 10? And what about stuff away from the Turbinenhalle? We take a look at March’s wrestling festival in Oberhausen – and give a few tips for those of you travelling there…

Running from March 8 through 10 in Oberhausen, this will be the 14th Carat and once again features a mixture of big names from around the world and wXw’s regulars. We’ll update this and add in more of our predictions as the field grows!

THE FIELD

Avalanche
Last Year: First Round (lost to Keith Lee)
Best Finish: Quarter Finals (2013, lost to Zack Sabre Jr.; 2014, lost to Adam Cole)
Chances: Having had to shut down Monster Consulting at the end of the year, Avalanche is back on his own – but in the midst of a battle with Jurn Simmons (and referee Rainer Ringer), this could well be a year where outside distractions and changes could prove to be too much.

Axel Dieter Jr
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: Runner-Up (2015, lost to Tommy End; 2016, lost to Zack Sabre Jr.)
Chances: Benefitting from wXw’s association/partnership/whatever you want to call it with WWE, we’ve got the return of the current Marcel Barthel to a wXw ring. Having played a part in RINGKAMPF’s win over British Strong Style at the 18th Anniversary show, Junior announced his intention to return to Germany to secure the one thing that eluded him… and no, it’s not the Shotgun championship. Having lost in the finals of the 2015 and 2016 Carat tournaments (and being otherwise engaged in 2017’s…), Junior’s back to go all the way… but with the rest of RINGKAMPF in the field as well, don’t be surprised if there’s a friendly rivalry on the way.

Chris Brookes
Last Year: Quarter-Finalist
Best Finish: Quarter-Final (2018, lost to Keith Lee)
Chances: Chris Brookes’ 2018 in wXw saw him pretty much compete exclusively in the festival events, making it to the finals of World Tag Team League back in October. In singles action, Brookes went out on the second day to Keith Lee, and with his exploits in the tag division again on the back burner, you’ve got to think he’ll be looking to at least match that this time around.

Daisuke Sekimoto
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: Quarter-Final (2009, lost to Steve Douglas)
Chances: Last seen in wXw in 2015, unsuccessfully challenging Karsten Beck for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship, Daisuke Sekimoto’s making a rare trip to Germany as he takes part in his third Carat tournament, having gotten to the quarter finals back in 2009. Of course, it’s not like Sekimoto’s been sitting on his hands – as (at time of writing) he holds three different titles, the All Japan tag titles, plus world championships in ZERO-1 and Big Japan.

David Starr
Last Year: Finalist (2018, lost to Absolute Andy)
Best Finish: Finals (2018)
Chances: Coming so close, but finishing so far away, David Starr’s 2018 was characterised by his performance in the tournament – and adding yet another example to the list of what’s turning him into wXw’s nearly man. In spite of a jaw-dropping performance in London, Starr’s 2019 saw him lose a close fight to Absolute Andy with the Unified World Wrestling championship at stake. One of the later names to enter Carat, Starr’s got some familiar foes in the field – be it Jurn Simmons (whose hair he took at World Tag Team League), or the obvious one who he always seems to come up short against: WALTER.

Fenix
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: A bit of a wild card here, having had a rather disappointing World Tag Team League with Penta el 0 M, who knows what Fenix’ll be like here. The back end of his 2018 was spent on the shelf, healing up some nagging injuries, but has already had a wild start to 2019, winning the Impact tag titles.

Ilja Dragunov
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: Winner (2017, beat WALTER in finals)
Chances: Looking to win Carat for the second time, this may well be Ilja’s only way back to title contention having lost in the Käfigschlacht in what was billed as his last chance against Absolute Andy. Last year, Ilja made a surprise return to wXw and won the Unified World Wrestling Championship in a moment that still makes my hair stand on end. However, with speculation around Ilja’s future mounting, this may well be the last time we see Dragunov in Carat.

Jurn Simmons
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Jurn was scheduled to have been in last year’s Carat, but suffered a broken ankle weeks ahead of the tournament which ruled him out. Since returning from injury at Shortcut to the Top, Jurn’s had a short-lived tag team with Alexander James, but will be looking to go big in the singles ranks in 2019. Carat could be a career-defining tournament for the Dutchman.

Lucky Kid
Last Year: Quarter-Final
Best Finish: Quarter-Final (2018, lost to Timothy Thatcher)
Chances: Last year’s Carat made Lucky Kid a star in wXw, and although the remainder of his year was largely spent dealing with the actions of his brother – be it Tarkan Aslan’s reveal at Shortcut to the Top or the “new RISE” feud – Lucky has been in and around title pictures in 2018. While Da Mack’s return likely cost him his chance at winning the Shotgun title last November, Lucky’s clearly got his eyes on something bigger for now… but can he surprise us all for a second year?

