The course towards 16 Carat Gold continued in earnest in Hamburg – as wXw had to get past a Dead End!

We’re in a packed Markthalle in Hamburg with Rico Bushido and Andy Jackson are on commentary as everyone’s hyped for Carat… but first, we’ve got to find out who’ll get their choice of opponent in the first round

Avalanche & David Starr vs. Jurn Simmons & Timothy Thatcher
Whomever scores the fall gets to pick their opponent for the first round of 16 Carat Gold, so of course, all four men are in the tournament, and while there’s some natural feuds here, one we weren’t expecting was David Starr against Thommy Giesen, since David wanted to do his own intro.

Starr and Jurn got going, reigniting the feud they had last year, but Starr spent the early going side-stepping Simmons, annoying him before a trip-up had Starr pat the Dutchman’s bald head. It still smarts. Starr blind-tags out to Avalanche, who also wanted a piece of Jurn… which he got courtesy of some shoulder tackles, which prompted Jurn to tag out to Timothy Thatcher… who didn’t exactly get his own way. Shoulder charges from Avalanche trap Thatcher in the corner as Avalanche and Starr enjoyed one-way traffic. Thatcher finally gets up and shrugs off some chops from Starr, before he shrugged off a cartwheel as Starr ended up on the mat… and in the hands of Jurn Simmons for a spell, as he tagged surprisingly well with Thatcher, with Jurn bringing the power and Thatcher the technical nous. Jurn even tries to impress papa Tim with a submission attempt, but instead he just stomps on Starr before handing him back off for Thatcher to have a go.

Starr waffles Thatcher with a Han Stansen, but instead he’s met with a slam and an elbow drop as Starr was kept on the defensive. A slam from Jurn dropped Starr on the mat, rather than over Thatcher’s knee… because Jurn wanted to RINGKAMPF. That’ll backfire on him later, and immediately too, as Starr’s able to tag in Avalanche, who leaps through the Dutchman with a shoulder tackle. Jurn’s able to flip out of a back suplex though, only to run into a Bossman slam as Thatcher broke up the cover. Timothy stays in with a 3D uppercut thingy as Avalanche was kept isolated… at least until they argued over who should lift Avalanche. Neither was the answer, as he back body dropped Jurn, only to miss a shoulder charge of his own as Starr returned with a Han Stansen on Simmons.

In the ring, Avalanche and Thatcher begin to trade forearms before an enziguiri from Thatcher’s swatted away. A sleeperhold’s next, but Jurn tags himself in, which led to an argument between the two of them, which Avalanche took advantage of, catching Jurn with a Dreissker Bomb… except Starr tagged himself in as things got a little wild. Jurn tries to steal it with a roll-up, only for Starr to catch him with a Blackheart Buster for the sudden win. An energetic opener, but one that finished rather abruptly after a little over 11 minutes. ***¼

I wonder who Starr will pick…

They replay Back to the Roots, where Toni Storm exiled Melanie Gray from wXw… and the subsequent segments with Killer Kelly being none too pleased with it, or Toni getting more and more possessive about her friendship.

Killer Kelly vs. Faye Jackson vs. Toni Storm
This non-title outing saw the wXw debut of Faye Jackson, who was over from the States training with wXw for a while.

Rico Bushido trips over himself admiring Faye Jackson at the bell, as Toni began the match by booting Kelly to the outside. Well… heel? Faye takes over by sending Toni into the ropes for a shoulder tackle, before a slam sent the champion to the mat for a near-fall. Storm slips out of another slam and shoves Jackson outside for a low-pe, taking Kelly down at the same time… but that just fired up Kelly into heading back inside… where she misses a Shibata-ish dropkick. Toni doesn’t miss with her hip attack… nor does Jackson, as she then prepared to dive? Nah, it’s a leap off the apron as Rico did his best Jerry Lawler impression. Back inside, Kelly’s forced to block Faye’s charges, only to get caught with an avalanche as Kelly avoids the hip attack and finally landed that Shibata-ish dropkick. She turns around into a German suplex from Toni, who quickly got obliterated by a Jackson spear as all three women were left down on the mat.

