The winner of 2020’s X-Sixteen was crowned as someone would have to win three matches in one night.
It’s back to the Gastonia National Armory, in Gastonia, North Carolina for the final day. Commentary comes from Brett Wolverton, The Tommy Thomas and Dave Foster. We open with a recap of the first night, along with some promos – including Harlem Bravado and his “win or bust” pledge. We’re told the time limits are upped to 30 minutes for tournament matches as well…
X-Sixteen – Quarter-Final: Corey Hollis vs. T.J. Boss
Hollis was back with Brady Pierce here, and he’d need the help given how TJ Boss had breezed through his first round match.
Boss charges through Hollis with a back elbow before a powerbomb was escaped. Some distraction from Pierce allowed Hollis to dropkick Boss to the outside, where Pierce followed up with a spinebuster on the apron as the ref was distracted. Boss beats the ten-count, as Hollis kept clubbing away, focusing on TJ’s hip. A spinebuster from Boss led to Hollis distracting the ref again… and yes, there’s more interference as Brady Pierce came in (and probably should have been spotted by the ref), using a chair to the back of Boss, allowing Hollis to get the win with a knee off the top – with Boss kicking out on three. A very flat finish, with the late, faked kick-out causing more confusion than anything else. **
Yet again “everyone’s bracket is busted”. That’s the third time commentary’s broken out that line this weekend.
X-Sixteen – Quarter-Final: Ren Narita vs. Ethan Case
Commentary mentioned how Case was wearing some Liger-inspired gear for this one – and we start with the pair trading holds, as Narita looked to edge ahead with a dropkick.
An overhead belly-to-belly has Case flying, as did a suplex, but Case got on the offensive, throwing chops before he grounded Narita. Ren broke the chinlock by getting to the ropes before he started to throw some rights of his own, trapping Case in the corner, only to get caught after an Irish whip got reversed… leading to a quick Iconoclasm that almost ended things. Narita manages to hit back with a Cobra twist, before a bridging German suplex almost got him into the semis… but a pop-up spinebuster and an X-Plex quickly ends up getting Case the win. Another short match, but they kept it pacey – as they needed to with a potential three matches on the docket tonight. ***
X-Sixteen – Quarter-Final: Matt Sydal vs. Harlem Bravado
Bravado started off having Sydal take him down with a headlock… but he powered up and issued a receipt as he proceeded to ground Sydal, rolling him into a modified STF.
A right hand took Sydal onto the apron, before he got dropkicked off it… but Sydal sneaks under the ring and attacks Bravado from behind, following up with some kicks. Back inside, a modified deathlock has Bravado in more trouble, as did a kick… as Sydal kicked Bravados’ leg out of his leg. Bravado’s back with a big boot, before a scooping reverse DDT was countered into a Final Cut by Sydal. A standing moonsault follows for a two-count, before Sydal went up top… but he’s stopped with an uppercut as a Tower of London brought him down the hard way for another near-fall. A powerbomb from Bravado lands, before they went back-and-forth on pinning attempts… which led to Harlem just ending it with Straight Cash Homey to book his spot in the semis. A solid quarter-final, with the pair packing a lot into their time – while the crowd were really biting on the possible retirement. ***¼
Mason Myles vs. Karl Fredericks
Some non-tournament action here… Myles was squashed in double-quick time last night, and he’s moaning about it too. Apparently he’s working a Crash Holly-esque “I’m a heavyweight” gimmick. Would have been nice to have known that yesterday to make that squash funnier…
Fredericks was the aggressor early on, taking down Myles into the ropes before rolling him down in a key lock. That turned into an attempt at a cross armbar, but Myles got free and grabbed a headlock, before eventually taking Fredericks down with a low dropkick. Myles had Fredericks scouting, as he ducks the leapfrog/crossbody combo, before a tornado DDT attempt was stuffed… although Myles does fly off the top rope with a missile dropkick for a near-fall. An elbow from Fredericks sets up for a springboard crossbody out of the corner, before a hiptoss and Mario elbow gets a near-fall.
