Two spots for March’s 16 Carat Gold were up for grabs as a hot crowd greeted wXw’s return to London after almost a year away!

A packed house filled the Tufnell Park Dome in London, and we’ve got commentary from Sebastian Hollmichel for Germans… Jeremy Grave’s back for the English, with both men flying solo!

We open with footage from the finish of Back to the Roots’ Käfigschlacht, where Tarkan Aslan tapped out and lost the rights to the RISE name. That bleeds into Lucky Kid celebrating with Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev, but he’s only 99% percent happy… and I can only assume it’s because of the Shotgun title. Cue the titles, which are the old Shotgun titles set to the 16 Carat Gold theme… and first, more footage from after Back to the Roots as a dishevelled Tarkan Aslan muses over his side’s loss. Hey, he’s wearing a RISE tracksuit he’s not allowed to wear anymore. Tellingly, both Mack and Marius walk off, leaving Tarkan on his own, as they don’t want any part of failure. Glory supporters, eh?

That bled into a recap of Marius al-Ani (and Nick Hein) helping Absolute Andy retain the wXw title over Ilja Dragunov in the Käfigschlacht. We’ve a promo from Andy, Marius and “Sergeant” Nick Hein, as Thommy Giesen asks Andy to explain what happened. Nick finds new ways to be annoying as Andy talks about the “Hollywood spectacular” they played out, as it seemed that Nick Hein was in cahoots all along with him. After Nick left, Marius finally spoke, as he challenged Andy for a shot at the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship.

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block A Semi Final: Mark Davis vs. Oliver Carter
The live show was all about a pair of tournaments to get into 16 Carat Gold – with two spots up for grabs.

Mark Davis was the heavy favourite in London, but Oliver Carter was smart to him early on, avoiding a high five at the bell before he escaped a wristlock… only to see his headlock get easily taken into the corner as Davis finally got his high five! Carter flips around some more, and takes Davis to the outside with a ‘rana before a dive’s stopped… with Carter flipping to the floor, and into the path of a boot from Davis, who threw him back inside. Carter sneaks in a superkick for a two-count, but Davis responds by sending him skywards with a flapjack before busting out some chops. The squeals from the crowd suited the loudness of those strikes, as Carter was then caught in a Gory stretch, which he then countered into a sunset flip for a near-fall. Davis’ response? A crushing back senton for a near-fall, that was captured in this excellent photo…

Davis keeps up the heavy hits with a big boot to Carter, following up with chop/clothesline combos as the pair traded some more until a Pele kick from Carter sent Davis back outside. Now we get our dive, with a tope sending Davis backwards, before a double jump crossbody almost went awry as Carter managed to take down Davis for a near-fall.

An O’Connor roll keeps the momentum going, as does a crucifix out of a Gold Coast Waterslide as Davis tries to finish off Carter with a pull-up piledriver… only for the Ghanaian to frustrate him even more. Uppercuts into the corner catch Davis, who takes another ‘rana as Carter countered the sit-down splash… and then followed in with a 450 splash off the top to almost capture the upset! A simple punch from Davis, then a sliding punch into the corner turned the tables with some gusto, before the Gold Coast Waterslide proved to be enough for the W. I was pleasantly surprised by Carter, who wowed quite a few people live… and hopefully that leads to more bookings for him here (or at least, an increased presence in wXw). ***½

More Back to the Roots footage airs, as we see Veit Müller losing to a small package from Jay Skillet, before we’re taken to Jay-FK backstage. They’re looking to build on their win “over WALTER” by both of them getting into 16 Carat Gold… oh, and winning their tag titles back at Dead End in Hamburg. That segues into WALTER berating Veit backstage, as he felt embarrassed taking a loss when the eyes of the world were on him. They get into a shoving match, with Veit not backing down… which led to a challenge from Müller to face WALTER at Dead End. Oh man.

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block A Semi Final: Francis Kaspin vs. Ivan Kiev
The crowd were perhaps a little less familiar with these two guys, and that told in the early stages as we got “polite” responses as Ivan Kiev tried the spectacular early on.

