The path to 16 Carat Gold got a little clearer as two more names fought their way through to March’s premier tournament.

We’re at the Eventhall Airport in Obertraubling, which isn’t an airport – although it is pretty close to an airfield. Obertraubling is in Bavaria, in south-east Germany – somewhere close to Nuremberg and Munich – which is quite a ways out from where wXw have been hitting regularly in recent years! This was the first show wXw had filmed using their shiny new cameras – and we’ve a new commentary team too as Sebastian Hollmichel and Andy Jackson are providing the English language call.

We open with clips from Back to the Roots, featuring David Starr tapping out Norman Harras with a chair, before we’re told about the two mini-tournaments. Eight men fight for two spots at Carat, but first we go backstage as Oliver Carter and Norman Harras are warming up, with Norman bragging about his globetrotting exploits. He and Carter are in the same block: but Harras has Julian Pace first, which led to an awkward moment as Julian caught him running his mouth.

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block A Semi Final: Julian Pace vs. Norman Harras
We’ve the obvious history here, with Harras and the Pretty Bastards… and hey, Thommi Giesen’s seat on the stage sure did look like he was sitting down to play the piano, didn’t it?

We’ve a jump start as Julian Pace dove onto Harras on the outside, before they made it inside to start the match. Only for Pace to clothesline Harras to the outside. Ah well! Chops follow as Harras is taken around ringside, but he sucker punches Pace back inside as the match went back and forth. A springboard crossbody out of the corner sees Pace take Harras down, but he throws punches rather than go for a cover, and he’s made to pay for it as Harras hotshotted him into the ropes. The top, the middle and the bottom, all in one go – Strike it Lucky, it wasn’t for Julian. Harras builds from there with a series of slams, including a nice suplex/slam variant for a near-fall, before he hooked Pace’s mouth, with the ref for some reason not even admonishing the “Rohdiamant”, who pushed on with a stalling spinebuster for a near-fall. Speaking of falls, a double chop from Harras sent Pace tumbling off the top rope, but Julian gets back in and takes another slam as Harras was having it all his own way.

Right on cue, Pace gets back in it with his rope running on the way to a dropkick, before booting Harras in the corner ahead of a rolling thunder neckbreaker. Pace lands on his feet from a BME, then found his way in with a standing Spanish Fly for a near-fall as those two moves need racing-themed names. Another BME ends with Harras crashing into the ropes as Pace spilled down awkwardly, before a running front kick in the corner almost got Harras the win. A superkick gets Pace back in though, and he quickly puts Harras away with a BME… not the best you’ll see, as I got the feeling the early bad landings shook Julian up, but they kept it together regardless. One more match Julian, and you’re in Carat! **½

Backstage, we’ve a promo from Zachary Cooper. He’s offended that Oliver Carter wants a bye into Carat.

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block A Semi Final: Oliver Carter vs. Zach Cooper
Cooper’s on a bit of a tour of Europe, and is probably a name a lot of people won’t have heard of. The 22 year-old Canadian’s coming off a run in ACW in Florida, while he’s also appeared for groups like WAC in Washington state, SUP and PWX.

Carter kicks away a handshake, and gets tossed around with a belly to belly before a Sick Kick from Cooper took the Ghanaian outside. That’s a way to get the crowd on-side. There’s a enat handstand on the apron as Cooper evaded Carter on the way to a PK, before some forearms in the crowd had Carter on the back foot. Problem was, Cooper played to the crowd, and that gave Carter time to recover as he cheapshotted the Canadian and came in with some ground and pound. Carter works the knee from there as commentary poked fun at Carter releasing a Carat-themed shirt… and there’s your cue for Cooper to make a comeback, landing some nice forearms and bicycle kicks before a Vader bomb senton landed for a near-fall. He’s caught with the Oliver’s Twist – a back heel-like kick – before a uranage got a delayed two-count.

Carter seemed to go for a One Winged Angel, but Cooper gets out and hits almost an inverted Black Hole Slam for a near-fall. Cooper looks to go for a superplex, but Carter capitalised on the ring butting up against the stage and throws him onto there as the ref started a ten-count. Cooper manages to roll back into the ring, but got caught with a spinning heel kick as Carter hits the One Winged/Ushigoroshi whatsit for the win. So we’re getting Carter vs. Pace in the block final after a decent match – and an impressive showing for Cooper on his tour of Europe. Keep an eye on that name folks! ***¼

Backstage promo time as Hektor tells us he’s been travelling the world and finally he’s in the biggest promotion in Europe. Ignore the fact he used to be TKO! The Rotation tells us a story of how when he went to shows as a boy, he promised himself he’d achieve something, but so far he hasn’t. Today: things change!

