With 16 Carat Gold appearing in the horizon, it’s time to take a look at wXw’s centrepiece event!

Running from March 9 through 11 in Oberhausen, this will be the 13th Carat tournament, and as has become the norm in recent years, a mixture of wXw’s biggest names and some indy darlings will be vying it out to win a trophy that was won last year by Ilja Dragunov.

Even in the early days, wXw’s been able to get some of the scene’s bigger names – like Rocky Romero and Doug Williams in 2006, Nigel McGuinness and Go Shiozaki and many more. Jimmy Jacobs, Chuck Taylor, Mike Quackenbush, Daisuke Sekimoto, Chris Sabin, Tyler Black (or Seth Rollins to you and me these days) and Fit Finlay are just a handful of past entrants. As for past winners, well, how’s this for a roll call? WALTER, El Generico, Ilja Dragunov, Tommy End, Chris Hero, Zack Sabre Jr and Shingo Takagi – a selection of some of the big names from the indys in the last decade-or-so.

Now we have the final field of 16, and the first round matches, let’s take a look at what’s been slated for that weekend in Oberhausen!

16 Carat Gold – Entrants

Absolute Andy
Last Year: Did Not Qualify (lost qualifier vs. Marius al-Ani)
Best Finish: Semi-Finalist (2015)
Chances: Andy is having something of a career resurgence after his shock turn on Marius al-Ani on the last night of the World Tag Team League weekender. While Andy’s had success in some tournaments in wXw, such as their Mittedeutschland cup, it’s been a long while since he’s been in and around title contention. Given that Marius is likely to be around, I’ve a feeling that any chance of success may well be derailed by his former A4 tag team partner…

Alexander James
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Alexander James ended 2017 on a something of a high in wXw, picking up wins over David Starr and Jurn Simmons, before losing in an I Quit match to the Dutchman… sending him packing for a few months. AJ’s back for for several weeks, so this isn’t going to be a weekend stop-off for the American – but as for winning? It’d be a long shot!

Avalanche
Last Year: First Round (lost vs. Ilja Dragunov)
Best Finish: Quarter-Finalist (2014)
Chances: It’s been an odd year for Avalanche in wXw thus far – having been part of the winning team in the Käfigschlacht for the third year in a row, he’s not been seen on TV since… which is certainly something. In the interim, Avalanche has shown off how much he’s trimmed down since his return from injury last year… given that the Carat winner gets a title shot, the question you’ve got to ask for everyone is “can you see them in a title match”? Against WALTER? Definitely. Against Bad Bones? Just as easily… Avalanche isn’t the outside bet you may think.

Chris Brookes
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Taking out the London shows, Brookes only had one main show appearance for wXw last year, in a losing effort alongside Travis Banks against A4. You don’t have to look too far back to when Brookes had wXw gold, but with so many irons in the fire in the UK, it’d be a bit of a surprise if Brookes is still in the hunt by Sunday.

Da Mack
Last Year: First Round (lost vs. Cody Rhodes)
Best Finish: First Round (2017)
Chances: There’s two trains of thought here: one is that Da Mack is going to be the next big disappointment for RISE, in that he gets eliminated on night one… or he’s going to be the potential spoiler to set up the threat of a RISE vs. RISE title match.

David Starr
Last Year: First Round (lost vs. WALTER)
Best Finish: First Round (2017)
Chances: After making his wXw name taking the Shotgun title Stateside, “The Product” has had his sights firmly fixed on the Austrian Ring General known as WALTER in recent times. Losing to him in the first round of Carat last year continued a trend that has just kept going on both sides of the Atlantic. Not counting tag team wins, Fulda, Hamburg, Oberhausen, Bielefeld, London, Melrose and Wolverhampton have all seen Starr come up short… and with WALTER getting a wXw Unified World Wrestling championship shot on Saturday, that could well be the next destination.

Jonah Rock
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Over in Europe from Australia, Rock is coming into this as a massively unknown quantity. Rock’s fortunes will be massively dependent on the draw, but this could be a case of the Australian going out on night one and popping up as a surprise contender for the Shotgun title later in the weekend.

Jurn Simmons has been withdrawn from the tournament after injuring his ankle at a wXw event in Hoyerswerda. His spot will be taken by the winner of the alternate four-way on the pre-show on Friday night.

Keith Lee
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: Another wXw debutant, Keith Lee is out to prove that he’s “more than a mere replacement” (our bad!) as he was drafted in when Jeff Cobb was removed by Lucha Underground. Given he’s massively won over every crowd he’s performed in front of, I don’t think that Keith is in any danger of not winning over Oberhausen… but as far as the tournament, I can see him making it to night two, but perhaps not the final four.

