The winner of the first 16 Carat Gold tournament in two years was decided in Oberhausen, as wXw’s first major festival since the pandemic wrapped up.

Quick Results
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi-Final: Robert Dreissker pinned LuFisto in 5:57 (***)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi-Final: Jonathan Gresham pinned Shigehiro Irie in 12:22 (***¾)
Baby Allison submitted Ava Everett in 3:03 (**¾)
Cara Noir submitted Dennis Dullnig in 11:56 (***¼)
Maggot pinned Ninja Mack, Ender Kara & The Rotation in 10:12 to win the wXw Shotgun Championship (***¼)
Axel Tischer pinned Fuminori Abe in 11:11 (***½)
Senza Volto, Ace Romero & Aigle Blanc pinned Icarus, Dover & Peter Tihanyi in 12:40 (***½)
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Final: Jonathan Gresham pinned Robert Dreissker in 12:45 (***½)

For the last time we’re dipping into the near-live streams on wXw NOW – commentary from Oberhausen comes from Andy Jackson and Dave Bradshaw. We open with a video package of the final four talking up their chances of winning 16 Carat Gold… complete with the crowd-pleasing Shigehiro Irie busting out “auf die Fresse.”

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi-Final: LuFisto vs. Robert Dreissker
LuFisto refused to back down from Dreissker… slapping the coach to start before she got decked with a right hand.

Dreissker’s low bridged to the outside ahead of an apron PK or two, but the third one’s countered as LuFisto was swept onto the side of the ring. Heading around ringside, LuFisto chopped Dreisker towards the post, which she eventually connected with, as the scrap around ringside continued with Dreissker stretching her arm around the post.

Dreissker tells the crowd to move… but he ends up getting posted, then thrown into the fourth row, providing a lovely explosion as he crashed into a fan’s drink. LuFisto takes some shots at Dreissker in the crowd, then returned to the ring to try and play keepaway… but Dreissker rolled in at nine to keep the match alive.

LuFisto trips Dreissker into the ropes for a splash to the back from there, before a forearm knocked Dreissker down in the corner. Eventually, Dreissker fought back, throwing LuFisto into the ring post, before an avalanche splash and a Dreissker bomb finished her off. A quick finish, but LuFisto had more than the puncher’s chance in this one, with her history meaning that there was more than the odd fan who thought she could punch her ticket to the finals. ***

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi-Final: Shigehiro Irie vs. Jonathan Gresham
Both men were breaking new ground, having not made it past the quarter-finals before here…

Irie was the big favourite from Oberhausen as the pair eventually charged at each other, going for headlock takedowns to start, as a back senton from Irie missed early on. Instead, Irie takes things to the corner, only for Gresham to sit down and sandbag him before Gresham leapt up for a takedown.

Leaping up for a Victory roll, Gresham spins out for an arm drag before landing a dropkick. Irie retaliates with forearms as he took Gresham back to the corner for a suplex. Some elbows from Gresham just earned him a POUNCE as Irie headed back to the corner for a nasty cannonball to the crouching back of the ROH champion.

Gresham kicks out at two from that, but had to drag himself to the ropes from a chinlock as Irie continued to dominate. The rebound splash targets Gresham’s back, as did a clothesline as Irie looked for a back suplex… but Gresham lands on his feet and winced on the landing. On the deck, he tries to take out Irie’s left knee, before he began to up the tempo with some running strikes… only for Irie to snap back with a pop-up Samoan drop.

Gresham’s knee work was starting to bother Irie though, and it stopped Irie from running the ropes as he was met with a Quebrada, then a flash tope to the outside before a springboard wheelbarrow roll through led to a Skayde special for a near-fall. Forearms follow, before a flash Beast Bomber dumped Gresham for a near-fall…

Irie looks to take things up top, but he’s caught up there with a sleeperhold by Gresham… Irie countered with a Samoan drop off the middle rope, only for Gresham to kick out. Another Beast Bomber’s ducked as Gresham hits German suplexes, only to eat the clothesline as Irie almost booked his ticket to the finals.

