Heute war Carat… we take a look at the first night of the 16 Carat Gold tournament, with the Unified World Wrestling title on the line for the winner of the whole thing.

Quick Results
Elijah Blum pinned Anil Marik and Fast Time Moodo and Gulyas Jr. in 7:55 (**¾)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Francesco Akira pinned Laurance Roman in 11:45 (***¼)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Tristan Archer pinned Mike D Vecchio in 10:53 (***¼)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Masha Slamovich pinned Fuminori Abe in 8:50 (***½)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Shigehiro Irie pinned Metehan in 16:28 (***)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Peter Tihanyi pinned Trey Miguel in 13:19 (***½)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Komander pinned Arez in 14:10 (***¾)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Axel Tischer pinned Davey Richards in 16:46 (***¾)
16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Ahura pinned Maggot in 22:14 (***)

— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to wXwNOW.de – it’s now been moved over to YouTube after wXw left Vimeo’s platform, so you’ll need to sign-up…

We’re coming live on tape from the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Germany – with the set-up for the entire weekend here genuinely unlike anything I’ve seen for anything else on the independents. In lieu of the standard “massive video wall entrance-way”, we’ve got wrestlers coming through the crowd, while there’s an early NXT-era style video cube above the ring.

First, we have the traditional alternate’s four-way match… with commentary from Dave Bradshaw and Mett Dimassi.

Elijah Blum vs. Gulyas Jr. vs. Fast Time Moodo vs. Anil Marik
Fuelled by Monster Energy, as is apt for the entire weekend…

Everyone tries to gang up on Gulyas to start, throwing him to the outside as we settled down on Anil Marik and Fast Time Moodo. Marik’s Slingblade gets him an early one-count, before Elijah Blum came in to land a neckbreaker. A dropkick gets Blum a two-count on Marik, with Gulyas breaking up the pin… you know what’s next! Gulyas in, Marik out, as Gulyas broke out some Dusty punches before he began to charge folks away. There’s a pair of back body drops before Moodo came in to land spinning heel kicks on all. Mid kicks follow to everyone, before a Cactus clothesline from Marik took him and Moodo outside.

Gulyas grabs Blum and teases a suplex to the outside, but instead he’s knocked into Moodo and Marik on the floor ahead of an elbow suicida into the pile. Back inside, Gulyas gets low bridged to the outside by Marik… who then got waffled by a Moodo knee ahead of a Pedigree that almost got the win. A Tower of Doom’s set up, but Gulyas gets back body dropped before he went up top and hit a crossbody into an upside-down Moodo. Gulyas is back to his feet first for a bunch of cannonballs, with Moodo avoiding one going his way as a Parade of Moves broke out… leading to a ripcord lariat from Gulyas, then a pumphandle driver from Moodo for a near-fall.

Blum goes for a Parting Gift, but has to make do with a suplex on Marik, before the Parting Gift finally landed for the win. **¾

Now onto the main show, which opens with Thommy Giesen and the participants in the tournament…

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Francesco Akira vs. Laurance Roman
Akira was originally slated for last year’s Carat but had to pull out with injury… and is now part of the field as one half of the IWGP junior tag champions.

Roman kicks away the offer of a handshake as the pair locked up and broke in the ropes. A side headlock’s pushed off as Roman charged down Akira, who then tripped up the Shotgun champion and almost snatched a quick win with a roll-up. A snap headlock takedown puts Roman back in control, but Akira breaks free with a pair of dropkicks, taking Roman outside as chops followed around ringside. Akira returns to the ring and tees up for a dive, only to get caught and thrown into the second row with a belly-to-belly suplex. That’s good for just a one-count after Akira made it back inside, but Roman continued on offence, dumping Akira with a back elbow for another two-count.

Attempting to resist an Irish whip, Akira gets met with a snap suplex, then run into the buckles by Roman, before a suplex out of the corner looked to keep Roman ahead… only for a wheelbarrow into a double stomp to turn it around for Akira. A Francesco Akira who’d learned everyone’s favourite three words of German as he took Roman outside with a tijeras, following with a dive… then a crossbody off the top for a near-fall. Knee strikes from Akira led to a fight back from Roman, going tit-for-tat before a discus clothesline took down the Italian. Roman follows up with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall, only for Akira to catch a flying Roman with a dropkick… then an elevated German suplex for another two-count.