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block B Semi Final: Hektor Invictus vs. The Rotation
There’s a size difference on show here, and it’s not helped when Hektor jumped Rotation from behind. Probably looking for an early TKO.

Rotation shrugs it off though, flipping over Hektor before landing some headscissors and a lucha armdrag, before a dropkick got him a near-fall. Hektor’s quickly back in with a clothesline that dropped Rotation onto the apron, before an uppercut dumped Rotation for a near-fall. An enziguiri takes Hektor into the corner as Rotation fought back, following up with a drop toe hold into the ropes… but a bicycle kick damn near kills Rotation after he took ages going for a 619. Hektor keeps up with a chop for a near-fall, then another when Rotation tries to reply in kind, but there’s more luck with an enziguiri and a dropkick into the corner as Rotation began to get into a groove.

A springboard dropkick finds its mark, as did a satellite DDT, but Hektor’s into the ropes to avoid getting pinned… only to eat a 619. Hektor gets his knees up to block a splash, before he spun Rotation into a knee strike as a front suplex and a German suplex combo almost got the win. Rotation tries to respond with a tornado DDT, but he’s chopped again as Hektor looked for a superplex, only to get shoved down as Rotation would take the win with the Victory Over Gravity 450 splash. A cracking underdog win for the Rotation, who took his beating and still came out on top. ***

Absolute Andy has a promo… you know who he is. He likes rattling off his title reigns, and the fact he won Carat two years ago. That makes him having to qualify for the tournament this year a farce in his eyes, even more so because he was the reserve for the qualifiers (because Rust Taylor had to pull out). He has a point. Andy tried to call his lawyer in front of us, but he’s hung up on.

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block B Semi Final: Levaniel vs. Absolute Andy
The bass on Levaniel’s theme is shattering, and I’m really digging his character. “The lobbyist of love” may be a weird translation, but it’s a heck of a gimmick. Levaniel goes off the rails when he said that Andy had no love in him… so here comes everyone’s favourite dad to prove him wrong.

Levaniel gets into it with someone in the crowd as he got himself fired up. Andy just watches on like Levaniel’s a goddamn idiot, burning off energy while shadow boxing against Andy’s belly. Andy just punches him out, then pulled Levaniel in by the hair… only to get hung on the top rope as Levaniel tried to mount a comeback. Some clotheslines drop him, as did an inverted atomic drop and another right hand. Another atomic drop and a punch have Levaniel scurrying before he’s clotheslined to the outside. Andy follows him outside, but Levaniel caught him with some shots and took him back inside for the Elbow of Love. It gets a solid two-count, so Levaniel gets the mic to trash talk Andy some more, only for Andy to grab Levaniel right by the, erm, Liebe. Shooter Schulz broke the hold, but it caused more pain for Levaniel before… Andy grabbed a tampon.

Someone has to have spiked my Coca Cola.

Andy adds a suplex and some headlock/punches, before a big boot took Levaniel down for a near-fall. A stalling suplex is next, before LUCHA ANDY broke out. He’s crotched on the top rope as Levaniel manages to hit a superplex, then some clotheslines as he battered Andy in the ropes. Levaniel hits a springboard armdrag and a discus clothesline too, before a spinning heel kick dropped Andy as the rookie was really making a go of it. Levaniel pushed his luck though, and when Andy got back in it he made it count, hitting a spinebuster then an A5 for the win. Andy didn’t work a breakneck pace, but the crowd ate it all up – and this current “version” of Andy is really playing well when up against big characters. **¾

They replay Marius al-Ani’s win at Back to the Roots, and the debut of Cara Noir… then the finish of the Jurn Simmons/Alexander James cage match.

Marius Al-Ani vs. Jurn Simmons vs. Ilja Dragunov
Ilja jumped Jurn at the bell, as it looked like this was going to be a case of Jurn having to survive a lot of double-teaming… but he’s able to plough through both opponents with clotheslines.

