The final four return to Oberhausen as the vacant wXw Unified World Wrestling title goes to the winner of this year’s 16 Carat Gold.
16 Carat Gold 2023 Semi-Final: Shigehiro Irie pinned Ahura in 9:13 (***¼)
16 Carat Gold 2023 Semi-Final: Axel Tischer submitted Peter Tihanyi in 12:38 (***¾)
Robert Dreissker, Dover & Icarus submitted Massimo Pesca, Nick Schreier & Anil Marik in 2:03
Elijah Blum pinned Adam Priest in 8:28 (***)
Mike D Vecchio pinned Tristan Archer, Francesco Akira & Levaniel in 12:22 (***¼)
Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight pinned Masha Slamovich & Davey Richards in 15:28 (***¼)
Komander, Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto pinned Arez, Trey Miguel & Fuminori Abe in 13:20 (****¼)
16 Carat Gold 2023 Final: Shigehiro Irie defeated Axel Tischer in 17:23 via referee stoppage to win the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship (****)
— 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…
— Much like with night two’s review, there is mention of Davey Richards’ match below, but no references other than what happened in the match.
For the final night, we’re back at the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, with Mett Dimassi and Dave Bradshaw on commentary.
16 Carat Gold 2023 Semi-Final: Ahura vs. Shigehiro Irie
We’ve got a jump start as Ahura blindsides Irie before the bell… then planted him with a piledriver as Irie almost went out in under 15 seconds.
Elbows from Ahura earn him some in reply, before Ahura got slammed by the ropes for the slingshot splash. Ahura rolls outside and takes a walk, with Irie following him as the pair brawled back towards ringside, with Irie getting posted multiple times. Back inside, Ahura tees up for a moonsault, landing on Irie for a near-fall, before he began to bite away on Irie. Ahura chop blocks Irie’s knee after the Oberhausen crowd chanted a swear at him, before a pop-up Samoan drop from Irie managed to stem the tide. A cannonball squishes Ahura into the corner, before Irie got thrown outside… where Ahura tried to follow with a corkscrew plancha, only for Irie to punch him away.
Back inside, Irie splashes Ahura off the top rope for a near-fall, as the pair exchanged strikes. Ahura ducks and weaves as he looked to pull ahead, before he feigned a thumb to the eye… then deliberated jabbed Irie in the eye himself. Shrugging it off, Irie nails a Saito suplex, then a Beast Bomber lariat for a near-fall. Irie takes a headbutt from Ahura, then issued one of his own… which led to Ahura staggering into referee Yuki Lee. Another poke to the eye led to a Paradise Waterfall, but Irie’s able to kick out in time before he tied up Ahura for the clonking headbutt. A rear spin kick stomps a Beast Bomber, before Irie powerbombs away a Paradise Waterfall, then shoved away a leapfrog as a Beast Bomber finally put Ahura away. A good opener, with Ahura coming close to cheating his way to the finals – but it’s Irie who takes at least one step more than last year… ***¼
Post-match, the Turbinenhalle sing the goodbye song at Ahura, who’s given a mic to berate the crowd for not cheering for him. Well, some did. Ahura tells us he doesn’t care if he’s booed or not, because he’s fed up of wrestling for fans who have to wear 3XL shirts… and then randomly took shots at Maggot. You know what’s next. Maggot comes through the crowd and jumps Ahura, landing a clothesline and a cutter, before he tied up Ahura in the ropes a la Andre.
Maggot tells Ahura he’s gone too far, and that there’ll be revenge… in Frankfurt on March 25, as the pair face off in a streetfight.
16 Carat Gold 2023 Semi-Final: Axel Tischer vs. Peter Tihanyi
This is the fourth time these two have met each other in singles action – twice in wXw, once in the GWF – with Tischer having won all of those…
Tischer wipes his rear with the Ferencváros scarf Tihanyi’d been given beforehand, as he looked to snuff out any buzz that Tihanyi was getting from the crowd. Tischer began to work on the arm, regaining the hold as Tihanyi rolled free… only to get met with a drop toe hold and a running Meteora early on. A dropkick from Tihanyi leads to a clothesline that took Tischer outside for a dive, before a slingshot cutter back inside was thwarted. Tischer hangs up Tihanyi’s arm over the rope, before the German went back to work on the arm and shoulder of the Hungarian. Tihanyi looks to fight free, but Tischer goes back to the arm, barring it as he looked to force a submission.