Mark Davis
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Gained entry by winning his tournament at Road to 16 Carat Gold: London, Davis will be returning to the singles ranks in wXw, having most recently been in World Tag Team League as a part of Aussie Open. That being said, Davis does have some pedigree in wXw, having had a brief tour with them in April 2018, and holds a singles win over the current unified world wrestling champion Absolute Andy – so perhaps don’t write off Dunkzilla too quickly!

Pentagon Jr./Penta El 0 M
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: For Penta, see Fenix, just without the injuries. Also originally scheduled for last year’s Carat, Penta’ll be back looking to make a mark in singles action. Perhaps literally, if his chops are anything to go by!

Rey Horus
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: This’ll be Rey Horus’ debut in Europe (unless he ruins this by taking a booking beforehand!), and I’d expect him to have some degree of popularity given his appearance on Lucha Underground (albeit under another game).

Shigehiro Irie
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Beat Kyle Fletcher in a tournament final to make it here, Shigehiro Irie’s excursion to Europe has gotten him a tonne of exposure. As it should! The former KO-D champion’s tangled with the best of them so far, despite mixed results against talent as varied as Bobby Gunns, Great O-Kharn, Josh Bodom, Tyson T-Bone and, erm, Jeff Jarrett?! His loss to Gunns at Back to the Roots perhaps was a blip, but in a packed field, Irie will stand out.

Timothy Thatcher:
Last Year: Semi-Final
Best Finish: Semi-Final (2018, lost to Absolute Andy)
Chances: Some would say that 2018’s 16 Carat Gold weekend helped solidify Timothy Thatcher as a star in Europe, winning the Ambition tournament and coming painfully close to the finals of Carat itself. Along with the rest of RINGKAMPF, Thatcher’s in the field for 2019’s Carat – but he also has a distraction in Ambition in the form of a superfight against Yuki Ishikawa.

WALTER
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: Winner (2010, beat Chris Hero in the finals)
Chances: Having joined NXT UK, WALTER’s appearance in 16 Carat Gold could be taken as a surprise or as a sign of things to come. That being said, WALTER’s in the Ilja Dragunov bracket of having done everything there is to do in wXw, but I wouldn’t rule out an all-RINGKAMPF final… the only issue is, will either man be around to cash in their title shot at the end of it all?

EVENTS

Inner Circle
Already sold-out, the Inner Circle is wXw’s traditional gift to fans ahead of these festival weekends. The show’s at the wXw Wrestling Academy in Essen, while matches will be confirmed nearer the time…

Podcast Marathon
A new event for these festivals, the Hotel Haus Union on nearby Schenkendorfstraße will play host to a series of live podcast tapings from Voices of Wrestling’s Brit Wres Roundtable (err…), The Indy Corner’s Spotlight, Alan 4L’s Pro Wrestling Paradise, Botchamania, plus HeadLock and Blown Up (featuring wXw referee Felix Schulz and Avalanche). This is the part where I’m kinda glad Ringside Live isn’t a thing anymore…

16 Carat Gold – Night One
Self-explanatory really. All eight first-round matches will take place here and perhaps some non-tournament matches…

Oberhausen Open 2
Formally on the wXw schedule, after the opening night of 16 Carat Gold, a healthy contingent of fans (and wrestlers) will be heading across Mülheimerstraße and around Max-Planck-Ring to Knippi’s Bowling Palace for the second-ever Oberhausen Open. Spaces on the tournament are now fully sold out, perhaps aided by…

and no… I have no idea whether Kevin Owens was being serious or not.

WrestlingKult 11 – Früh Choppen
Not officially on the wXw agenda, there’s some Saturday morning graps for those of you who hate sleep as much as they love wrestling. At time of writing only standing tickets are left for the show at the Kult Tempel, which is usefully close to the Turbinenhalle. As in, right next to the venue’s carpark. Doors for this are at 9.30am, with a 10am start, and according to the poster at least you’ll see Julian Pace, Melanie Gray, Bad Bones and more.

Ambition 10
Already announced for this is the main event Superfight: Timothy Thatcher vs. Yuki Ishikawa. With Thatcher in Carat, he’ll not be doing double duty as he instead has this dream match against the 51 year old, who has been slowing down a LOT in recent years. By which I mean “one match a year” levels as his career looks to be winding down.

