The biggest match of the Catch Grand Prix so far takes place today, with this year’s 16 Carat Gold winner having his first crack at Bobby Gunns.

Nico and Dään are in the Steffy again, joined by Avalanche as they are hyped for today’s contest. Of course, they run down the table so far, then talk about the “dream match” – one that we should be seeing again for the title, given Cara Noir won 16 Carat Gold earlier this year. A win for Gunns pretty much eliminates Cara Noir, who you have to think wants to add a second trophy to his unusual year.

Having beaten Cara Noir, Avalanche noted that he reckoned that Cara isn’t reckless, but there’ll be a battle of submissions – Cara’s Blackout sleeper, and Gunns’ Swish armbar. Avalanche picks the Black Swan… and it’s off to the promos.

Bobby Gunns seems to be less than thrilled with the “Cara-t Noir” pun, and notes that he’s still the champion so everything else is just talk. Gunns notes “he wanted to retire already”, talking about Cara, before vowing to clip his wings. Strap in folks, this is gonna be a good one!

Catch Grand Prix 2020 – Block A: Cara Noir vs. Bobby Gunns
Round 1: Cara doesn’t shoot out of the blocks, and instead opts to circle Gunns as the champion came in looking for a lock-up. Gunns dives in for a drop toe hold, but it’s avoided as Noir uses the corner and the ropes to his advantage. He remains elusive despite Gunns’ takedown, as Bobby loses his grip, then backs into the corner as it looks like he’s bloodied his lip in the opening minutes. Gunns continues, looking to go for a submission, only to break the hold, as the first round came to a close with Gunns kicking Noir in the ropes, earning him a €20 fine.

Round 2: After the feeling-out process in the first round, the second round started a little more adventurously, with both men testing the other with kicks to the quad. Gunns caught one and drags down Cara, but rather than go for a half crab he tries to transition to a cross armbar. That’s blocked, with Cara handstanding his way free… except Gunns just kicks out the arm, as the champion’s off to the races. He stands on Cara in the corner, which gets a yellow card and the accompanying fine, but it keeps the path open for Gunns as he worked over Cara’s arm and wrist. They’re back in the corner, with Gunns again using his foot to poke the proverbial bear, but this time Cara comes out swinging with chops, before Gunns took him back into the ropes for a kick that knocked the Carat winner to the outside. Cara returns in plenty of time, but Gunns wrestles him down by the arm, torquing it to the mat for a stomp to the body part, before Noir countered with a rear naked choke in the corner, but it’s instantly broken as time ran out.

Round 3: Gunns is still bleeding from the lip, and he’s still going for Noir’s arm as we start the round. A trip takes Noir to the mat, with another stomp to the arm following from the champion. Some kicks may be unsporting, and they rile up Cara who comes back with chops before he threw Gunns into the corners. An Irish whip’s reversed as Noir takes the corner chest-first, and then it’s back to the arm with Gunns yanking it over his shoulder. Kicks from Noir take Gunns back down for a heel hook, but Gunns has hold of a leg as well as they try the same hold. Noir pushes way, using his bare feet in Gunns’ face… which just turns the match into a scrap, with Noir edging ahead with some kicks to the midsection. An axe kick looked to set up for something more, but Noir hits a rebound German suplex before he set up for a Rude Awakening neckbreaker that almost ended the match. Noir looked to go for the Madame Guillotine, but time runs out before he could get the hold off.

Round 4: Noir charges at Gunns at the bell, but runs into a clothesline! Gunns has trouble pulling him up, but when he did, as second lariat followed as he maintained wrist control. Wash, rinse, repeat, before Noir got flipped inside out with another clothesline. Gunns hits the ropes for another lariat, but Cara counters with a Blackout sleeper – looking to echo the Carat wins – but Gunns manages to get to his knees, so Noir lets go and clubs away before reapplying the hold… which Gunns broke as he ran into the ropes, catching Noir in the throat in the process. Another lariat off the ropes followed, but Cara doesn’t stay down… so Gunns goes in for a trapped armbar, with Noir squirming towards the ropes in search of a break, which he eventually gets as the clock ran out once more.

Round 5: We go back to how the first round started here, with Gunns testing Noir with kicks, sending him to the mat. Noir, with one bad arm, tries to defend with up-kicks, while Gunns tried to avoid being caught… with mixed results, as Noir found a way through. Eventually Gunns got fed up and kicked Noir’s leg, only to get caught with an up kick as he then pulled his opponent up… with Noir then unloading with kicks, much like Gunns had clotheslines earlier. Gunns tries for the armbar on the mat, but Noir rolls out… so he followed in with a clothesline to the back of the head, a release German suplex, then a PK. Except Noir pops up and runs in with a headbutt, before a package piledriver attempt’s countered with Gunns rolling in for a Swish armbar, eventually taking Noir to the mat as we hit the final thirty seconds. Noir bites his own thumb to stop the hold from being applied, and he manages to ride out the clock as we get our second draw of the tournament. This one really felt like it had been tailored for the rounds system – with each round telling a distinct story in the ebb and flow of the match. Of course, in normal circumstances, this match going 15 minutes wouldn’t be expected, and this served as a tantalising teaser for their title match to come. The draw doesn’t eliminate Cara Noir, but it makes the block win unlikely.

Result: Bobby Gunns and Cara Noir went to a draw after five rounds at 15:00 (****)

Both men were left the worse for wear after this, with Gunns staggering as Noir had a sore arm. Of course, Cara doesn’t speak, so it’s Bobby who has to do the post-match honours, accepting the crowd’s applause before underscoring that he’s still the champion regardless of the result here.

Standings, with eliminations (including those who’d be eliminated on tie-breakers)…

Block A
Bobby Gunns (3-0-1; 7pts)
Metehan (3-1; 6pts)
Avalanche, Cara Noir (2-1-1; 5pts)
Fast Time Moodo (2-3; 4pts) * eliminated
Hektor Invictus (1-2-1; 3pts)
Anil Marik (0-5; 0pts) * eliminated

Block B
Senza Volto (4-0; 8pts)
Marius al-Ani (3-0; 6pts)
Tristan Archer (2-1; 4pts)
Vincent Heisenberg (1-3; 2pts) * eliminated
Prince Ahura (1-2; 2pts) *eliminated
Norman Harras (1-3; 2pts) * eliminated
Emil Sitoci (0-3; 0pts) * eliminated

Disciplinary: €2905 of fines; nineteen yellow cards and one red card.

Block B returns on Thursday, and it’s a battle at the bottom of the table as Vincent Heisenberg takes on Emil Sitoci.