Roman ducks a Nova Fireball and tries a hammerlock DDT… Akira escapes and returned with a snap half-and-half suplex… only for Roman to hit that swinging hammerlock DDT anyways. The Roman facebuster’s next for a near-fall, before Laurance went for a package piledriver… Akira ‘rana’s out, before a superkick and a Speedfire set up for the Nova Fireball running Meteora… and that’s enough to book Akira’s spot in the quarter-finals! A really good opener, not too flashy, but a great table-setter for the weekend. ***¼

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Tristan Archer vs. Mike D Vecchio
Mike D wowed fans at Inner Circle – but has a bigger test in his first round outing here…

The early feeling-out process saw Archer try to charge down Mike D, before he rolled through a powerbomb attempt and sparked see-saw pinning attempts. Archer rolls outside, hanging up Mike D in the ropes as the Belgian went for a dive, before the Frenchman hit a misdirection dive of his own. Archer doesn’t follow-up on Mike D, eventually chasing him around ringside before he went to sandwich Mike’s head on the ring steps. Back inside, Archer stays on Mike D, leading to an extremely nonchalant cover for a one-count before Mike D missed a knee into the corner… then found more luck with a running leg lariat into the opposite corner.

A running back suplex out of the corner keeps the Belgian ahead, as he followed up with a springboard flying elbow for a two-count. The pair jockey over a suplex, but Archer switches up with an inside cradle for a two-count, only to get elbowed out of the corner as Mike’s enziguiri looked to have him ahead… but his follow-up springboard’s caught as Archer threw him into the buckles, then landed a back cracker for a near-fall. Archer followed up with an Exploder out of the corner, before he tried to counter a Mike D superplex… only to get knocked down as the Belgian again took to the skies, this time hitting a flip senton over the top rope to Archer on the floor. It’s so unfair. Back inside, Archer sneaks in an overhead kick, then a German suplex, only for a rebound lariat from Mike D to stop that momentum.

The pair resume by trading forearms, but a headbutt from Mike D cracks Archer… who faked one of his own, only to return with Kamigoye-like knee strikes. A pull-up into a Northern Lights suplex gets a near-fall for Archer, who then charged Mike D into the ropes ahead of a Decapite lariat… then a Coup d’Etat for the hard-fought win. Mike D looked impressive here, but Archer managed to outlast the Belgian here. ***¼

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Masha Slamovich vs. Fuminori Abe
A rematch from Inner Circle back in September – a match that went very high on my best-of-2022 ballot…

Things go to ground early with Abe’s headscissors being broken by Slamovich, as the early going yielded little in the way of an advantage. Abe laughs off a snapmare and a kick to the back, returning the favour before Slamovich kicked him in the ropes, then hit a clothesline for a two-count. Abe’s armbar incorporates some finger manipulation en route to a triangle armbar… but Masha rolls him up for a two-count before Abe went for some pins of his own. Remembering Inner Circle, Slamovich throws a headbutt… then got thrown with a bodyslam as Abe picked up a series of two-counts.

Slamovich’s up-kick takes Abe into the corner for some running front kicks, while a wild clothesline downed Abe for another two-count. A dropkick to the knee takes Slamovich into the corner, with a spinning thrust kick to the midsection, then a PK to the back keeping Abe ahead. Kicks from Slamovich are eventually caught and turned into an ankle lock… it morphs into a German suplex, but Slamovich quickly gets up to bounce Abe with a Saito suplex. A superkick sends Abe outside, but he skins the cat to return with an Irabu punch, sending both wrestlers sailing to the mat.

With both wrestlers on their knees, the pair trade blows to the skull, ending with an Abe dropkick before a bridging Regalplex almost grabbed Abe the win. Abe follows it up with another Irabu punch, then a Manjigatame, but Slamovich is able to slip out and counter with an Air Raid Crash into the corner. Abe kicks out at two from that, then threatened to throw a headbutt… Masha lands hers first, then ate an Irabu punch before a German suplex almost got Masha the win. She stays on top with a Shining Wizard, and that’s all as Abe crashes out in the first round for the second year in a row. ***½

We’ve a backstage interview with Dan Mallmann and Metehan… Dan’s line of questioning bugs Metehan, as he refused to answer any questions about Norman Harras, and insisted he be asked about Shigehiro Irie instead. Metehan notes he’s won 16 Carat Gold before… and he’ll do it again.

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Metehan vs. Shigehiro Irie
Irie’s been getting closer to the Carat finals, having gone out in the semis last year…

The opening lock-up yields little as Metehan looked to be backing away from Irie… he takes down Irie in a wristlock, moving to an armbar, before Irie worked free and into a wristlock of his own. The tit-for-tat continues until they tried shoulder tackles, but it’s Metehan who’s on the back foot as he gets slammed ahead of the slingshot splash. Rambo pulls Metehan out of the ring as Irie went for a cannonball… and Rambo’s promptly ejected from ringside for that. Both Irie and Metehan scrap around ringside, returning to the ring as Metehan hangs up Irie in the ropes… then caught him from behind as he then clubbed away on Irie.