Kaspin cuts him off with a backslide for a two-count as they kept up a hot pace, with Kiev’s La Magistral being sat down on before Kiev rolled to the outside. Kiev follows him out, and avoids an elbow drop before Kaspin charged him into the rope as the former tag team champion followed in with a cross chop to the throat. Kiev tries to charge at Kaspin in the corner, but instead gets lifted onto the apron before his forearm was replied to with a much more solid one from Kaspin. Wash, rinse, repeat, as Kiev finally connects with a kick before Kaspin pulled him into a snap Dragon suplex. Both men end up on the apron, with Kiev taking a suplex onto the edge of the ring for good measure, eventually getting Kaspin a near-fall after they rolled back into the ring.

Kaspin begins to rage at some of the crowd, who responded with a very English chant… and it distracted him as a superplex is avoided, with Kiev flying in with a leg lariat off the top to fold him in half. Another boot into the corner from Kiev led to the Naito Combinacion Cabron dropkick and a cannonball for a near-fall, with Kaspin grabbing the rope to keep him alive. A Pele kick from Kiev keeps him ahead, before Jay Skillet appeared in the aisle… giving Kaspin time to dislodge a turnbuckle pad, which he took Kiev into with a drop toe hold for the win. Eh, the story for this was fine, but the crowd weren’t into it much. Still, Jay-FK working together by hook or by crook seemed to be a winning combination. For now. **½

More recaps show us how Melanie Gray lost at Back to the Roots – therefore exiling her from wXw. Backstage, Killer Kelly tries to console her, as Gray perhaps wished she’d done things differently. Toni Storm comes in to gloat, with Kelly not exactly approving. Are they turning Toni?

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block B Semi Final: Julian Pace vs. Shigehiro Irie
If only I could find out what Irie’s music is… I tried to Google it at the show, but forgot to save the result. Ah well…

London were more than happy to see Julian Pace, even if it came with the slight risk of him getting pounced out of the ring. Irie shoves Pace away early on, prompting Pace to fight back as he looked to work Irie’s wrist… except there’s no dice there as Irie just swings him free from a wristlock. Power beating Pace, so far. Julian’s back with a side headlock, but his attempt at an armdrag’s stopped as he needs to springboard it to take Irie down off his feet. Pace tries to go Vollgas, but Irie puts on the brakes, before he just pounces him into the god damned ropes! Irie keeps on top of Pace with some forearms, and shrugs off Pace’s response before an elbow dropped Julian with ease.

A suplex drops Pace for a near-fall, as does a powerslam and an Earthquake sit-down splash… Pace tries to fight back, but some body blows don’t do the trick… so Pace hits a palm strike instead. Then gets the mother of all death stares from Irie, who can’t quite hit back, as Pace crossed himself and ran in with more forearms, before a flying forearm finally took Shigehiro down! A Code Red’s next for a near-fall from Pace, before a tornado DDT took Irie outside. Topes keep him there, with a tope con giro wiping out the former DDT star. Pace rolls him back inside and picks up a two-count, before another attempt at going Vollgas ended with Pace almost winning with a small package. He doesn’t keep up on Irie though, as more Vollgas ended with a brutal Beast Bomber that sent Pace flying all over the place as Irie took the win. Pace versus Power… sadly, Power won, but Julian gave it his best shot as nobody really lost here. ***¼

We’re back with Toni Storm quizzing Killer Kelly… it seems Toni’s getting rather stuck up because her friend felt pity for Melanie Gray. Toni pulls the “who the hell do you think you are?” card on Kelly, and I’m rather liking this different outlook from Storm. It’s a new character, and a refreshing change.

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block B Semi Final: Jay Skillet vs. Kyle Fletcher
Our final semi-final sees the other half of Jay-FK try and make it into the finals… and of course, being in the same city that Fulham play in, we got the Schürrle chants.

Fletcher charges Skillet into the corner from the bell, before he slapped a rather annoyed Skillet… who returned the favour. Except this time, Fletcher didn’t moan, he just chopped him. Skillet replies to the Schürlle stuff with a headlock, asking “can Schürlle do that??”… just as Kyle escaped. Shoulder tackles follow, with Kyle again taking Skillet down as he followed in with more chops to keep the other former tag champion in the corners.

