Wrestlers from around the world converged on North Carolina as PWX’s annual X-Sixteen tournament got underway.

It’s the first big tournament of the year – and this year it’s moved onto a new platform, as IWTV.live have picked up the PWX catalogue. We’re coming from the Gastonia National Armory, in Gastonia, North Carolina, with commentary coming from Brett Wolverton, The Tommy Thomas and Dave Foster. What, no Kevin Kelly?!

All first round matches have a 15-minute time limit, with draws meaning both competitiors get eliminated…

X-Sixteen – First Round: Mason Myles vs. T.J. Boss
Myles tries to cut a promo before the match but gets shouted down…TJ Boss just stares down at Myles from the corner… and when Mason slaps him, it was only a matter of time. Myles gets pie-faced, then met with a running forearm before a powerbomb put him away. Splat. I think we saw that coming when Myles went and did a promo.

X-Sixteen – First Round: Ren Narita vs. Jake Manning
Ren Narita’s slowly appearing in more and more places on his excursion… although Jake Manning is a questionable choice for those who only know him through his comedy matches as the Manscout.

Manning played to Narita’s technical background from the off, trading holds before he dug into his scouting manual, which led to him running the ropes while reading… and Narita playing into it all, missing some elbow drops. Well, it’s new to him. Heading outside, Narita’s taken into the apron as Manning clubbed away on him, following up with a back body drop back inside. A sunset bomb took Narita into the bottom buckle as Manning picked up a near-fall, but Narita’s right back with a release overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Another suplex gives Ren a two-count before he rolled Manning into a Boston crab, but they break right by the ropes.

Undeterred, Narita followed up with a side Russian legsweep before he rolled in with a leg spreader, letting go… and finding himself trapped in a backbreaker/Flatliner quick combo as Manning almost snatched the win. Narita’s quickly back in it though, but he’s met with a Trust Fall out of the corner from Manning… only to kick out and score with a crucifix roll-up for the win. Well, Ren largely wrestled Manning’s match, and it looked odd as such, but this was far from a definitive victory. **¾

X-Sixteen – First Round: Logan Creed vs. Corey Hollis
We’ve got a pre-match promo from Corey Hollis, who’s hiding behind Brady Pierce – his bodyguard, I guess while he rants. No, it’s not a Father Ted “big… far away” thing, Hollis literally comes up to his bodyguard’s chest. Hollis is promising to tear down PWX bit-by-bit so he can get to the top.

Creed jump starts the match, leaping into Hollis with a tope before the bell. Hollis gets posted before Creed got distracted, going after Pierce, who traps him in the apron as some double-teaming looked to wear down the big man. Except it didn’t, as Creed powerbombed Pierce onto the edge of the apron. Hollis tries to jump Creed as he gets into the ring, but it backfires as the match finally starts, with Creed hitting a bulldog out of the corner before a suplex throw had Hollis down. A desperation splash into the corner from Hollis misses, but he still tries to fight back, and has some success kicking out Creed’s leg.

Superkicks to Creed keep him down, but Hollis just leaps into a chokeslam… although he was able to kick out. A running neckbreaker from Hollis only gets a one-count, before Creed met him with Scorched Earth – a head crush slam – which would have gotten the win, only for Brady Pierce to pop up from nowhere to put Hollis’ leg on the rope. That barely got a reaction. Piearce distracts the ref, but gets knocked off the apron… as did the ref, who joined him there for… reasons. That meant the ref missed a low blow as Hollis proceeded to get the win with a flying knee strike. This felt flat, not helped with the crowd keeping quiet throughout the “heat” as the crowd just weren’t sympathetic for the big guy. **¼

X-Sixteen – First Round: John Skyler vs. Karl Fredericks
We’ve another LA Dojo lad here, and another jarring moment as the commentary team tells us John Skyler’s hated… as the crowd applauded him.

