It’s the evening before Carat, as 100 fans descended on Gelsenkirchen for the Inner Circle!

Quick Results
Peter Tihanyi submitted Anil Marik in 8:51 (***)
Massimo Pesca pinned Alex Duke in 7:54 (**½)
Mike D Vecchio pinned Jaden Newman in 8:59 (***¼)
Ava Everett, Jacob Crane & Yuval Goldshmit pinned Psycho Mike, B3CCA & Danny Fray in 12:07 (**¾)
Shigehiro Irie pinned Elijah Blum in 10:18 (***¼)
Thomas Shire pinned Gulyas Jr. in 7:05 (***)
Tristan Archer pinned Vaughan Vertigo in 13:45 (***)
Fuminori Abe submitted Adam Priest in 10:47 (***)

— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to – it’s now been moved over to YouTube after wXw left Vimeo’s platform, so you’ll need to sign-up…

The traditional curtain-raiser to any festival weekend, Inner Circle was… quite the trip live, and that’s just the whole “walking from the train station to the venue, almost lost in torrential rain.” If it weren’t for the positive covid test back in the UK, I’d have blamed that walk on a cold…

Anyways, we’re coming from the wXw Wrestling Academy in Gelsenkirchen, with Mett Dimassi and Dave Bradshaw live in studio…

Peter Tihanyi vs. Anil Marik
Marik’s been in woeful form since his return from injury… and we’ve got Yuki Lee refereeing here, as she’d be taking charge of several matches across the weekend.

The opening lock-up was spirited, with Tihanyi eventually rolling Marik into the ropes ahead of a headlock takedown that saw Tihanyi remain on the deck. Tihanyi keeps the side headlock on, then scored with a pinning attempt after Marik managed to push him off… Marik, so far, continuing to be rather luckless here. A roll-up from Tihanyi keeps the Hungarian on top, before Marik finally found a way through with a wristlock. Except Tihanyi countered out with headscissors as the pair went tit-for-tat on the mat, before armdrags put Tihanyi back in front. Marik’s able to charge into the corner to force a break, before he… ran into another armdrag as Tihanyi looked to be schooling him.

A forearm from Marik sinks Tihanyi, before Marik followed up with a back suplex… the pair trade chops in the corner, with Tihanyi’s being ever-so-slightly louder, before a series of forearms, then an enziguri dropped Marik. Tihanyi comes close to the win with a swinging DDT, before he chopped away Marik’s attempt at a superplex. Tihanyi aborts a 450 splash, but came back with a leaping knee… then snatched in a rear naked choke for the submission. A pretty comprehensive win for Tihanyi, as Anil Marik still looks to put things together after injury. ***

Alex Duke vs. Massimo Pesca
Duke was a late substitute for Maria de la Rosa – although with none of the Inner Circle card announced, nobody was any the wiser!

Both men are pretty new to the wXw roster, with Pesca having an annoyingly-head-bobbing theme that I struggle to get out of my head. We got going with Duke grounding Pesca with some headscissors, before a side headlock was pushed off… only for Duke to charge down Pesca. A pair of springboard armdrags from Pesca led to a ‘rana on Duke, then a back body drop… only for Duke to hotshot Pesca ahead of a sit-out front suplex for a two-count. Duke’s chinlock grounds Pesca, who’s choked on in the corner then met with a clothesline for a two-count.

Pesca takes the long way around to a wacky backslide, only for Duke to kick out and level him with a clothesline moments later. A twisting brainbuster keeps Duke ahead, only for him to run into a death valley driver moments later. Pesca adds a dropkick, taking Duke outside for a tope, before a missile dropkick back in nearly won things. Duke fights off a Pegasus Ride… but couldn’t avoid the springboard bulldog at the second attempt, nor a Code Red… but Duke’s able to kick out at two. An eye rake saves Duke from a death valley driver, as he returned fire with a ripcord knee and what looked like a tombstone attempt… only for Pesca to roll out and snatch the win with a jackknife. **½

Jaden Newman vs. Mike D Vecchio
Mike D was replacing Jurn Simmons in the Carat tournament, and was making his main roster debut here – unless you want to count some comic con shows he worked back in 2021.

Jaden Newman wasn’t exactly thrilled with how the crowd took to Mike D, nor with how he was thrown around the ring with ease in the early going. A knee to the midsection works, but Newman’s quickly clotheslined outside as a tope from Mike wipes him out… while a springboard crossbody back in almost won it. A back elbow to Newman leaves him groggy in the corner ahead of a Biel throw across the ring. Mike’s stalling suplex from the apron in continues to have Newman rocked, but Jaden finds a way through with some misdirection ahead of a uranage from the apron. Problem was, it barely got him a one-count.