Skillet and Fletcher fight over a suplex, but Kyle overpowers him and lands the suplex for a two-count. Fletcher’s caught in the ropes and pulled off into the turnbuckle as Skillet found his way back in. Kyle timed his comeback to the crowd’s chants of “Aussie Aussie Aussie”, but it’s quickly snuffed out as Skillet lands a knee and gets a two-count out of it. The back-and-forth continued as Fletcher caught Skillet off the topes with a Michinoku driver-style backbreaker, before he kicked away Jay’s legs en route to some more kicks in the corner. A Miz-like clothesline through the corner’s next, before a crossbody off the top nearly got Kyle the win. Skillet slips out of a lawn dart as he mounted another comeback, stomping and superkicking Kyle for a two-count, before a battle of superkicks led to Fletcher landing a big clothesline and a Ligerbomb for a two-count!

Another crack at the lawn dart this time connected, as Francis Kaspin came down for a distraction… he drops Kyle across the top rope, but Skillet couldn’t capitalise, as his small package gets reversed for the win! Well then! That’s both halves of Aussie Open in with a shot of making it to Carat after a keenly-fought contest which proved that cheating doesn’t always pay. Especially not for Jay. ***¼

Backstage, Ilja Dragunov is with David Starr on the same sofa, giving Starr a bit of a pep talk. Ilja called Starr a world champion because of the decisions he’s taking, and my God, considering English isn’t his first language, this is a hell of a promo from Dragunov.

Lucky Kid vs. Chris Brookes vs. Bobby Gunns vs. Timothy Thatcher vs. Ilja Dragunov
This was originally meant to be a trios match, with (I guess) Ilja being the mystery man for Team wXw… but an injury to Kid Lykos meant that they gave away the announcement and turned this match into a banger of a multi-man match.

The early stories centred around Chris Brookes, whose, erm, promiscuity with tag team partners left him in a pickle as Lucky Kid was besotted with him… except Chris only had eyes for Timothy Thatcher. Which thoroughly upset Lucky, and was of uttermost benefit to Brookes, who just stood in the corner and watched them fight for his affections.

Oh yeah, and we got a second go around of Gunns, Bobby Gunns/Ilja. The fight for Brookes’ heart stopped as Thatcher hit the ring, with the pair looking to make an alliance as Lucky Kid came in and showed his jealousy, attacking Thatcher, only for Brookes to come in with a springboard stomp as Chris made his proverbial bed. Ilja comes in with a chop from the apron to Brookes, who just walks out and lets Timothy Thatcher enjoy the sadist delights… except Brookes ran into the path of an abdominal stretch by Gunns as he tried to watch Dragunov and Thatcher light each other up.

Dragunov boots Thatcher to the outside as Bobby Gunns tried his luck, sending Ilja onto the apron before he caught him with a Saito suplex. A diving European uppercut’s next for Gunns, as the revolving door effect brought in Lucky Kid, who tripped Gunns with a pair of low dropkicks, sending him outside before… Chris Brookes tripped Lucky to stop the dive. Boo that man! Ilja tries his luck with a dive too, but Gunns uppercuts it away before returning to the ring as Thatcher knocked him down with an uppercut of his own. Thatcher… teases a dive?! He gets a nosebleed by climbing to the top rope, only for Ilja to knock him down with a chop as he went on to get slapped off the top rope himself, leading to a nasty spill to the floor.

Lucky’s back to confront the man who stole Chris Brookes’ heart… but a chop wasn’t going to do it, as Thatcher weathered the storm and tried to goozle/slap him… only to have to make do with a single leg crab after he caught a missile dropkick from Lucky Kid, before things broke down into a chain of submissions, ending when Ilja… wondered what hold he could do, before he decided that chops were the answer. They’re always the answer. Ilja’s got to fight out of a superplex next, which somehow turned into a tower of doom as the Russian went flying anyway, before he recovered with a back senton to squash Gunns and Lucky Kid as the pace quickened. Lucky Kid avoids a 619 from Ilja and lands an Asai DDT as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with an enziguiri from Thatcher to Gunns. Bobby’s got to block another Asai DDT, this time on the apron, as he then stomped on Lucky’s upper arm… only for Brookes to pick Bobby off the apron and send him into a Thatcher uppercut, as a tope from Dragunov led to an Arabian press from Lucky into the pile!

