Our coverage of 16 Carat Gold weekend continues with a look at the 8-man shoot-style Ambition tournament.
Held on the afternoon of the “middle day” of the weekender, the Ambition show has been a rather different proving ground for some of the guys on the main shows. Involved this year are a mixture of guys from all over the card: the likes of Mike Bailey, Bobby Gunns, Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb. Yep, this is a tasty line-up!
The show opens with all eight competitors being introduced on the stage, with their credentials being highlighted: Bobby Gunns, David Starr, Jeff Cobb, Marius Al-Ani, Matt Riddle, Mike Bailey, Timothy Thatcher and WALTER. We’ll not be rating these since these are meant to be fights rather than artistic matches!
AMBITION 8 – First Round: David Starr vs. Bobby Gunns
We start with Starr shooting for a leg, but instead getting caught in a front facelock before dragging Gunns to the ropes for a not-so-clean break. Wash, rinse, repeat, as Starr gets a takedown, but sends Gunns into the ropes this time.
Gunns holds onto a back body drop, and looks to mount Starr as my lack of MMA knowledge becomes painfully clear! Gunns slips off of Starr after a takedown, before another rope break is forced when Starr tried to get the back of the “King of Smoke Style”. Eventually, Starr just slaps Gunns then takes him down for yet another rope break.
Gunns tries a roll-through into an armbar, but Starr resists, before Gunns grabs that arm on the mat. Eventually he gets the armbar, and Starr quickly taps out. Starr angrily complains that Gunns had done Marty Scurll, pulling away at the fingers, but the result stands.
AMBITION 8 – First Round: WALTER vs. Jeff Cobb
In the words of Michael Cole, oh my! This has the potential to be tasty, but would probably be better off as a “regular” match.
Cobb shoots for the leg early on but misses, as he instead grapples with WALTER, with the big Austrian ending up in the corner as they looked for an advantage. From a headlock, Cobb gets shoved into the ropes, before taking down the big Austrian, only he couldn’t do much, so they both went back to their feet.
WALTER lays in some strikes, but he’s caught by a legit belly to belly from Cobb, which has to be the first “wrestling” move so far today. Another takedown from Cobb leads to him getting caught in an arm triangle, but he lifts up WALTER and powerbombs his way free, before grabbing a choke for the tap-out. Fun while it lasted!
AMBITION 8 – First Round: Timothy Thatcher vs. Marius al-Ani
Marius surprises me by taking down Thatcher early on and going for his back, before instead grabbing an armbar that Thatcher almost escaped by grabbing the heel. A north-south position gives way to a front facelock from Marius, who this time mounts the back… but again Thatcher works over the ankles to free himself and fall into al-Ani’s guard.
Thatcher resists an armbar and stands up to grab a heel hook, only to be pulled down into a knee bar from al-Ani as the pair eventually rolled into the ropes. From the stand up, Thatcher grabbed a front facelock, before they rolled into the ropes. Next go around, al-Ani blocks a Kimura attempt, before escaping and grabbing a leglock instead, but Thatcher kicks away from that.
Timmy gets a heel hook of his own as they duel for the same hold, before he works his way into some strikes as al-Ani came back with a roundhouse kick. In the end, Thatcher forces al-Ani to tap to a front choke, and that books his place in the semi-finals.
AMBITION 8 – First Round: Matt Riddle vs. Mike Bailey
This is like a second home for young Matthew, whilst Speedball is in his usual gear, sans kickpads. Of course, he starts by going for some kicks, but Riddle charges him into the corner with some slaps, before finally scoring a takedown.
They slap each other in the ribs to try and break it up/keep it on, until Bailey scooted into the ropes for a clean break. A spin kick connects with Riddle’s hand, as Bailey finally grabbed a front facelock on Riddle after a takedown. More shots from Matthew followed, as did some knees to the ribs, before they duelled it out with kicks.
Bailey blasted Riddle against the ropes with some slaps, before the favour was returned as a Kimura attempt saw Bailey gratefully roll into the ropes. A head kick actually knocked Riddle down to the mat, but he beat the ten count before rushing into a takedown, which Bailey looked to have grabbed a rear naked choke in, but Riddle switched it and forced the tap. Fun stuff, and so far the nearest thing to an upset!