Tihanyi’s roll-up gets him a two-count, but Tischer’s right back on that arm, shrugging off an overhand chop before he missed a knee drop to the elbow. A missed front kick hung up Tischer in the corner as Tihanyi managed to chain together some strikes, landing an enziguiri and a tornado DDT out of the corner for a two-count. Heading up top, Tihanyi looks for a 450 splash, but it misses… only for Tischer to get met with a superkick and a flip senton to the outside. Back inside, Tihanyi rolls up Tischer for a two-count, then hit some big boots before he leapt into a death valley driver. Tischer pulls ahead with a German suplex out of the corner, then a diving knee that set up for a folding powerbomb that picked up a near-fall.
An enziguiri from Tihanyi just enrages Tischer some more, as he blocked a slingshot cutter… only to take an Asai DDT for a near-fall. Tischer manages to get Tihanyi’s left arm once more, but Tihanyi switches it into a sleeperhold over the ropes, which is broken… ahead of a slingshot cutter onto the apron. Back inside, Tihanyi lands a 450 splash, but aggravated his arm on the landing and lost valuable time in making the cover… and by the time he made it to Tischer, he’s caught in a kimura that forced the eventual submission. A heartbreaking loss for Tihanyi, who’d managed to outlast Tischer’s persistent targeting of the arm – as we’re left with a Tischer/Irie final. ***¾
They replay the interview from earlier in the day that led to Robert Dreissker challenging Anil Marik to a trios match…
AMBOSS (Dover, Icarus & Robert Dreissker) vs. Anil Marik, Massimo Pesca & Nick Schreier
The big twist here was that everyone was expecting AMBOSS to be represented by Laurance Roman and the Arrows of Hungary… but Robert Dreissker swapped in for the Shotgun champion before the bell.
Nick Schreier was a little bit hyper here as he started off against Icarus, who took Schreier down by the wrist. Schreier escapes a back suplex, then tagged in Massimo Pesca, who ran into a wicked clothesline. Dover’s in to help bounce Schreier with a rebound back suplex, before Pesca was met with an Alabama Slam/kick to the back of the head. The Crossfire lays out Pesca as Anil Marik just watched on from the apron… even more so as Robert Dreissker tagged in to pick up the straightforward win with a camel clutch on the Italian.
Post-match, Dreissker got in Marik’s face again… with Marik going to check on his partners. Dreissker took the mic and mocked Marik some more, saying he’d “never been more disappointed by anyone.” Marik stormed the ring, but he’s just made fun of some more as Dreissker noted he’d given him the biggest stage of his career… and he couldn’t even tag into the match. It culminates in Dreissker telling Marik that he had to earn his 16 Carat Gold moments, then dared Marik to hit him… only for Marik to back down and break down in tears as AMBOSS damn near verbally castrated him here.
After the show, Dreissker would continue to poke fun at Marik, noting he’d won more matches over Carat weekend than Marik… even doing so with a broken face.
Elijah Blum vs. Adam Priest
A bit of a showcase match for Blum here, against the reigning ACTION champion Adam Priest…
Priest and Blum trade holds to start with, with seemingly the errant hand of referee Alex Schneider catching Priest in the eye early on. A side headlock’s clung onto with a handful of hair from Priest, before Blum came back with a shoulder tackle and a dropkick. Blum’s offence gets cut off as Priest propelled him up for a kick to the stomach… which also took in Elijah’s blums on the way down, as before a chinlock and a face stomp kept Blum on the back foot. Clubbing blows to the back of Blum follow, before Elijah snuck back with a roll-up… only for Priest to push out of a Parting Gift and hit a backbreaker instead.