Lucky Kid
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: For Lucky Kid, read Da Mack. Although he’s largely leaned towards Bad Bones’ side in the ongoing RISE struggles, he’s not been as outspoken as, say, Ivan Kiev. Sod’s law could well draw these two together at any stage, which I’d expect given how the RISE storyline is playing out, but I’d have Mack down as more of a threat in the tournament.

Marius al-Ani
Last Year: Quarter-Finalist (lost vs. WALTER)
Best Finish: Quarter-Finalist (2017)
Chances: Being drawn against Absolute Andy in the first round makes me think that Marius isn’t going to be repeating his performance last year… but I don’t foresee either half of the former A4 getting past Friday.

Mark Haskins
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: Quarter-Finalist (2011)
Chances: In the earlier days of wXw, Mark Haskins was a bit of a mainstay… but since he left for his TNA run in 2011, his appearances here have been very sporadic. A loss to John Klinger on the Tommy End farewell show in 2016, and a loss to Ilja Dragunov in London last October… I don’t think Haskins is going to be too many people’s picks to even make it beyond night one.

Matt Riddle
Last Year: Semi-Finalist (lost vs. WALTER)
Best Finish: Semi-Finalist (2017)
Chances: Again juggling Ambition with 16 Carat, Matt Riddle could well be taking on too much this year… although while Riddle’s not in the Ambition tournament this year, a Superfight with WALTER is pretty much the equivalent of three matches in one go. Replacing Penta el Zero M, Riddle’s chances will depend on the draw. Riddle could be the dark horse when we make it to the final day, but that may be as far as the Bro can Go.

Matt Sydal
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: First Round (2007)
Chances: We’re over a decade since Sydal’s last Carat appearance, where he went out in the first round… and I’d not expect much further progression from him this time. A replacement for Fenix, there could be more juice in Sydal’s weekend from non-tournament matches. Anyone up for Sydal vs. Julian Pace, perhaps?

Timothy Thatcher
Last Year: Quarter-Finalist (lost vs. Ilja Dragunov)
Best Finish: Quarter-Finalist (2017, 2016)
Chances: With his tag team championship partner WALTER getting the title shot on Saturday, Thatcher’s going to be a little under the radar this weekend. Very few would have him down as a tournament winner, especially since that could cause conflict if WALTER wins the big one. Not that either of them would mind – PROGRESS fans have had a very recent taste of what happens when those two meet… I wouldn’t be surprised if Thatcher goes out at the quarter-finals for a third year in a row, if only to set up a tag title match on the Sunday.

Travis Banks
Last Year: Not involved
Best Finish: No prior entries
Chances: wXw was a small part of Travis Banks’ 2017, but just like his sometimes-tag partner Chris Brookes, he too was restricted to just the one main show match outside of Germany, in that tag team loss against A4. Banks did have a stormer of a match against John Klinger in the main event in London last October, and with a match against WALTER set-up for the company’s return later in March, I don’t think a Carat win would do much more… especially if WALTER leaves Oberhausen with gold. My purely speculative guess is a quarter-final exit, and a tag title match with Chris Brookes against RINGKAMPF on the Sunday…

Our final four predictions: Avalanche, David Starr, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle.

Inner Circle

The traditional prelude to some of wXw’s bigger events, the company really goes back to its roots with a show on the night before Carat at their Academy in Essen. Announced thus far for the sold out show are WALTER vs. Jonah Rock and Mike Bailey vs. Mark Haskins. Killer Kelly vs. Veda Scott has also been teased.

WrestlingKult 6 – Kult Goes Carat

If you’ve not had a late night, there’s some Saturday morning graps for you – not in association with wXw – courtesy of the WrestlingKult promotion. Those of you in Oberhausen for World Tag Team League will probably remember them as being the promotion that had a banner for a show with Super Crazy hanging outside the McDonalds by the Turbinenhalle…

Doors open at 10.30am for an 11am bell time at the Zentrum Altenberg in Oberhausen (right next to the train station, on the other side of the tracks from the Turbinenhalle).

So far we’ve got the announced main event of Tristan Archer (formerly known as Clement Petiot from the Cruiserweight Classic) vs. Carnage, while we have two triple-threat matches to qualify for the International Cult Cup. In one match, we’ve Manticore (Toby Blunt) vs. Julian Pace vs. The Italian Dream, and the other sees Kris Jokic take on Mark Benjamin and the Rotation.