Running double knees into the corner from Newman followed as he dragged Mike D out for a two-count. Shoulder charges in the corner, then a double wristlock from Newman looked to keep him in control, but Mike D punches free, only to run into a Cobra twist. Mike D gets free and manages to catch Newman with a running back suplex out of the corner… then a flying elbow drop for a two-count, before Newman escaped a gutwrench and scored with a tiltawhirl DDT. A wacky powerslam off the ropes nearly snatches a win for Newman, who then leapt off the middle rope… into a powerslam. Mike D adds a pair of gutwrench powerbombs, and that’s how you make a mark on day one, my friends. A tonne of credit to Newman for making Mike D look immense here – as a lot of the 100 fans in attendance found themselves a new favourite. ***¼

Ava Everett, Jacob Crane & Yuval Goldshmit vs. B3CCA, Danny Fray & Psycho Mike
The story going in, of course, was Jacob Crane’s aversion to bodyslams… as we got the first big Psycho Mike pop of the weekend.

Goldshmit and Fray start us off with shoulder tackles, but Fray wins out on that battle ahead of a spinning sidewalk slam for an early two-count. Crane tags in, as did B3CCA, with the latter landing a springboard armdrag and a single-leg dropkick… only to get met with a roll-up for a two-count. Another dropkick downs Crane, who’s then picked up for a Samoan drop… before he tagged out to Ava Everett. I’ve not missed those shrill tones. B3CCA opts to go nuclear and tagged in Mike, with the pair going for a Test of Strength… which took Mike down to his knees ahead of him just snapping back with a bodyslam. Gelsenkirchen’s an easy crowd, eh?

Mike bemoaned that it wasn’t the same as before… so he picked up Ava and made her tag in Jacob Crane… who instantly tagged in Goldshmit, who of course took the bodyslam. Crane’s back in, and threw away a €5 note Mike was willing to give him for a bodyslam, because you know, inflation. Mike pulls a €20 out of his crotch, but that’s also thrown aside… before he charged at Crane into the ropes in the search for a bodyslam. An upset Mike can’t do his bodyslam, so we get tags out to B3CCA and Danny Fray, who combine for a stalling Fray suplex. Goldshmit sneaks in a cheapshot as the match turned around, before Crane came in to put the boots to Fray… who fights out of the corner, clotheslining Goldshmit away ahead of a tag out to B3CCA.

B3CCA’s overhead kick and German suplex led to her booting down Goldshmit ahead of a trip up top… but Ava pushes her down as Yuval picked up a two-count. Crane tags back in to stomp a mudhole in B3CCA, before her attempt at leaping over him was propelled away. An enziguiri from B3CCA got her free, but she has to fight off Everett before bringing Psycho Mike in… and he takes glee in peppering Jacob Crabe with body blows. Crane and Goldshmit are in there against Mike, but aren’t legal… not that it matters as Mike obliterated the pair of them before he teased a bodyslam… but Ava Everett had snuck behind everyone, and came in to snatch a roll-up on Mike for the win. **¾

Elijah Blum vs. Shigehiro Irie
It’s a really big ask for Blum, who’s had a heck of a rookie year in wXw…

Irie took Blum to the corner early on, then to the mat with a waistlock takedown before a hammerlock was reversed. Blum can’t keep the hold on though, as Irie takes him down with a shoulder tackle, before a crossbody from Blum knocked down Irie for a two-count. Blum adds in an armdrag and a dropkick for a two-count, before Irie’s boot led to a slam and a slingshot splash off the ropes. A forearm decks Blum, who’s squashed in the corner with a clothesline before a desperation sunset flip from Blum earned him a sit-down splash for a two-count.

A headbutt from Irie snuffed out another fightback from Blum, who took a Samoan drop for a two-count, before Blum finally scored with a side Russian legsweep. Irie tried to throw a clothesline, but a forearm from Blun, then a swinging neckbreaker kept him on top, while a shotgun dropkick downed Irie for a near-fall. Blum goes for the Parting Gift, but Irie pushed away and hit a Black Hole slam instead for a near-fall… then dragged Blum into the middle of the ring for a big splash off the top. It’s not enough for the win, so Irie goes for a Beast Bomber… but Blum avoids it, only to get knocked into the ropes with a forearm.

More forearms from Irie are exchanged, with Blum adding another shotgun dropkick before a jab, a forearm and an elbow knocked Blum into the corner for a cannonball. That’s good for a near-fall, as Irie then teed up for another Beast Bomber, which this time was enough. A good outing for Irie, with Blum more than holding his own – but the experience levels alone made this a foregone conclusion. ***¼

Gulyas Jr. vs. Thomas Shire
After intermission – and the much-welcomed idea of opening windows for ventilation – we’re back with some big lads’ wrestling.