A piledriver gets a near-fall for Priest, who kept going with uppercuts before a cheating abdominal stretch using the top rope was finally broken by Schneider. Blum hiptosses free and begins a comeback, landing a neckbreaker before a trip up top allowed Blum to hit a froggy crossbody for a near-fall. Priest avoids another Parting Gift, snapping back with an Alabama Slam instead for a two-count, before a Lion Tamer was morphed into a STF. Blum makes it to the ropes for a break, as a roll-up added a two-count for him… before Priest ended up eating a shotgun dropkick and the Parting Gift for the impressive win. ***
Francesco Akira vs. Mike D Vecchio vs. Tristan Archer vs. Levaniel
This was for a shot at the to-be-crowned Unified World Wrestling champion…
Archer takes a seat in the crowd as he seemingly didn’t want to take part in this… while off-camera, Akira, Mike D and Levaniel were circling him. There’s a scrap before the bell, with Levaniel and Akira beating Archer into the front row, before Mike D kicked him out of it. We’re still not started as Akira hits a flip senton, bouncing off of Mike D at ringside before we finally got going with Akira and Levaniel. Akira kicks Mike D off the apron as he looked to keep it to just himself and Levaniel in the ring. Levaniel avoids an attempted Speed Fire as Mike D came in instead with a double clothesline… then with big boots to the pair in the corners. A back suplex/DDT combo wiped out Akira and Levaniel, before Tristan Archer tripped up Mike D to prevent a dive.
Archer runs around ringside as he threw Levaniel into the side of the ring, before he hit the ring and dove onto Mike D at ringside. Back inside, Archer slows the pace down with some elbows to Mike D, then with a face-washing kick ahead of a pull-up into a Saito suplex for a two-count. Mike D tries to fight back, landing a bicycle knee to Archer before his charge into the corner was caught and turned into a back suplex. Levaniel sneaks in for a spinning heel kick to Archer, then a release Northern Lights out of the corner, before a discus clothesline almost earned him the win.
Levaniel’s taken down with Archer courtesy of an Akira crossbody, but Mike D’s back too as the ring filled up. Akira hits a sweet ‘rana after walking across Levaniel and Mike D before taking down Archer, before things spilled outside with Mike D hitting a pescado into the trio on the floor. A guy his size, doing that? It just ain’t fair…
Back inside, Mike D misses a springboard moonsault as Akira looked to capitalise with a guillotine… only to get suplexed into a Falcon Arrow for a near-fall. A pop-up powerbomb’s blocked by Akira, who slipped free to hit a superkick that sparked a Parade of Moves, ending with Levaniel and Akira dropping each other with clotheslines. Levaniel looks for a superplex, but Archer pulls him down into a torture rack facebuster… then went up on Akira himself. Mike D joins the Frenchman before Levaniel’s attempt to spark a Tower of Doom eventually came off. Levaniel goes for a Galactic Facecrusher, only to be interrupted by a fan in the aisle… nevermind, it’s Norman Harras, who brawls to the back with Levaniel, stopping with Levaniel eating a suplex on the rampway.
With Levaniel down, Mike D was the crowd’s favourite, even more so after he and Archer caught an Akira crossbody… before a swinging DDT from Akira took the Belgian down. Another DDT drops Archer, but he recovers to hit Akira with La Terreur, before Mike D’s pop-up powerbomb planted the former champion for the win. Hey! A heck of a debut weekend in wXw for Mike D, who won himself a bunch of new fans and booked himself a title shot! ***¼
Only Friends (Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight) vs. Davey Richards & Masha Slamovich
After reunited the previous night, Only Friends are back in tag team action here… with 100% more zebra parts! And no, those weren’t the aftermath of the belt whippings on Saturday!
Knight starts the match as we’ve got chants of “Only Tail” amid puns around the German word for tail… Masha Slamovich tags in amid those, but gets grounded by Knight, only to slip out and tie up Knight in headscissors, which end in the ropes. Knight works the wrist of Slamovich, who cartwheels and armdrags her way free, only for Knight to break free as they went back-and-forth. Both wrestlers tag out, as Gunns pulled ahead with a wristlock that’s eventually kicked apart. Snapmares and kicks follow, then uppercuts, before Gunns was dropped with a rear spin kick. A kick knocks Knight off the apron as Gunns was expecting a PK, before Slamovich tagged in and hit her half of a dual Kitchen Sink knee.
Masha suplexes Gunns for a one-count, then tagged out as Gunns was getting worn down by the ropes. Gunns uses misdirection to tag in Knight, who charges in with an abdominal stretch and a stunner, ahead of a kick from Gunns for a two-count. A pair of PKs to the back of Knight get a two-count, as Slamovich stretches Knight in a camel clutch for good measure. Kicks from Masha keep Knight down, as Knight then took a suplex for a two-count. Knight’s stretched in the middle of the ring, before Slamovich benefited from a phantom tag, allowing her to work over Knight’s left arm and wrist. A headbutt in the corner drops Knight ahead of a Slamovich brainbuster for a near-fall, before Knight escaped a double-team and hit a double Sliced Bread as he finally made the tag out.