All three trade forearms back to their feet as Toni then dispatched Faye with a headbutt… Toni and Kelly trade more forearms, with Kelly edging ahead with a pumphandle T-bone suplex before she landed some Al Snow-ish capture headbutts to Jackson. A butterfly suplex is perhaps a step too far, as Jackson pushes Kelly away for a cannonball in the corner, before Toni took advantage with a German suplex and a Strong Zero piledriver for a near-fall, as Kelly barely broke up the cover. Toni gets mad at Kelly for breaking up the cover, again booting her to the apron… but Kelly’s back to break up the cover when Faye spiked Toni with a Fire Thunder driver, with the Portuguese instead pulling Faye into a Dragon sleeper that needed the ropes to save the match. More break-ups follow as Faye splashes apart a bridge from Kelly’s Fisherman suplex… but somehow Kelly’s able to power back up with a Samoan drop to Faye for the win. A fun three-way, but one that felt like an obvious stepping stone for 16 Carat, which the crowd chanted for. **¾

Post-match, Kelly posed with Toni’s belt… which was really like poking the bear, as Toni slapped away her (by now former?) friend. I’m liking this arrogant side of Toni Storm – it’s different to everything else she’s done so far in her career.

wXw World Tag Team Championship: Jay-FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) (c)
Something tells me that Jay Skillet’s slacking a little when it comes to wardrobe choices. This was Jay-FK’s first crack at the belts they lost back at the 18th Anniversary show. Those “Ost Berlin” chants that confused the heck out of me when I was in Hamburg in November are back, along with some very self-deprecating chants aimed at Hamburg’s football team (and Jay-FK).

Jay-FK charge the champions at the bell, but RISE hit back, knocking them down as the early focus went on Francis Kaspin. Jay Skillet keeps getting thrown outside so RISE could drop Kaspin with an axe kick/sidewalk slam combo, before Skillet came in and had his leg kicked out from underneath him. A hiptoss and a diving clothesline to the back of Skillet gets Bouncer a near-fall, before Kiev tags in and keeps Skillet down. There’s even a forearm to Kaspin on the apron before a springboard crossbody took Skillet back down for a near-fall. Kaspin sneaks one of the tag title belts away, sliding one into the ring before he threw the other to Ivan Kiev, claiming that it’d been used as a weapon.

Not sure why, because RISE would have retained on a DQ… but nevertheless, the long-winded distraction has the challengers on top, double-teaming behind the cover that Kiev provided while he argued with the official. Bouncer looked to have dinged himself up, as commentary noted that he was on jelly legs for a while, which just left him prone for Skillet to work an armbar while Bouncer stuck a foot out, hoping for a tag to materialise. It didn’t, as Bouncer was taken into the opposite corner and stomped on some more, with a Skillet low dropkick prolonging the isolation a little longer. Eventually Kiev tags in and catches Skillet with a ‘rana, a big boot and a Naito-like slingshot dropkick in the corner as Ivan was the proverbial house on fire. A Pele kick takes care of Kaspin too, before a top rope leg lariat almost secured the win. Jay-FK hit right back with a superkick-assisted death valley driver for a near-fall on Kiev, before a Parade of Moves broke out, leading to Kaspin nearly beating Kiev with a roll-up.

The ring stays full for a while longer as RISE then target Skillet with a head kick on the apron before a double-arm DDT from Bouncer secured the title defence. Not sure why Andy Jackson was playing heel commentator here, but it sort of worked – and will do as long as it’s not over bearing! ***

There’s clips of RINGKAMPF’s trios win over British Strong Style at the 18th Anniversary show… and how that played into Veit Müller’s bid to be a part of the team. Sadly, Veit didn’t quite get the job done when he tagged with WALTER at Back to the Roots, and that led to a falling-out between those two… which takes us to tonight.

Veit Müller vs. WALTER
Considering that before last summer, Veit was a bit-part player on the wXw roster, he’s really getting a lot of play here, being pushed into a pretty major storyline with RINGKAMPF… and this is the proverbial acid test for him.