Back inside, Lucky connects with his missile dropkick to Thatcher, before a La Mistica took him into a crossface on Thatcher… Brookes breaks it up, but Lucky likes his chops, and replies in kind before a handspring elbow’s caught. Brookes tries to snatch a win on Thatcher with a roll-up, but it doesn’t work as he now gets the stare of death from his former tag partner, who told him that the attempt to cheat was for nought because he’s “already in the tournament”!

We’re back to Ilja and Bobby laying into each other with uppercuts, but Dragunov edged further ahead with an enziguiri before a Coast to Coast was rudely cut-off, allowing Gunns to hit a German suplex and a diving knee as another breathless series ended with him he catching Brookes in a Swish armbar… only for Thatcher to slap him away. Bobby breaks up a Gojira clutch by going to the fingers of Thatcher, freeing himself ahead of a lariat for a near-fall before a Swish armbar forced Thatcher to tap out. This was breathless, and exquisite. A five-way, all good-guy match could have caused problems, and yeah, it did suffer with the crowd not having a clear favourite to get behind, but regardless, this was a show stealer of a match that got everyone over. ****¼

We’ve footage from Jurn Simmons’ and Avalanche’s double count-out at Back to the Roots, along with the aftermath, as we see Avalanche confront referee Rainer Ringer backstage. Ringer tries to explain that he was only doing his job, so Avalanche tells him he’s challenged Jurn to a match in Bielefeld on February 16 – with no count outs possible. So Rainer can count to 1,000 if he wants to!

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block A Final: Mark Davis vs. Francis Kaspin
On the final night of World Tag Team League, Aussie Open lost to Jay-FK, effectively killing their chances of making the final (which Jay-FK eventually won). Can Dunkzilla get some payback?

Well, Kaspin jumps Davis at the bell, taking him into the corner before me was met with the inevitable. A flapjack from Davis helps to turn it around as Kaspin’s sent packing… except Davis followed him around the venue, chopping Kaspin as he goes, before they headed back to the ring, where Davis looked for a superplex, only for Kaspin to rake the eyes and drop Davis arm-first across the top rope. That gave Kaspin something to aim for, as he wrapped Davis’ arm around the top rope which compromised Davis’ chopping arm. An arm whip takes the Australian down to the mat, where Kaspin follows in with a hammerlock to increase the pressure, then with a chinlock that Davis broke up by backing into the corner… except Kaspin just stays on the arm with another kick.

Still, Davis was able to use it to slap Kaspin silly in the corner, only for a charging forearm to end as Kaspin ducked and rolled up Davis for a two-count. A kick to the arm keeps Davis on the back foot, albeit briefly, as Davis found the strength to unload with clothesline/chops – even if the frequency were reduced because of the arm damage. Davis is able to keep the upper hand, but an attempt at the Gold Coast Waterslide’s slipped out of as Kaspin heads up and nails a missile dropkick to get back on top. Except it quickly flips back around as Davis took him back into the corner for a sliding punch for a near-fall, before an attempt at the Gold Coast Waterslide ends again, with Kaspin sliding out and into a mounted keylock. What the what?! Davis escaped, but nearly lost to an O’Connor roll as Kaspin had his feet on the ropes… and you had a feeling that was about his only chance, especially when a back cracker in the ropes was followed up by a springboard that Davis punched away.

An attempt at the pull-up piledriver’s stopped when Jay Skillet runs out… he distracts Davis on the apron, allowing Kaspin to fiddle with a turnbuckle pad. Davis looked to charge into it, but instead, realising the turnbuckle wasn’t exposed, directed the referee to repair it… which gave Kaspin the cover to hit a low blow behind the ref’s back! Skillet comes into the ring to try and interfere some more, but he’s cut off by Kyle Fletcher, who superkicks him away before a Gold Coast Waterslide from Davis finally put away Kaspin. Dunkzilla’s going to Oberhausen – and save for a weird finishing stretch, this was pretty good stuff. My God, Carat’s looking beefy, isn’t it? ***¼

After the match, Skillet ate a double-team Go To Sleep, while Kaspin was fed for a Fidget Spinner to send Jay-FK packing with their tails between their legs.

Well, since Kyle Fletcher was already out, we may as well go to the other final, eh?

