Heute ist Carat! The first round of 16 Carat Gold matches and a tag title defence were on tap tonight!

We’re back inside Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen for our third Carat in a row… let’s get going!

Alternate Four-Way: Levaniel vs. Hektor vs. Rust Taylor vs. Scotty Davis
There was no love for Levaniel early as he got jumped and taken outside…

Scotty shone early, diving to the outside before suplexing Taylor into the ropes… Levaniel’s back but is quickly knocked to the apron with a kick while Hektor booted Davis in the ropes. Hektor ran wild with suplexes and slams before crashing down into Levaniel with a springboard moonsault. Taylor works over Scotty’s arm, spinning him around until Hektor interupted… he gets an Octopus stretch. A stack of submissions gets ended when Levaniel pokes Hektor in the eye, and he contined with the upper hand, at least until Taylor caught him on the top rope with a chop.

Hektor almost won by accident when he powerbombed Levaniel from a Tower of Doom, before planting Scotty with a German suplex. Levaniel comes close with a swinging Flatliner on Taylor, while Scotty’s Fisherman suplexes got him a near-fall, before duelling submissions for Taylor and Davis led to another interesting battle.

After surviving a scare, Taylor makes Levaniel tap to a Rings of Saturn… a fun opener, with a lot being packed in here. Hopefully a sign of things to come this weekend! ***¼

The main show opened with a video package from the inaugural winner of 16 Carat Gold, Baron van Hagen, talking about just how far things have come. He’s not wrong. Anything can happen at 16 Carat Gold!

Once we get through the traditional parade of entrants, it’s time to get into the tournament proper…

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Mike Bailey vs. Chris Ridgeway
We’re going to start with a banger! There’s loud duelling chants at the bell, which finally give way as Bailey’s taken down in an armbar, something he rolls out of, before he had to roll to the ropes to break a knee bar attempt.

The pair go for kicks, but have more luck with a headlock takedown as Bailey connects with a forearm… and gets one in receipt. Back and forth forearms sting, but it’s Speedball’s kicks that make a mark, as it took Ridgeway outside, where the shots continued. A Dragon screw has Bailey on the deck ahead of a liver shot, which led to a STF that ends in the ropes… and we’re back to the kicks.

Thunderous kicks, until Ridgeway looked for a PK, which Bailey ducked as a low dropkick bought him some time. Bailey went for a running shooting star press, but he’s caught in a triangle armbar that Ridgeway switched into a double armbar, then an ankle lock as Bailey eventually pushed free. That took Ridgeway outside as Bailey lands a Golden Triangle moonsault flush, before he went for moonsault knees… only for Ridgeway to get his knees up too!

Those kicks get a little more mustard on them, but Ridgeway faked out Bailey on the way to some PKs for a near-fall. Bailey hits back with a PK of his own and a moonsault knees, before the Buzzsaw kick gets him a near-fall! Ridgeway escapes a Flamingo driver and comes close with an axe murderer’s kick… but another series of body blows from Ridgeway led to a sheer drop brainbuster. Somehow for a near-fall!?

From there, Ridgeway goes for a rear naked choke, but he’s taken into the corner as Bailey comes right back with the Ultima Weapon and the Flamingo Driver for the win! Yep, we got going with an absolute corker of a match – lots of hard hits, and exactly what you expected! ****¼

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Jurn Simmons vs. Lucky Kid
Jurn gets a heck of a clip show montage for his entrance… Jurn through the years!

Lucky’s distracted by the eye and almost falls to a Massive Boot and a piledriver in the opening minute. A roll-up gets Lucky a near-fall, before he came in with a La Mistica and a crossface, but Jurn’s too strong and tries to roll free… but he’s taken into the middle of the ring as he had to squirm to the ropes for freedom.

Lucky follows in with some Danielson elbows, wearing down Jurn… but Simmons was still too powerful and easily Gorilla press slammed Lucky ahead of a goddamn standing moonsault! Lucky fought back as he skins the cat on the way to an Asai DDT for a near-fall, before Jurn pancaked his way out of a powerbomb attempt.

Jurn tries to charge in but gets rolled up for a near-fall, before a low dropkick ruins a handspring as the piledriver gets what was damn near a squash win for Simmons. He’s going to go far this weekend… **¾

Rust Taylor offers the Rotation luck. I feel this may be disingenuous… and Rusty damn near tells us he’ll take out Rotation to get his spot.

