Heute (was) Carat! A packed Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen was present for the opening night of 16 Carat Gold, as ROH champion Jonathan Gresham and Bobby Gunns clashed in the main event.

Quick Results
Hektor Invictus defeats Ninja Mack and Norman Harras and Oskar and The Rotation
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Robert Dreissker pinned Fuminori Abe in 8:46 (***¼)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Cara Noir submitted Vincent Heisenberg in 6:28 (**½)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Peter Tihanyi pinned Aigle Blanc in 13:05 (***¾)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: LuFisto pinned Dennis Dullnig in 7:46 (**½)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Marius Al-Ani pinned Michael Knight in 8:12 (***)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Maggot pinned Ace Romero in 12:49 (*¾)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Shigehiro Irie pinned Senza Volto in 12:59 (***½)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Jonathan Gresham pinned Bobby Gunns in 21:23 (****)

After a year off for… you know damn well why, 16 Carat Gold made its triumphant return to Oberhausen as Europe’s biggest wrestling festival looked to give us all a taste of normality. wXw streamed all three nights of Carat “near-live,” with English commentary coming from Dave Bradshaw and Andy Jackson. If you hop onto wXw NOW, you’ll see these near-live edits up as two-parters, but when the “final” cut goes up, those’ll be replaced… and if the alternate five-way is added in that feed, I’ll update this report to include it.

We open with a video package, recapping the last 16 Carat Gold before the world changed – highlighting some of the farewells from that show, and the run from the empty set shows back to tonight. Heute ist Carat, as they say…

Thommy Giesen welcomes everyone to the Turbinenhalle as we open with the traditional parade of entrants – including Marius al-Ani, who was a late replacement for Biff Busick.

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Robert Dreissker vs. Fuminori Abe
In the weeks leading up to Carat, Dreissker’s slowly gotten more surly – spurred in part by his loss in the Käfigschlacht back in January.

Opening with a lock-up, Dreissker shoves Abe to the mat, before he was met with a slap in the ropes. Dreissker takes it to the mat, but an attempted shove into the ropes saw Abe come back with a dropkick to the knee, then a kick to the back before the pair began to exchange strikes… ending with a shoulder block from Dreissker. Dreissker adds a springboard crossbody out of the corner for a two-count as the Austrian looked to push ahead, rolling Abe into a half crab… forcing Abe to bite the rope as he went for the break. A spear from Dreissker cuts off a spin kick and nearly wins the match, before some headscissors took Dreissker into the corner.

Abe followed up with spinning kicks into the corner, then a dropkick before a back body drop flung Abe into the sky. He’s quickly up to nail Dreissker with a Big Unit punch to buy him time. We’re back to the exchange of strikes, as another wind-up punch leads to the Octopus stretch… which Dreissker escaped, only to get suplexed instead. A ripcord clothesline from Dreissker gets a one-count, while a death valley driver nearly wins it… while a fallaway slam and Dreissker Bomb gets the win. A no-nonsense outing to get us going, with Abe falling at the first hurdle against the wXw veteran. ***¼

Backstage, Dan Mallmann’s with Vincent Heisenberg ahead of his match – Maggot and Baby Allison are with him as they talk up how nobody’s given Heisenberg a chance against Cara Noir…

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Vincent Heisenberg vs. Cara Noir
Heisenberg jumped Cara as he entered the ring, cackling as he did so…

Cara returned fire at the bell, leaping into Heisenberg in the corner before he got booted down. Heisenberg went for a powerslam, but Cara slips out to hit a German suplex… only for Heisenberg to hit the slam moments later for a near-fall. A second slam’s escaped as Cara Noir seeps the leg out from under the big man, then peppered him with kicks ahead of a Rude Awakening neckbreaker.

