The winner of this year’s 16 Carat Gold was decided… and Oberhausen also says farewell to a cult hero in Timothy Thatcher.

For one last time this weekend, we’re in the Turbinenhalle, and we’ve got a dose of “Looking for Freedom” to take us home. The opening video has the final four all saying they’ll win Carat, and it’s straight into a backstage video, as Jurn Simmons is interrupted behind the video wall by Marius al-Ani, who is ready to celebrate his failure.

wXw 16 Carat Gold – Semi-Final: Jurn Simmons vs. Mike Bailey
The shock at this being the draw was quite the thing. Bailey’s coming in on the back of that instant classic against Bandido yesterday, and he starts with a handshake and some singalong before Jurn shoved Bailey into the corner.

Bailey responds with shoulder charges, before he kipped up from Jurn’s attempt… only to be put down at the second try. A flurry of kicks drops Jurn, taking him outside for some chops and a Golden Triangle moonsault to boot. Back in the ring, Jurn blocks some kicks before he pancaked Bailey, before a delayed suplex throw took the Canadian across the ring for a near-fall.

The standing Jurn-sault followed for a near-fall, before Bailey fought back with a dropkick out of the corner. A running corkscrew press gets him a near-fall as well, with a delayed buzzsaw kick leading to a failed handspring as Jurn just dumps Speedball in the ropes from a torture rack. From there, a powerbomb followed as Bailey’s splatted for a near-fall, as Jurn headed up the ropes and missed a top rope moonsault.

Would that risk end up costing him? Bailey tries to make sure as he peppers him with kicks, but Jurn is right back up to blitz Bailey with a clothesline, following up with a Massive Boot before Bailey countered a piledriver with a roll-up for a near-fall. Jurn keeps pushing on, spearing Bailey out of a springboard for a two-count, only for Bailey to reply with moonsault knees and a buzzsaw kick for a one-count!

More kicks follow as the Ultima Weapon crashes into Jurn, before a Flamingo Driver got the win. There’s my pick gone as Bailey fought hard and eked out a well-earned win. A really good opener! ***¾

Backstage, Killer Kelly’s being gaslit by Alexander James again… he apparently was putting Kelly in the women’s title picture, but she refused to be the replacement again.

wXw 16 Carat Gold – Semi-Final: Cara Noir vs. Eddie Kingston
Kingston marched down to the ring with a face of thunder on him. He looks for an early attempt at the backfist, but Cara ducks… only to miss a dropkick to the outside as Eddie clattered in with a tope.

Back inside, Eddie drops the elbow on Noir, before some Misawa chops were replied to in kind. Cara goes for a Swan Woo, but Kingston clotheslines him away before grounding the swan with a camel clutch. Cara powers free, then headbutted Eddie ahead of a Swan Woo… then a second… before a Rude Awakening neckbreaker drew a near-fall.

Noir tried to hang Kingston in the corner with a rear naked choke, but the hold’s broken as Eddie took Cara back up top for an avalanche uranage for a near-fall. A Saito suplex followed as Kingston was getting frustrated, which led to the backfist landing for a near-fall. An up-kick from Noir barely fazed Kingston, who fell to a sleeper suplex before the Blackout sleeper forced the submission. A really fun match, with Kingston’s dreams being thwarted yet again. ***¼

Amale’s out next for her women’s title defence… against Levaniel?! He calls her the “Princess of the Stars” as he seems to have taken on Karsten Beck’s role of being her vocal supporter. Levaniel departs as Amale gets the mic, gloating that Killer Kelly is just “afraid to lose again”. So here comes Kelly, with Melanie Gray and Alpha Kevin. Quite the motley crew.

Kelly tells us she doesn’t want to be a replacement again… and broke down into tears as she recalled her first title win. So instead, the replacement is… Stephanie Maze.

wXw Women’s Championship: Amale (c) vs. Stephanie Maze
It’s a hell of a shot for Maze, who’d only just started appearing on the wXw Academy shows…

Amale starts off with a waistlock takedown, as she seemed disgusted with this choice of replacement. Working on the arm gives Amale a chance to do her pose, but Maze gets free and lands a forearm before a barrage of shots led to a suplex. A spinning heel kick follows, as do running elbows into the corner, only for Amale to counter by throwing Maze outside.

Maze gets taken into the crowd, where she’s booted as Amale looked for the count-out… but she stops to throw her back inside, then threw her down by the hair for a near-fall. Another suplex gets Amale a near-fall, before Maze’s attempt at a fight back ended with her missing a forearm as she went into the corner.