WALTER was his usual jovial self (sarcasm!), and we start with the pair being very testy, going straight into a knuckle lock as they tried to assert dominance early on. A kick to the gut from WALTER helps there, as he knocked Veit into the corner before a side headlock saw Müller fight for his life. Müller’s able to get to a knee, bhut when he shoves WALTER off, a shoulder tackle quickly comes back at him as the pair seemingly hit reset on each other. A cravat from Müller has WALTER down to a knee, but eventually the Austrian took him into the corner… but Veit’s right back with a double chop and a side headlock as he refused to give WALTER any breathing room. Veit’s shoulder tackle looked effective, but WALTER’s back with a big boot before a body blow stopped a Müller slam, with Veit taking a thunderous bodyslam in response.

WALTER keeps up with some clubbering shots before Veit caught him with a body slam off the ropes, then an elbow drop and a low bridge as Müller found a second wind… ducking a chop and landing one of his own as WALTER was sent to the floor. After composing himself, WALTER returned to the ring, but this time he blocks a takedown attempt from Müller, amd takes him into the corner for some big knees as a clubbing forearm left the hometown lad on the mat. Veit blocks a crossface punch in the ropes, but can’t quite avoid a big boot as WALTER dumped him to the floor… except this time, WALTER followed him outside with some chops in the crowd, before a back suplex dumped Müller on the apron. A North-South elbow leaves Müller on the mat, as WALTER started to show some more dominance.

Müller’s forced to swing as his strikes looked to be more out of desperation than anything else, with WALTER easily booting him away in response. The big chops return as Müller was dropped in the corner, with Hamburg surprisingly not as pro-Müller as you’d have expected, as they largely cheered WALTER for the destruction of their local lad. Out of nowhere, Veit’s right in with a back body drop for a near-fall on WALTER, only for the Austrian to come right back with a butterfly suplex for a two-count of his own as Veit’s chest was starting to mark up. WALTER takes Müller up top, but rather than chop him down, there’s an avalanche butterfly superplex teased… something Veit pushed out of as the crowd roared in appreciation, only for him to finally get caught with that chop. Whoops. In the end, Müller manages to score with a powerbomb out of the corner, before he unloaded with headbutts and European uppercuts to unsettle WALTER… and then, another chop!

Veit’s back with a stalling side suplex though, almost taking the win as WALTER had to kick out… before a massive shotgun dropkick just sent Müller sailing back into the corner. Then we got the unexpected… a hurricanrana from Müller to avoid a powerbomb, then a clothesline as he seemingly absorbed a chop from WALTER! More back and forth strikes left Müller on wobbly legs, not helped by a brutal palm strike from WALTER… but Müller is straight back with a series of shin breakers and a figure four! Müller holds on, but WALTER tries to chop his way free, successfully releasing the hold as Veit was knocked cold. More knees from WALTER take Müller back into the corner, before a Gojira clutch took Veit into the ropes for the RINGKAMPF German suplex. But still, Müller kicked out to fight a little longer… even if he was running on empty, as his strikes weren’t even getting charitable reactions out of WALTER, who responded with another thunderous German suplex.

A thunderous lariat to the back of the neck, then a Saito suplex sent Müller down once again, but Veit gets back to his feet… and promptly knocked down again courtesy of a series of chops before he reversed wrist control and clattered WALTER with some lariats of his own. Another big boot from WALTER stops that resistance, only for Müller to come back with some crossface punches in the ropes to give WALTER a taste of his own medicine. Another deadlift German suplex followed, with Müller almost sneaking out the win, then again after another deadlift gutwrench, before WALTER almost ended it with a small package. Poetic.

Veit stays on top of him with a lariat before he looked for WALTER’s own Fire Thunder driver, instead with WALTER reversing it into a tombstone for the win. THAT. WAS. EPIC. If Veit wasn’t already on the path to being a star here, this match – even in defeat – solidified it. If you’re into cherry picking matches, go out of your way for this – the result may be what you expected, but the fight Veit showed was more than anyone hoped for. ****¼

We’re not done yet though: as WALTER stopped his celebrations to give some respect to Veit, who also got a standing ovation from Hamburg… and that seemingly handshake he fought for. “Du bist RINGKAMPF” were the chants from the crowd as the moment was ruined by David Starr?! You can tell where we’re going, can’t you?

Hamburg chuckled at the prospect of things unfolding, but Starr only had four words. “16 Carat Gold. WALTER.” Considering he’s never beaten WALTER, this is either going to be kill or cure in the first round of the tournament, as WALTER just dismissed Starr… who may have made a new enemy in Veit Müller here.

