After almost two months, wXw’s Catch Grand Prix wraps up as Cara Noir looks to add another tournament win to his haul – taking on Marius al-Ani in the final.
We’re back at the Steffy as Andy Jackson’s joining Dään Jokisch and Nico Schmidt on the final preview panel. They start by recapping Cara Noir’s first appearance in wXw at Back to the Roots in January, where he announced his entry in 16 Carat Gold… starting with a win over Marius al-Ani in the first round as Cara eventually won the tournament.
Of course, they meet again in the finals today, as they recap how both men won their blocks, with al-Ani now undefeated for 15 matches – and looking to beat the last man to beat him back in March. Andy’s picking al-Ani to win because he’s on form, and suggests that Cara Noir might be a little over-confident given his Carat win.
Catch Grand Prix 2020 – Final: Cara Noir vs. Marius al-Ani
Cara’s the massive fan favourite here, and for what I believe is the first time in this tournament, we’ve in-ring introductions. We’re going 12 x 3-minute rounds here, but no word on what’ll happen if they go the distance…
Round 1: Cara Noir shoots out at the gates with his Blackout sleeper, but al-Ani throws him off as they take their time to reset. Cara looks for a wristlock, but Marius flattens out as the pair grappled on the mat, before Cara got his wristlock. Some headscissors from al-Ani trap Cara, but he eventually slips free and grabbed a keylock that’s broken as Marius charges him into the corner. A kick from Cara Noir stings Marius as the first round comes to a close.
Round 2: Marius starts out hot, charging Cara into the corner with some body blows – those closed fists get him a €20 fine. Another punch follows for the obvious “tactical” yellow card, as Marius then looked to roll Cara to the mat for a Kimura of his own. Instead he switches for a hammerlock as Cara tries to slip out. They find a knuckle lock as a Test of Strength put Cara on the deck, with some two-counts following as al-Ani tries to break the bridge, but Cara just kicks away the arm as al-Ani backed into the corner to ride out the remaining seconds.
Round 3: Again, al-Ani tries to box his way into proceedings, but Cara came in with a side headlock, which was pushed away as a shoulder tackle followed. Marius goes in for a cravat next, spinning Cara to the mat as a low dropkick to the back lands, before he tossed Cara outside. He follows him outside for a slam on the floor, before he rolled Cara back inside to try and benefit from that attack. Stomps to the lower back and a suplex follow for a two-count, then switched up into a stretching chin lock, which Cara broke with some small joint manipulation… only to get stomped on in the ropes as al-Ani knocked him to the outside for the remainder of the round.
Round 4: Cara makes it back to the ring in time to start, but he’s instantly taken down in a front facelock before he got out and tied up Marius in a modified Cobra twist. al-Ani grabs the ear to free himself, but gets rolled up for a two-count, before an armbar from al-Ani ended in the ropes. Marius shoots for the leg, taking Cara into the corner, where a switcharound saw a snapmare and a kick to the back before Marius got thrown outside for a tope. Cara throws him back in quickly to pick up a two-count, before another lock-up wound down the remaining time as Marius took down Cara with a waistlock at the bell.
Round 5: Marius feints some kicks at the start of the round, but he gets caught in a side headlock and taken down. Cara manages to get hold of the legs and ties up Marius in a deathlock, but a right hand breaks that up. Cara’s back with a bow-and-arrow hold on the mat, stretching the former Shotgun champion, but Marius gets up with an overhead suplex to take down Noir. Stomps keep Cara down, but he’s able to hit the ropes and try for a clothesline, only for both men to clatter into each other as the round came to an end.
Round 6: Cara gets to his feet and caught Marius with a dropkick at the bell. A second shotgun dropkick followed, then a third as Marius was on the run. A rebound German suplex is next, but al-Ani ducks a superkick and punches out Cara from the ground. Marius looks for a Superman punch, but Cara avoids it and hits a neckbreaker… only for al-Ani to return with an arm whip as he began to target the arm that Hektor had worked on in the prior match. A hammerlock’s tightened up as Marius bridges with it, then trapped Cara in an armbar as the Carat winner needed the ropes to save himself. A suplex from al-Ani’s escaped as Cara chopped back, but a right hand and a crucifix pin gets Marius a two-count, before a baseball slide knocked Cara to the floor as time once again ran out.