A side headlock from Metehan’s thrown aside by Irie, who gets tripped up twice ahead of a low dropkick that drew a two-count. Metehan adds a chinbar to the mix, before a whip into the corner sees Irie rebound with a shoulder tackle. Irie’s met with a neckbreaker seconds later, as Metehan looked to go for the Nazar… but instead he’s suplexed away as Irie bought himself some time. Irie takes Metehan onto the apron and squashes him to the floor with a crossbody through the ropes, before a cannonball back inside almost took the win. Metehan’s able to force a way back in, but his sliding forearm misses, earning him a standing forearm before he stomped through Irie on the mat. The pair trade forearms as they fight to their feet, but it’s Irie who pushes on, knocking Metehan down onto his rear.

Looking for a new option, Metehan starts to undo the belt on his ring gear, but of course referee Tassilo Jung stops him from using the belt. With no referee to catch him, Metehan hits an eye rake, then the Nazar, but Irie’s able to kick out at two… so Metehan goes to undo a turnbuckle cover. That gave Irie time to recover, as he’s then able to block a whip into the exposed corner… eventually connecting with a forearm, jab and elbow before a back suplex dumped Metehan. A second cannonball attempt’s caught and countered into a crossface by Metehan… the hold’s broken as Metehan repositions himself, but Irie’s able to get back to his feet before finally shoving Metehan into the exposed corner.

A Beast Bomber spins Metehan to the mat, but it’s not enough for the win… Irie follows with a cannonball to the back of Metehan in the ropes, before another Beast Bomber was countered with an inside cradle. Irie kicks out, then went for a cradle, only for Metehan to sit down in it in the ropes… it’s caught by the referee, as Irie then cradled Metehan for the win. While a little long, the closing stretch picked this up a little, but Metehan’s seemingly lost a little something on his return to wXw – the match was technically fine, but lacking something in my mind. ***

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Trey Miguel vs. Peter Tihanyi
Tihanyi was one of the crowd favourites going into the whole tournament… but was instantly caught with a shotgun dropkick at the bell as the Impact X-Division champion took the early initiative.

Tihanyi’s rolled down and met with a low dropkick by Miguel, before returning with armdrags and chops. A dropkick takes Miguel outside, but a dive from Tihanyi’s kicked away as Trey returned to the ring with a senton atomico… then with a knee drop for extra effect. Back rakes from Miguel keep Tihanyi rocked, while a floatover suplex earned a two-count as Miguel kept Tihanyi grounded. Miguel lands a dropkick after Tihanyi had freed himself, following up with a kick to the back as Miguel looked to start taking the foot off the pedal. A right hand knocks the Hungarian down, with some slaps to the arse following as Miguel looked for some small joint manipulation in the search of a submission.

A gamengiri from Miguel keeps him ahead as he proceeded to tie up Tihanyi in a Tree of Woe… only for Trey to slide outside and grab a fan’s bag and threaten to use it as a weapon. The ref’s distracted, so it’s the perfect opportunity for a dick punch, before Tihanyi began to mount a comeback… rolling away from a standing shooting star press before charging in with a knee strike. Forearms from Tihanyi lead to an enziguiri, before a swinging DDT took down Trey for a two-count. Miguel looks to fight back with an uppercut in the ropes, but ends up sliding outside… and into the path of a flip senton from Tihanyi. Back inside, Tihanyi heads up top for a 450 splash… which he cancels in mid air as Miguel ends up coming right back with a double stomp.

Miguel looks for a death valley driver, but Tihanyi floats out and returned with an Asai DDT for a near-fall. Kicks from Tihanyi are caught and turned into a back suplex as Miguel came back to Roll the Dice for a near-fall. Miguel stuffs Tihanyi into the buckles for a superkick, following up with a flying Codebreaker… which is caught by Tihanyi, who then got sent outside with a handspring enziguiri. Tihanyi clings to stay onto the apron, and rebounds with a slingshot cutter as Miguel went for a springboard something or other… a 450 splash off the top rope is next for Tihanyi, and that’s enough to book his spot in the next round! ***½

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Arez vs. Komander
The second part of the show kicked off with the tournament’s two luchadors up against each other… hope you’ve got spare change at the end!