There’s a switch to the tag title match, with Soldiers of Fortune 2.0 (Andrei Ivanov & Sean Lucas) now defending against Keel Holding’s Aaron Insane & Michael Isotov. There’s a four-way women’s match between Melanie Gray, Killer Kelly (in for Tayra Gates), Shanna and Amale Winchester. Also announced is Josh Bodom (yes, the same one), but there’s no match set for him just yet. WrestlingKult reckon they’ll be done by 12.30, giving you just enough time to make the trip to the Turbinenhalle for…

Ambition 9

wXw’s shoot-style tournament will be held at Saturday lunchtime, featuring some names from Carat and other non-tournament participants. The non-tournament “superfight” has been announced as WALTER vs. Matt Riddle, which should be quite tasty if they don’t kill each other, that is…

The first round matches have been set for the tournament, and we have:

Heddi Karaoui (a French grappler and prior Ambition finalist in 2013) vs. David Starr
Bobby Gunns vs. Marius al-Ani (replacing RAFA, who’s suffered a recurrence of a knee injury)
Mike Bailey vs. Jonah Rock (good luck Speedball!)
Alexander James vs. Timothy Thatcher

#WrestlingDeutschland

Sandwiched between Ambition 9 and the evening show on Saturday, the Steffy in Oberhausen (right next to the Turbinenhalle) will be offering a showcase of matches from several German promotions. So far we have the following matches announced:

Kiel’s Maximum Wrestling, has their European Cruiserweight Champion, Michael Knight defending against Ivan Kiev. Yes, the same one – he wrestles here alongside Pete Bouncer as part of the tag team known as the Purge Club.

Lübeck’s Mad Wrestling Association is giving us a tag team match, between Brüder des Nordens (Matthias Bernstein and Lukas Robinson) and the Rock ‘n Roll Radicalz of Fynn Freyhart and Tim Karstens.

The wXw Academy is putting forward a trios match – on one side, we have the Academy Trophy champion Julian Pace and the Pretty Bastards of Maggot and Prince Ahura against the trio of Timo Theiss, Timo Zimone and Marius van Beethoven. Theiss lost the Academy Trophy to Pace last summer, while Marius was actually a part of 16 Carat last year, losing in the no-ropes match to Alpha Kevin on the third night.

Roth’s German Wrestling Promotion has changed their match – Murat Bosporous is off the show, as Icarus (not the CHIKARA guy) now takes on Tristan Archer, formerly of WWE’s Cruiserweight  Classic.

WrestlingKult have announced their match – which’ll come pretty sharpish after their show in Oberhausen earlier in the day. Correcting our earlier mistake, it’s actually a four-way for the International Kult Cup, with Josh Bodom defending against Senza Volto, and the winners of the two triple threat matches from the earlier WrestlingKult show.

Dresden’s Next Step Wrestling is also providing a trio’s contest: Der Schwinger Club of Brent Rogers, DG Dash & Rick Baxxter vs. Chris Rocke, Zeritus and Laurance Roman. Baxxter has appeared for wXw before, most recently in last year’s Shortcut to the Top, while Chris Rocke, Zeritus and Laurance Roman have also appeared for wXw, with the pre-show battle royal at Broken Rules XVII being their last outings.

16 Carat Gold – Night One

After the withdrawal of Jurn Simmons due to a fractured ankle,  we’ve still got one mouth-watering clash between Marius al-Ani and Absolute Andy, in addition to the following:

Travis Banks vs. Mark Haskins
Avalanche vs. Keith Lee
Chris Brookes vs. Alexander James
Da Mack vs. Matt Riddle
Jonah Rock vs. Timothy Thatcher
Matt Sydal vs. Lucky Kid
David Starr vs. 16 Carat Gold Alternate

That alternate’s match is in the Friday night warm-up, as Julian Nero, Julian Pace, Ivan Kiev and Emil Sitoci square off to determine who’ll face David Starr.

16 Carat Gold – Night Two

So far, the “mitte Samstag” has a main event booked, along with the quarter-finals of 16 Carat Gold.

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: WALTER vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger
There’s a stipulation in the works, with Klinger suggesting on Shotgun that this be a street fight… but as of yet it has not been agreed to.

wXw Women’s Championship: Melanie Gray vs. Toni Storm (c)
Gray gets this shot by way of winning the number one contender’s triple-threat match in Bielefeld – can Melanie get the title she feels she deserves here, or will it be Toni Time once more?

wXw Shotgun Championship: Mike Bailey vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
Despite pulling himself from the Road to 16 Carat Gold tournament, Bobby Gunns still got involved in the final – and that’s led to this match for the Shotgun title being booked.

16 Carat Gold – Night Three

Of course, the final night will include the semis and the finals of 16 Carat Gold, along with other matches to be confirmed… such as another potential Toni Storm title defence!