The last stop before Carat saw wXw hit Hamburg – as top contenders were decided in the Markthalle.

Hamburg was sold out – and we open with a run down of the card in the style of a crime thriller. Commentary comes from our new regular pairing of Sebastian Hollmichel and Andy Jackson.

Oliver Carter vs. Rust Taylor vs. Lucky Kid vs. Jurn Simmons
Can Lucky or Jurn continue to build momentum for Carat with a win here?

We start with a Parade of Moves as Carter jumped Lucky Kid at the bell – aided by the fog from Jurn’s entrance. No, it wasn’t Oliver going wild on shisha… he’s sent hurtling to the outside as we’re left with Jurn and Taylor against each other, while Rust almost won with a wacky roll-up… only for Jurn to kick out and dump him with a clothesline. A chokeslam’s teased, but Lucky Kid ends up getting it as he’s Gorilla press slammed. Then Carter, and why not Rust to complete the set? Carter catches Rust with the Oliver’s Twist kick, before Lucky ran into a rear spin kick that caught him unawares. The action keeps going with a low dropkick from Lucky, who proceeded to ZSJ-up Jurn with a neck twist, before an Asai DDT dropped Carter for a near-fall.

Lucky’s momentum ended when he leapt into Taylor’s uppercut, as Rust had his time to shine, wrenching and spinning away at Jurn’s arm ahead of an Octopus stretch. Rust adds Lucky to the pile, before he pump kicked Carter on the top rope ahead of a superplex attempt… which didn’t come off as Carter got free only to have to flip out of a German superplex! A uranage from Carter drops Jurn for a near-fall, before he and Taylor went at it. The Rings of Saturn nearly make Carter submit, When Oliver got free, he runs into a big boot that sent him crashing outside, before Lucky Kid knocked Rust out too ahead of a tope con giro. Back inside, Lucky’s tossed with a suplex throw from Jurn, but he’s right back up to hit a death valley driver. That’s followed up with a handspring enziguiri before Lucky got distracted by… an eye appearing on the video screen.

Jurn capitalised with a Massive Boot and a spinning piledriver… and is that enough for the win? Aye. A nice and pacey version of the multi-man “Carat previews” we’ve had lately, and that’s some big time momentum for Jurn Simmons… ***½

Earlier in the week, Killer Kelly ran into Melanie Gray in the wXw academy. They reminisce over what led to Melanie’s return, but it sort of snuck into mind games territory from Kelly… as they have a match next for a shot at Amale’s Women’s title at Carat.

Melanie Gray vs. Killer Kelly
There be history here…

Kelly seems to be the favourite in Hamburg as she looked to go for Gray’s legs, eventually grabbing one as she rolled Gray for a one-count. A side headlock’s fought out of by Gray, before Kelly reached for the rope for a break… then charged into Melanie with a bicycle kick. A PK misses as a roll-up nearly gets it done, but Kelly gets the PK off anyway for a near-fall. Kelly stays on the front foot, taking Gray into the corner as she choked her against the turnbuckle. From there, crossface punches wore down Gray, before she got pulled into a camel clutch that Gray powered out of so she could back Kelly into the corner. Another front kick and a bicycle kick has Gray back on the mat, and that looked to have drawn some blood.

A series of short-arm clotheslines keep Gray on the back foot, before she got free with a leg sweep… but the back senton whiffs. Kelly’s back with a bridging German suplex for a near-fall, before another pump kick was sidestepped as Gray hits a German suplex of her own. Forearms from Gray catch Kelly… but she’s back with capture headbutts before Melanie returned the favour, taking Kelly into the corner for some knees. A superkick from the apron to the inside catches Kelly, as did a dropkick in the ropes before Kelly tried to fight back with Vale de Morte… but Gray slips out and hits an Angle Slam. She’s caught on the top rope as Kelly teases a butterfly superplex, only to get headbutted down ahead of a senton bomb. Gray can’t make the cover, but comes back with a spear for a near-fall, before she rolled Kelly into the Melodram cloverleaf for the tap-out. The crowd booed that… but given the storyline going in, there was only ever going to be one winner. **½

They replay Avalanche’s promo at the end of the Bielefeld show where he challenged Bobby Gunns to a champion vs. champion (non-title) clash. Bobby laughs it off because it’s Hamburg, a city where Gunns feels almost invincible. Three years ago, he’d exiled Da Mack from Hamburg, and Gunns seems to be overlooking Avalanche – focusing more on David Starr. The Pretty Bastards are there too, vowing to finally put down Vollgasteren… before we’re taken back to ringside as Thommi Giesen tells us that Gunns refused the challenge.

