It was a night of some surprise results as the first round of this year’s 16 Carat Gold kicked off in Oberhausen.

The pre-show opened with Dirty Dragan coming out… almost gobsmacked at the size of the crowd that’d made it inside for the warmup. Promos followed between the champions and challengers for tomorrow’s title matches, which led to the challenge of a tag team match between the quartet.

Hey, we finally have a new canvas… shiny and new!

Alternate Four-Way: Julian Pace vs. Ivan Kiev vs. Julian Nero vs. Emil Sitoci
Winner faces David Starr in the first round later tonight. They started out hot, and with a lot of shtick as Julian Nero wanted to give Ivan Kiev five minutes… but instead he just gave the RISE member Wasteland.

Kiev’s back with a death valley driver as he took over, laying out Pace with a diving dropkick. A switcheroo gives Sitoci the advantage, nailing Nero with a gutbuster and a split-legged moonsault for a near-fall before Nero’s back, looking to set off a superplex… but Julian Pace fights him off, only for Emil Sitoci to take over instead with a Spanish Fly off the top to secure the win. Fun stuff to get the show underway, and a popular winner – averting the threat of more RISE in the tournament proper. ***

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Keith Lee vs. Avalanche
Let’s start with the big lads! Once we get past the shoulder tackles, Lee knocked Avalanche down… cementing the Turbinenhalle’s love for him in one swoop! The Keith Lee double-hand chops came out, but both men had issues trying to Beele throw the other… So Avalanche tries a slam and instead had a rather Limitless man fall on him early.

Lee finally gets the throw off, shocking Avalanche, and now it’s chop time! Avalanche avoids a second as he throws back, but Lee’s clubbering forearms looked to put him ahead… until Avalanche did the Hogan/Andre slam to a huge pop. Another shoulder tackle sent Avalanche flying, and almost won the match, but it’s back to the clubbering as both men threw plenth o of forearms.

A Samoan drop out of the Avalanche almost gets him the win… but Lee’s right back with a Spirit Bomb and Ground Zero, and that’s the surprise win! ***¼

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Alexander James vs Chris Brookes
As you’d expect, the crowd was pretty pro-CCK here. James tried to use submissions early, but Brookes’ height meant he was easily able to make it to the ropes for an initial reverse figure four attempt.

James’ attempt to mock Brookes with grace earned him a DDT, before we get an extra drippy 16 Carat-worthy wet willie. Angered, James went back after Brookes’ arm, but again Brookes’ height meant that rope breaks were pretty likely. Brookes tried to chop his way back in, but James is right back in with work on the arm, going right up to the referee’s five count when needed.

Brookes nails a rolling neckbreaker, then a release German to get back into it, following with an Octopus hold. James is back with a pumphandle suplex, before countering a slingshot Ace crusher into a Tower of London as the momentum kept on swinging, eventually ending when Brookes countered out of another Tower of London and replied with the slingshot Ace crusher.

Seconds later, Brookes lands the Praying Mantis Bomb to pick up the win. Enjoyable, but brief, match with James; working the arm before coming up short to Brookes’ burst of offence. ***

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Lucky Kid vs. Matt Sydal
Lucky Kid’s got quite the backing in Oberhausen, painted up like a cross between Finn Balor and the Great Muta. It’s quite the look, and sets this apart as an important outing for the former tag team champion.

Sydal was out with his Impact X-Division title, but there’s mind games early on as Lucky Kid kept going to the ropes. The match quickly turns up a gear, with Kid faking out a dive, only fo Sydal to come back in and kick him while he was sitting,,, and then spike him with a ‘rana as the crowd became very vocal towards both men.

A Dragon screw keeps Lucky down, as Tarkan Aslan threatened to get involved in what was becoming a long spell of offence for Sydal. After Lucky grabbed referee Felix Schulz, Aslan grabs a leg and that turns things around for the RISE member, with a handspring back elbow putting Sydal down for a near-fall.

Sydal shoves away an Asai DDT and nails a spinning heel kick to put Kid down again, following up with a short, snapping German suplex that bridged for a near-fall. A flying Meteora from Sydal took Kid down, before Sydal headed up top for a shooting star press. It misses… and Lucky Kid rolls him up for the win! Really good showing here in what would have to be classed as an upset, although the crowd only wanted one result… they got it! ***½

16 Carat Gold – First Round: David Starr vs. Emil Sitoci
It’s a quick turnaround for Emil, as David Starr’s planned main event was lost due to Jurn Simmons’ injury.

