We’re back to North Carolina for the final rounds of the 2019 X16 – a stacked card that’ll determine a future challenger for the PWX championship.

Erm, the HighSpots listing for this show has ten matches on it. For a show that’s going less than 2h 40… again, we’re inside the Carrabus Arena in Concord, North Carolina as Kevin Kelly’s mic isn’t patched in for the opening piece. He’s next to the X16 trophy, and unfortunately Jason Cade, as I have to turn up my volume to hear anything here.

X16 Quarter-Final: Andrew Everett vs. Slim J
Yay, we’ve gone from “too quiet” to “a slight echo” on commentary for our opener as “Andrew The Giant” opens the show.

Everett jumps J with a dropkick at the bell, going straight in with ground and pound as the match headed outside. Chops from Everett send J into the aisle, but he fights back with some forearms by the apron before laughing off a chop… so Everett pokes him in the eye. J’s thrown into the barriers in the aisle, before they return to the ring as Everett gets taken into the turnbuckles before he’s folded by a slingshot neckbreaker from J.

Everett rolls outside and begins to chop Slim J some more, then headbutts him as they fight around the inert crowd. An attempt to hit a running knee by the barriers misses as J gets out of the way, with Everett charging into the guard rails, and that gives J an opening as he whacks away on Everett’s knee. Back inside though, Everett’s able to get back on top, at least until Slim J shoves him away out of the corner and nails a corkscrew springboard enziguiri for a near-fall.

Everett just about catches J with an overhead kick, before dragging him into the corner for something off the top… but he misses a shooting star press as Slim J picks him up in the Anger Management (Electric Chair Driver) for the win. This was fine, but I fear we’ll see a lot of hurried matches because of the one-night tournament format. **¾

Post-match, all we can hear is Everett whinging “how did he lift me up”, complaining yet praising Slim J’s “superhuman effort”.

X16 Quarter-Final: Drew Adler vs. Darius Lockhart
I never realised Adler used Smash Mouth as his theme… that’s an instant strike against him.

A lock-up starts the match, as Adler tries to restrain Lockhart with some mat wrestling… at least until a hammerlock’s reversed as Adler’s taken to the mat. Lockhart goes for an armbar next, bridging back on the limb as Adler’s just about covered for a two-count. Lockhart makes a point of going for Adler’s arm, stomping on the elbow before tying him into a ball a la Johnny Saint, but of course the Paradise Lock doesn’t force the submission.

So Lockhart dropkicks him free before he stomped on Adler in the corner. Lockhart’s quickly cut off as he’s sent flying onto the apron, complete with a nasty landing as Adler insisted the referee started a count-out… which happens, but Lockhart manages to beat the count just in time. Of course, Adler’s right back on him with a neckbreaker for a two-count, before a chinlock followed… but Lockhart’s quickly back to his feet as he struck back into the match.

A running knee takes down Adler in the corner for a two-count, before a half nelson suplex sends Adler flipping into the ropes, where a dropkick took him all the way to the floor. For some reason, Adler tries to come back in off the top rope, but he leaps into a Lockhart punch as the strikes continued…

Somehow Lockhart misses a chop and gets caught with a big boot as a swinging backbreaker from Adler nearly puts him away. A missed Yakuza kick from Adler led to Lockhart rolling him up as the momentum swing wildly, leading to an Air Raid Crash from Adler being escaped as a back elbow out of the corner from Lockhart set up for a Masada Driver for the win. This was miles better than the Lockhart’s first round outing, but a better opponent contributed to that as this 50-50 outing made Lockhart look a whole lot better. ***

We’ve a backstage promo from Slim J. They’re in a different room as there’s no echo as Slim J vows he’ll see us all at the end.

X16 Quarter-Final: Harlem Bravado vs. Eddie Edwards
It’s a first time singles match here, but we’ve got Lancelot Bravado out to support his brother’s bid to win the tournament.

Edwards nonchalantly tosses his bottle of water away at the bell as the pair swapped wristlocks early on. Harlem manages to edge out with a cravat that Eddie rolls out of, before a ‘rana takes Edwards outside, only for a low dropkick to send Eddie into the guard railings. He sneaks back in and lands a tope as he proceeds to exchange chops around ringside… which led to Bravado trying to suplex Eddie into the crowd, before he settled on a big boot and the stage dive forearm over the guardrails like he hit the prior night.