Arez flips off Komander at the bell, as we started with extremely-lucha wristlocks… upgrading to Komander’s kip-ups and armdrags before Arez popped up from a shoulder block. Arez grabs the mask to throw down Komander, who used the ropes to go for a sunset flip as the pair trade pinning attempts, leading to some headscissors that took Arez outside. The crowd scatters as Komander proceeded to climb the opposite turnbuckle… then walk the ropes… before a Molly Go Round to Arez back in the ring was countered into a powerbomb for a two-count. Arez takes Komander to the corner for some overhand chops that rang around the room, before Arez flipped off the crowd as they wanted more.

Arez heads outside, sweeping the leg as Komander’s thrown onto the apron… then gets stood on as Arez proceeded to choke him in the ropes. Komander finds a way through with a gamengiri ahead of a wacky rebound endless-springboard… that’s pulled down into a knee strike as Arez proceeded to tie Komander in knots between the ropes. Komander has more luck with a handspring into a headscissors takedown, sending Arez outside… but Arez grabs the mask of Komander again before the pair flipped to the outside. Back inside, Komander lands his springboard ‘rana to take Arez outside ahead of a flip senton into the front row.

Another return to the ring led to a shooting star press from Komander for a near-fall, as the pair slowed things down with back-and-forth strikes… culminating in a tiltawhirl sit-out backbreaker from Arez, then a second backbreaker that almost won it. More strikes from Arez keep Komander in the corner ahead of a backflip-like moonsault off the ropes for a two-count. An enziguiri from Arez catches Komander, as did a discus forearm before Arez ate a springboard poison ‘rana. What the hell? Arez is quickly back with a brainbuster, but neither man can respond as we get the standing ten-count. A Dragonrana from Komander keeps us going for a near-fall… before Komander went for a rope-walk into a spaceman plancha to Arez on the floor. Bloody hell…

Throwing Arez back inside, Komander goes back up top for another rope-walk, this time culminating in a shooting star press for a near-fall. Arez returns with a hammerlock’s Made in Japan – Hecho en Mexico – which almost gets the W… before another trip up top led to Komander slipping out of a superplex, instead countering with a torture rack spinning into a backbreaker… then a rope-walk Phoenix Splash for the win. Live, this was impressive as hell, but on tape it lost a little something… but that’s entirely on me. Cue the coins and Euro notes flying into the ring as is fast becoming tradition around these parts! ***¾

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Axel Tischer vs. Davey Richards
The battle of the wolves… the battle of two of the men in the tournament who’ve gone the furthest without winning it… it’s a tasty semi-final, that’s for sure.

A cagey opening spell sees both men look for the other’s arm, as Richards’ snapmare ends up getting escaped, with the pair scrambling on the mat before reaching an impasse. Tischer overpowers Richards from a Test of Strength, before Davey rolled back to reverse the hold and tie up Tischer in a Japanese stranglehold. Tischer gets free, coming back with a side headlock that’s shoved off before Richards hit back with a dropkick, sending Tischer outside ahead of an apron PK. Kicks from Richards keep Tischer on the back foot, but he telegraphs one too many as a running kick gets caught, leading to Tischer throwing back with uppercuts, only to hit an overhand chop against the ring post.

Back inside, Richards stands on Tischer’s hand ahead of a stomp to the elbow, as he proceeded to target Tischer’s hand and wrist. Begging off, Tischer offers a handshake, but it’s just a way to cheapshot Richards as a bodyslam dumped the American in the middle of the ring for a one-count. Richards is kept grounded with a chinbar, before an arm whip continued the focus on the arm as Tischer was beginning to control things. An Irish whip sends Richards to the corner, while a half-hatch suplex brings him out… before Tischer took too long to follow-up and got caught on the top rope. Tischer rakes the eyes as Richards went for a superplex, but Davey shrugs it off and headbutts his way back in as the superplex finally came off.

The pair trade blows as Richards looked to maintain control, but a leg lariat dropped him ahead of an attempted Ligerbomb that Richards lifts away… before he stomped away a sunset flip attempt. Richards catches a kick and takes Tischer between the ropes for a Dragon screw, before a leap off the top from Richards led to nothing but a Trailer Hitch as he switched up for a submission. Tischer manages to break the hold in the ropes, before he charged Richards to the outside for a plancha… Richards evades, but Tischer’s able to sweep the leg and return with a leaping uppercut off the top. A German suplex is added for a near-fall, before Richards kneed away a Horrible Slam attempt… only to get taken into the ropes with uppercuts.