Fredericks had Skyler cowering in the corner early on, before a chop battle ended with a series of takedowns and escapes on the mat. Skyler takes out a knee so he could grab a headlock, but Fredericks is back with a leapfrog/crossbody before Skyler lifted him from the ring to the floor – compromising the knee more. That gave Skyler an opening as he clocked Fredericks with some forearms before he put the boots to the Young Lion, as commentary were pushing that both men need to win their match quick. Fredericks fought back with a splash and the leaping elbow for a near-fall, before a Boston crab was stopped with an eye rake. Not to worry, Fredericks adds a spinebuster for a near-fall, before a backbreaker sent Skyler onto the apron.

Fredericks tries to suplex Skyler back in, but a slingshot spear stops him as the former PWX champion landed a swinging DDT for the win. Decent enough, but these rapid-fire time limits sure aren’t being worked like sprints – and more like matches with a section removed. **¾

Backstage, Ethan Case is cutting a to-camera piece, bemoaning how “the south” were the last to adapt yet again, this time to intergender wrestling. He’s got Savannah Evans in his first-round match, but promises that he’s not going to take her lightly.

X-Sixteen – First Round: Saieve al-Sabah vs. Lucky Ali
We’ve a jump start as al-Sabah caught Ali with a spinebuster almost as soon as he came into the ring… and it took the ref to stop Saieve from doing a dive too.

The bell goes as Lucky struck back, taking Saieve into the ropes with a forearm, but al-Sabah’s able to reply with a small package… which got no results as Lucky quickly got back on top with a front suplex. al-Sabah’s thrown outside next, with Ali following him out with some uppercuts before Saive missed a moonsault off the apron. Lucky didn’t miss his dropkick as he rushed back in and caught al-Sabah through the ropes, before the pair got back inside, with Ali nailing a suplex that left Saieve on his arse. An eye rake keeps Lucky ahead as did a back elbow as Saieve spun… but Saieve’s able to finally land something, getting a two-count from a sunset flip.

Lucky’s right back on top of him with a knee strike for some two-counts, but Saieve’s able to hit a DDT as finally the door looked to be opening for him. A corkscrew enziguiri keeps the door open, as did a moonsault off the apron, forcing Lucky to go back to the eyes to try and curtail that momentum. It sorta worked, as Ali hits an Iconoclasm to take Saieve off the top rope for a near-fall, before he started nibbling away at his foe. A powerbomb’s next for a two-count as we hit the final five minutes, with Saieve getting hurled into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly. He’s quickly back to his feet though, and lands a corkscrew elbow that nearly wins it, only for another missed splash from Saieve to let Lucky back in with an eventual sunset flip.

They’re teasing a draw as we’re into the final two minutes, with Lucky taking his time before he rolled Saieve into a Lion Tamer. That’s countered with a roll-up before he stripped Saieve of his his flak jacket… some quick choking with led to more slaps from Ali, who then got slapped to the outside. Rather than take the count-out, Saieve rolls outside and of course Lucky sandbags him… he finally rolls in, but Lucky rolls back outside, and we reach the time limit draw. Both men are eliminated after this one, which was a little rough at times and to be frank, was way too slowly-paced. **½

X-Sixteen – First Round: Nathan Cruz vs. Harlem Bravado
Cruz had to leave his gladiator’s like cape at home, and he’s back in PWX having appeared here in 2017. He’s up against Harlem Bravado, who spent some time in the UK… and he looks to be working a “lose and I retire” gimmick here.

Bravado tries to win it early with some roll-ups, before Cruz sat down on a La Magistral cradle for a near-fall. Harlem’s back with a headlock takedown, but Cruz countered with headscissors that Bravado popped out of. They up the pace as leap overs ended with a Bravado dropkick, as Cruz then got bounced around the turnbuckles. Cruz gets taken outside, but he sidesteps a teased dive as he instead grabbed Harlem’s t-shirt and then tried to wipe his arse with it. Instead, Bravado just slapped him on the tan lines, before Cruz – who’d pulled his tights up – replied by posting Harlem, looking for the cheap count-out win. A fan helps Bravado up, but Harlem gets back into the ring as Cruz hit a legdrop on the arm, stopping to taunt the crowd as he was thoroughly in charge.