There’s banter early as Starr played to the crowd, but quickly ended up getting squashed with a split-legged moonsault as he looked to avoid Sitoci in the corner. The Sitoci gutbuster restores order after Starr got back into it, followed by Sitoci wearing down Starr with grounded body scissors. It continues with an old-school pendulum backbreaker too, as Starr was perhaps seen to have overlooked Sitoci… at least until he started going into his arsenal.

The Pretty Pumped inverted slam gets a near-fall, but Sitoci counters out of a Product Placement, eventually nailing the snapmare driver for another two-count. Sitoci nails a top rope elbow for a near-fall, before he went up top again, this time in search of the Spanish Fly. Starr escapes, and quickly nails the Product Recall and the Han Stansen lariat for the win. Interestingly, Starr didn’t nail the Product Placement – is that going to be the story here? Fun while it lasted, but this felt a little on the short side… ***¼

Mike Bailey & WALTER vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger & Bobby Gunns
We begin with a jump start from the champions team before WALTER started throwing chops… and we’re quickly into dives, as Bailey nails a Golden Triangle moonsault just outside of my line of sight!

They’re quickly back in as Bailey connects with a dropkick before he started to go to work with his usual array of kicks… but some sneak attacks on the apron turned things around as Klinger went to work on Bailey. Speedball kicks away a double-team attempt, and brings in WALTER to go to down with chops on the champions. They try to nullify things, but WALTER just charges through Bailey and Bones as der Ringgeneral stood tall.

Gunns catches WALTER in an armbar in the ropes, but WALTER overcomes it as Oberhausen sang along to the RINGKAMPF song, just in time for Bailey and WALTER to nail some duelling kicks. An STF from Bailey keeps Gunns down, but despite a rope break there was no respite for the Shotgun champion. Far from it.

It was almost like Klinger was holding back, not rushing in to break up submissions or the like, especially as Bailey went to town on Gunns. Bobby’s able to sneak in a Geran suplex, but WALTER comes in and boots Klinger off the apron to stop a tag out, keeping Bobby in the ring. A mock RINGKAMPF pose earns Bobby a chop… but he’s right back in with a finger snap after WALTER flipped him off.

NOW Klinger wants in, and he charges right at WALTER in the corner, following in with a slingshot spear. WALTER catches him with a rear naked choke as Klinger did the RISE pose, but the wXw Unified World Wrestling champion is back in with a Rebel Lock crossface… which WALTER powerbombs out of for a two-count. They trade between rear naked chokes and crossfaces until Bailey comes in… but Speedball takes himself outside for a dive as WALTER damn near boots off Klinger’s head for a two-count.

Klinger’s back in with a lungblower, as a pair of tags take us to the Shotgun title competitors… Gunns chops Bailey, and that angers Speedball into a throwing some frantic forearms. However, Gunns is straight back in with a grounded double armbar, almost like Zack Sabre Jr’s Young Boy Killer, only for Bailey to make it to the ropes. More shots to the arm from Gunns ends when WALTER charges in for a kick, but Klinger’s quickly in as the pair threw bombs themselves.

Meanwhile in the other corner, Bailey drops Gunns with some shooting star knees for a near-fall. Bobbys back with German suplexes to get some two-counts, before catching some of Bailey’s aggression and grabbing another cross armbreaker… once Bailey made the ropes, it looked to be a foregone conclusion, but some wacky rope running led to Bailey catching Gunns with the moonsault fallaway slam… and that’s enough to pick up the win. Can he make it 2-2 tomorrow and take home the gold? ***½

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Matt Riddle vs. Da Mack
Needless to say, Oberhausen did NOT want Da Mack winning… and he didn’t! Running knee to the face, 1-2-3… Matt Riddle wins! Trent Seven last year, Da Mack this… he’s getting a reputation for these flash wins!

RISE are 1-2 this weekend then… that wouldn’t please Bad Bones if he weren’t so focused on his title!

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Travis Banks vs. Mark Haskins
Hey, Haskins has Crobot back! We didn’t have a flash win here, as Haskins scored with a waistlock takedown as the two began a rather more familiar feeling out process.

Some chops from both men culminate in a low dropkick from Haskins, who edged ahead with a litany of kicks, keeping the Kiwi Buzzsaw down and in the corner. Banks fights back with some rights, but he’s instantly cut-off with a knee to the gut. A bridging armbar gets keeps Haskins in it as Banks seemed to have little answer to Haskins’ offence… but the rope break keeps Banks in it for long enough to take a bungh more kicks to the chest.