Road To 16 Carat Gold 2019 Block B Final: Kyle Fletcher vs. Shigehiro Irie
Could Kyle make it a night to remember for Aussie Open, or would Shigehiro Irie keep the big lads theme going?

Well, the Heavyweight Kyle started by taking Irie into the ropes for a clean break, before Irie saw his wristlock was rolled out of as Kyle instead grabbed a toe-hold as neither man could take an early advantage. Shoulder tackles didn’t have much more effect, at least until Kyle surprised Irie… except he couldn’t get anything out of the pinfall attempt.

Fletcher keeps up with some boots to Irie, as he proceeded to stomp him in the corner for just a one-count, before Irie fought back, taking Kyle down with a bulldog ahead of a slingshot splash for a near-fall. There’s a naughty sheer-drop brainbuster moments later that spiked Kyle for a two-count, before a katahajime forces Kyle to roll and reach for a rope break. Irie picks up Fletcher for another series of elbows to the head, but Fletcher just stands up through them before his limbs get caught ahead of an Irie headbutt. Kyle manages to counter a Beast Bomber into a Michinoku driver, before he began to trade elbows once more with Irie, weakening the Osaka native enough for Kyle to consider trying a lawn dart… but in the end, he runs into a Beast Bomber for a near-fall!

Irie tries to catch Kyle with a cannonball, which misses as Fletcher finally lands the lawn dart for a near-fall, before Kyle ended up taking that cannonball anyway as Irie folllowed in with a death valley driver and another cannonball, before polishing him off with a Beast Bomber to book his ticket to Oberhausen! It was a brave effort from Fletcher, who came so close… but in the end it wasn’t to be as his lack of heavyweight experience meant that he just about came up short in this war. ***¾

We’re backstage as we see Lucky Kid talking to Felix Kohlenberg. I think this is one of the first times he’s been used as some sort of on-screen authority character on wXw, as Lucky tries to talk Felix into letting Da Mack wrestle in Hamburg. Of course, Da Mack’s not allowed to wrestle in Hamburg after losing to Bobby Gunns back in June 2017, but they overturn that so Lucky Kid can get revenge on the man who cost him his last shot at the Shotgun title in November. Yeah, I’m a little annoyed we didn’t get a Bobby Gunns on-screen bit to at least have him “allow” Da Mack to wrestle in Hamburg (even if it were in the vein of “he’s in my past, he can do what he wants”).

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: David Starr vs. Absolute Andy (c)
Originally slated to get this shot at the 18th Anniversary show, Starr’s shoulder injury meant that it got delayed to London… which is about as close as wXw is likely to come to his new hometown!

Andy powders to the outside from the off, trying to get under Starr’s skin… but it didn’t work as Starr went for an armbar early, with Andy scurrying away and into the ropes. He followed that up with a toe-hold that again has Andy hollering and into the ropes, claiming that Starr “pulled his hair”. Erm, about that Andy…

A shoving match broke out as Starr went for shoulder tackles, eventually succeeding before he had to slip out of a F5 then avoid a superkick as Andy just about got under that rope and away from Starr’s charge. Back in the ring, a chop battle rang around the Dome, with both men sending clouds of sweat flying before Starr ended up leaping into a spinebuster for a near-fall. Andy thumbs Starr’s nose, then spits on him as he just angered his challenger into charging him into the corner, following up with a back body drop that had Andy again headed to the outside. Starr tried to follow him outside, but Andy used a heckler as a human shield before he went for a walk around the crowd so he could grab his title belt and walk away. Oh dear. Tassilo Jung refused to count him out though and even held the ropes open for David Starr to join him. I love how Tass (and the wXw referees in general) don’t take any crap like that!