Jordan Devlin & Scotty Davis vs. Jay-AA (Absolute Andy & Jay Skillet)
We’ve got the “oldish” Devlin video here, as the NXT Cruiserweight champion got a decent reaction on his first appearance there in over a decade, having last appeared when he was Aguila Artois. Like the beer.

The PROGRESS tag team champions were up against in terms of crowd reactions, but we start with shenanigans as Absolute Andy and Jay Skillet exchanged blind tags as they both wanted to start. Trouble in pAAradise? It was Skillet who starts, but he’s instantly on the defensive as Davis rolled him to the mat before a rope break saved the recently-unseated Shotgun champion. Davis ups the ante with Gator rolls and a head-and-arm suplex to toss around Skillet, as Absolute Andy looked a little apprehensive about joining in. He’s made to though, as Jay tagged out, while Jordan Devlin tagged in and had to escape Andy in the corner. Devlin works a hammerlock, then a front chancery as Davis tagged in as the Irishmen looked to focus on the elder statesman of wXw. Things turn around when Andy cracked Davis with an uppercut and a single-leg dropkick, before Skillet rolled up Davis into a springboard back elbow.

A neckbreaker keeps Scotty down for a two-count, before a barrage of suplexes from Andy had the Irish kid on the deck. Devlin runs in to break it up, but takes an uppercut from Andy, before the Irish lads doe-see-doe’d to get out of trouble. Jay tries to repeat the trick, but Andy doesn’t leave his feet, and it all goes a bit sour. Devlin tags in next as Skillet ate a Muta lock/low dropkick combo for a near-fall, before Air Jordan squashed Skillet for a near-fall… as did an assisted slingshot senton from Davis. Jordan’s backbreaker gets a two-count, but Skillet fought free with chops and forearms before he enziguiri’d Davis. A Schürrle-kick drops Devlin as Andy returned… and my God, Jordan and Scotty bumped like troopers for those elbows!

Andy built up steam as he worked into a stalling suplex on Devlin, before an Absolute knee nearly booked the win. Davis saves Jordan from the F5, but ends up having to fight out of a double suplex, only to take it anyway. A superkick from Andy’s next for a near-fall before Devlin mounted a comeback with a slingshot cutter as the Irish lads kept pushing. Davis returns to box through Andy, before a spin kick, a headbutt and a German suplex got them closer to the win. A Parade of Moves broke out as Andy and Davis were left laying, but it’s Devlin who went back on the offensive with some Kawada kicks before a crossbody from Skillet flipped him inside out. From there, a stomp-assisted F5 bounces Scotty off the mat, and that’s it! Jay-AA get the tag title shot at Carat, after a fun little match that seemed to have solidified Andy’s transition back to the fold of good guys. ***½

Unsanctioned: David Starr vs. Ilja Dragunov
Anything goes here – including sneak attacks from Behind as Ilja came through the crowd to lay out Starr with a chair.

Ilja makes good use of the chair, jabbing it into Starr’s back before the Product got his own back, tripping Ilja into the chair ahead of a tiltawhirl facebuster that sent Dragunov outside… where he found another chair to block Starr’s dive with. A knee drop drive a chair into Starr as Ilja keeps up the momentum with a super back senton, with a LOAD of hangtime… but it’s still only enough for a near-fall early on. More chairshots have Starr in the ropes, while Ilja undid turnbuckle covers, stopping to slam Starr onto a chair as Dragunov was exposing a LOT of steel couplings in the corner. A spinning back chop drops Starr, but he gets up the knees to block the back senton as a brainbuster drills Ilja through a chair, and for some reason our ref’s putting on the black gloves as the pair chop through the floor at the Markthalle, fighting their way to the stage.

Ilja drags the steps onto the stage, but he takes too long as Starr proceeded to tease a piledriver off the stage. Instead, a back body drop sees Starr land on the weak back. A punt kick traps Starr’s head against the steps, before he took the mic and told Starr he was wearing clothes befitting the indies as he was wrestling in sweat pants. Next, Ilja empties a pin onto Starr before a tease of a back senton off the ring steps ended when Starr bonked the bin onto him, before tossing him through the two pull-up banners that are on every wXw show. I hope they have spares! Hey, there’s a table too, which Starr gravitated to as he sets it up by the steps, before a struggle on the steps led to a side Russian legsweep off the steps as Starr dumped Ilja through the wood.