Heisenberg’s up at two from that, but gets dropkicked to the outside… he escaped a package piledriver on the apron as Cara fought back, taking him up top for a superplex that nearly won the match. Going back to the slam, Heisenberg nearly wins it, as he followed up with a clothesline on the mat as he tried to put Cara away… a slam off the top looked to be the big ending, but Cara slips out, then headbutted Heisenberg to the mat, before he leapt to the back of Heisenberg and choked him out with the sleeperhold. Good for what it was as a David vs. Goliath outing, as Cara Noir avoided a banana skin in his quest to win back-to-back Carats. **½

Backstage, Dan’s with Dennis Dullnig… Dullnig’s got LuFisto in the first round of Carat, but he’s more thrilled that Hektor’s qualified as an alternate. Of course, Hektor’s only there if someone has to drop out – like if they broke their leg. I mean, that’s the other way to say “break a leg”!

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Aigle Blanc vs. Peter Tihanyi
A battle between two guys who’ve established themselves in wXw since the last Carat tournament.

Opening up with a lock-up that was eventually broken in the ropes, things are taken to the mat as a roll-through from Tihanyi got an early two-count as the pace quickened, leading to a dropkick to take Aigle outside. A tope met the Frenchman in the aisle, as he got chopped by the apron, before Aigle took to the skies with a moonsault off the turnbuckles. Back inside, a snapmare and a kick to the back gets Aigle a two-count, before a tornado DDT from Tihanyi was blocked, with Aigle rolling through ahead of a springboard seated splash for a near-fall. An armbar on the mat followed, before both men had the same idea… and leapt into each other with crossbodies off the ropes.

Tihanyi’s back up first to hit the tornado DDT, taking Aigle outside for a flip senton, before a Magic Screw off the ropes back inside almost ended things. Escaping an Asai DDT, Aigle Blanc hits a headscissors driver through the ropes, then a Meteora to the back of the head for a two-count. Chops and uppercuts are exchanged next, leading to an enziguiri from Blanc, then one from Tihanyi, before a snap Dragon suplex put Aigle back on top. Blanc’s caught on the top and brought down with a Spanish Fly for a near-fall, before the Asai DDT’s countered into a spike tombstone on Tihanyi.

Aigle’s only able to get a two-count from that, so he leaps back up top and hits a Coast to Coast… then a 450 splash… but Tihanyi again kicks out at two. Back up top, Tihanyi’s caught as Aigle teased an avalanche Dragon suplex, but Tihanyi countered out with an Asai DDT off the top… and that’s enough for the win! This was a slow burner, but it really kicked into gear towards the end as the first Hungarian in 16 Carat Gold made it into the second day. ***¾

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Dennis Dullnig vs. LuFisto
Dullnig’s whole mission statement these days is “für Hektor” – as he’s constantly trying to impress the man whom he thinks is his best friend.

An attempt to powder out early sees LuFisto bring Dullnig back in the hard way as chops and forearms had Dullnig on the defensive early on. Headbutts follow in the corner, then chops, before a paintbrush-like slap caught LuFisto out. A big boot’s next from Dullnig, along with some stomps and a kick to the back. LuFisto fires back with forearms and a backfist, before a hip attack and a cannonball trapped Dullnig into the corner. A discus clothesline to the back of LuFisto gave Dullnig an opening, but a headbutt took the wind out of his sails, as did a running knee, before a snap German suplex nearly won it for Dullnig.

The crowd began to chant “ohne Hektor, hast du keine Chance” – “without Hektor, you’ve got no chance” – as Dullnig looked to plug away… only to get caught with a Tiger Driver out of nowhere as LuFisto won out. Decent for what it was, with Dullnig falling at the first hurdle as LuFisto progressed to night two… **½

They announce the return of the World Tag Team Festival this October – replacing the ill-fated Catch Grand Prix that they’d run during the empty set shows, and the Blitzturnier version from last year…

Backstage, Dan’s with Bobby Gunns – who’s in the tournament proper for the first time this year. Gunns noted that he respected Jonathan Gresham, saying they shared the same principles about wrestling…

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Michael Knight vs. Marius Al-Ani
Marius al-Ani was making his return to wXw for the first time this year – having replaced Biff Busick in the days ahead of the tournament.