Myles responds with a TKO cutter to spike Fredericks for a two-count of his own… but then Mason gets a little too cocksure, and talks himself into chopping Fredericks. Karl obliges, almost laughing off the chops before he lit up Myles with his response. A snap backbreaker’s next for a two-count from Fredericks, then a spinebuster and an implant DDT… and that’s enough for the win. Pretty straightforward stuff, although Fredericks had a brief scare on the way to a solid win. ***
PWX iTV Championship: Lucky Ali vs. Saieve Al Sabah vs. Nathan Cruz vs. Cam Carter (c)
Conveniently, the iTV champion was eliminated on night one… so he gets to defend his title against three guys who also failed to make the quarter-finals.
Carter looked to pick a fight with al-Sabah before the match, but Saieve immediately takes Lucky Ali to the outside as they picked up where they left off yesterday. That meant it was Cruz left in there with Carter, eventually falling to an armdrag and a dropkick before al-Sabah came in to land a no-bump suplex as we quickly switched focus to Ali and Saieve again. Carter pulls Ali to the outside so he could post him, as commentary mixed up “intertwined” and “incestual” to describe a feud… things resume with Carter laying into al-Sabah with some right hands, before a missed Quebrada allowed Saieve to dive into Cruz on the floor. Ali’s back to capitalise, faking out a dive as he posted Carter and Cruz, them rolled al-Sabah back inside.
A snap Angle slam from al-Sabah nearly gets him the win over Ali, before Nathan Cruz interjected himself into things, ducking a superkick before dropping Saieve with the Thanks, Tully. Carter tries to break up the pin, but crashes and burns on a back senton as a big ol’ Parade of Moves broke out, ending with a spinning back suplex from al-Sabah. Ali rakes the eyes of Saieve as he was in the corner, before powerbombing al-Sabah onto a bent-over Carter… but he can’t get the pin as Cruz comes in, only to get caught with an O’Connor roll. From the kick-out, Cruz pushes Saieve into the corner, where he’s met with an overhead belly-to-belly as Cruz waited for Ali with a Show Stolen… but Carter stomps away the pin. PHEW.
More movez clears the ring, leading to Carter hitting a frog splash on Ali for a near-fall, but the match wasn’t for long as Saieve threw Carter outside… then got caught with a spin kick after Ali pushed away a roll-up… allowing Carter to snatch the pin. This was very frantic at times, perhaps too frantic, and man, PWX sure love their “snatched the win” finishes this weekend, eh? **¾
Promo time, as the Revolt! interrupted Jake Manning sleeping in his tent outside the venue. They’re in trios action later, but need a third man… they ask Jake, but he laughs them off, as the former tag champions Drew Adler and Tracer X were in there with him. Don’t ask! Their hunt for a third man’s interrupted by Jason Cade, who’s here and free… and so they reluctantly accept the PWX champ’s help.
X-Sixteen – Semi-Final: John Skyler vs. Harlem Bravado
Skyler got a bye through the quarter-finals because of the draw…
Bravado’s not showing any signs of his bad leg early on, but he’s cornered almost straight away as Skyler stomped away in the corner. A kitchen sink knee to the gut spins Bravado for an early two-count, before he was sent outside as Skyler seemed to look for the count-out win. It wasn’t forthcoming mind you, as Skyler kept on Bravado with some kicks, before a switcheroo led to Bravado booting Skyler off the apron ahead of a blurry tope con giro. They wander around the crowd for a bit as Skyler’s chopped, then thrown back inside… but Skyler’s quickly back on top, coming close with a back senton. A second one fails as Bravado got his knees up, but Skyler’s quickly back in with a suplex and a chinlock… Bravado gets free and comes in with a Blockbuster, but before a scooping reverse DDT was pushed away.