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: The Rotation vs. Puma King
This should be fun… Rotation cartwheels out of an early ‘rana as we’ve got lucha to start with.

A springboard ‘rana from Rotation has Puma down, as did a springboard armdrag off the top, taking Puma Kick outside. Back inside, Rotation is pancaked, then murdered with a kick ahead of a springboard crossbody to the outside. Puma stays ahead with a chop, before a Dragon screw out of the corner tweaked Rotation’s knee.

Using a deathlock to work the knee some more, Puma King takes up Rotation for a stalling suplex, following up with a head kick and a flying Codebreaker that went 3/4s of the way across the ring. From there, a Gedo clutch follows for a near-fall, but Rotation fought back with a missile dropkick before hitting a step-up flip senton to the outside!

Rotation has to cartwheel off the top rope before he landed a sweet satellite DDT for a near-fall. Puma responds with a tiltawhirl backbreaker and a wacky lucha submission, almost like a Stretch Muffler, but Rotation gets to the ropes to make the break. Faced with a pancake off the top, Rotation recovered to hit a top rope ‘rana before the Victory Over Gravity 450 splash gets a near-fall. Another Victory Over Gravity follows… and Rotation’s in the quarter finals! A perfectly fine match with Rotation hanging in there with Puma King… but the spectre of Rust Taylor looms over him this weekend! ***¼

Backstage, Jurn Simmons gloats to Marius al-Ani over beating last year’s winner so quickly. I’m liking these segments that are threading stories throughout the show. Marius reckons he’s going to win the tournament, but first, he’s got to overcome Cara Noir.

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Eddie Kingston vs. Daniel Makabe
Poor Daniel. Can’t get a break – he’s booed for the Chelsea shirt today.

Kingston takes Makabe down with a wristlock early as the lights dropped out briefly. Not that Eddie or Daniel noticed, grappling on the mat as Makabe grabbed an armbar on the mat. An Octopus stretch follows as the crowd were dreaming of a team of Makabes… Togi, Daniel and?

Kingston tries to find his way through with chops, but Makabe takes the leg down and goes in for a STF, but Kingston makes it to the ropes. An overhead suplex from Kingston, then a STO puts him ahead, as did a thunderous chop, which led to Kingston really rough-housing the Canadian. Hooking Makabe in the ropes just angered him, but the Big Unit punch is caught out as Kingston surprised with a flurry of shots.

A German suplex from Makabe gets him some breathing room, as did a corner dropkick and a Makabe Lock… but a seatbelt cradle led to nought as Kingston kicked out at two. Another Makabe Lock looked to follow, but Kingston clotheslines his way free, before a second clothesline drew a near-fall. A uranage’s next for Kingston, then a Saito suplex, before some body blows landed flush. Kingston looks for a Tiger suplex, but gets a trapped-leg German suplex instead for a near-fall, followed by a thunderous Big Unit punch for a near-fall. Kingston shrugs off a second Big Unit punch and quickly backfisted his way to victory. A little flat at times, but this was a heck of a match as Eddie Kingston tells us afterwards he’s done making stars and vows to win the whole tournament! ***¼

Julian Pace goes to the toilet backstage. Echos of the past… and he comes out unscathed. Funny. Hopefully that manages to get a monkey off his back!

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Julian Pace vs. Bandido
There’s a weird smattering of boos for Julian coming in here. The Lewis Hamilton of wXw? Bandido’s gone all out to have the Carat logo on his gear, which is only going to help him…

This almost starts as a dance-off as the crowd chant Tequila for Bandido, as Pace opens up with a headlock, taking down Bandido… only to get shot into the ropes. A lucha roll through has Pace level, but Bandido has one of those too as the pair kip up into a stand-off! A superkick drops Pace in the corner for a near-fall, while a back elbow has him down as an effortless standing shooting star press earned Bandido a near-fall.

A one-handed Gorilla press slam from Bandido was just showing off, before Pace replied with the high-speed rope running that… led to boos?! Pace keeps going with a roll-through neckbreaker, before he had to abort a Best Moonsault Ever, landing on his feet as he returned with a standing Spanish fly for a near-fall. Bandido crushes Pace with a running knee for a near-fall, before kicks led to a knee strike as the pair went back-and-forth once more. A pop-up cutter stops Pace again, but only briefly as a Final Lap almost gets him the win, before a torture rack GTS from Bandido looked to put him back in.