al-Ani and Knight stay close to start off with, as things went to the mat, then into the ropes, before Knight managed to take him outside with a dropkick. A tope followed to the outside, but back inside al-Ani caught Knight and chucked him with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Uppercuts follow, then a dropkick, as Knight has to kick out at two, before he sidestepped a knee and tried to win with a roll-up. Knight countered a Diamond Driver into a Victory Roll for a near-fall, but Marius’ knee quickly put him back on top for a near-fall… an ankle lock followed, but Knight escapes and hits a Sliced Bread out of the corner as commentary was making me very hungry with their sandwich ideas. Not a good idea to watch this back during lunch!

Knight picks up with a springboard clothesline back into the ring for a near-fall, but a powerbomb and an ankle lock has al-Ani back on course. al-Ani’s kicked away, but he’s back with an up kick as he again went back to the ankle. Once more, Knight kicks him away, then pulled himself to the top rope for a crossbody… but al-Ani rolled through and tried for a Diamond Driver. It’s escaped… but second time’s the charm though, and that’s the win for the former champion as Marius made it to the second round. Except he’d withdraw with a shoulder injury overnight, so despite winning, his tournament ended here. ***

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Maggot vs. Ace Romero
Maggot’s theme is catchy as all hell – and this weekend it turned him into a crowd favourite, in spite of his recent actions… which he’s mocking these days by wearing the crown of thorns he’d given Anil Marik back in January.

We’ve dualling chants to start as Maggot got beasted to the outside by Romero. He returns and asks for a test of strength with Romero, but he throws a cheapshot as he went for a kick to the head… before Romero punched him out. Biel throws follow, leading to a back senton that flattened Maggot. In the corner, Romero wears down Maggot with chops, before Maggot bit his way out of a side headlock. A crucifix from Maggot’s easily blocked, but a wild clothesline dropped the former tag champion with ease – only for Romero to pull up Maggot at two. Baby Allison screams at Ace from ringside, providing a distraction… which Maggot tried to capitalise on with a chokeslam.

Like that was ever happening.

Romero brushes him off, but Maggot goes for the leg and took Romero into the ropes, looking to land some clotheslines to knock him to the outside. When that didn’t work, Maggot went for a spear, only to bounce off of Romero. An enziguiri has more luck, before Romero POUNCE’d Maggot into the ropes. Baby Allison pops up onto the apron to distract Romero again – as he was about to hit a package piledriver… this time, Ace went after Allison, pulling her into the ring. She scrambles away, right as Maggot ran in to hit a cutter… and that’s the win. This felt a little long, with Maggot needing to get a little underhanded to get his spot in the second round. *¾

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Senza Volto vs. Shigehiro Irie
This was one of the matches I’d circled going into night one… and it didn’t disappoint!

Starting off with a side headlock, Senza Volto took down Irie for a kick to the back, which was just shrugged off like it was nothing. Irie took more offence to the middle finger than that, returning with a back elbow before his slingshot splash missed. Senza tries to capitalise with some rope-walking and a springboard armdrag, but Irie just looked peeved at that…

A springboard headscissors takes Irie outside for a step-up flip senton, while another senton back inside nearly ended things early. Back inside, a powerslam gets Irie a two-count, so he followed up with that slingshot splash for just a one-count as Irie looked to take charge. Senza looked for a sunset flip, but Irie just sits down on him for a two-count, before a Fireman’s carry was elbowed out of. Volto’s jawbreaker gets him free, while clotheslines and a handspring back elbow put Irie down. The pair go from corner to corner next, but a gamengiri and a 619 in the corner knocked out Irie’s legs, only for him to return with a Bossman slam for a near-fall. A big splash off the top lands in Senza’s knees, as a Code Red nearly won it for the Frenchman.