Instead, Bravado’s able to score with a springboard moonsault for a near-fall, before Skyler dropped out of a superplex so he could trip Bravado onto the buckles. A slingshot spear can’t put Harlem down though, as the match descended into back-and-forth strikes. They trade superkicks, before Bravado caught Skyler with a big boot and a Falcon arrow… but it doesn’t do the deal as Skyler responded with a Finlay roll off the top rope for a near-fall of his own. Somehow, Skyler’s bleeding from the eye, and that almost made him go for a desperation slingshot spear… it’s caught as Bravado looked for Straight Cash Homey, eventually landing it for the win. This felt well paced, especially compared to the rest of the tournament matches thus far – and they packed a lot into the match. Even if the crowd didn’t seem to be too enthused… ***¼
X-Sixteen – Semi-Final: Corey Hollis vs. Ethan Case
Will Hollis be going for another smash and grab win here?
Hollis runs his mouth at the bell, and gets met with a cutter from Case… but there’s no pin as Corey rolls outside. Some walk-and-brawl breaks out as Corey’s chopped around the front row, and of course, Brady Pierce is looming at ringside. Back inside, Hollis is bounced into the buckles before he had his eye raked cross the top rope. Hollis comes back though, forcing Case to grab the ropes from a crossface… and now Pierce gets involved as this looked to be a repeat of the earlier rounds. An overhead wristlock from Hollis is quickly broken in the ropes, but that doesn’t stop Hollis from focusing on that body part.
Case stops Hollis with a Dragon screw though, buying him some time… but Hollis is right back on him, throwing shots to the arm. A rebound cutter out of the corner doesn’t land as Case gets thrown shoulder-first into the corner, before a Stroke and a crossface almost forced the stoppage, before Case rolled Hollis up to break the hold. Corey keeps up, but misses a kick out of the corner… then got caught with a springboard cutter off the middle rope… but Case took too long to make the cover. From the near-fall, Hollis back up with an arm whip to Case, who somehow responded with a pop-up forearm, as Pierce pulled Hollis to the outside to safety… walking him away from a dive too.
Case followed him outside, dropping Pierce with a cutter on the floor… but then we’re interrupted as John Skyler’s putting a beating to Ethan Case’s father. That scuffle breaks out to ringside, and Hollis takes advantage of the distraction, posting Case before nailing a diving knee off the top rope for the win. So… Case and Skyler, who apparently were a team until late last year, have blown up and cost Ethan Case a spot in the final. Does that mean Skyler’s going to reunite with a former partner? As a match, this was okay… but overshadowed by the angle at the end. ***
All-Stars (Drew Adler & Tracer X) & Jake Manning vs. REVOLT! (Caleb Konley & Zane Riley) & Jason Cade
Tracer X is holding his back… that’s what sleeping in a tent will do to you. Drew Adler’s limping too…
We start with Cade going after Tracer, pushing him out of the corner before Tracer cartwheeled out of a ‘rana. That’s enough for Cade to take as he tags in Konley… then Riley, with the latter eating a roundhouse enziguiri before Drew Adler came in and got kicked away. Things threaten to break down as Adler brought all three opponents into the ring, before Tracer looked for a chicken fight, which the REVOLT! More than obliged. Jake Manning’s in to do a little reading, which just suckered Cade into it all as he got met with an electric chair drop. Tracer spins Cade into a Black Hole slam attempt, but Adler has to make do with a big back body drop to take Cade outside, following up with a hobbled tope to the outside. Back in the ring, Manning hit a DDT/Flatliner combo on the tag champions, before a Cade superkick almost snuck a win for Riley.
Slingshots follow from Konley, Cade and Riley on Manning, who was quickly finding himself on the defensive, but he gets the knees up to block a Vader bomb. Tags bring in Adler and Konley, with Drew firing up… until he got caught with a misdirection pounce from Riley. Things break down as bodies fly around again, with Riley taking a sunset bomb into the buckle from Manning, before a lungblower in the corner from Cade almost took the win. Tracer and Adler hit a double-team suplex/cutter on Cade, but Konley stuffs another double-team as a thumb-in-the-bum plex from Riley took Tracer to the outside. Riley goes airborne seconds later with a tope, before Manning’s Trust Fall into Riley took the big man out. Madi Maxx, Jason Cade’s new valet, appears to get in Jake Manning’s face… but she scarpers when Savannah Evans ran out.