Amale’s running boot gets a near-fall, but Maze escapes and lands a head kick. More kicks follow, with something flying out of Amale’s mouth amid all that as Maze pushed on, landing a Saito suplex for a near-fall as Melanie Gray, Killer Kelly and Alpha Kevin suddenly appeared at ringside to cheer her on. A rear spin kick nearly causes the upset, but AMale fought back to quickly hit a Champion’s Maker for the win. This was hurt badly by the crowd not knowing who Maze was, but she put up a heck of a fight. **¼

Post-match, Alexander James runs in to knock down Melanie Gray again before attacking Levaniel and Alpha Kevin. Once again, Kelly has to sort out her problematic boyfriend, as James called her weak “for wanting to be loved”. James tells her “it’s them or me”, and it looks like she made her choice as she watched James hit a King’s Landing to Levaniel before leaving.

The French fans’ balloon heart got passed around like a beach ball, much to the bemusement of Thommy Giesen, who transitioned beautifully from that.

WALTER & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Timothy Thatcher & Yuki Ishikawa
Timothy Thatcher’s farewell to wXw, and it’s gonna be an emotional one.

We open with Ishikawa and Ikeda picking up where they left off at Ambition yesterday, as Ikeda took Ishikawa into the ropes with some kicks before a straight right left Ishikawa on the deck. Yuki’s back as he tries to roll Ikeda into a cross armbar, but WALTER’s in instantly to stomp it apart.

WALTER’s in with Ishikawa, who took his shots before knocking Yuki down. The pair spin on the mat as WALTER looked for a chinlock, but instead had to escape an ankle hold as Thatcher’s tagged in. WALTER’s surrounded, but we settle for a lock-up from Thatcher as he rolled WALTER to the mat for a one-count. Thatcher keeps going wth a half crab, forcing WALTER towards the rope before he let go… and switched up with a bow-and-arrow hold in the ropes. The obvious break comes, as WALTER followed up by lifting Thatcher onto the ropes with a gutwrench, before he patted him on the head.

Thatcher patted him back. If by patted, you mean threw uppercuts. Ishikawa distracts the ref so he could help Thatcher go for a suplex, before they instead went for duelling armbars, but then WALTER’s had enough as he tries to decapitate Thatcher with his boot. A sit-out splash brings in Ikeda as he looked to pick up the momentum, grounding Thatcher for an elbow to the head.

WALTER’s back as he and Ikeda traded chops and kicks in the corner on Thatcher, before a slam and a neck twist from WALTER gets a solid two-count. Ikeda looks to grab a knee bar, but Ishikawa wanders in to break it up as Ikeda kept on with his dirty tactics. Taking Thatcher into the ropes, kicks and cross-face punches from WALTER looked to wear down the former champion, before WALTER just came in to try and choke out Thatcher.

A RINGKAMPF German suplex followed, but Thatcher’s up and comes back with one of his own before tags took us back to Ikeda and Ishikawa. The two scrapping grandads! Ishikawa comes off worse as WALTER returned, lifting Ishikawa to the top rope… but it backfires as Ishikawa rolled WALTER down with a Kimura. Albeit briefly. A powerbomb looks to follow, but Ishikawa counters with a guillotine, before he tried to carve up Ishikawa with chops.

A Dragon screw stops WALTER’s resistance, but a knee bar’s quickly chopped apart as Thatcher and Ikeda return. They go head-to-head, trading forearms until Ikeda lands a headbutt, then a head kick before a clothesline had Thatcher down for a near-fall. Ikeda rares up again, but his clothesline’s caught and turned into a Fujiwara armbar for the submission! Timothy Thatcher leaves the territory with a win and a pretty decent match to go out on. ***¾

After the match, everyone shakes hands (well, Ishikawa touches boots, because Coronavirus), before Thatcher was given the microphone. Well, he said nothing and exited stage left, because the entire roster had blocked the stage. Hard relate!

The second half opened with a video recapping the events of Dead End a few weeks earlier, which leads us into our Shotgun title match…

wXw Shotgun Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Avalanche (c) vs. Alexander Wolfe
There’s a change of plans as Thommy Giesen’s given a new card during the introductions… there’s a third man! Just like two years ago, except it’s Alexander Wolfe who’s joining the fray!

Ilja tries to buddy up to Wolfe, because NXT UK, but Wolfe wants no part of it as he helped bounce Ilja around the ring with Avalanche. Ilja’s turned into a crash test dummy as slams and clotheslines take him to the outside, before Wolfe and Alexander exchanged shoulder tackles… leading to Avalanche knocking down Wolfe with a shoulder tackle.