Round 7: Cara’s looking the worse for wear, but starts out trying a rear naked choke… al-Ani tries to break it up in the corners, but Cara clings on before Marius dove into the corner to force the separation. It’s quickly reapplied though as Cara climbed the rope and lifted Marius off the ground in a choke, before Marius press slammed Cara down… then rolled him through into a modified grounded Octopus hold, only for Marius to roll free and find his way in with a Deathlock. He lets go to hit an up kick before Madame Guillotine dropped Marius for a near-fall. Both men pull themselves back up to their feet, with Cara throwing Marius into the corner with an Irish whip, before an attempt at the package piledriver was stopped by the bell.
Round 8: They start by going nose-to-nose here, with Marius sucker punching Cara Noir as he invited a strike battle. Cara responds with a leg sweep as the pair trade kicks as they were on the ground. It escalates into some wild strikes and kicks, with Marius looking to snatch a powerbomb, only to get hit a spinning heel kick as Cara tried to counter. He lands a powerbomb for a near-fall, then rolled Cara into an ankle lock, only for Cara to get to the ropes just in time. A cloverleaf followed, but Marius rolls in for a STF instead… which Cara bit his way out of in exchange for a €20 fine. That’s a little lenient… Stomps from Marius follow as Cara tried to keep his distance as they headed into the ninth round.
Round 9: Marius tries to charge at Cara at the bell, but runs into a foot, then an elbow as Cara was still on the defensive. A roll-up sends Cara into the path of an up kick, as a Diamond Driver looked to follow… but it’s countered into a rear naked choke. Marius tries to roll Cara free, but instead just drives his forehead into the mat, which just looked nasty. Cara rolls outside as they replay the move… the impromptu count out tease is broken as Cara rolled back inside, and cracked Marius with a headbutt! He lifts al-Ani up top for an avalanche Madame Guillotine, but Cara took just a little too long to make the cover as al-Ani got up at two. The round ends with both men throwing strikes from the mount, but Cara Noir didn’t break at the bell – which earns him a yellow card.
Round 10: Shadowboxing begins the round as the pair looked to land a big blow. Marius gets kicked into the corner, as he rebounds with a Superman punch and some more ground and pound as commentary hinted at overtime. An overhead suplex from Marius was shook off as Cara went for a superkick… but it’s sidestepped as a powerbomb was the counter for a near-fall. From the kick-out, al-Ani goes back to the ankle lock, clinging on despite the attempts to push away… but a push up from Cara Noir spun al-Ani into a rear naked choke, but that’s quickly broken up. al-Ani resumes the ankle lock, but Cara Noir pulls himself outside via the ropes to break the hold, but he takes time to roll back in, taking a stomp at the bell as we were going long.
Round 11: A diving headbutt from Cara Noir starts as he dug something out of the Tomoaki Honma playbook. Problem was, al-Ani was quickly up… only to get caught with a roll-up for a two-count. The Blackout sleeper follows as Cara looked to be going back to his “fast third round”, turning it into a sleeper suplex as Marius held on. Out of nowhere though, al-Ani is back to his feet and surprises Cara with a Diamond Driver – and that’s enough to get the win! The unbeaten record stretches further, and sucked the air out of the Steffy as Marius al-Ani outlasts the 16 Carat Gold winner to win the inaugural Catch Grand Prix.
Result: Marius al-Ani pinned Cara Noir at 1:10 of Round 11 (***¾)
Final disciplinary totals: €4965 of fines; thirty-five yellow cards and one red card.
al-Ani celebrates with the trophy (and also gets €4200 prize money too)… but he doesn’t get his personal interviewer back. Instead, it’s Andy Jackson who’s got the honours as Marius told he us did what he said he’d do – and then declared himself the most dangerous man in the business. He promised to win more titles, which I guess means he’ll be joining Cara Noir at the front of the queue for a shot at Bobby Gunns’ wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship as we fade to titles…
So, after seven weeks of the Catch Grand Prix, that’s it for wXw’s year. A year that started with Cara Noir debuting at the Turbinenhalle, before going on to win 16 Carat Gold barely two months later… only for plans to go out of the window with the pandemic. The fact that wXw were able to record any kind of content, much less the volume they actually did, has to be applauded, as the promotion managed to salvage something from the year – even if it may not have been as originally planned.
With two challengers to Bobby Gunns’ title now set, there’s the big question: who’s first? Time will tell on that one, and whether the fall-out of Brexit has any impact. As for the Catch Grand Prix, the fact that the promotion went ahead with a different format to their usual and used it to build several stories in their own little bubbles should set up for an intriguing 2021, when they are allowed to return.