As for the tournament itself, Shigehiro Irie is doing double duty with Ambition and 16 Carat Gold, while Laurance Roman returns after last year’s impressive showing. Veit Müller enters as the RINGKAMPF Young Boy… We’ve also got debuts for the Australian AJ Istria, Danny Jones, Chris Ridgeway and A-Kid (we’re not counting his pre-show match in London last year), while Rico Bushido returns to the Ambition tournament after five years away, hoping to repeat his success of 2011, when he won the tournament.

#WrestlingDeutschland 2
So far, the following promotions have been confirmed for matches at this year’s show:

WrestlingKult – based out of Dorsten, WrestlingKult seem to run mostly in Oberhausen and surrounding areas, often using some “wXw guys” on the undercard. Tristan Archer’s currently their champion, while their International Kult Cup – which was contested at last year’s event – is held by Alexander James.

Championship of Wrestling – based out of Birkenfeld, the promotion currently has Oliver Carter as their world champion

German Hurricane Wrestling – stationed in Hessen, this promotion tends to run every other month and uses a mix of German talent and fly-ins, with the likes of Juventud Guerrera, 2 Cold Scorpio and Tatanka having appeared on their shows in 2018.

GWP German Wrestling Promotion – from Roth in Bavaria, the GWP has been going for almost 13 years, and has used a wide variety of wrestlers. Their current champion is Cash Money Erkan, perhaps better known for his work in the GWF, while the likes of the Rotation, the Arrows of Hungary, El Phantasmo and Marius al-Ani have appeared here in the past 18 months.

Mad Wrestling Association – the promotion from Lübeck are back for a second year! Last year, their offer match perhaps stole the show, character-wise, as they gave us Brüder des Nordens (Lukas Robinson & Matthias Bernstein) vs. Rock n Roll Radicalz (Fynn Freyhart & Tim Karstens)… and yes, intrepid exploder and his germophobe mate stole the show for some. At the moment, Koray holds their German championship – although he appeared to retire after a Next Step Wrestling show at the end of last year, so who knows? MWA may well give us an outing for der Schwinger Club though, as they hold the promotion’s tag titles.

Next Step Wrestling – also back for a second year, the Dresden-based promotion gave us der Schwinger Club last year, and since then the promotion’s gone from strength to strength. Recent shows have included the likes of their current tag team champions, Die Sayajins, Martin Guerrero and Matze (whom you may remember from GWF’s Who’s Next…), along with Mike Schwarz, Zeritus, and their current heavyweight champion Laurance Roman. Ooh, does this mean we’ll get Frank Fehrmann singing “Hey! Wir woll’n die Waschbären sehen!” again?

wXw Wrestling Academy – this one’s a bit of a no-brainer! Last year, they gave us a trios tag with Julian Pace & Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura) vs. Marius van Beethoven, Timo Theiss & Timo Zimone. At the moment, the current wXw Academy Cup champion is Vinny Vortex – the brother of Bobby Gunns – whose comeback from injury saw him beat Benjamin van Es for the trophy in January.

Like last year, it’ll be at the Steffy – right around the back side of the Turbinenhalle.

16 Carat Gold – Night Two
Quarter-finals live here, along with the traditional “mitte-Samstag” title match. Oh, and then the after party straight after everyone’s filed outside and had a kebab…

Fan Expo
With Shotgun a thing of the past, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this’ll just be the interview segments and photo ops from prior expos; however this time there’s a big reason to attend… the Oberhausen Open 2 trophy ceremony! Oh, and the recording of matches for the Road to New York City feature event.

16 Carat Gold – Night Three
You know the score: the semis and the finals of 16 Carat Gold take place on the final night, along with a handful of other matches to be announced.

Remaining tickets for 16 Carat Gold weekend events are on sale now via Eventbrite – for further details and event timings, check out wxw-wrestling.com

TRAVEL TIPS
If you’re flying in to Düsseldorf, then The 2 Sarahs have this handy guide for you so you don’t get caught out with a fine! Make sure you search for Oberhausen as your destination in the touch screens – all of the touch screens you’ll encounter will have an English language option (be it at the airport, the train station or even in McDonalds!)

TRAINS
If you’re staying in Oberhausen, trains from Düsseldorf Flughafen run pretty frequently: direct trains run roughly every quarter of an hour, with the journey also lasting around 15 minutes.