A suplex/throw on Dragunov works, but al-Ani cornered Simmons before the two bad guys went at it… leading to a spinning back chop and a back senton from Dragunov as we raced towards a three-way stand-off. Ilja tries to rush Jurn with a crossbody, but it’s turned into a slam for a two-count, as Simmons looked to try and dictate the pace. Stomps keep Dragunov down, while the Dutchman used his boots to keep al-Ani on the outside. Ilja resists a piledriver attempt, countering with a back body drop before al-Ani swatted Ilja off the top rope as the Russian looked to go airborne. Returning to the ring for an Exploder, al-Ani gets a near-fall as Ilja returned… and got a mudhole stomped through him as Marius looked to focus on Simmons… only to take Jurn outside with a missile dropkick.

In comes Ilja to capitalise with a knee drop for a two-count, before he chopped Marius around the ring. A wild shot from Marius misses as Jurn tries to get himself back inside… but Ilja kicks him off the apron before he rolled al-Ani into a leaping kick. A suplex follows too, but Dragunov had to take Jurn off the apron again… and that gave Marius time to come back in with a dropkick as Ilja went up top. al-Ani tries for a superplex next, but Jurn’s back to try and powerbomb Marius away. It doesn’t come off though, as al-Ani slips out before he got superplexed into a powerbomb as Jurn was waiting in the middle of the ring. Dragunov’s first back up with a Konstantin-Spezial to Simmons, forcing al-Ani to break up the cover as all three men stayed in the ring.

A mounted sleeperhold from Marius looked to choke out Jurn… but Simmons rushes to the corner to break it up before dropping Marius with a gorilla press slam. al-Ani mounts another flurry of strikes, but a double clothesline from Jurn has both men down, only for Ilja to pop right back up with a death valley driver into the corner. Ilja keeps up with a back senton, before a teardrop German suplex nearly puts al-Ani away. Jurn cuts off a Torpedo Moscau attempt with a Massive Boot, before he got rolled up into a spinning heel kick from al-Ani, who followed up with a Diamond Driver for the win. This was a little weird – Jurn looked good when he was the proverbial good guy in peril, but the spells with al-Ani and Dragunov didn’t work for me. A win for Marius gets some steam under him going into Carat though, so there’s that. ***

They play an interview with Sebastian Hollmichel and David Starr, building up to Starr’s win-or-bust title shot against David Starr on the Saturday of 16 Carat Gold. There’s a cheeky dig at Bobby Gunns “losing popularity” when he lost Robot Rock…

Andy Jackson interviews Ilja Dragunov, bringing up how Ilja wangled his way into the title match at the 19th Anniversary show. Ilja tells us he signed a new deal with wXw, complete with some privileges, before Andy asked him why he’s agreed to the unsanctioned match with David Starr in Hamburg. Dragunov says he wants revenge for Starr costing him and WALTER the wXw tag titles there last year, and promises to beat him senseless… because he can’t stand to see his face. Oof.

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block B Final: Absolute Andy vs. The Rotation
A spot at 16 Carat Golds is on the line here in the first of our block finals… and there’s another size disadvantage for the Rotation here.

We’ve a handshake to start as Andy looked to work a wristlock early – the obvious hold given Rotation’s injury history. He gets free though with some roll-ups, getting pinning attempts that flustered Andy, so he comes back in with a hammerlock as he stayed on Rotation’s wrist… only for Rotation to flip free. Andy goes in with a waistlock as he ragdolls Rotation, teasing an early A5, but Rotation slipped out and slapped Andy with a chop. It made more noise than pain though, as Andy shrugged it off, before pulling Rotation into a Sharpshooter. Rotation’s tossed outside after he’d gotten free, and he’s quickly stalked as Andy wrecks him with a series of chops before throwing Rotation back inside… then kicked him straight back out.

Back inside, Rotation finds form with a trip to take Andy into the ropes, but the 619 is blocked as Rotation’s booted back to the floor. Man, he’s taking a beating today. Andy politely asks the crowd to move as he proceeded to throw Rotation into their seats – and a barrier that was right behind them – before Andy decided to take Rotation back into the ring, rather than take the count-out. At least Andy was polite enough to tell the fans they could sit down again.

