A packed Turbinenhalle played host to a major surprise on Championship Saturday, as a welcome face returned to wXw!

The “pre-show” of sorts featured the band Fights and Fires performing the Shotgun theme, “Take A Swing At The World” live… followed by a match that was taped for Shotgun that we’ll not spoil here!

Once we got going, there were 1,000 fans packed inside the Turbinenhalle – wXw’s largest crowd here – and we started with a number one contendership tag match!

Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. RISE (Da Mack & Ivan Kiev) vs. Mark Haskins & Matt Sydal vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Monster Consulting were over like heroes here, but Jay FK had a decent pocket of support too inside the Turbinenhalle.

Skillet scored an early takedown, sending Avalanche flying with headscissors, but the big man quickly took over, slamming Skillet and then splashing him. Jay FK get a good run in, double-teaming Nero, only for Matt Sydal to come in and roll up Kaspin for a near-fall. Haskins one-ups Sydal, pulling off a Boston crab/camel clutch combo on Jay FK, before catching Da Mack in a bridging armbar.

Mack lasted longer than six seconds tonight, so that’s a plus.

The ring filled, then emptied as the odd team of Haskins and Sydal hit dives into the crowd, before catching Kaspin with that neat rolling death valley driver for a near-fall. Jay FK are back with a wheelbarrow lungblower, only to get laid out by a double-team Go to Sleep and a ripcord lariat from Avalanche.

Sydal returns to crack Da Mack with some kicks – getting himself some boos in the process – before an Unprettier earned the win, as RISE get the tag title shots. A surprise win, and one that ought to play well into the ongoing storyline with RISE. Can this help them back to former glories? ***¼

16 Carat Gold – Quarter-Final: Keith Lee vs. Chris Brookes
Brookes seemed a little put out by the chants for Keith Lee, so he tries to ground him with a rear naked choke. No big deal… Keith Lee stands up and nonchalantly walks to the ropes, piggy-backing Brookes before grabbing the rope.

Just when it looked like nothing was working, Brookes is able to catch Lee with a Dragon screw in the ropes… but Lee just heads outside, catches a dive and powerbombs Brookes on the apron like he were nothing. Brookes tries to fight back with chops, which was as bad an idea as it sounds, as he takes a double chop in the corner before becoming Lee’s plaything.

Slaps and chops got Brookes back in, as does a superkick as Lee tries to slingshot back int the ring… but the slingshot Ace crusher is powered out of at two! Brookes went for a Praying Mantis Bomb, but that’s countered into a pop up chokeslam, only for Brookes to avoid further beatings by wrapping on an Octopus hold. It didn’t last as Lee was back to the beatings, before bouncing Chris Brookes way high with a Spirit Bomb for the win. That was an amazing Spirit Bomb – and that’s Keith Lee into the final four after a dominant performance. ***½

16 Carat Gold – Quarter-Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Lucky Kid
Lucky Kid painted his face again today, and this is going to be a conflicted crowd, pitting two of the most popular wrestlers over Carat weekend against each other! Somehow, Lucky Kid is turning RISE babyface all by himself!

Thatcher refused to play along with Lucky’s mind games, but he did play along with the game of forearms and slaps as he made light work of throwing Kid across the ring with a gutwrench suplex. Lucky fights back, but his faked-out dive sees Thatcher pull him outside… but Lucky’s able to fight back with an Arabian press to Thatcher on the floor!

Back inside, Thatcher uppercuts away a diving Lucky Kid, as he clubbed Kid down to the mat… but it’s still shockingly even. Thatcher’s attempt at a Fujiwara armbar ends with Lucky Kid getting to the ropes, as Thatcher starts to edge ahead. Kid flips out of a RINGKAMPF German suplex and almost shocks with an inside cradle, and again when he hits a Liger bomb to counter a Thatcher superplex effort!