A second one’s blocked with a chop as Eddie then slammed him into the chairs as they brawled behind the crowd and back through the entryway. Eventually, Harlem charges into Edwards with a Thesz press by ringside, only for a boot to knock him back down as he tried to protect his brother. More chops follow as that ring stood there all lonely and underused… and of course, that’s the cue for them to head back in.

Bravado mounts a comeback with a Blockbuster before he leaps over Edwards and scored with his scooping reverse DDT for a near-fall. Harlem’s caught up top as Eddie brings him down with a superplex. A trip takes Bravado into the corner, as Eddie followed up with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall… so Eddie keeps up with more chops.

A second superplex is blocked as Bravado slips out, then heads back up for a Tower of London out of the corner… but it’s not enough to keep Eddie down, as a flapjack and a Tiger Driver saw the momentum swing once more, with Eddie this time being the frustrated party. Edwards pops up from a German suplex before the pair trade big boots and chops, with a lariat from Eddie leaving Bravado down… only for a second Tiger Driver to be countered out of into the Straight Cash Homie as Bravado wins! This was quite fun, although the brawling outside did threaten to outstay its welcome for me. ***¼

Next up is a backstage promo from Ethan Case, who’s wearing a shellsuit jacket that I swear I used to have in the 90s. He’s not looking any further ahead than the quarters: because he knows John Skyler’ll be a tough opponent.

X16 Quarter-Final: John Skyler vs. Ethan Case
Skyler was coming into this with a bad arm after his match with Alexander James in the first round – and we start with Case getting taken down with a shoulder tackle that hurt Skyler more.

Skyler manages to recompose himself with a Finlay roll for a near-fall, then a back senton as he had to stop himself from throwing chops and the like using the bad wing. A suplex stalls as Skyler had to reposition himself, allowing Case to reverse it for a two-count as Skyler was clearly favouring that bad arm.

Chops from Case follow, as he grabbed a chinlock to force Skyler to elbow out… only for Case to get clocked with a superkick out of nowhere. Case manages to come back, as he looks for an Iconoclasm, only for Skyler to fight out and hit a flying elbow for a near-fall. A springboard cutter gets Case closer as you sensed that Skyler was nearer to a defeat than a win, before both men clashed heads as they ran the ropes.

The pair go back to trading chops once they got to their feet, before a pop-up forearm smash led to Case getting a two-count with Skyler getting his foot to the rope just in time. All of a sudden, The Revolt, who’d been watching from ringside, hopped the guard rails, causing a scene as the match ground to a halt. In the end though, Case gets more distracted and ends up getting rolled up by Skyler for the win. Huh. That finish makes Case look like a dummy, especially given how Skyler had a clear injury that he just didn’t work on… and it cost him too. **¾

The Revolt hit the ring afterwards to mock both men… Case is understandably hot over it all, as are management, who blame them for ruining the match. The crowd are on the Revolt’s side, and somehow this leads to the Revolt making their mandatory title defence against Case and Skyler… who’d not left the ring after their match.

PWX Tag Team Championship: The Revolt (Zane Riley & Caleb Konley) (c) vs. Ethan Case & John Skyler
The match is accepted, with Case and Skyler taking the fight to the champions from the off. They’re quickly whipped into each other, with Skyler taking a bad bump on his shoulder as Case had to fight back on his own…

After landing a cutter, Case leaps into Riley’s thumb ahead of a back suplex, before Riley slammed Konley onto Ethan for a near-fall. The two-on-one continues, with Riley just charging Case into the ropes ahead of a handstand senton as Skyler appeared on the apron… and again gets knocked off.

Konley misses a double stomp off the top, so he hurriedly tags Riley back in as Case makes his tag out too. Skyler tries for a noggin knocker, but his bad arm stops it as he instead comes back with a double dropkick and a series of uppercuts into the corner. He tries for a slingshot spear, but the bad arm stops him as Riley caught him for a draping DDT, with a Konley stomp aiding it… except Case breaks up the cover to save the match.