Anyway, Starr joined Andy on the stage and was cracked with a superkick for his troubles, before Andy threw Starr backstage so he could try another way to win by count-out… except Starr dove in in the nick of time. Not to be outdone. Andy keeps up the pressure with a big suplex before a sleeperhold tried to force Starr to sleep. When Starr fought out, Andy looked for a F5, but Starr lands on his feet and instead caught Andy with a superkick to turn the tables. With Starr and Andy on their knees, they traded more strikes, quickly upgrading to chops, before another F5 ended with Starr wriggling onto the apron ahead of a Cherry Mint DDT to Andy. A top rope elbow’s next for a near-fall, but an Andy-canrana surprises us all as Starr’s sent outside, before the Eagle tried to fly, only for him to get met with a tope from Starr! Back inside, Starr manages to catch Andy with a pair of Han Stansens, but Andy’s up just in the nick of time, prompting Starr to head up top to try and find a death blow…

But he’s caught with an avalanche belly-to-belly instead as the tables turn again. Andy heads up next for an elbow off the top, but Starr kicks out and counters with a crucifix for a near-fall before he rolled into a crossface. Could he shock Andy? Nah, Andy got a foot pretty quickly onto the rope to force a break. Andy’s superkick almost takes out Tassilo Jung, but at the second try he lands it on Starr for a 2.999 count, before Starr slipped out of another F5 attempt… only to get elbowed to doom. An attempt at the A-Klasse’s next, but Starr slips out and almost lariats Tass as a F5 finally landed for a near-fall as commentary sensed that both men were reaching the equivalent of sudden death penalties. Andy heads up again and misses a moonsault, allowing Starr to rush in with a Han Stansen and a brutal Blackheart Buster for a near-fall… and THAT had the Dome biting!

Another crossface ends in the ropes as Starr measured up for that big finish… but an attempt at a Trapped Arm Bob Fossil piledriver’s countered with a back body drop and a superkick from Andy. The champion tries to sneakily go for the ring bell, but everyone catches him… including Tass, who disarmed him, and missed Starr using the belt to lay out Andy for another two-count! One more crossface followed, but Andy stands up… and F5’s himself back into a crossface! The crowd’s gone beyond electric as they bayed for Starr to win… but once more, Andy gets a foot to the rope!

Andy tries to beg off, but Starr does the Stone Cold middle fingers before he punched out Andy, who tried for a low blow. Starr gets lifted onto the apron, then gets caught on the top rope as an avalanche F5 proved to be too much for the Product to withstand, as Andy, by hook or by crook, escaped with the title. A fantastic title defence that saw both men give it their all – and in my opinion, perhaps solidified Starr as a definite future wXw champion. Perhaps he has one big roadblock to get through before then. An Austrian one… ****¼

Andy couldn’t celebrate too quickly though, as he was interrupted by the music of Bobby Gunns! Gunns, who won that five-way earlier in the night, took Andy’s belt and held it on his shoulder before a brief shoving match sent Andy to the back.

Gunns did the belt motion and celebrated with the crowd to end the live show, and send them happy… before we finished with a backstage promo from Marius al-Ani, who was still angling for his champion vs. champion main event at 16 Carat Gold. Thommy Giesen tells us that at Dead End we’ll be getting Bobby Gunns and a mystery partner against al-Ani and Absolute Andy. A choice of partner that annoyed the Shotgun champion, who thought his A4 days were behind him, until he’s told that the winner of that match will end up in the “mitte Samstag” main event.

There’s one more bit… Absolute Andy is backstage on his phone. Bobby Gunns rudely interrupts, reminding him that since he’s beaten Shigehiro Irie and won that 5-way in London, he’s next for the title. He breaks the news of the Hamburg match, with Bobby picking Ilja Dragunov as his partner, while the show ends on Andy having another mini meltdown over his future as champion.

We’ll try not to get too political here, but with the elephant in the room that is Brexit, this could be wXw’s final show in the UK for a long time. Yay politics. Sticking to the good stuff, the wrestling, and this was a fun show from top to bottom for wXw. With the presence of the Road to 16 Carat Gold tournaments, this was a show that had repercussions outside of the show, and was treated as such by the crowd. These were more than just good matches, there were good matches that had a pay-off for those who’ll be making the trip to Oberhausen in March (or just those waiting for the VOD to drop a few days later!) If you’re absolutely pushed for time, watch the final four matches on the show, as the five-way, the tournament finals and the title main event all offered something different that will please just about every kind of fan.

The best thing about wXw right now is that no matter how closely you’re watching the product, whether it’s catching every show and all of the backstage segments, or whether you’re just reading results or reviews, there’s at least hints of direction in the right places – without it seeming too obvious or telegraphed. The record of consistency in wXw continues – long may it continue into Carat… and beyond!