Lucky’s mistake was slapping Thatcher, as he replied by grabbing Kid by the throat and pasting him with slaps of his own. Tarkan Aslan tries to interfere, but gets shoved off the apron as an Asai DDT almost pushed Lucky to win… and the Turbinenhalle on Thatcher’s side. They’d had enough of cheering for Kid out of… novelty, I guess?

Thatcher’s back with a German suplex, before the floatover butterfly suplex earned the win. Terrific stuff, aided by a crowd that was hot for both men. That ends RISE’s participation in the tournament, but puts Thatcher in the semis for the first time in history. ****¼

16 Carat Gold – Quarter-Final: David Starr vs. Travis Banks
Travis started out hot here, kicking Starr to the outside, only to get met there with a spinning back suplex onto the apron!

Back inside, Banks stays on top, taking the Product into the corner for a cannonball, but he’s back with the Pretty Pumped for a two-count as the crowd started to get behind Starr. A Product Recall follows for a near-fall, but Banks nails him with a shotgun dropkick and a springboard stomp into the corner for another two count.

Amid duelling chants, Banks wheelbarrowed out of a Product Placement, before his attempt at a dive earned him a Cherry Mint DDT! It’s shrugged off as a Kiwi Krusher oh so nearly booted Starr out of the tournament, A Slice of Heaven’s stopped and countered with a Lumbar Check out of the corner by Starr, only for Banks to fire back with a German suplex and a Slice of Heaven to the back of the head… but that’s no big deal as Starr hits back with the Han Stansen lariat… and he’s in the final! Great showing from Banks, but in the end it wasn’t to be as the Product’s quest continued in earnest. ***¾

After the match, Travis Banks announced that PROGRESS would be touring Germany with wXw – running August 31 in Hamburg, September 1 in Oberhausen and September 2 in Frankfurt.

16 Carat Gold – Quarter-Final: Absolute Andy vs. Matt Riddle
The crowd wanted “one more time”, and they almost got it… but Andy’s foot was under the rope! How come they didn’t realise that last night?!

From the restart, they head outside as Andy tries to get a count-out win… but Riddle gets back in as Andy starts to work over the lower back. A running knee dropped Riddle, as does a running backbreaker before Andy went to the figure four. Of course, Andy uses the ropes for leverage, but he’s caught as referee Felix Schulz kicks the arms away!

Riddle fires back with a leaping forearm into the corner, then a back senton for a near-fall, before rolling together some deadlift gutwrenches… but his effort at a tornado DDT is turned into a spinebuster as Andy tries for a Sharpshooter instead, leading to an eventual rope break.

A powerbomb from Andy is slipped out of as a ripcord knee follows, with Riddle nailing another powerbomb and a bicycle knee for a near-fall… but the Bro to Sleep is avoided as Andy comes right back with a superkick. One F5 later… and we’re still going as Riddle kicks out! Same again after another wild superkick, forcing Andy to go up for a top rope rana?!

Riddle pops right back up though, but is shocked when a tombstone slam only gets a two count. Andy drags himself to the ropes to avoid a Bromission, so Riddle pulls himself back in for a back senton, before Andy kicks the ref into the ropes to crotch Riddle as he went up top.

Another ref bump follows as Riddle shoves away a superplex, but Andy’s right back with an avalanche F5 to book his spot in the semis. A pretty solid match, although some will get tired of the ref bumps in Andy’s matches – it’s still telling the story of the veteran having to cheat to get by. ***½

Alexander James vs. Jonah Rock
After taking a while to get through the curtain, Alexander James starts the second half against the giant Aussie… and after trying to go toe to toe with the King of Monsters, James found himself getting cornered for some chops.

James sidesteps a charging Rock in the corner, and starts to go to work on the big man’s arm, kicking away at it before sending Jonah shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. An Octopus hold attempt follows, but Rock’s too big… and he fights back after being forced to curtsey to the crowd. Oops!