Da Mack vs. Lucky Kid
Some 20 months after losing the loser-leaves-town match to Bobby Gunns, Da Mack’s back in Hamburg, with that ban lifted so Lucky Kid could get retribution on Mack costing him his Shotgun title match here back in November.

Unsurprisingly, Hamburg were behind Lucky Kid, who came out all guns blazing early on, trying to get under Mack’s skin with some good old-fashioned leg hugging! A couple of low dropkicks also work, before Lucky faked out a dive… then got spat on by Da Mack. Cue anger, as Lucky struck back with the cricket chop and some body blows before Mack tripped Lucky to the outside and kicked him off of the apron. Back inside, Mack keeps up on Lucky with some double-handed chops, before Lucky fought out of a butterfly suplex… only to get taken down to the mat for a PK that gets barely a one-count. Lucky again tries to fight back with body blows, but Mack avoids a boot before he clotheslined Lucky for a near-fall. More chops from Mack just enrage Lucky, who runs into another clothesline as the former RISE member maintained his momentum, shrugging off Lucky’s forearms before he ducked an enziguiri… only to get taken down with some headscissors.

Lucky’s able to flip out of a German suplex as he followed back with a handspring back elbow and a bodyslam as he began to chain together some offence. Mack backdrops away a powerbomb attempt, but ends up coming back with a springboard sunset bomb after catching Lucky in the corner. From there, Mack looked for an Unprettier, but Lucky slips out and followed in with a Ligerbomb for a near-fall, before he teed up for another headscissor takedown… but Mack just throws him off. A Mack Attack’s blocked as Mack instead hits a Mack Magic cutter as Lucky was on the middle rope… but it still wasn’t enough as Mack comes back with some knee strikes. He kicked out of a flash roll-up from Lucky, who tried to end things in a hurry, only for Mack to keep up with the body blows. Mack tries to leap into Lucky in the corner, but he crashed and burned to the outside and into the path of a tope con giro! Lucky keeps up with a dropkick to the back before a La Mistica into the Lion’s Cage crossface which forced the ref stoppage as Mack passed out in the hold! Notably, that wasn’t a submission, but a ref stoppage as Lucky Kid exorcised Da Mack – and has a little steam behind him going into Carat next month. This was alright, but you got the sense Hamburg weren’t fully on board – perhaps an example of a feud that’d have been bolstered if Shotgun were still around. ***¼

Bobby Gunns & Ilja Dragunov vs. Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani
The stipulations of this match were simple: Bobby Gunns and Marius al-Ani picked a partner; and if their team won, they’d get a shot at Absolute Andy on the “mitte-Samstag” main event of 16 Carat Gold weekend.

On a side-note, Bobby Gunns’ unbeaten record in Hamburg would stretch to over two years if he avoided defeat here…

Before the bell, al-Ani clotheslined Gunns to the outside, but we didn’t start with a crowd brawl like last time, as instead Ilja began to light up Marius with a series of chops, only for al-Ani to hit back with an ankle lock as he tried to force an early submission. Dragunov rolled through, only to get tossed outside… from where he returned with a thunderous clothesline and a back senton for the Shotgun champion. Another back senton keeps Marius down, but Andy drags Ilja outside before Bobby Gunns joined Andy in the ring… and I guess tags aren’t a thing right now, as Tassilo Jung just watched them exchange uppercuts for fun. Clotheslines follow, as Andy and Gunns roared at each other, only for the legal men to pull them outside so they could renew their focus on each other. Another trip sees the four outside again, this time brawling in the crowd as Ilja and Marius chopped each other in the crowd, before Bobby Gunns got involved. Yeah, it’s getting crowded by the entry way, but at least you’re getting a good tour of the Markthalle if you’ve never been!