Dragunov’s back in, but he’s met with a clothesline before Wolfe took him down with a suplex. There’s payback as he drops Wolfe with a German suplex, before going after Avalanche with some shots in the corner. Ilja keeps going with chops to Avalanche’s neck, before an errant enziguiri took down the champion… who just responds by lifting Ilja into Wolfe with ease.

Back-and-forth forearms between Avalanche and Wolfe make Ilja feel left out, so he chops them instead, only to get lifted up into an uppercut. A back body drop from Avalanche took Wolfe into the air, before a Black Hole Slam dropped Ilja for a near-fall. Wolfe gets the knees up to block a Dreissker bomb, but can’t avoid a Coast to Coast from Ilja, who pushed on with a nice takedown on Wolfe.

From there, a Konstantin-Spezial lands on Avalanche for a near-fall, before Wolfe fought back with a DDT and a German suplex to Ilja for a near-fall. Avalanche is back with a short-arm clothesline for a near-fall, as Ilja’s back senton caused a pile up in the corner as it’s broken up, before we saw a neat Tower of Doom – with Avalanche’s powerbomb also setting off a German superplex!

That left Ilja down for a Dreissker bomb, but he moved away, allowing Wolfe to hit a German suplex, before a Torpedo Moscau took out Avalanche. Wolfe’s right on top of Ilja with a sit-out powerbomb, and we have a new Shotgun champion – the former Axel Tischer! An enjoyable surprise, with Wolfe regaining the belt he last held five years ago. ***½

Wolfe gets the mic after the match, and mentions that he’s back for his second run as Shotgun champion. He seemed to tease taking it back to the US with him, but instead he’s staying in Germany to reign as champion.

The eyes return on the video screen – and we’re told who it is as the team known elsewhere as Grup Anarşi hit the ring to attack Wolfe. That’s Abdul Kenan and Aytac Bahar, who got the “who  are you?” chants, before Lucky Kid sprinted down the ramp and joined in! Lucky seems to be fed up of being the “other guy” in his previous stables, dismissing RISE and Schadenfreude and renaming himself Metehan. So… if he was in on it, why was he so distracted by the eyes? Wolfe’s laid out with a Cross Rhodes, as the new group – Ezel –  cemented themselves in wXw.

Hektor Invictus, Puma King & Black Taurus vs. Julian Pace, Jeff Cobb & Bandido
We’re under lucha rules as Bandido was looking for another payday!

After everyone got a chant (almost), we got going with Pace and Bandido hitting the ropes… but Julian’s missed dropkick opened things up as the pair reached the obligatory stalemate. A satellite DDT from Pace lands, before Bandido and Hektor tagged in. Chops from Bandido don’t have much effect, as Hektor came in with a forearm before a ‘rana from Bandido took him into the corner. A springboard crossbody an da dropkick have Hektor rolling to the outside… and you know what’s next.

Black Taurus and Jeff Cobb. HOSS FIGHT! They charge at each other like bulls (ahem), before a lucha sequence ended with a Cobb dropkick. Taurus comes back in with a knee strike before Bandido… got kicked in the head. Bandido catches Taurus off the middle rope for a slam, which wowed the Turbinenhalle, as did that tope con giro into the front row. Hektor throws in a springboard moonsault too, so Cobb, not to be outdone… gets caught by Puma King… who did the dive instead, hitting a senton into the crowd.

Julian Pace stops Cobb, so he could get some air… which he did, with nice hang time from a back body drop. Cobb doesn’t do his dive, as he instead pulls Puma King out of the corner into a Spin Cycle for a near-fall, while Hektor came back with a bridging German for a near-fall, stopped only by a flying stomp. We’re getting into Parade of Moves territory here, but Taurus wrecks Pace with chops before a springboard uppercut off the top cleared house.

Bandido’s back with a MEGA SATELLITE headscissors that got the crowd on their feet, making Black Taurus dizzy before Puma King caught Bandido on the top rope with a ‘rana for a near-fall. They isolate Bandido, as clotheslines trap him in the corner ahead of a TKO from Hektor. I see what you did there. A torture rack backbreaker from Taurus and a Tennessee Jam legdrop from Puma’s good for a near-fall, before Cobb helps clear house on Taurus again. This is great – as was Pace’s assisted Destroyer on Taurus, but that gets a near-fall and a pissed off Hektor as the ring fills… then clears as bodies flew everywhere.