Rock’s mouthguard goes flying after a Stinger splash as he took control, drilling James with a DDT for a near-fall. James tries to go back after the arm, but Jonah is just too big… as he found out himself when he missed a top rope moonsault, allowing James to snatch the win seconds later. Perfectly fine wrestling, and it gives James the win he needed as he’s sticking around. ***¼

wXw Shotgun Championship: Mike Bailey vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
This’ll be the fourth time I’ve seen Speedball today… I wonder how badly both men going far in Ambition earlier will affect things?

Bobby Gunns was massively over, with a good part of the crowd chanting his name in time to his music, and we’re off with the pair trading kicks to the head before a rear spin kick from Bailey knocked the champ down to the outside, where he connected with a Golden Triangle moonsault to the delight of the crowd.

The pair jostled for a German suplex on the apron before Gunns just drops Bailey onto the edge of the ring with an arm whip, and he keeps up the pressure with a single-leg crab too once they got back in. Gunns is damn-near toying with Bailey at this stage, stomping on his forearm before Bailey slapped away an attempt to do a finger snap.

Bailey crushes Gunns with the moonsault knees, and keeps up with some kicks in the corner as you sensed the tide was turning. The spin kick to the head gets Bailey a near-fall, but Gunns is right back in it as he goes for the armbar, forcing Bailey to fumble for a rope break. Some finger snapping left Bailey with a crooked pinkie, although he did try to tape it back to some kind of shape afterwards!

Okay, it wasn’t a good shape, but it’s the thought that counts!

The focus remains on the taped-up, battered hand, but Bailey’s able to work into a Dragon suplex as he finally got a break. Of a different kind. He followed in with more kicks for a near-fall, before crushing Gunns with the shooting star knees as Gunns held himself in the corner. Those looked BRUTAL!

Despite that, Gunns is back with a German suplex before going back to the arm… Bailey nearly nicks it with the moonsault fallaway slam, and ends up taking the win with the trusty armbar. Yep, I liked that one – Bobby Gunns retains the title, much to the pleasure of the crowd, and I’ll be damned if he’s not had his bell rung a little by those knees! ****

wXw Women’s Championship: Melanie Gray vs. Toni Storm (c)
Melanie Gray won the Wrestling KULT women’s title at a show about ten hours earlier in Oberhausen… can she make it a double here?

Toni got a confetti cannon for her entrance, meaning the ring was showered in red and white tickertape before the bell, as we start with both women trying for their finishers, to no avail. A German suplex landed high on Gray, who rolled outside and into the path of a tope from Toni, whose attempt to follow up with an apron piledriver saw her back body dropped to the floor once more.

Gray followed that up with a cannonball off the apron, before a cheeky kick to the turnbuckle as Toni’s head was resting on it. The big hits keep coming as Storm lands a hip attack, before charging into Gray with a headbutt for a comfortable two-count. We’re back to teasing finishers as Gray and Storm rack up near-falls, culminating in Storm getting speared off the apron and to the floor.

After some brawling on the floor, out of line of sight, Storm’s rolled back in as Gray goes for the Mella-drama cloverleaf, before countering out of a Strong Zero and into a swinging side slam. Rather than go for the pin, Gray apes the piledriver and gets a near-fall with her version of the Strong Zero.

With the crowd roaring on, the two women traded blows as their fought back to their feet, leading to Gray hitting a Finlay roll out of another Strong Zero attempt. Storm replies with a German suplex off the middle rope, before going back to the Strong Zero, finally hitting it for the win. A nice story here, with Gray’s bid to win “her title” ending as Storm constantly went to her big move after the first one didn’t get the job done, and eventually hitting it for the win. ***½

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: WALTER vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov
Yeah, the Turbinenhalle was on FIRE just for WALTER’s entrance. Goosebumps forming on your arm just at the mere sight of him on the entry-way. Meanwhile, the champion John Klinger gets chants of “John Klinger sucks” at the mere sight of his pre-match promo video. Even more so when he got the live band playing his prior ring music, “I Walk Alone”.