The former A4 combine to hold Gunns for an uppercut, just as Ilja staggered back into play to throw Andy into the ring post, before he and Bobby began to double-team Marius in the ring, scoring with a pair of low dropkicks. Andy comes in to try and score a double chokeslam, but the grip’s reversed as Ilja decks him with a backhanded chop… with Andy quickly returning the favours as he proceeded to dump Gunns with a spinebuster that another AA would be proud of. Picking up on the distraction, Ilja goes back to Andy with chops before Andy kicked away a 619-like rope swivel that left Ilja awkwardly dumped on his head, allowing Marius to look to claim a count-out win… except Gunns rolled in to provide a distraction to break up the count, giving Ilja more time to recover. A dropkick takes Ilja straight back outside, almost via a Gunns tag, as the former A4 clearly looked to target the former champion after that awkward landing. A double-team back elbow drops Ilja to the mat, but he’s back with some slaps to Andy as the pair went tit-for tat once more.

A rear naked choke from al-Ani to Dragunov’s quickly broken up with a Saito suplex… but Andy pulls Gunns off the apron to keep Ilja in there a little while longer… before he monstered up from a clothesline and finally tagged in the house of fire that was Bobby Gunns. Uppercuts from corner-to-corner keep the former tag team champions on the back foot, before a Saito suplex dropped al-Ani… only for Andy to block one that headed this way. Gunns manages to get back on top and bring Ilja back in, with Dragunov dropkicking Andy back to the floor before he blasted Marius with clotheslines in the corner, then a nice swivel lariat in the middle of the ring! A slam from Gunns leaves Marius prone for a back senton off the top rope, almost ending the match there and then, only for Andy to return with a double lariat as he had to take control of the match all by himself.

A stalling suplex from Andy drops Ilja as Marius was still dazed on the top turnbuckle, before a blind tag meant that Andy’s F5 to Ilja was for nought, as Gunns came in with an attempted Swish armbar. Marius breaks that up with a frog splash though, before Ilja came back to try and clothesline his way through Andy… which barely budged the champion, who eventually hit back with a dazing chop to Dragunov. A 619 swivel’s next as Ilja responds with the Konstantin Spezial lariat, before a Torpedo Moscau sent Andy sailing to the outside. Marius tries to take advantage, catching Ilja with a sunset flip, kip up and an Exploder… but Dragunov’s back to his feet with a lariat as Gunns returned to the fray, using another Saito suplex as he looked for a double armbar, leaving Marius wide open for some chops from Ilja. In the middle of that, the bell rings… but nobody tapped – it was Absolute Andy playing silly buggers.

In the confusion, Marius scored a near-fall with an O’Connor roll on Gunns, then tried to get the win with an ankle lock, before Gunns countered the kip-up/Exploder with a Swish armbar, while Andy was kept restrained with a crossface from Dragunov… only for Andy to stand up and F5 Ilja onto the pile to break that up! Andy tags back in after all that, looking to pick apart Ilja one more time as they set up for the old A4 splash to the back… but Gunns tries to catch them with a stacked-up German suplex, which gets triggered with a 619 from Dragunov! A tope from Ilja takes out al-Ani outside, before Gunns slips out of an F5… then jack-knifes his way out of the A-Klasse to score the pin! Bobby Gunns pins the champion to book his spot at the 16 Carat Gold mitte-Samstag main event… leaving Absolute Andy in shock. A magnificent main event, even if you couldn’t deal with the issue of “why would Ilja help Bobby Gunns to a title shot?”… but the one looming question I can’t ignore: is Vinny Vortex there to help or hinder his brother? ***½

Post-match, Gunns stopped a cheapshot from Andy in its tracks as he vowed to retire the Eagle and take his title… which prompted Andy to superkick Vinny before running away to end the show.

One of the last stops before 16 Carat Gold, Dead End was a fun show from top to bottom – with that WALTER vs. Veit Müller match in the middle stealing the show nicely. While the bulk of the focus is understandably on tying up loose ends and setting up stuff for 16 Carat Gold, there’s still little seeds being thrown out for the future. Yeah, you can look at the WALTER/Starr match that some may say will be the night that David Starr finally defeats Goliath, but don’t look too far behind that little hint with Veit that came – especially if things with RINGKAMPF don’t go to plan.

There’s one more stop before 16 Carat Gold – and that’s the Road to 16 Carat show from Bielefeld that drops next Sunday. We’ll have our review up before 16 Carat Gold (since we’re out of town next week), but rest assured – we’ll be in Oberhausen in a little over two weeks for the biggest tournament in Europe!