Banks finally fires back, bur Haskins gets in a rolling death valley driver, before following up with a rolling Sharpshooter. It’s shoved away as Banks propelled Haskins into the ropes, and nearly snatches the win on the rebound with a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Krusher… but it’s not to be.

Banks tries to follow up with a Coast to Coast, but Haskins cuts him off, only for his superplex attempt to get countered into an avalanche Kiwi Krusher for the win. An oddly one-sided match in Haskins’ favour, but much like with Chris Brookes, it’s a quick flurry of offence that gets the Kiwi Buzzsaw the win. ***¼

The excellent Timothy Thatcher promo video from Shotgun this week airs to the live crowd… if you’ve not seen it, make sure you do!

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Timothy Thatcher vs. Jonah Rock
That video package worked – Thatcher’s over like gangbusters here in Oberhausen. He’s got a plaster on his back – did that boil finally get lanced?

Thatcher tried to take Rock to the mat, but we’re quickly in the ropes, before the pair tee off with strikes… forearms and headbutts until Jonah rebounds out of the corner to level Thatcher with a shoulder tackle. Rock squashes Thatcher some more on the ground, and it’s all one-way traffic for the Aussie here, at least until Thatcher tried his luck with a Saito suplex… except nothing was happening there except a slam from Jonah.

Rock continued to wear down Thatcher with a grounded waistlock, before he threw one chop to the midsection. Timmy didn’t like that, and he’s back in with the clubbering forearms as Rock was taken into the ropes, ahead of that rebound belly to belly suplex! Jonah weathers the storm and throws some more kicks, but Thatcher floats over into a rear naked choke before slapping away a rope break… but his butterfly suplex is countered with a Northern Lights and a backdrop suplex as Jonah came close to the upset.

Thatcher gets off that Saito suplex afterall, but his enziguiri only seems to wake up Rock, as a running clothesline decks Thatcher ahead of a brainbuster. Rock went for the Battletoads frog splash, but Thatcher gets his knees up, and quickly forced a submission with an armbar. Another short-ish match, but a really good one as Thatcher looked to go beyond the second round. ***¾

We get the Marius al-Ani video package before the main event… let’s see if the crowd reacts the same way they did with Timothy Thatcher!

16 Carat Gold – First Round: Absolute Andy vs. Marius al-Ani
Five months after the turn at World Tag Team League… we finally got the first head-to-head!

al-Ani went straight for Andy as they fought out of view, then up towards the stage where Andy tried to powerbomb Marius, only to get backdropped instead. In the end, Tassilo Jung has to pull Marius off of his former tag partner, as Andy slithered back to the ring on the walkway… getting there just in time for Marius to nail a dive into the ring!

Andy hits back with a right hand, before Marius recovered from being sent outside with his sunset flip, kip up and Exploder series. Marius has to abort a frog splash as Andy picks him up into a spinebuster instead, before the pair’s attempt to superkick each other at the same time led to their legs getting entwined… with Marius rolling through into a single leg crab. That sequence looked beautiful!

Marius ends up outside again, but Andy follows after him, dropping Marius onto the ring apron before grabbing his wrench from under the ring. Both men beat the count after they both hit each other with chairshots while Tassilo Jung was dealing with Andy’s wrench (not a metaphor!), and we’e back to the punches. After nailing a low dropkick, Marius steps up off of Andy’s back to land an elbow, following up with a rana before Andy hits him out of nowhere with the F5.

Andy only gets a two count out of that, so he looked for an avalanche F5… but Marius counters into a powerbomb out of the corner, before frog splashing into Andy’s knees. An ankle lock follows as Marius keeps going back to the hold, turning a counter into the Sharpshooter! Andy ends up climbing over the referee to get to the ropes… but once he’s back to his feet he shoves Tass away to hit a superkick for a near-falls. Echos of Tag League!

Once Andy ducked a spinning heel kick, he knocked Marius down with a flying chop… only for Marius to pop up and hit an F5 for a near-fall. We get another ref bump after al-Ani’s hung up in the ropes, but even a wrench shot can’t put al-Ani away! Another F5 gets countered into a DDT, but Andy kicks out… and one more ref bump leds to the superkick… which, despite Marius landing with his foot on the rope, led to the win as the ref was woefully mispositioned.

Cheating gets Andy the win… but I doubt this’ll be the last we see of these two this weekend! ***½

Night one of 16 Carat Gold was exactly what you wanted it to be. No blow-away matches, but a really good show full of solid action. We had shocks, we had flash wins… and we’ve got a final eight that’s looking extremely enticing as we go into what has been typically the biggest night of the tournament, what some have labelled Championship Saturday!