The Thanks, Tully slingshot back suplex followed for a two-count, but Cruz telegraphs a back body drop, which gave Bravado some home. A neckbreaker has Cruz down, before Bravado spun him into a right hand as a running pump kick finally had the “Globetrotter” on top. Bravado keeps going with a scooping reverse DDT, then an uppercut in the corner before a Tower of London dumped Cruz for another near-fall.

A senton bomb’s next from Bravado… but it’s still not enough, as he was five minutes away from a career-ending draw. There’s a ref bump too as Cruz blocked an O’Connor roll… and that gives him time to pull off the turnbuckle pad and Eddie Guerrero things, claiming he’d been thrown into the exposed buckle. The ref doesn’t fall for it, but Cruz shoves Bravado into that exposed corner ahead of the Show Stolen for a near-fall, but now Bravado had to overcome the clock AND fight back into things. Although he didn’t have to fight for too long, as Bravado cheapshots Cruz with a right hand, then puts him away with the Straight Cash Homey – and that’s him into the next round! Two established professionals here, keeping it simple and working at a decent clip made this easily the best thing on this card so far. ***½

Backstage, John Skyler brags about the bye he’s gotten because of the Ali/al-Sabah draw.

X-Sixteen – First Round: Savannah Evans vs. Ethan Case
Evans is only the second ever woman to appear in the X-16, following Tessa Blanchard in 2015. JD Drake’s invaded commentary for this, as the match starts with chants of “intergender”. Yep, Ethan’s pre-match promo was right.

Evans decks Case at the bell, taking him outside as she put a beating to him… but Case struck back with a forearm back in the ring. She replied with a chop as this seemed to be more of a strike battle… until Case ran into a Thesz press, with some added biting. A splash in the corner followed, as does a Beele throw and a spear, but Case just cuts her off with a brainbuster for a delayed two-count. The back-and-forth continues as Evans hit a pop-up spinebuster, then rolled Case into a Boston crab, but that just ends in the ropes. A Dragon screw doesn’t help Case, but he’s able to get back upa s the pair wheeled away on each other with right hands… before Case’s springboard cutter out of the cutter saw him land flat in the middle of the ring. Evans tries to capitalise, but she’s quickly caught with a roll-up for the pin. Disappointingly short, but this was decent enough while it lasted. **¾

X-Sixteen – First Round: Cam Carter vs. Matt Sydal
Carter’s ITV championship isn’t on the line here, against a Matt Sydal who was making his first PWX outing in four and a half years. A lot has changed since…

Sydal’s taken into the corner early, but that just frustrated him as Sydal regrouped… then came back with an armbar. They stay at close quarters as Sydal kept on the arm before Carter rolled free, as the ITV champion worked his way back in with an armbar on Sydal. An elbow and a low dropkick keep Carter ahead, before he leapt in with a sunset flip for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Sydal goes to work on Carter’s leg, dropping a knee before leaning back into a modified Muta lock, following up with a shinbreaker and a Dragon screw as Carter was suddenly on the defensive. He avoids a low dropkick though, and caught Sydal with a tiltawhirl backbreaker… but the champion couldn’t keep the momentum, and was quickly back outside at the hands of Sydal.

Sydal disappears under the ring and comes out the other side so he could blindside Carter, following in with a standing moonsault for a two-count. Carter fights back with chops, but a clothesline in the ropes from Sydal stops him briefly, as a tope followed from the ITV champ. It aggravated his knee again though, although strangely landing on his feet from a missed tope con giro didn’t, as he proceeded to throw some head kicks Sydal’s way. O-kay?

Carter heads up top, and has to knock down Sydal… who replied with a leaping ‘rana, then another ‘rana for a near-fall, before a shooting star press was aborted. Instead, Sydal has to contend with a Spanish Fly… but he kicks out, and after a crucifix pin drew a near-fall, he rolled up Carter for the win. This got a little wonky towards the end, but they kept a decent enough pace. **¾

With this being a bracketed tournament, we know the quarter-final matches: TJ Boss vs. Corey Hollis, Ethan Case vs. Ren Narita, Matt Sydal vs. Harlem Bravado… and of course John Skyler has a bye to the semis.