Pace nearly got the upset with a Final Lap off the top rope, before a second Best Moonsault Ever landed in Bandido’s feet. He tries again, but gets caught as Bandido hits a moonsault/fallaway slam off the top, and that’s enough for the win! A great little match, but the crowd turning on Julian Pace sure was something, even though he brought his A-game. ***3/4

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Black Taurus vs. Shigehiro Irie
This is very much my graps.

We open with the big lads shoulder tackles, as Taurus finally knocked Irie off his feet. A palm strike does the same job, before Irie got trapped in the corner and pulled out with a powerslam for a near-fall. Not to worry – Irie just used his body as a weapon to knock Taurus off the apron!

Irie goes for a slam, and eventually hoists up Taurus ahead of a slingshot splash for a near-fall, only for Taurus to respond with a pop-up Samoan drop! Another palm strike to the back of the head has Irie down as Taurus looked to stand tall, hooking away at Irie for good measure. Taurus was heeling it up though, as the crowd got behind Irie as he swept Taurus away with a Black Hole Slam!

Taurus tried to avoid a Samoan drop, slipping out before they traded forearms, then clotheslines, eventually knocking each other to the mat! Those chants of “if you all love beef, clap your hands”… superb. Taurus returns with a Whisper in the Wind and a spear for a near-fall.

Irie responds by catching Taurus up top for a Samoan drop, following up with a destructive cannonball for a near-fall, before a Beast Bomber spun Taurus to the mat for the win. Lovely stuff if you’re into your big lads wrestling, and you’d better believe I am! ****

Alexander James has a promo. He reckons its time for him to grab the stars from the sky, before he almost goes Michael McGillicutty on us. G’wan AJ!

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Alexander James vs. Jeff Cobb
Cobb was a late-ish replacement for Lio Rush, and was massively over with the Turbinenhalle crowd. James tried to stall it out early, as he opened by using his boot to forcer Cobb into the corner.

An overhead belly-to-belly sorted that one out as Cobb fought free, following up with some stinging chops before a cross-chop to the throat stopped Cobb in his tracks. He’s quickly back with a gutwrench suplex, before he teased a suplex from the ring to the floor for James. It’s avoided as James slipped back in, then caught Cobb with an uppercut on the top rope…

A Tower of London’s blocked as Cobb slips out, taking James to the outside… but Alexander counters with a Tower of London from the apron to the floor. Cobb’s taken into the crowd so he’s got to beat a count-out… which he does, only for James to hit a legdrop for a near-fall upon his return. James stays on Cobb, working over the arm, which built up to a chinbar, before he used a bell clapper to stop Cobb againb.

It doesn’t last long as Cobb hit a superkick… then a clothesline before Killer Kelly came down to ringside to… cheer on AJ? Last time she was at the Turbinenhalle, James swung for her, and this time she’s apparently a distraction as James tells her to leave… which she does. In the meantime, Cobb hits a German suplex, then some uppercuts into the corner before a running Samoan drop drew a near-fall. As did a standing moonsault.

James goes back to the arm, but Cobb reached the ropes to break an armbar, but a T-bone suplex and a curb stomp has James firmly on top. A gutwrench powerbomb follows for a near-fall, before he leapt onto Cobb’s back with a cobra clutch. Cobb counter with a German suplex… then put James away with the Tour of the Islands, and there’s the monster pop! A decent enough match, but this didn’t fully click with the crowd. ***¼

wXw 16 Carat Gold – First Round: Cara Noir vs. Marius al-Ani
Cara’s wXw debut opened with him getting punched out by Marius, who tosses out Noir… wanting to end this one early.

Back in the ring, Cara catches out Marius with a dropkick, then with some chops before he ran Marius from corner-to-corner. al-Ani fought back, throwing Cara into the corner as Noir took the buckles a la Bret Hart, before a Blue Thunder Bomb and an ankle lock turned things around. The crowd becomes evenly split between the two wrestlers, seemingly not agreeing with the newcomer Noir, as al-Ani proceeded to ground him with a chinlock.

al-Ani mocks Cara Noir after throwing him outside again, but then decided to join him as they fought around ringside… which led to Cara licking Marius’ hand before the former Shotgun champion punched the ring post. Back inside, a Swan Woo follows, then another, before a clothesline took Marius back to the mat.