Irie pushes out of an Eiffel Tower, and returns with forearm to the neck, only for superkicks from Senza to offer some resistance. Chops to the front and back just annoy Irie, who took a cutter for a near-fall, then a moonsault for another two-count…

More chops from Senza just fire up Irie, who’s paintbrush before he countered another Eiffel Tower into a Saito suplex. A cannonball quickly follows in the corner, then another. Irie hits almost a Regal plex from there, dumping Volto on his head as a Beast Bomber spun the Frenchman to the mat for the win. A hard-fought win for Irie, who had to deal with a surlier-than-usual Senza to make it through to the second night of Carat. ***½

Post-match, Irie offered a handshake… but Senza wanted a hug instead.

Backstage, Dan’s with Jonathan Gresham ahead of the main event… Gresham notes he’s not been in Carat for nearly a decade, before he was asked for his game plan. Of course, Gresham calls out that this match isn’t under Pure rules, but he’ll be looking to prove he’s the best wrestler in the world.

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Bobby Gunns vs. Jonathan Gresham
You couldn’t headline with anything other than this match, could you? The current ROH champion against the former wXw Unified World Wrestling champion. If you like your wrestling on the mat, this is going to be right up your alley…

We opened with Gresham escaping an armbar, but we trade headlocks and headscissors on the deck, before Gresham spun out and tied up Gunns’ legs. In return, Gunns ties up both of Gresham’s arms a la Zack Sabre Jr’s Young Boy Killer, before a second one ended in the ropes. From the restart, Gresham takes down Gunns for a double wristlock, but that’s broken with some headscissors, before a PK-like kick from Gunns had Gresham on the mat. Standing on Gresham’s ankle while torquing the other, Gunns looks for a stoppage, but continues to tie up the legs into a deathlock.

A knee bar followed, but Gresham gets to the ropes – as I suspect he was thankful those weren’t limited here. Gunns stays on top though, at least until things headed to the corners, as Gresham found a way through with chops. The pair spill awkwardly to the outside with a Davey Richards/Ilja Dragunov suplex from the ring to the floor… then beat the count, staring a hole through each other while doing so. The pair trade elbows back inside, leading to a kick to the back from Gunns…. Gresham’s pissed from that as he snaps back with a kick of his own, then an armdrag, before he tied Gunns’ arms behind his back in the search for a Tequila Sunrise-like hold, opting for a toe hold instead.

After rolling Gunns into a pinning predicament, Gresham stayed on Gunns, torquing the arm and wrist to the mat, before Gunns rolled through an armdrag as he looked to force a new opening. Slaps back and forth change the complexion of things, as Gresham sank to the mat, before corner-to-corner charges led to Gresham getting cornered with some kicks. A German suplex and a clothesline keeps Gunns ahead for a near-fall, while another bridging German suplex nearly put Gresham down… only for Gresham to kick out and go straight back to the arm of Gunns. Gresham stays on Gunns with that Kimura, rolling him to the mat, before a Quebrada and a knee strike softened up Gunns for an Octopus stretch. Clubbing shots to Gunns’ neck follow, but he powers free… rolling back to the mat, only for Gresham to tie up Gunns in a Magistral with an extra bridge for a near-fall. That was slick.

Going right back to the arm, Gresham switches up with a ‘rana, only to get rolled up by Gunns for a two-count… the pair up the pace with pinning attempts as a Euro clutch nearly nicks it for Gunns. Both men get back to their feet to beat a standing ten count as Gunns’ uppercuts earned him an enziguiri and a bridging German suplex… then a simple elbow to the head as Gresham nearly took it over the line. More elbows get more near-falls for Gresham, buty a PK from Gunns added a two-count in his favour. Gunns nearly falls to a German suplex as the pair were starting to dig deep… but in the end a bridging German suplex was what ended it, as Bobby Gunns’ first crack at 16 Carat Gold ended with him crashing out in the first round. This won’t be for everyone, but this was an excellent war of attrition on the mat as the reigning ROH champion squeaked out the win. ****

Like most recent opening nights of 16 Carat Gold, this was a steady show with some good highlights. Main event aside, most of the card felt breezy and snappy – which only helps on the first night of a long wrestling weekend!