Case tags back in to try his luck on Riley with clotheslines, and succeeds with a clothesline/bulldog combo before he uses an Iconoclasm to dump Konley into Riley for a nice two-count. Riley struggles to pick up Case for a Fireman’s carry as the champions worked their way further ahead with Skyler still down injured…

Skyler looked to make a tag, but he crumbled off the apron “through the pain”… Case is left in the corner to take a cannonball from Riley before a springboard double-jump moonsault from Konley completed the formalities. This was more of a storyline than a match, with Skyler’s shoulder injury putting his X16 into doubt while the Revolt did what was asked of them. **½

Backstage, Serpentico’s got a promo. He’s asked about the masked guy who confronted him after his match… but he has no words. O-kay…

Battlefield X Qualifier: Alexander James vs. Serpentico vs. Saieve al-Sabah vs. Sugar Dunkerton
The winner gets into the Battlefield X rumble later in the year, and we pause on the entranceway for so long I thought James was having another Carat moment. Except not, as it just turned out that my feed somehow had a frozen picture…

For some reason, Dunkerton’s music plays again so he can have a dance-off with al-Sabah before the match. Alexander James’ face during this is a picture of disgust as he gets roped into it. He cuts it off with a ripcord back elbow before anyone gets any ideas as the match finally got under way.

al-Sabah’s pushed out of the corner as Serpentico lands some headscissors, before James rushed in with clotheslines. Dunkerton’s still mad that James stopped the dancing, so he unloads with back and front rakes before cracking the Prince of Pro with a headbutt and… another back rake off the middle rope!

A “roll for no reason” takes Dunketon into the ropes as Serpentico caught him with chops and a rope-walk armdrag. Saieve’s back with an eventual running powerslam and a standing moonsault, which he followed up with a springboard moonsault out of the corner for a two-count… which Dunkerton broke up and stole for a near-fall of his own.

Sugar goes into his WOS bag of tricks before a Colt Cabana-esque Superman body press almost put al-Sabah away… James is back with some kicks before he pulled down a leapfrog from Serpentico as he ended up putting the boots to everyone in the corners. An arm triangle from Dunkerton to James is held on despite stomps from al-Sabah and Serpentico as we quickly enter the land of “breaking up covers.” Saieve hits his sweet kip-up suplex to James and Dunkerton at the same time, only for Serpentico to hit a cutter out of the corner straight way, meaning he had no chance to bask in any sort of glory… those two begin to trade forearms as Saieve nails a modified Angle Slam to Serpentico, before he’s met with a lariat from James.

Dunkerton connects with a monkey flip and a stomp to James, only for Serpentico’s stomp off the top to break up the cover. A Slingblade from Serpentico’s good for a near-fall, with James breaking it up… only to take a satellite DDT as Serpentico came closer still, prompting him to head outside for a chair. Well, it is no-DQ… but instead Serpentico chooses to dive onto James on the outside while al-Sabah nails a corkscrew Blockbuster on Dunkerton for the win. It’s a bit odd they teased the chair but never used it, but hey, this was a fairly frenetic four-way. Alliteration! ***¼

Serpentico stays behind in the ring to applaud the crowd… he grabs that chair as the lights go out again. We’re back on as the other masked guy turns up to lay him out with a chair of his own before he spoke something in Spanish. Is this CHIKARA-inspired? The lights go out again as the masked guy exits, leaving a Serpentico mask on the chair…

X16 Semi-Final: Harlem Bravado vs. Slim J
Curiously they’re not pairing off the semis from “match 1 vs. match 2” as Slim J has a clear advantage as he had slightly longer to recover. There’s a slightly terse handshake as the match began with a lock-up, as J takes Bravado to the mat.

You can still see the reddening on Bravado’s chest from the chops in his quarter-final earlier, with the switches giving us plenty of time to catch a look as Bravado manages to grab a headlock on the mat. An escape led to headscissors from both men, with J landing a dropkick before he looked to grapple Bravado on the mat, only for Bravado to get to the ropes right as a cross armbreaker was locked in.

Slim J heads up, but he leaps over Bravado who responded with a scoop slam for a two-count as the match remained on the mat. A back suplex dumped J for a two-count, as Bravado continued to chip away, hurling J hard into the turnbuckles with an Irish whip. Uppercuts keep J in the corner, but he snatches in a jawbreaker before a springboard enziguiri off the top left both men laying.