If you’re going to the Inner Circle, you’ll need a train from Oberhausen to Essen-Zollverein Nord. Trains there run less frequently, leaving Oberhausen every hour – which means you’ll have to decide between leaving at 5.42pm for the Inner Circle and killing time there, or taking the 6.42pm train and risk missing the start of the show. It’s the same deal coming back too, with trains from Essen-Zollverein Nord back to Oberhausen leaving at six minutes past the top of the hours.

If you get to the venue early, you’re advised not to queue too early… and while there is a cash bar inside the venue, there’s also some stores not too far away.

Map showing Essen-Zollverein Nord & wXw Wrestling Academy – it’s a residential area, so keep quiet on your way to/from the venue

HOTELS
Hopefully you’ve booked yours up by now! The more popular hotels for travelling fans seem to be the NH (which is 5 minutes walk from the Hauptbahnhof), the Tryp (which is near Neue Mitte – by the CentrO), or the Mercure (which is on Max-Planck-Ring, right next to Knippis, where 16 Carat Bowled is taking place).

Since there’s so many hotels and possible AirBnBs available, we’ll leave it to you to figure out how to get around town, but the public transport in Oberhausen is fairly frequent…

BUSES & TRAMS
If you’re getting the bus or trams around Oberhausen, you’ll of course need to buy tickets for each journey. The nearest bus/tram stop to the Turbinenhalle is called Feuerwache. WHen you get off there, you’ll need to use the stairs to exit onto Mulheimstraße – then turn right and walk towards the water tower. You’ll spot the McDonalds and Turbinenhalle on the right hand side! If you’re going to the Podcast Marathon, it’s the same stop, but then turn left out of the station on Mulheimstraße.

For those going to 16 Carat Bowled after the show, unless you manage to hail a cab, then you’ll need to get to Knippi’s Bowling Palace by foot. Leave the Turbinenhalle and walk past the McDonalds, before crossing Mulheimstraße at the traffic lights. Head into the industrial park and walk towards the Burger King, crossing through their car park, then head right and follow the ring-road (Max-Planck-RIng) around turning onto any side-streets.

A handy map of the Turbinenhalle and surrounding areas…

In terms of food around the Turbinenhalle, you’re pretty limited I’m afraid. Both the McDonalds and Burger King (one on either side of Mülheimerstraße) get really busy in the run-up to door opening times, so unless you’re going early, you may want to try your luck at the CentrO, which is about a 20 minute walk each way unless you take the bus (Feuerwache & Lipperfeld are nearby stations which will also get you towards the CentrO – make sure you’re taking a bus towards Neue Mitte!). Which leads us onto some useful tips:

Pro-tip 1: If you’re going by bus from Oberhausen’s main train station (the Hauptbahnhof), then take either the 112, 960 or the SB90/SB91/SB92/SB98 towards Neue Mitte. Feuerwache’s the first stop after the Hauptbahnhof, so the short journey ticket (Kurzstrecke) at €1.70 will do you. Plus, you don’t even need to stamp those tickets!

Pro-tip 2: That same Kurzstrecke ticket will also work if you’re travelling to Neue Mitte for the CentrO (Oberhausen’s main shopping centre and restaurant hub). Going from the Hauptbahnhof to the Turbinenhalle, or from the Turbinenhalle to the CentrO is walkable, but if you plan on walking from the Hauptbahnhof to the CentrO, give yourself an hour, especially if you’re prone to getting lost!

Pro-tip 3: If you see yourself using a lot of buses, you may want to consider a 24- or 48-hour ticket, especially if you think you’ll be travelling around between shows. A 24-hour ticket will cost €7.10 for one person (and goes up to €20.70 for five people), while a 48-hour ticket for one person will be €13.50. You will need to validate those tickets in the machines next to the ticket machine or on the bus in order to not get fined!

BONS
From the file marked, “how did we forget to talk about this?” – just before you enter the main Turbinenhalle, you’ll be asked to purchase some bons. These aren’t sweets, sadly, but little paper tickets that you then use at the bar. I believe there’s a €6 for 6 bon minimum for every show (a venue rule, unfortunately), but bons are usable across the weekend. Bons can only be bought in cash, and can be exchanged at any bar inside the venue for food or drink. Price lists are shown at every bar, and if you’re wondering “what sort of food can I get?”, personal favourites are the bratwurst in a bun and the pretzel.

A brief disclaimer – when you’re buying train/tram/bus tickets, please double-check that they’re suitable for the journey you’re making! If you buy a ticket that requires validation (such as the 24/47 hour tickets), remember to validate it otherwise you will be liable for a fine.