Bobby Gunns wanders out amid all this, chair in hand so he could take a spot in the front row. Back in the ring, Starr’s got the bin again as he ends up being shoved into the ring post, before superkicking the chair into Ilja. A Cherry Mint DDT onto a chair followed, as the pair brawled right by Gunns, who’s shooed away by Starr… before getting laid out by his own chair. It was probably safer backstage, Bobby…

From there, Starr keeps going with the chair on Ilja, before another table came out. It gave Ilja enough time to recover as the pair ended up trading shots in the ring, leading to a Han Stansen from Starr, and a Konstantin Spezial from Ilja. Another Han Stansen dumps Ilja, who’s able to retaliate with a death valley driver into the exposed corner for a near-fall, before we got an all time favourite spot in wrestling. Coast to Coast as Starr was blinded by a bin!

Starr’s able to kick out from that, but he’s taken up top for a superplex onto a pile of chairs for a near-fall. A super back senton from Ilja comes up short as he lands among the chairs, with a powerbomb quickly following from Starr, who went back to that table, chopping Ilja into the corner before taking him to the top rope… but it’s not for a superplex, as Starr worked his way into a nasty looking piledriver through the table for the win! They built this one well, even if it felt a little long by the end. It felt like a real feud-ender – and something that’d help Starr get traction going into Carat! ***¾

Bobby Gunns came back through the crowd to attack Starr before he could celebrate. There’s plenty of plunder there too, but he doesn’t need any as he pulls out a cigarette and threatens Thatcher him with it… only for Avalanche to make the save. The crowd mock Gunns for turning down Avalanche’s match earlier, so Avalanche reiterates it… which ends up being made as Thommi Giesen tells us that wXw management made the match anyway.

Veit Müller vs. Marius al-Ani
The sort-of departure of WALTER’s meant that RINGKAMPF exists in name only in wXw these days, which kinda sucks for Veit, given how hard he fought to join it. He’s here with Vincent Heisenberg, who’s making a name for himself on the wXw academy shows…

We start with a lock-up after Veit had done the “fake bicep” trick that William Regal popularised, but it’s Marius who edged ahead with some boxing before he missed an elbow drop. Veit’s clothesline and elbow drop combo has Marius in the corner, before getting hiptossed from corner to corner. A back body drop propels Marius into the ropes… but after Müller stopped to celebrate, Marius came back with a dropkick as referee Rainer Ringer had to separate the two in the corner. Working the arm, Marius grounds Müller and maintained the upper hand, crashing in with a clothesline… only for Müller to make a comeback with clotheslines and elbows of his own.

A leapfrog from Marius gets countered into a slam before a Rick Steiner-esque bulldog off the top rope took al-Ani to the outside. Marius turns it around with a dropkick, taking Veit outside for a pescado that got caught… as a cross-chop to the throat had Marius in trouble. Another lariat awaits for al-Ani inside the ring for a near-fall as Veit looked to have bloodied his mouth… before a rear naked choke gave Marius something to fight out of. In the end, a Superman punch and a spinning heel kick has Veit on the mat once again, before a Diamond Driver gets the win. This felt a little flat, almost a glorified squash win for al-Ani, which is sad to see given how hot Veit was barely 12 months ago. **¾

We get a video package for the tag title match, with Julian Pace telling us how his trust in the Pretty Bastards was shattered and then some.

wXw World Tag Team Championship: VollGasteren (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren) vs. Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura) (c)
Ahura’s attempt to end things early backfired as he got caught with a rolling thunder neckbreaker from Pace, while a frog splash from van Gasteren… and a dropkick-assisted suplex got an early two-count.

The challengers keep going with a superkick from Pace and a Stunner from Leon… but Maggot’s in to knock Pace off the top rope before making the tag in, having rolled Ahura to his own corner. Smart. An enziguiri from Maggot’s good for just a one-count as Pace ends up getting Maggot thrown into him for a two-count as the Bastards continued to push on. A chinlock from Maggot’s fought out of as Pace clubbed away… but he’s met with a dropkick before making the tag out to van Gasteren, who cleared house. Uppercuts trap the tag champions in the corner, ahead of a stacked-up German suplex, which led to a frog splash… but Maggot counters it into a cutter for a near-fall.

Van Gasteren keeps up with a stunner before he monkey flipped Pace into a Destroyer – that’ll never not be impressive – but the assisted Final Lap only gets a near-fall as Maggot broke up the pin. Pace back body drops Maggot to the outside before a springboard body press took him down on the floor, while Ahura’s rolled in… and he gets back in as he kicked Leon’s leg out of his leg. More kicks to the knee subdue van Gasteren, before a Figure Four looked to force a stoppage, as the Bastards cheated as Pace accidentally distracted Tassilo Jung with his protests. Van Gasteren got to the ropes, but Maggot kicks it apart… so Pace hits a Best Moonsault Ever to break the hold, only to get thrown into the ring post by Maggot as Pace’s small battle quickly gave him a big disadvantage.