Slim returns fire with clotheslines as he started to fire up, clocking Bravado with a head kick before an Asai DDT’s caught and turned into a tombstone for a near-fall. From there, Bravado calls for Straight Cash Homie, but Slim J counters… only to get caught in a guillotine suplex that he also had to slip out of. A neckbreaker followed next for a two-count, before Bravado slips out of the Anger Management and replied with a massive boot!

A Falcon arrow from Bravado followed for a two-count as both of the Bravados were left stunned. Bravado throws some chops before the Straight Cash Homie ended with Slim J getting a foot on the rope. Hey, he didn’t kick out of it though! Rather than go for the cover again, Bravado stares in disbelief, then heads up top to do the move off the top rope… but a back body drop off the top counters ahead of a wheelbarrow Flatliner and a big crossbody as Slim J was suddenly in the resurgence. From there, the Anger Management (Electric Chair Driver) hits, and that’s Slim J in the finals. A match that’ll probably fly under a lot of radars, but this was a good match between two folks with more experience than most people probably realise. I wasn’t a fan of Harlem selling tiredness at the start – especially with that disappearing as the bell rang – but the match itself was fine. ***½

X16 Semi-Final: John Skyler vs. Darius Lockhart
You’ve got to think that Skyler’s a huge underdog here after the shoulder injury he got on night one worsened in the two matches he’s had earlier.

Skyler looks to start off quickly, rolling up Lockhart at the bell for a near-fall. The favour’s returned as Lockhart comes back in with chops to take Skyler into the ropes, only for those to be returned in kind as Skyler shocks Lockhart with a neckbreaker for a near-fall.

Unable to go for a headlock, Skyler uses headscissors to keep Lockhart on the mat, before a second neckbreaker drew another two-count. Lockhart counters a third neckbreaker with an arm whip before a Fujiwara armbar to the injured limb forced Skyler to drag a leg to the rope as we got a break. Curiously, Lockhart’s entrance video played briefly, which may have been a spoiler, but they cut it off as Skyler gets backed into the corner, then tripped ahead of a running knee.

Skyler manages to work his way into a crossface, but his arm again causes trouble as he ends up releasing and going into a STF to stop Lockhart from getting to the ropes. Instead, Lockhart escapes and goes for a cross armbar, with Skyler rolling him up to break the hold before a slingshot spear off the apron found its mark.

The spear’s only enough for a near-fall as Lockhart came back with a springboard back elbow as both men were increasingly worn-down. Duelling forearms follow as Skyler finds his mark with uppercuts, only for Lockhart to cut him of with a Masada Driver for the win. This was suitably short given the injuries, but Lockhart’s going into the final with a bad neck, which could mean a blow-out final or the underdog performance. I’m betting on the latter… **¾

The Syndicate (Elijah Evans IV, BOSS & Montana Black) vs. Tracer X, Yahya, & Billy Brash
We wrap up the matches involving yesterday’s eliminations with this trios match featuring the Syndicate.

All six men start brawling as the Syndicate were put on the back foot, especially when BOSS and Black ran into each other as the match spilled to the outside. Tracer X crashes and burns when he overshot a tope to the big guys, while Evans snuck into the ring to try and cheapshot Brash… only for him to get lifted to the outside as Brash lands a Sasuke special into the Syndicate.

Yahya’s got a dive too, nailing a tope con giro perfectly as he rolled Montana Black into the ring for a senton bomb… but Black kicks out at one! Yahya responds with a ‘rana and a dropkick to send Montana to the outside, but BOSS comes in and gets some forearms before he nailed a double chop to bring Yahya to his knees.

A diving back elbow takes Yahya down from there, before BOSS caught a slingshot cutter attempt from Brash that didn’t look good. Brash manages to hit a rebound German as BOSS charged at him in the ropes, with Evans sneaking back in… he begs off Brash, but comes back with a spear before Tracer X’s dropkicks find their mark.