Richards tries to fight back, but has to roll through a German suplex attempt as he returned with an ankle lock… a punt kick and a brainbuster followed as Richards almost booked his quarter-final spot, before going back to the ankle lock. Tischer holds on, eventually kicking his way free, before Richards ran into a knee strike… a head kick followed, as a Horrible Slam finally put Richards away in a hard-fought win. ***¾

Dan Mallmann’s ringside with Axel Tischer afterwards, who said he’ll regain this year what he lost last year – and win 16 Carat Gold for the first time in the process.

They replay Ahura’s attack on Baby Allison at Back to the Roots – and the ensuing distraction that cost Maggot the Shotgun title… and segue into a promo from Maggot ahead of their main event.

16 Carat Gold 2023 First Round: Ahura vs. Maggot
These two have already had a ladder match, so “just a match” seems a little bit odd – but with it being in a defacto title tournament, you don’t really need any more stipulations.

Maggot jumps Ahura before the bell with a spear, as some biting drew blood. Well, the crowd was baying for it! The bell rings as Ahura’s boot earned him a Thesz press as the pair proceeded to trade strikes, before Maggot ran through a clothesline and landed one of his own. A crossbody off the top gets a one-count as Ahura rolled outside… but couldn’t avoid a slingshot plancha as Maggot proceeded to chuck Ahura into the third row. Ahura’s tossed back into the chairs as Maggot proceeded to stay on top of him, pulling him through the chairs only for Ahura to pop him up into the ropes… then throw him into the ring post. Another ring post’s used to effect as Ahura stretched Maggot’s neck around it, before Ahura threw Maggot into the turnbuckles once they made it back inside.

Ahura heads up top for a springboard dropkick, earning himself a two-count, before Maggot pulled him into a Rings of Saturn… only for Ahura to stand up and throw his way free. A tiltawhirl facebuster gets Maggot back in as he returns to the Rings of Saturn, grabbing hold of Ahura’s chain as he ripped it off so he could slap Ahura’s neck. Maggot counters a pop-up into almost a Rough Ryder leg lariat for a two-count, only for Ahura to hit a uranage in return. A crucifix bomb from Maggot nearly wins it for him, but Ahura keeps the back-and-forth going with a German suplex as neither man was able to maintain an advantage for long.

Maggot charges at Ahura, but runs into a Blue Thunder Bomb that nearly put him away as the pair end up on the apron, trading blows ahead of Maggot teasing an apron piledriver… and delivering it. Ahura drags Maggot into the aisle way so he could land a second one on the rampway. Crawling back, Maggot barely beats the 10-count to keep the match alive, but Ahura remains in control as he used the hair to throw Maggot into the corners. Referee Tassilo Jung forces a break as Ahura stomped a mudhole in Maggot… but Ahura gets in the ref’s face as Maggot returned fire with a series of back-and-forth forearms.

Ahura spits at Maggot to stop him in his tracks… but just gets met with more forearms as Maggot took him into the ropes. There’s a back body drop on Ahura as Maggot ran wild, before an enziguiri from Maggot led to a pair of spears on Ahura. Those are good for a two-count, as Maggot then tried to add a cutter… but had to block a Paradise Waterfalls attempt before landing one. The cutter’s good for a two-count as Ahura kicks out, before a backbreaker and a cutter from Ahura added another two-count as the pendulum resumed swinging. Heading up top, Ahura measures up for a moonsault… but Maggot rolls away before Ahura eventually set up for a springboard… and crashed and burned. Maggot pounces on him, going for an Alley Oop that hung up Ahura in the buckles, leading to a dropkick as Ahura was in the Tree of Woe.

Ahura recovers to hit – of all things – a Torpedo Moscau at Maggot for a near-fall, before the pair fought in the corner as they built up to a superplex… but a top rope DDT from Maggot brings them down ahead of a cutter for a near-fall. Another kick-wham cutter plants Ahura, but it’s by the ropes as the bottom rope saves Ahura, who then got spun down to the mat from a running boot. Another cutter’s pushed away as Maggot almost bumps the ref… allowing Ahura time to go for the nose as he looked to pull out Maggot’s nose ring. With Maggot covering his nose, Ahura capitalises with Paradise Waterfalls… and that’s a super unpopular win for Ahura, who marched to the back. Live, this felt a little deflating as a main event, but on tape it wasn’t anywhere near as bad – even if the result was the exact opposite of “rice pudding.” ***

A real variety show kicked off this year’s tournament – with something for everyone. You had your eye-grabbing lucha match, some real technical outings, and a main event that – while seen as a letdown – did at least play into storylines as Carat got going.