It’s a very partisan crowd, and that was before the addition of the stipulation: WALTER made it a three-way-dance. With the returning ILJA DRAGUNOV.

Holy shit! The Turbinenhalle lost their minds… while Bad Bones looked like he’d seen a ghost!

Klinger started by being clotheslined by both me, but RISE made use of the three-way stipulation by overloading on run-ins early. Da Mack gets clotheslined by Ilja, as payback for what happened at Tag League, while WALTER just press slammed Mack onto the rest of RISE… all while the crowd sang WALTER’s music. They’re chased away by the swift appearance of Avalanche, Julian Nero and Timothy Thatcher, with the remnants of Cerberus and RINGKAMPF helping to keep this a fair fight.

Klinger tries to leave with his title, and this leads to some brawling in the crowd (away from my line of sight, yay!), but they’re quickly back in as WALTER and Ilja double team Klinger… until WALTER just boots off Ilja’s head. Yep, we’re back to the chops as we get throwbacks to last year’s Carat final, at least until Klinger re-emerges on the scene.

The slingshot spear cuts Ilja in half, but Dragnov hits back with a half nelson into a backbreaker and a couple of lariats, just as WALTER returned! Klinger again goes for Ilja, but his chops just get Ilja spitting at him as the crowd began to roar behind Dragunov, right as he fired up once more. Even more chops continue to mark up Dragunov’s chest, before weathering a storm and dropping Dragunov with a half-nelson German suplex. Oh hi, WALTER’s back to kill Klinger, much to the crowd’s approval!

Bad Bones ‘ranas out of a powerbomb, but his tope is caught and turned into a powerbomb into the ringpost as Ilja dove out too, but it ends badly as the front row of chairs came into play, with Ilja going through them. Using the rules in his favour, Klinger low blows and DDT’s WALTER for a near-fall, before locking in the Rebel Lock, which WALTER rolls out of and into a rear naked choke… that almost pinned him!

Another rear naked choke follows, but Dragunov breaks it up with a back senton off the top rope, only for WALTER to continue the decimation via chops. It descended into a brief battle, but a WALTER chop puts him down after grabbing him by the throat. Good Lord! A short-arm lariat brutalises Dragunov, as does a second one, but Bones is back to break it up all over again.

Klinger sends a Torpedo Moscau into WALTER, but the Austrian recovers to break up the pin as Klinger tried a roll-up win. WALTER starts to aim his chops at Klinger next, only to get met with a Shotgun dropkick… but WALTER busts some out too, hitting Klinger with one before a powerbomb on Dragunov almost wins the match.

Slaps from WALTER put Ilja on jelly legs, as WALTER counters a Torpedo Moscau attempt with a rear naked choke… Ilja escapes and almost gets the win after a Torpedo Moscau on Bones, following a missed belt shot, and now this crowd are behind Dragunov! BURNING HAMMER TO BONES! Torpedo Moscau… and Ilja Dragunov is your new champion! A year-long road finally pays off, as Ilja Dragunov, after so much heartache and time off… returns and wins the big one on his first night back! A wondrous match, and there’ll be a lot more to unpack here than the result… ****¾

We’re down to the final four now: Timothy Thatcher, Keith Lee, Absolute Andy and David Starr. If the Product is going to win Carat, he’s going to have to go through some serious size to get there… and face the new champion of Ilja Dragunov!

Mitte-Samstag of 16 Carat Gold lived up to expectations of years previous – and that’s before the earth-shattering return. They kept up up the string of great matches in the tournament thus far, we had a barn burner of a quarter-final with Timothy Thatcher and Lucky Kid… and my word, that Bailey/Gunns match was a war. If you’re into picking and choosing, you’ll be better off just watching this whole event once it drops on wXwNOW later in the week.