We continue the tornado style with Montana Black overpowering Tracer into the corner, before a big uranage and a simple trust fall onto the prone Tracer drew a near-fall. Brash stops Montana from a superplex on Tracer, but it turns into a Tower of Doom with BOSS and Yahya pulling the proverbial triggers. Things go a little weird when Tommy Thomas – the Syndicate’s boss – comes in and accidentally elbows Joshua Cutshall… who wears Thomas’ glasses and cap and “becomes Tommy”. At least until Thomas poked him in the eye from a high five, which makes Cutshall mad, chasing Thomas to the back.

With the hangers on gone, the match continued with the Syndicate landing triple tombstones for a hattrick of two-counts, before Brash ‘rana’d out of a chokeslam/powerbomb combo. A headbutt from Montana puts him down though, before Tracer X charges off of BOSS. Yahya tries to make a save, only to run into a bicycle kick from Evans, before an overhead belly-to-belly sent the champion across the ring.

From there, a slingshot cutter from Brash left Evans down ahead of a 450 splash from Tracer as BOSS and Black had to break up the cover. Chops from Montana put the brakes on Yahya, before the chokeslam/powerbomb combo drew a near-fall with Brash breaking it up. In the end, a spinebuster from BOSS to Brash leads to a flying Flatliner from Tracer X, who then headed back up for a 450 splash to BOSS… only for Evans to pick him up and nail a fireman’s carry powerbomb for the win. Add another one to the list of “trios matches usually can’t fail” – even with the interlude in the middle. ***¼

They announce that Battlefield X will be on February 16 – streaming on HighSpots for those who like live indy Rumbles.

X16 Final: Slim J vs. Darius Lockhart
Based off of injuries, Darius Lockhart comes into this as the huge underdog, with Slim J seemingly the fresher of the two.

We’ve a handshake to start the match, before the pair tied up around the ropes as they jockeyed for position. Lockhart looked to draw first blood with a double arm stretch, but Slim J slips under and free before he tripped Lockhart into a side headlock. J goes back after Lockhart escapes, only for Darius to get free and pin J for a two-count with a nonchalant armbar stretch.

Still on the mat, Lockhart traps J in an inverted cloverleaf, then switches into another side headlock… but J slips free and comes back with a bridging hammerlock. There’s a cross armbreaker attempt at the pair keep the match grounded, but the tit for tat continues when Lockhart got free and locks in an ankle lock. J counters with an ankle lock of his own, which he then turned into a Trailer Hitch… but Lockhart again gets free and goes for a double arm bar a la Zack Sabre Jr., “snapping” the arm to finish the hold.

Lockhart gets a near-fall after that, prompting J to punch him out. An enziguiri from Lockhart finds its target as the ITV champion hits back with clotheslines and thrust kicks, only for J to slip back in with clotheslines of his own to take Lockhart back to the mat. Another punch from Lockhart takes J into the corner for some running knees, dazing J enough as he’s pulled up for a flip-over half nelson suplex that almost ended the match.

Lockhart looks for a Masada driver, but J slips out and comes in with a running cutter instead, as things looked to be getting desperate for both men. Elbows from J take Lockhart back down again, before a guillotine choke’s locked in as J tried to take full advantage. Somehow, Darius suplexes free for a near-fall, as Lockhart fell into the trap of chopping J… who ripped off his wifebeater and gleefully absorbed the shots. Another Masada driver from Lockhart’s no-sold as J popped up, eventually catching Lockhart in the corner for the Anger Management… and the Electric Chair Driver does it as Slim J wins the X16! This told a really good story, with Lockhart trying desperately to keep the match on the mat to not worsen his neck injury, but as that game didn’t work he found out that his injuries stopped him from going to his usual game plan as Slim J was able to edge past him in the end. ***½

Post-match, last year’s winner James Drake appears to present the trophy – waving away chants aimed at him as he directed the attention back to Lockhart and J.

The X16 tournament, for my money, was solid, but nothing spectacular. Comparing the “snowflakes” to last year though, the in ring was a step above, even if the tournament was lacking in star power… which sums up the state of the US indys right now. There’s plenty of people with the ability, but (pun not intended) very few seem to have that magic X-factor to set them apart from the pack in a very crowded market.

If you’re watching this show back, definitely pick the second show for the better matches, but as a total package the X16 had some good stories that stretched across the shows, paying some off and leaving some – notably, Darius Lockhart’s big win – for another day.