AMBITION 8 – Semi Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Matt Riddle
Oh dear. Young Robert was a lamb to slaughter here, but at least he started out strong by slapping Riddle from their attempts at a lock-up.
Matt responded in kind, blocking a takedown before gutwrenching Gunns to the mat and mounting his back and eventually scoring the Bromission to win in just over a minute. At least Bobby tried, but this was a mismatch.
AMBITION 8 – Semi Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Jeff Cobb
Before the match, Timothy Thatcher (in German) dedicated their match to their trainer, Oliver John – much like Cobb did back when they wrestled for EVOLVE earlier this year.
Thatcher scurried to the ropes when Cobb tried for a headlock, then pushed away as Cobb stood over him on the mat. Cobb succeeds with a leg trip as he takes down Thatcher, who then goes all Muhammad Ali to keep the larger Cobb at bay. They roll on the mat from a waistlock, which Thatcher almost turned into an armbar, but Cobb made the ropes pretty quickly.
Another takedown from Cobb leads to a front facelock, before Thatcher strikes away to block it from segueing to anything else. Thatcher escapes and looks to grab a chicken wing-like hold, but instead the two separate for a clean break.
This time Thatcher grabs a front facelock and throws in some knees, before a Judo throw from Cobb takes him into a side headlock on Timmy, who has issues moving a man of Cobb’s size. A grounded head and arm choke looks to wear down Thatcher, but he slaps his way free and goes for an armbar that Cobb spins out of.
Thatcher struggles against a tight waistlock, before he rolls into the ropes as Cobb tried to roll him up so he couldn’t breath. From the restart, Thatcher goes in with some knees, then scores a waistlock takedown before they rolled back into the ropes.
Cobb lands a gutwrench suplex, then a legit German suplex, but on landing Thatcher grabs a wristlock and that forces the quick tap-out. Well, that was a pleasant surprise – Cobb started to make his power count, until the ever-wily Thatcher cut him off quickly before too much damage could be done.
Ahead of the final, wXw’s English announcer Rico Bushido headed out after having his customary high dosage of caffeine. In a segment designed to kill time (and give Timothy Thatcher a breather ahead of the final), Rico recaps the history of AMBITION, namedropping prior entrants like Bryan Danielson, Zack Sabre Jr and Tommy End, before promising to return to the tournament. At the very end, you can just about spot a bemused ring announcer Thomas Giesen wondering why Rico’s going to the back with his microphone…
AMBITION 8 – Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle
From the off, Riddle immediately spins down Thatcher by the arm as they looked for an early finis. Thatcher grabs a rear naked choke, but Riddle scurries out before it’s locked in, only to get taken down get again as Thatcher went in search of an armbar.
Riddle gets flipped over, but he lands well enough to grab a leg lock, only to be forced into the ropes as Thatcher switched that out into an ankle lock. A cross armbreaker from Riddle quickly ends as they hit the ropes, only for Matt to be able to work back into it, before taking Thatcher’s back for another choke.
Thatcher works into the ropes to free himself, before entering Riddle’s guard with the pair looking for simultaneous heel hooks. Riddle’s seem more effective at first, before they rolled over into the ropes. Riddle again mounts Thatcher’s back as he went for an arm, but instead Timmy gets a heel and rolls with it, with Riddle this time being the one to get the break.
Another takedown sees Riddle go for a guillotine, but he loses it and is forced to cling onto Thatcher to prevent further strikes from above. In the end, Thatcher lands some more blows and walks away in search of a TKO, but Riddle pulls himself up at the count of eight and shoots for the leg again. Thatcher goes for an arm, but Riddle floats over and drills him with some knees, before a rear naked choke sees the pair roll into the ropes once more.
Riddle blocks a takedown from Thatcher and throws in some elbows, only to get caught in an armbar that he tries to roll free of. Eventually he succeeded and threw a knee at Thatcher, then some more strikes to send Thatcher down to the mat once again. Thatcher again beat the count, but Riddle threw another knee, and that was it as Tassilo Jung waved off the match through TKO. A great finals to a tournament which massively improved as it went on.
Much like the Inner Circle show, this is really short (70 minutes long), but worth a watch if you’re into the technical stuff. Or if you just want to see folks kicking the hell out of each other. This won’t be up on Flo Slam, but it’s a worthy watch if you have wXw Now.