Pulling Gresham up for another Samoan drop backfires though as Gresham slips out and trapped Irie in a Figure Four. Irie heads to the ropes, but gets dragged away as Gresham looked to go for a pin in the hold, before the pair traded slaps as Irie desperately looked to escape. It nearly worked as Gresham almost got pinned in his own hold, before he cinched in the hold some more and stood up into almost a Figure Four Clutch as he snatched the three-count. Irie was beside himself, sobbing in defeat as Gresham booked himself a match with Robert Dreissker for the Carat trophy… ***¾

Ava Everett vs. Baby Allison
A non-title outing for the new champion, who bragged to the crowd about winning the belt the prior night. The crowd’s not exactly a fan of Ava’s shrill voice…

After having a wardrobe malfunction fixed, Ava started off getting flipped to the mat as Allison took the mount and threw some shots from above. Everett scarpers to the outside… and tried to flick water at the “demon” Allison to get rid of her. When that didn’t work, she threw the rest of Thommy Giesen’s water at her, before Allison landed a spear.

A second one misses into the corner as Everett tries to win with a roll-up, then with a dropkick, before Ava kicked the rope into Allison’s knee. We’ve a neckbreaker for a two-count next, but Allison leans back to avoid a superkick as she fought back, dumping Ava with a high-angle back suplex ahead of a Scorpion kick in the corner.

Allison nearly wins with a Northern Lights suplex, then flipped over into a Muta lock to force the submission! At three minutes, this was short, but Allison looked pretty good in the comeback – and having previously having issues “with management” over her spot in the division, things are beginning to look up for her! **¾

Post-match, Allison parades the title over the fallen Everett, only for Iva Kolasky to march out and snatch the title. The pair have a brief tug of war over it, before Everett returned to reclaim the title…

Dennis Dullnig vs. Cara Noir
Dullnig’s been one of this weekend’s MVPs, even if he was Hektor-less this time out… which meant that he scared himself silly when Cara Noir unveiled.

A hammerlock from Dullnig nonchalantly ends with Cara wrapping the arm around the ropes. A headlock takedown has Dullnig on the mat, before headscissors to Cara were escaped… as he then began to stalk Dullnig on the mat. Dennis’ answer? To pull a mask out of his trunks and yell “abstand” at Cara. Safety first, even if the pretext may not be to your taste.

Cara’s got another mask in his gear as we get a mask vs. mask match, with a side headlock from Cara on the mat being pushed out of as a wristlock from Dullnig promoted Cara to remove his mask. Off comes Dullnig’s too before Cara pulled off a headstand to break that wristlock… so Dullnig punted Cara in the midsection to take him down. Stomps to Cara’s bare feet follow, as did some manipulation of the toes onto the ropes.

Back inside, Dullnig stays on those bare toes, torquing them before Cara began to slap back, peppering Dullnig with strikes before a rebound German suplex landed flush. A gamengiri from Dullnig looked to cut things off, but Cara strikes back with a clothesline before he missed a corner dropkick.

Cara shrugs it off to hit a Rude Awakening neckbreaker for a near-fall, before a series of kicks had Dullnig scurrying on the mat. The strikes escalate as a knee from Dullnig earned him an up-kick… before a double clothesline left the pair down. More Dullnig knees nearly win it, before a snap Madame Guillotine turned it back around for the last Carat winner.

A package piledriver attempt’s snapped out of as Dullnig pushed on… but he’d knocked Cara down and had big trouble pulling him up. When he did, Cara simply flopped down as Dullnig went for a Hektor-Knee… no matter how often he’d check… but it was just mind games as Cara eventually snapped out of it and put Dullnig to sleep with the Blackout sleeper. ***¼

Francis Kaspin was introduced next as he had an announcement – a special four-way match for the Shotgun title, using the usual lottery rules…

wXw Shotgun Championship: Ninja Mack (c) vs. The Rotation vs. Ender Kara vs. Maggot
Andy Jackson was losing his mind at Ninja Mack doing his “ninja run,” as Ninja Mack had one more trial to face before he could go back to the States with the Shotgun title.