From there, Jake Manning brings in his tent, which gets the pop of the night. That thing’s won titles you know? And I’m not kidding… The Revolt stop Manning from throwing Cade through the tent though, and instead they go for a superplex… Manning counters it into a double-team Blockbuster, but gets caught on the landing with a Shining Wizard from Cade, and that’s enough for the win. A good trios match, but I was not thrilled with Tommy Thomas’ commentary overwhelming this match as he was mad about the former Syndicate breaking up. ***
After the match, Adler and Tracer are attacked by two wrestlers who came through the crowd. One of the commentators knew who they were, but struggled to tell us as Matt Sigmon smashed a chair into Adler’s hip. Elliot Sigmon’s the other guy, as it looks like the Heat Seekers are “invading”. Only after the chairshot did they cut away to the commentary team as they “fixed” things… and yeah, these fake invasion angles aren’t really helped when companies they used to work for sub-sub tweet about the whole thing. The invasion part was a cool way to debut them, but the rest of it… eh. Especially the “Owen Voice”.
X-Sixteen – Final: Harlem Bravado vs. Corey Hollis
We’ve no time limit for this final, which will either see Harlem Bravado go down in flames, or leave with the trophy…
Brady Pierce gets ejected before he even made it to the ring, but that doesn’t mean Corey doesn’t have a plan B. We get going as Corey instantly powdered to the outside, looking to slow the pace as he played hide and seek with Bravado. Harlem drags him from under the ring, sparking some crowd brawling as the referee started a count-out… but if there must be a winner, why’s he doing a double count-out?! They brawl to the merch tables, then back to the ring as Hollis tosses Bravado back through chairs. Bravado’s back as he put Corey in an office chair, pushing him into a fire door, but it’s Hollis who took over as he took the match back towards ringside, throwing Bravado into the apron.
Bravado eventually makes it back to the ring, where he’s caught with a springboard Pele out of the corner from Hollis, before an Exploder took Corey into the corner. Bravado looks for Straight Cash Homey, but Hollis escaped and nearly won with a roll-up, only for Bravado to switch around and go for a deadlift Falcon Arrow for a near-fall. Hollis spits at Bravado, which just earned him a running boot that took him onto the apron… but Hollis just responds with a snap fireman’s carry slam and a diving knee off the top that almost got the win. That goddamn slam looked awful to take, especially as Bravado clipped the ropes on his way down. Hollis swung at the ref out of frustration, before a hockey fight broke out… and then we got a ref bump as Bravado shoved Hollis away.
Straight Cash Homey follows for a visual pin, and of course Brady Pierce comes out. I wrote that before that happened. A big spinebuster drops Harlem, as the bad guys looked to steal the win, but Bravado got his shoulder up at the last minute… so Pierce pulls out the ref and kicked him under the ring. The ultimate temper tantrum. Bravado’s double-teamed as we waited for another ref… but out comes Logan Creed to make the save, going after Pierce before he clotheslined him to the outside… only for a chairshot from Hollis to stop the big man from diving. Pierce is back, but so is Slim J, who ran out and whacked Pierce with a chair… but he’s tossed out as Hollis used the chair on Bravado repeatedly.
Hollis waves for a ref, and eventually gets it… but he can’t make it count as Bravado instantly catches Corey with Straight Cash Homey… and that’s enough to win the tournament! That felt a little rushed as a finish, but ultimately a feel good moment to end the weekend on as Slim J presented Bravado with the trophy. ***½
Looking at the tournament line-up going in, the 2020 edition of the X-Sixteen was arguably the weakest of the lot, at least in terms of star power. With all due respect, if Nathan Cruz, Karl Fredericks and Ren Narita are the big imports, you know there’s a downgrade – even if all three of those guys are supremely talented in the ring. As such, this year’s tournament was considerably more story-based, with Harlem Bravado’s “lose and I’m retiring” story being the big hook – which is great for close followers of PWX, but for fans who aren’t into the product, can be a bit underwhelming. Add in the fact that the opening night felt distinctly rushed and underwhelming, and this is a tournament that you’d be able to get away with only watching half of – and with Harlem Bravado’s tournament win getting him a PWX title shot, you’d have to think he’ll have a shot of adding some rare singles gold to his CV before too long.