Maggot’s in with a missile dropkick, but Pace is able to break up a cover from a Red Light Driver… he’s dumped on the apron with a cutter from Maggot before Ahura went back with a superkick for a near-fall, before turning out van Gasteren’s lights with an axe kick for the win. As decisive and clean as you’d get – and with Pace in Carat, I have a feeling this is the end of the road for VollGasteren. No shenanigans, and weirdly enjoyable too – it finally closes the door on this feud. ***¼

Avalanche vs. Bobby Gunns
Bobby Gunns hasn’t lost in Hamburg since September 2016 – when he was beaten by John Klinger… and since then he’s exiled Da Mack and successfully defended the Shotgun and Unified World titles in the Markthalle. Here, we’ve a non-title main event, with only Bobby’s Hamburg record under threat.

Gunns traps Avalanche early in a Cobra twist, but it’s hiptossed away as a striking battle put Avalanche in front ahead of a clothesline. A splash in the corner’s next for Gunns, but a boot through the ropes stops Avalanche’s charge as he began to work over the Shotgun champion’s arm. On the outside, Avalanche charges into the apron as Gunns sidestepped him, before having his hand thrown off the ring steps as Gunns wore him down some more. Back in the ring, Avalanche rebuilds with shoulder tackles and Beele throws, before a hanging armbar in the corner caught Avalanche by surprise. It’s back to the arm as Gunns stomps on the elbow, before a key lock attempt was almost fought out of as Avalanche went for a slam. More manipulation from Gunns led to Avalanche finally landing the slam, before he decked Gunns with clotheslines and elbows.

A back body drop from Avalanche pops me, but he charges into the corner again as Gunns side steps… only to hit a leaping shoulder tackle as Avalanche almost broke the streak. Gunns uses Avalanche’s aggression against him, baiting him in for a rebound German suplex before a ripcord lariat and a back senton turned the match on its head… except Gunns managed to use the momentum in his favour to trap Avalanche in an armbar. A roll-up breaks the hold, but Gunns stays on Avalanche with a PK, then with a flying uppercut… but Avalanche monsters up and dumps Gunns with a clothesline! Boulder Dash follows as Avalanche teases a Dreissker Bomb, but the Pretty Bastards wander out to distract the ref as a low blow and a powerbomb out of the corner gets Gunns the win. The crowd were a little flat for this – perhaps Gunns’ unbeaten run here is at the point where, like a world title change, it’s almost surely not about to go on short notice. A decent main event, but the crowd didn’t help. ***½

Post-match, Gunns sets the Bastards and Carter onto Avalanche for a mugging… only for Absolute Andy and Jay Skillet to make the save… followed by David Starr, who made a beeline for Gunns. Andy’s clotheslines get rid of the bad guys before Starr double-legged Gunns as a Han Stansen sent the wXw unified champion packing. Except Ilja’s back with a chair to lay out Starr? Not to worry, Avalanche is back to square up to his former Cerberus buddy, eventually laying him out with a powerbomb as Avalanche again cleared house, press slamming Maggot into an F5. An Andy superkick takes care of Ahura, with another F5 underlining it as we ended the night with the good guys laying out Gunns before they held all the belts aloft.

Could this be what we see at the end of Carat?

Before we go though, we’ve some backstage footage… Killer Kelly shakes Melanie Gray’s hand. Gray sort of rubs in how Kelly’s not going to Carat. There’s a backhanded comment in there, which makes me think Melzi’s Carat match won’t be plain sailing… then Ilja Dragunov bumps into Avalanche. Ilja claims he was having a bad day, so Avalanche gives him the chance to prove it by putting the Shotgun title on the line at Carat. Avalanche hints at Ilja’s other commitments, but Ilja says he’ll do what it takes.

We then close with the fantastic Title vs. Career promo to build up for the mittel-Samstag main event… and that’s us done.

Building up to 16 Carat, Dead End was a good show from wXw as we perhaps ominously headed into Oberhausen next month with all of the good guys on top. You know the saying about rice pudding around these parts: have we had too much of it in Hamburg, or is there going to be just enough left to ensure that David Starr’s wXw career doesn’t come to an end on March 7? The only negative I have about the show… was that we’re still left waiting for Carat matches. I’m hoping we’re not having to wait too much longer for those tournament bouts…