Maggot received a huge ovation, much to Andy’s befuddlement, as Ninja Mack flipped to get attention… and got kicked to the outside for his woes. Rotation and Maggot lock up as Rotation tried for a wacky lucha submission, before a leg sweep took down Ender Kara ahead of a springboard moonsault from Rotation to Maggot and Mack on the floor.

Ender Kara joins in with a tope con giro to Ninja Mack, who was on Rotation’s shoulders on the floor, before he rolled Maggot back into the ring. A spear from Maggot gave him a two-count, before Rotation hit the ropes for a crossbody off the top, following in with a running kick and a satellite DDT for a near-fall.

Mack broke that pin up with a frog splash, then rolled up Rotation for a head kick for a near-fall, with Ender Kara flying in with a frog splash of his own to break it up. Maggot’s back with slams, before he flipped Rotation and Mack onto Kara as he stacked them all up for a near-fall. A crossbody off the top has Mack back in it, as he then handspring kicked everyone off the apron as things spilled outside. Rotation sprinted through the crowd to dive onto Maggot and Kara off of the walkway… and hey, you know how the Turbinenhalle has a balcony? Ninja Mack spotted it too, and after he’d snuck up the stairs towards it, he leapt off of the balcony with a senton bomb into the pile.

Somehow, he was the first man up as he took Rotation back into the ring, charging in with a running forearm in the corner before Rotation returned the favour with a clothesline. They continue to trade, before Rotation avoided a Ninja 630 and ‘rana’d Mack to the mat. Going back up top, Rotation hits his Victory Over Gravity… but Maggot snuck in with a cutter to the Rotation to nearly win it as a Parade of Near Falls broke out among all four men… only for Maggot to catch Ninja Mack with a cutter in mid-air to get the win. The Shotgun title stays in Germany, and the man with Oberhausen’s catchiest new music gets his cult a new trinket. ***¼

Axel Tischer vs. Fuminori Abe
The former champion opens up the second half as he looked to get back in the winning column against one of the weekend’s new favourites.

The early skirmishes saw Tischer trading strikes with Abe, dropping him with an uppercut before a neckbreaker landed for just a one-count. Tischer works the arm, taking Abe to the mat as the ropes forced a break. A half-hatch suplex gets Tischer a two-count, before Abe snapped him down with a Dragon screw leg whip.

Abe followed up into the corner with a spin kick, then a PK for a two-count, before he stayed on Tischer with a Fujiwara armbar. Tischer gets free with an elbow smash, then an enziguiri that quickly chained into a German suplex for a near-fall… but Abe grabbed the arm while kicking out and reapplied the armbar. Swish.

Tischer pulled Abe up into a Fireman’s carry, but couldn’t throw his way free as Abe kept the hold on despite the takedown. Abe slips onto the apron to avoid a bodyslam, then had to escape a suplex as an O’Connor roll nearly won it… only for Tischer to kick out and pull Abe into a rear naked choke.

The ropes save Abe, as we resume with an exchange of strikes, leading to Abe just punching Tischer on the top of the head. Oof. More of those head punches follow, before Tischer returned the favour as things escalated, leading to an Octopus hold from Abe. It nearly forces Tischer to submit, but he’s able to fall into the ropes for a break.

Abe’s back with the wind-up punch, but Tischer’s quickly responding with kicks and knees, before the Ligerbomb planted Abe for the win. An enjoyable scrap as Tischer came through a big test in his first match without the title. Over the course of the weekend, Abe really connected with the crowds, showing that BATI-BATI is life… ***½

After the match, Abe got the “please come back” chants (and with World Tag Team Festival in October, there may be a wish to bring a partner with him…), before thanking the crowd for the weekend that was nearly over. Noting that he wasn’t the man who was pinned last night, Tischer vowed to go back for the title, saying that the time will come where he’s one-on-one in the ring against Tristan Archer.