Gunns charges into the corner with uppercuts, only to get met with repeated kicks. A shotgun dropkick into the corner from Gunns is good, as was a lariat after he shrugged off a German suplex… but it’s not enough for the win. Masha pulls Gunns to the outside to prevent a double-team as Knight’s caught in a Trailer Hitch… while Gunns’ PK got him caught in a hold as both of Only Friends forced a rope break. Masha tags back in as she caught Knight on the top rope for a superplex, but Gunns breaks up the cover. Gunns pulls Knight into the corner so he could tag in… Knight returns as a Dominator/Go 2 Sleep combo has Masha laying for a near-fall, before an Ehrenmann Driver planted Masha for a near-fall.
Michael Knight tags back in to try and finish things off, pulling up Slamovich for an ushigoroshi… Gunns is pulled outside as he ran for a PK, allowing Masha to come close with a roll-up, then with a double stomp. Another stomp off the top nearly puts Knight away, as Slamovich switches to a crossface… but Knight rolls free and looked to get the three-count, only for things to go awry. Slamovich kicks out again, so Gunns pulls up Masha for another Ehrenmann Driver… and this time that’s enough for the win. Screwiness with the finish aside, this was a good return to action for Only Friends, who look to be picking up where they left off last summer when they failed to qualify for tag festival… ***¼
Lucha Rules: Trey Miguel, Arez & Fuminori Abe vs. Frenchadors (Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto) & Komander
The semi-main spot on the final night typically is a wild one, dubbed “Party-Catch” by some… and this year was no exception. But yeah, look at those two teams… how on earth would Abe fit in here? Quite well, it’d turn out.
Arez and Aigle Blanc are the first two to start as the crowd had baited breath here. A headlock takedown has Arez on the deck, as we get leapfrogs and headscissors into a stand-off. Aigle springboards, but catches a kick as Arez and Aigle went out… Trey Miguel and Senza Volto come in to swing for the fences. Miguel rolls out of a ‘rana, then hung up Senza’s arm in the ropes as the X-Division champion looked comfortable. Senza goes for a rope-walk, avoiding Arez before landing an armdrag to Miguel… but Arez is legal as we get a parade of dropkicks, including one from Abe, before a dropkick-stand-off had the crowd cheering. Komander and Abe stay in the ring, as Abe responded to Komander’s flippy dos with strikes, then with a dropkick to the knee as they began to isolate Komander for a spell.
A back elbow from Miguel gets a two-count, before elbows from Miguel led to a stalling suplex. All six return to the ring for a wacky trio of low dropkicks on the masked men, before the Frenchadors combined for a Dragon suplex on Miguel. In comes Abe to take an elevated swingfing DDT, before Arez’s enziguiri took care of the former tag champions. Komander’s back for a ropewalk and a bunch of show-off springboarding into a leaping ‘rana. Goddamnit, how the hell are you meant to keep up with this?! Eight’s the answer Mett…
Dives from the masked lads wipe out everyone at ringside, while Abe’s spinning thrust kick to Aigle Blanc back inside set up for a chicken fight?! That turns into a wacky elevated superplex as Komander – on the top of Arez’ shoulder – suplexed Abe off of Aigle’s shoulders on the top rope. You keeping up? Good! Arez looks for a superplex, but takes a Twisting superplex from Aigle, as Senza Volto added a springboard moonsault… Miguel’s Meteora leads to Komander’s missile dropkick as bodies continue to fly, while Abe comes off the top rope and punches out Komander. If it works, it works!
We keep going, with Abe’s dropkick sparking a Parade of Stuff, including a GODDAMN AREZ DROPKICK as Senza was mid-handspring. Jesus lads… a Lightning Spiral from Miguel to Komander keeps it going, before Aigle ate an Irabu punch. Abe takes Senza’s handspring cutter, only for Arez to hit that wacky double-knee backcracker ahead of a flying reverse ‘rana from Komander. Komander goes back to the ropes, but gets caught mid-rope walk with a Spanish Fly from Arez for a two-count. Aigle whiffs on a crossbody, eating a Miguel Destroyer seconds later, then a kneeslide into a swinging DDT on the floor. More dives as Senza Volto’s step-up flip senton sets up for an apron PK from Abe. Arez adds a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wall-flip moonsault from the ring to the floor, before Komander rope-walks again for a running shooting star press into the pile.