Instead, Andy looked for a standing ten count as Rotation’s proverbial gas tank looked to be empty, but he pulled himself back up… only to get caught with a backbreaker. Another standing ten count follows, but Rotation gets back up… and got suplexed as he was nearly thrown into the turnbuckles! Ow. More suplexes leave Rotation in a heap, as did chops, but Rotation still fights back, then chopped Andy once more. More overhand chops seemed to hurt Rotation just as much as they did Andy, so he followed in with an enziguiri. A drop toe hold is next as Andy’s taken into the ropes for a 619, before the Rey Mysterio stuff continued with a springboard splash for a near-fall. From there, Rotation heads up for the Victory Over Gravity, flattening Andy for a near-fall… but Andy’s’ able to come back with an A5 for a near-fall of his own.

Andy tries to tune up the band for a superkick, but Rotation stayed down. Andy showed no mercy, picking him up for another A5, but Rotation rolled outside… and gets thrown back in by Andy, who goes for a third A5, this time going for it off the middle rope, but Rotation wakes up and slapped his way free, knocking Andy down as a second Victory Over Gravity… lands in the knees. I felt that. Undeterred though, Rotation manages to surprise Andy with a roll-up… and that’s the Rotation in Carat! This was very methodical in it’s pacing, but the story they told was excellent, with the Rotation taking a beating before he snatched victory from nothing. This match won’t be for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll dig it. ***½

Backstage, Absolute Andy is taking a walk of shame. Julian Pace consoles him, while Oliver Carter and Norman Harras take the piss. Julian evens things up, and that sets up a trios match as Carter and the Bastards will take on VollGasteren and Andy.

16 Carat Gold 2020 Qualifying Tournament Block A Final: Oliver Carter vs. Julian Pace
The winner of this takes the 15th spot in Carat, joining the Rotation as qualifying tournament winners…

Pace charges at Carter at the bell, laying into him as he began to take out some of the ill feeling of the past few months, but taking Carter into the corner ahead of a back body drop. The Ghanaian’s sent outside from there, with Pace’s follow-through dive getting swatted away as Carter took control with some clubbing shots to the back. Pace hits the ropes and comes in with some right hands, only for a leg sweep to take him down as Carter’s German suplex found its mark. He’s quickly thrown outside, but returns to catch Carter… only to get charged down again ahead of a knee drop as Carter controlled the pace. Literally.

Eventually Pace fired back with chops before he got shoved outside – he’s taken some really nasty-looking spills tonight – and Carter capitalises with a stomp on the floor. Julian lands some chops of his own as Carter again came unstuck in the front row, before some back-and-forth back inside ended with a headbutt from Pace. Some misdirection in the ropes confused Carter ahead of a dropkick, before a Rolling Thunder neckbreaker led to a BME…

But Pace lands on his feet, then added in a standing Spanish Fly for a near-fall, only for Carter to come out on top with a superkick. A log roll and Oliver’s Twist has Carter down ahead of a pumphandled uranage for a near-fall, before some Danielson elbows left Pace in a heap. At least briefly, as he comes back with a reverse ‘rana and a tope con giro to Carter on the outside. A big splash back inside’s good for a two-count for Pace, who lands in the boots of Carter on a BME attempt, before he was cracked into with a spinning heel kick. Carter lands the One Winged Ushigoroshi for a near-fall as Pace somehow had enough in him to kick out, and here comes the shenanigans. Oliver Carter distracts Tassilo Jung for long enough for Norman Harras to come out with a chair. Harras can’t make use of it, but that was the plan as Carter grabs the chair while Tass was taking care of Harras… and wipes out Pace for a near-fall.

Yet again, Carter distracts Tass as Harras gets involved… but Absolute Andy makes the save with a superkick, before he slid the chair back in. This time, Julian makes use of it as he laid out Carter ahead of the BME… and there’s Julian Pace in Carat! I have to say, I did not see Absolute Andy pivoting to being a father figure for Julian Pace, but it worked here, and I’m all in to see where it goes. As a match, I’d liked to have seen more aggression from Pace given the back story, but this was perfectly fine given that it was just a small part of the story. ***

The Obertraubling stop on the road to 16 Carat Gold was a fun show, and a very easy one to watch as well, thanks to those shiny new cameras. It’s perhaps not the show to watch if you’re looking for match of the year contenders, but it told some fantastic self-contained stories that have given us two self-made underdogs that add an extra bit of spice to the Carat field.