Ace Romero, Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto vs. Arrows Of Hungary (Dover & Icarus) & Peter Tihanyi
Our semi-main is the traditional bonkers lucha rules six-man tag, which saw Senza, Aigle and Ace coming out wearing balaclavas.

Aigle Blanc and Peter Tihanyi got the match going, giving us a throwback to their first round match-up from the Friday night. A side headlock from Aigle’s pushed off as leapfrogs and flips lead to a countered ‘rana from Tihanyi as the pair went at quite a pace, ending with the double-dropkick stand-off. A springboard crossbody from Aigle gets a two-count, only for Tihanyi to dropkick him out of the ring as Senza Volto took over. Icarus is in too with armdrags and a suplex, as a standing moonsault only drew a one-count on Senza.

Volto goes for a spot of rope-walking, but Tihanyi Ultimate Warriors the ropes to try and shake him down, only for Senza to score the springboard armdrag ahead of another one. Out of nowhere, Senza and Icarus start to shuck and jive, and you can probably see where this is escalating.

Senza puts his balaclava back on and calls for some music… cue a dance-off, complete with Tassilo Jung and Dover looking visibly annoyed, before they of course got caught up in it all. It seems that knitted headgear is what gets the curmudgeons going! The big spot’s saved for the Ace-a-roonie to clear the ring, before Dover attacked Ace from behind to get the match back on track.

A uranage from Romero to Icarus is followed up as he powerbombed Tihanyi onto the former tag champion. Tihanyi recovers, but eats a pair of gamengiri in the corner ahead of a Code Red from Volto… then a Meteora from Aigle for a near-fall. The Arrows dump Senza off the ropes ahead of a kick-assisted Fire Thunder Driver from Dover for a near-fall, before the Arrows locked eyes on Romero.

A double clothesline from Ace sent the former tag champs flying, as he then teased a moonsault… but the Arrows powerbomb him out of the corner instead, before Tihanyi raced in for a 450 splash. Aigle Blanc breaks up the pin with a Coast to Coast-like dropkick as the flips continued… a step-up flip senton to the Arrows from Senza… a springboard flip senton from Aigle into the crowd…

Everyone fights on the outside as Ace teased a dive, but Tihanyi cuts him off with a knee, only for his charge to end up with the Hungarian getting POUNCE’d into the ropes. Ace finally flies with a tope into the pile, before we returned to the ring as an Aigle Blanc tombstone to Icarus, then a springboard moonsault from Senza got the win. This lived up to the usual levels you’d expect in the wacky lucha rules match, and broke the tension before the tournament final… ***½

16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Final: Robert Dreissker vs. Jonathan Gresham
Having adopted a more aggressive attitude throughout the tournament, Dreissker’s made it to his first Carat finals – much like Jonathan Gresham, who was the clear crowd favourite here.

Dreissker tries to end it in a hurry, squashing Gresham in the corner ahead of a fallaway slam and a Dreissker bomb, but Gresham grabbed the rope to save himself from being blown out. Heading outside, Gresham’s caught in a nerve hold as Dreissker looked to wear him down.

Gresham tries to slide back into the ring, but got pulled back to the floor before he snuck past the Austrian… then played keep away, dropkicking Dreissker off the apron before a plancha to the outside was caught, with Dreissker posting the ROH champion in response. A second plancha’s caught, but this time Gresham’s able to shove Dreissker into the post, then rushed into the ring to hit some topes as that front row really didn’t want to get out of the way, as a tope con giro took Gresham into the crowd.