The Frenchadors combine as they hit a Spanish Fly on each other into the pile, as those front row chairs continued to live a charmed life. Aigle Blanc goes for an apron tombstone on Arez, which he finally hits after Senza took care of Abe… while Komander capitalised with a rope-walk shooting star press into the ring for the win. Aaaaand breathe. That was all sorts of bonkers, and exactly the kind of match you’ll either freaking adore or will be all grumpy over. Judging by the currencies flying into the ring, the Oberhausen crowd were in the former, as was I! ****¼
16 Carat Gold 2023 Final for wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Axel Tischer vs. Shigehiro Irie
Tischer’s never won Carat before, while Irie is in his first final… and had the majority of the Oberhausen crowd behind him.
Tischer teases charging at Irie at the bell, but thought better of it as we began with a lock-up… with Tischer seemingly trying to throw a headbutt on the break. A second lock-up breaks more cleanly, before the pair teed off on each other with elbow strikes, leading to a slam from Irie, then the Teddy Bear splash for an early two-count. We’re back to the elbows as Irie looked to have Tischer rocked, but the Axeman gets his knees up to block the slingshot splash, before a low dropkick caught Irie in the eye. Mudhole stomping keeps Irie in the corner, before Irie’s attempt to swing for a headbutt saw him get tripped to the mat as Tischer began to hook away on him.
A neck crank from Tischer is fought out of by Irie, who’s sent back into the ropes ahead of a single-leg dropkick from Tischer for a two-count. Tischer looks to follow with a suplex, but Irie hits one of his own first, before he knocked Tischer onto the apron ahead of the splash through-the-ropes to the outside. Back inside, Irie follows up with a cannonball for a two-count, before a second crack at the Teddy Bear splash was countered with a cradle for a near-fall. Irie comes back with a headbutt, but couldn’t avoid a German suplex as Tischer almost snatched the win. Tischer tries for a piledriver, but instead makes do with a rear naked choke, which Irie breaks out of, elbowing Tischer only to get deposited on the top rope.
Irie fights back on Tischer, who rolls back with an uppercut ahead of a superplex attempt… but a clothesline from Irie sends Tischer flying ahead of a big splash off the top. Somehow it’s not enough, as Irie looked to follow up with a Saito suplex. That leaves Tischer in the ropes for a cannonball to the back, before Tischer struck back with a lariat. A folding powerbomb nearly gets it for Tischer, as did a sliding knee, but Irie kicks out twice, only for Tischer to take some more shots at him. Uppercuts leave Irie staggered, but Tischer ends up getting some receipts ahead of a back elbow and forearm combo, with another cannonball to the back trapping Tischer.
Irie chucks up the elbow pad as a Beast Bomber spins Tischer to the mat for a near-fall… that’s followed up with a rear naked choke that forced Tischer into the ropes. Tischer catches Irie with a kick from the apron, as he found a way through with a flying clothesline, before a Horrible Slam by the ropes would have won… but Irie got a foot to that bottom rope in the nick of time! Tischer goes back to Irie with a rear naked choke, but Irie fights out, rolling Tischer away before landing a pair of elbows. Irie locks in a rear naked choke of his own, then reapplied it after Tischer’d broken it up with a suplex. Having won Ambition here in 2019 with a rear naked choke, Irie looked to be close to a second big win with that hold… but Tischer tries to fight out, only to get caught with a series of hammer elbows as referee Tassilo Jung ended up stopping the match. Cue delirium, with babies being thrown in the air as the majority of the Turbinenhalle erupted in celebration as Shigehiro Irie won his second-ever singles title in Europe. ****
— BackBodyDrop.com (@BigBackBodyDrop) March 12, 2023
With a tear in my eye, it’s always nice to have followed someone’s story in a company – from day one (ish) to the top… and being there for the apex was even sweeter. While Carat weekend in general might have been lacking too many of those “notebook” matches, the general feeling around the whole weekend was one of positivity and of a good feeling, coupled with the proverbial “rice pudding” ending of Irie winning. Good times by all, even if there are questions to be raised about the short and medium term directions…