Shire charges at a napping Gulyas at the bell, meeting him in the corner as the pair exchange forearms… then shoulder tackles, before Gulyas returned with a Cornish hope and some bodyslams. Mike’ll be charging royalties for those. Fighting out of the corner, Gulyas boots Shire away, then followed in with Dusty punches… but Shire wouldn’t go down, and would end up uppercutting away a flying Gulyas. Gulyas gets his eyes raked as commentary spotted his West Ham-themed trunks, before Shire took Gulyas back down for a head-and-arm choke. The pair jockey over a suplex, but Shire opts to boot Gulyas… who returned with a dropkick and some splashes in the corner. A flying forearm keeps the Bull ahead, as Shire’s cornered for a cannonball, before Gulyas’ search for a clothesline earned him a back suplex.

Shire takes Gulyas to the corner, racking him ahead of the UFO spinning slam… and that’s it. A rather sudden ending to a good match – and one I’d love to see them run back at some point. ***

Tristan Archer vs. Vaughn Vertigo
Vertigo’s back at Inner Circle – but with Tristan Archer in Carat proper, this might be a bit of a banana skin for him.

Eventually opening with a lock-up, Archer takes Vertigo to the ropes for a mocking break, before a wristlock from Vertigo was countered in kind. An armbar from Vertigo has Archer down to a knee, but the Frenchman nonchalantly goes to the ropes for a break, as he continued to take the Canadian lightly. Archer’s tripped with a dropdown, then met with a dropkick into the corner as Vertigo pulled further ahead with an Edge-o-Matic. Archer bails out of the way of a knee strike, then caught Vertigo with a hotshot in the ropes before the pair ended up on the apron, exchanging forearms ahead of Archer hanging up Vertigo over the turnbuckle irons.

Staying outside, Archer hits a tiger feint kick to the back of Vertigo, then took things back inside as Archer began to dissect Vertigo. A hiptoss out of the corner gets a delayed two-count, before Vertigo’s crossbody as he looked to fight back… gets caught and turned into a suplex. Irish whips from Archer bounced Vertigo to the mat, before an attempted La Terreur’s countered with a ‘rana from Vertigo. Another attempted V-Knee from Vertigo’s blocked, as he instead had to make do with a dropkick ahead of a tornado DDT out of the corner for a near-fall. Archer avoids a neckbreaker, but couldn’t avoid Vertigo’s take on a Border City Stretch, before he powered out of it.

Archer goes for a Coup d’Etat, but had to make do with a torture rack facebuster into the corner, then a back cracker, before Vertigo escaped another Coup d’Etat. The V-Knee nearly wins it for the Canadian, who heads up top… but took too long as Archer tries for La Terreur instead. It’s countered with a roll-up from Vertigo, who strikes back with forearms before a simple Decapite lariat waffled him ahead of La Terreur and a discus lariat for a near-fall… as a Coup d’Etat finally put Vertigo away. ***

Adam Priest vs. Fuminori Abe
An interesting choice of main event – with Priest slated to defend his ACTION title later in the weekend…

Priest backs off into the corner early on against Abe, who returned with some headscissors on the mat as Priest was forced to headstand his way free. A slap to Abe was explained away, but Priest instead pulls Abe down into an armbar, only for Abe to roll into the mount as he looked to grab Priest’s arm. Abe’s taken into the corner and slapped again as Priest quickly backed off – hoping not to check off the “find out” part of that saying. Ah, nevermind, Abe slaps Priest back, as the pair get into a shoving match… ending with the pair locking up, rolling to the outside… and having a brief scrap in among the crowd.

Back inside, Priest grabs a side headlock and punches Abe in the head, before lawndarting him into the middle turnbuckle. Priest works over Abe’s wrist and fingers briefly, stopping to throw a hammer elbow to the neck, as an armbar keeps things grounded before a key lock ended in the ropes. Abe fires back with a dropkick off the ropes, targeting Priest’s knee, following with a corkscrew kick into the corner… and a PK out of it for a two-count. A snap piledriver from Priest gets a two-count, before a cravat restrained Abe… despite his attempts to roll free. A closed fist to the top of the head gets Abe free, sparking some more back-and-forth strikes before Abe skinned the cat and returned with an Irabu punch.

The pair jockey over a suplex, with Priest winning out for a near-fall… only for Abe to hit back with a dropkick before a bridging Regal-plex almost won it. Abe stays on top with another Irabu punch, before a manjigatame forced the quick stoppage. ***

Inner Circle wasn’t a “bad” show – but if you judge a card by the number of asterisks next to matches, this may not be the show for you. But as a curtain-raiser, this did everything you wanted it to do – easing everyone in ahead of a hectic series of shows in the days ahead.