Back inside, Dreissker tried to use his size to strike down Gresham, before a German suplex attempt was blocked. Dreissker backs into the corner to break the waistlock, before he speared Gresham ahead of a pumphandle slam for a near-fall. Gresham’s thrown off as he went for a sleeperhold, as the match descended into strikes… it didn’t work in Gresham’s favour though, so he ends up pratfalling Dreissker to the mat as a forearm helped get him a two-count.

Another diving forearm gets another two-count, before the third one was swatted away as Dreissker slowed things down with a bear hug. The hold’s kept on despite Gresham’s attempts to escape, as a waistlock takedown keeps the reverse bear hug on until Gresham broke the grip and rolled to the rope for safety.

Dreissker misses a crossbody as Gresham followed up with a forearm as the locker room emptied out to watch from ringside. A Quebrada from Gresham takes Dreissker outside ahead of another flash tope, but Gresham’s instantly mauled with a clothesline back inside as Dreissker again went for the fallaway slam and Dreissker bomb combo… but again Gresham isn’t put down, as he kicked out at two!

A wild lariat drops Gresham once more, then a ripcord lariat, but again Dreissker doesn’t get the three count, as Gresham fought back with a rebound German suplex, then more elbows, before he mounted Dreissker in a sleeperhold. Gresham lets go of the hold so he could hit one more running elbow… and that’s enough to knock the big man down and win the tournament! A somewhat out-of-nowhere finish as Gresham outlasted the entire field to add one more title to his growing CV. ***½

Celebrating with the trophy, Gresham’s victory speech thanked his fans and detractors for driving him to succeed. Gresham went on to thank the heads of wXw past and present (Felix Kohlenberg, Tassilo Jung & Christian Michael Jakobi) for their passion in wrestling… then asked the crowd to keep that passion going, and to support the future of wrestling.

Just as Gresham was wrapping, Robert Dreissker ran from the back to blindside him on the stage, then sent things back to the ring to put the boots to him. Francis Kaspin marched out to admonish Dreissker, whose response was to deck the sporting director before stretching him in a camel clutch, targeting the back injury that forced Kaspin into retirement. Officials eventually come out as Dreissker bathed in the crowd’s hate as medics ended up carrying Kaspin to the back as we faded to black…

After the cameras went off, wXw bade a rather sad farewell to Katja Pilz, as these were her final shows for the company in Oberhausen. Most wXw fans will recognise the name from the end credits, but a certain part of the fanbase has Katja to thank – whether you joined when wXw NOW started, whether you jumped on board in “peak” Shotgun day… Perhaps it was the stupidly fast turnaround times that wXw were known for, or whether the recent leap in picture quality was what swayed you as a watcher. Katja’s been credited for at the very least influencing a lot of key decisions in wXw’s video production department – which has been a big part of their audience growth. She’ll leave behind some massive shoes to fill in the company – and the very best wishes from all in whatever lies ahead in the future.

…and that’s all from the near-live streams! Having been in Oberhausen live in person, this was perhaps the most fulfilling weekend of wrestling I’ve seen – for several reasons. Not just the matches, not just the general air of positivity around the Turbinenhalle, or the feeling that, if only for a few days at least, normality is starting to return. There’s two more shows from the weekend to review – We Love Wrestling #28 and the wXw NOW & Friends Showcase, which’ll be dropping on demand on March 15 and 19 respectively.

Depending on why you’re watching wrestling, there’s many ways to look at this year’s 16 Carat Gold. If you’re scanning those opening paragraphs so you can cherry-pick for star ratings, you’ll probably be walking away a little disappointed. If you’ve engaged with every second of wXw in recent times, you’ll probably have come out as hyped as you did going in, enthused about the direction things are going. For those in-between, who’ve picked and chosen from wXw during the pandemic, this is a very different promotion than the one you’ll have seen two years ago – but with a lot of hard work having been done in the intervening period, it’s a product that’s extremely rewarding to follow. Doing things “the right way” is beginning to pay dividends.