Taurus POUNCES Bandido to the outside, so Pace and Cobb look to get their own back as a pop-up DDT takes Taurus out. Puma King tries to get back in, but he leaps into a Chasing the Dragon before Hektor’s headbutted. Bandido’s taken into the ropes and helped in for a 21 Plex on Hektor, while Cobb and Pace dive outside, and that’s the end to this spell of beautiful nonsense. I love me a flippy match like this, and this was absolutely no exception. Long live the Carat trios match on night three! ****¼

The ring again gets showered with coins and notes after the match. I swear someone threw in their bons too… that’s a rating of one bowl of money!

wXw 16 Carat Gold – Final: Cara Noir vs. Mike Bailey
Given that Cara debuted this weekend, I think it’d be fair to call this a Carat final between two “outsiders” – both in terms of them not being “home” to wXw, and the odds people’d given them going into the weekend.

We’ve loud duelling chants to start, along with a handshake… but Cara held on tight, until Bailey clocked him with a forearm and a head kick. Bailey’s aggression kept going all the way through to a front kick that took Cara into the corner, from where Cara returned with a knee and a clothesline to send Bailey outside. Speedball switches around as he caught Noir with a Golden Triangle moonsault, before he trapped Cara in the ropes for a kick.

Bailey dumps Cara with a slam for a short range double knee drop out of the corner for a two-count, and he keeps going with the double knees too. Kicks pin Cara to the ropes, before some rope running ended with a mid kick that had Cara back on the deck. Bailey seemed to call for the finish, but Cara keeps wrist control before he bit Bailey’s toes.

One of these days, these buggers WILL wrestle in shoes.

A Swan Woo followed to take Bailey into the corner, before a rebound German and a kick got just a one-count as Bailey looked rocked. Cara keeps up with an axe kick, before he avoided a corkscrew press from Bailey. Speedball returned though with a moonsault/fallaway slam for a two-count, only to get caught with a Rude Awakening out of nowhere. Heading to the apron, Bailey and Noir trade kicks and chops, before Bailey just flipped Cara onto the apron.

Bailey’s his own worst enemy as he misses the moonsault knees on the apron, before he was trapped in the ropes for another Swan Woo from Noir. Cara follows that up with a tope con giro over the ring post, before the pair began to trade kicks back inside. a running corkscrew head kick finds its mark in the corner, as Bailey proceeded to get caught with an up kick as he looked to put away Cara with Ultima Weapon. From their knees, both men trade right hands, then elbows, before a headbutt from Cara had both men laid out.

Speedball ‘ranas out of a package piledriver, then hit a PK and the moonsault knees to squash Cara with. More kicks lead to the Ultima Weapon, but Cara kicks out of a Flamingo Driver as Bailey looked to have had it won!

Cara has trouble beating the standing ten count, so Bailey gives him a hand up, only to PK him again… and now the crowd’s turning on Speedball. He tries again, and lands the PK as Cara refused to quit. Third time wasn’t the charm though, as Cara popped right back up and got back in Bailey’s face. A palm strike and a superkick from Bailey led to a handspring reverse ‘rana… but Cara counters with a Blackout sleeper that ended when Bailey dove to the outside… with Cara on his back!

A Brookesing awaited Cara Noir, who then got dragged around ringside and towards the stage, where Bailey looked for moonsault knees, only to miss as the whole walkway shook! The Blackout sleeper followed as Bailey tried to crawl back to the ring. It’s Cara who gets in first, as they tease a count-out… but Bailey barely gets to the rope in time to break the plane. Technicalities!

With Bailey looking groggy, things slowed to a crawl… but Cara showed no mercy as he powerbombed Bailey onto his knee, before delivering a Madame Guillotine off the top rope for a near-fall. David Starr’s moves, eh? Bailey finds his way on the apron again with Noir as a front boot dropped Cara ahead of the moonsault knees. Was… was Speedball playing him? Cara’s brought back inside with an avalanche moonsault/fallaway slam, but it’s still not enough! In the end, Cara snaps in with Madame Guillotine and a package piledriver… YET ANOTHER NEAR FALL! My word, my head is pounding! From there though, a Blackout sleeper suplex dumps Bailey across the ring, before the Blackout sleeper forced the win! Epic in length, and in story telling, this was a remarkable debut weekend as Cara Noir added a new feather to his cap! ****¾

After Saturday’s classic and the shock of the main event, night three of Carat could have struggled to top that. We got some memorable moments in addition to the finakl, with Wolfe’s surprise return (this time, not as part of SAnitY), the rebranding of Lucky Kid as Metehan (with his new group), along with Timothy Thatcher’s farewell… but there’s already rumblings of discontent at the Killer Kelly/Alexander James storyline. wXw has form with hard-hitting stories like this in the past, with Dirty Dragan’s mental health story, so I’m prepared to give this a chance… even if it’s uncomfortable viewing.