A rebound German suplex and a superkick surprises al-Ani for a near-fall, but Marius responds with an up kick. Cara works the fingers again as he teased biting al-Ani… but back-and-forth forearms lead to a Rude Awakening neckbreaker for a near-fall. Cara goes for a package piledriver, but an ankle lock stops that… and when Cara fought he’d pushed out, Marius just reapplies it.

Cara rolls al-Ani into the corner, but missed a Swan Woo. Another ankle lock sees Cara use referee Rainer Ringer to climb his way to freedom, only to get tossed with an Exploder from Marius, as we’re back to the ankle lock as Cara makes it to the ropes. A Superman punch and a powerbomb has Marius back in for a near-fall, but Cara surprises Marius with a Blackout sleeper for the popular win. This was fine, but with the final bell going just before 10.55pm, you sense the crowd were really tiring here. ***¼

So your quarter-finalists then: Mike Bailey, Jurn Simmons, The Rotation, Eddie Kingston, Bandido, Shigehiro Irie, Jeff Cobb and Cara Noir.

Before the main event, Jay-AA had a video promo as the “tag team experts” cracked wise. I’m probably going to need the subtitles… but Andy’s making the Andre Schürlle stuff a playful jibe now.

wXw World Tag Team Championship: Jay-AA (Absolute Andy & Jay Skillet) vs. Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura) (c)
Jay and Andy take their time doing their poses on the monster stage… and the “power struggle” continued between the two. Who wanted the spotlight more?

Andy teased an F5, but used it to put Skillet on the apron as he tore through both of the Bastards himself, stopping to throw Maggot outside so we could get going. A slam drops Ahura, but he’s low bridged as he went for a knee drop, with Skillet making a save. From there, a stomp and superkick-assisted F5 gets a near-fall on Ahura, before Maggot made a save from an A-Klasse.

Andy’s dropped with a spin kick as the Bastards took control, working over Skillet, who got lots of “let’s go Schürlle” chants. Oof. Skillet ducks an enziguiri, but can’t make the tag as Maggott had pulled Andy off the apron. A spear from Ahura’s good for a near-fall, but Skillet finally gets free with a crossbody, only for Ahura to restrain Skillet by his trunks. A DDT helps Skillet as Andy finally gets back in, laying into the Bastards with right hands before a pantsed Ahura is held up for a suplex.

Maggot runs in, but gets thrown right back out as Ahura’s still wearing half his trousers, before a spinebuster and a Sharpshooter followed. Maggot breaks that up, as Ahura pulls ups trousers back up, but ends up taking his half of a double suplex from Andy. Ahura’s trousers are down again, which leaves him open for an Absolute knee, then a superkick… but Maggot breaks it up again! The distraction lets Ahura in with a spin kick for a near-fall, before the Red Light Driver gets pushed away.

Andy tries to capitalise, but he can’t get the F5 off, but he can spinebuster Maggot as Skillet returned… only to get Alley Oop’d into a knee strike as the Bastards almost retained. An accidental powerbomb set up by Skillet opens the door for an F5 to Maggot, but it’s still not enough… so amid “Schürlle” chants, we get a superplex tease, only for Maggot to drop Skillet with a cutter, while Andy hits a nice suplex throw! He wakes the crowd up with a THUNDEROUS chop to a flying Ahura, before Skillet leapt into a low blow as a Red Light Driver gets a near-fall.

We’re still going folks,  as the crowd chanted for Absolute Andy, but that was the cue for Bobby Gunns to saunter down to ringside. Along with Norman Harras, who had the title belts… the belt shots aren’t enough to lay out Skillet for a three-count. Harras and Gunns try again, but they’re caught and ejected, as Andy and Skillet get the belts… and lay out the champions! A stomp-assisted A-Klasse follows, as Tass returns to count the pin – and we have new champions! A crowd pleasing main event, even with the tired crowd! ***

A storming opening night for 16 Carat Gold – although one that did begin to feel a little long by the end of the night. Ten matches all told is a tough ask on a Friday night to start the weekend – but largely speaking, the show delivered throughout, with three fantastic tournament matches. Onwards and upwards from here!