PWX Tag Team Championship: Revolt! (Caleb Konley & Zane Riley) vs. ALL-Stars (Drew Adler & Tracer X) (c)
The Revolt! were looking to regain the belts they lost just before Christmas in this instant rematch…

Konley and Adler start us off, trading holds before a series of bodyslams had Konley scurrying for cover… tagging in Zane Riley, who was supping from a can of White Claw. Because memes. Tracer X is in too, and he goes for some headscissors that Riley blocked as he did anything he could to avoid spilling his drink. Leapfrogs and roll throughs work, as somehow Riley didn’t spill a drop, but he took a mouthful and had it booted out of him as he sprayed Konley off the apron. That gave the champions some impetus, as they double-teamed the big guy en route to a neckbreaker. Adler lands a stomp, but things turned around when Tracer X got his hair pulled in the ropes by Konley.

Caleb tags in, but gets lifted onto the apron… from where he returned with a slingshot senton. Riley borrows a page from his partner’s homework too, helping the challengers to a two-count… but Tracer X eventually tags out, as Drew Adler cleared house with a spinning backbreaker to Konley. Adler jams his knee as he leapt over Riley back inside, but he’s able to gut through as he ties up Konley in a Tree of Woe while commentary claimed that he’d torn his quad. Yeah.

Tracer X gets involved as all four men ended up in the corner… and with Adler having a bum leg, he lifts up Adler so he could wheel away on Riley’s back with punches. The challengers eventually get free, with Konley focusing on Adler, whose leg was hurt more with a Dragon screw in the ropes… but somehow he lifts Konley to the outside, only for Caleb to throw the leg into the apron again. Adler fights back though, side-stepping Konley’s charge… but Caleb’s able to pull Tracer X off the apron to stop a tag out as Riley proceeded to hit a running crossbody for a near-fall. From there, Riley traps Adler in a Stretch Muffler, which ends in the ropes… but Adler still couldn’t get a tag out.

What he could do though, was get his boot up to stop Riley leaping onto him… and when Tracer X pulled Konley off the apron to stop a tag from being made, the champions were just about able to get back in it. Clotheslines from Tracer and a roundhouse enziguiri stops Konley, while Riley fell to a springboard flatliner… who then had Konley dumped onto him with an Exploder for a near-fall.

The Revolt! were in trouble as Adler looked to lift up Riley for a double-team move… but Konley trips Tracer off the top rope, and came in with a springboard stomp off the top as the challengers almost nicked the win with a double-team. A Riley cannonball squashes Tracer, who somehow fought back with headscissors… only to get caught with a rolling uppercut before a dropkick stopped Konley. Adler’s back for a double-team suplex into a cutter, but it only gets a near-fall as the momentum was being traded.

Konley teases a dive, which he eventually hit to tee off a powerbomb on Tracer into Adler. Back in the ring, Riley violates Adler, who then took a superkick-assisted back suplex, as a BME from Konley almost gets the win… but Tracer dove in in time. Adler’s still limping as the Revolt looked for a finish, but he again fights back as he used a fallaway slam to toss Konley into Riley. Tracer’s back as he’s thrown into Riley, before going up top as Adler somehow hauled up Riley for a death valley driver. Commentary can’t tell it he hit it… but Tracer gets a 450 splash off, before he had to drag Adler over to make the cover… taking so long that there’s a kick-out at the end of it. Tracer goes for it again, but Riley’s pulled away sort-of… and the Revolt rush back in with an elevated stomp to Tracer to regain the titles. As a main event, this was okay – I was surprised that after telling the story with Adler’s leg, he didn’t take the fall, as Tracer X was certainly the fresher of the two men. ***

For the opening night of a tournament, this was a little underwhelming. On paper, the line-up paled in comparison to prior years, and with the show having been moved away from the Carrabus Arena, it made visually for a lower-profile show. My big issue with the tournament format was that while 15-minute time limits should have made for a pacier show (on paper, at least), too many of the matches lacked any kind of urgency. That translated into the crowd as well, and while a lot of this show certainly wasn’t “bad”, it certainly lacked that special something.