After a week off recovering from 16 Carat Gold, Shotgun is back… soon to include a face you may recognise!

Of course, after the usual title sequence (which disappointingly only has Absolute Andy raising a fist, rather than pointing to a women’s toilet sign) the show opens with a recap of 16 Carat Gold. If you haven’t watched this yet… why not? All of our reviews from that weekend are already up, using the tag “16 Carat Gold 2017”.

Once we see quite extensive highlights of Ilja Dragunov’s ascent throughout the tournament, of course showing his battered chest from WALTER’s chops, we’re taken backstage where Ilja’s next to the trophy and feeling rather overwhelmed. Julian Nero comes in and congratulates him for breaking free of “the prison that was Adam Polak” and living up to his potential. Nero tells Ilja that he can rely on him for help, should he need it.

We see a clip show of events from 16 Carat Gold weekend, from fans queuing to get in, to Cody crowdsurfing, and yes, more of those chops from WALTER. It’s impressive that wXw got all three Carat shows (plus Ambition and the Inner Circle show) up as quickly as they did… and that these shows are up on the wXw Now service, FloSlam and HighSpots for a really good amount of coverage. Again, if you’re reading this and haven’t seen those shows, subscribe to one of those services and spend a day doing it. You’ll not regret a second!

More clips from Carat follow, featuring Ilja’s first-round match over Robert Dreissker, which led to the post-match bust-up with Dreissker and Adam Polak.

We go backstage with some trainees talking about 16 Carat, before Dreissker runs in and goes after them. Karsten Beck comes in and interrupts, before Dreissker demands to face Ilja in Dresden… so that’s the match for True Colors on April 8. Just when you thought wrestling was going to calm down next month!

Veit Müller vs. Francis Kaspin
This was the dark match from last month’s Dead End XVI event in Hamburg, and Alan Counihan has recovered enough from Carat to provide his vocal services here. Müller, a native of Hamburg and a regular with the local Nordisch Fight Club promotion, starts by going after Kaspin’s waist, before going back and forth with wristlocks. A headlock from Kaspin ends when he’s taken into the corner, before Müller rebounds with an elbow as he starts to lay into Kaspin with some uppercuts.

Kaspin thought he’d slammed his way out of a cravat, but Müller held on, then threw in some knees before landing a shoulder tackle to take the youngster down. A dropkick helps Kaspin get back into it, as do flying forearms in the corner, but he gets ahead of himself as Müller falls into the ropes to crotch Kaspin during a springboard attempt.

Müller follows up with a running flip senton that almost won him the match, before catching a crossbody and delivering an old-school shoulderbreaker to Kaspin. Ah, that brought back memories of Papa Shango… Veit follows up with a Gory special, but Kaspin frees himself and ends up slipping underneath Müller and connecting with a basement dropkick to take the local lad down.

Müller knees his way out of a suplex before dumping Kaspin on the top rope… but Francis cuts him off with a springboard bulldog, and that’s enough for the win! A really fun opener – and a really good use of a local lad in Müller whom ordinarily wouldn’t have had much of a chance. Hopefully he’s back in wXw soon! ***

We get clips of Marius van Beethoven vs. Alpha Kevin in their No Ropes match over 16 Carat Weekend. Yep, it was brutal, and that’s just looking at the Japanese seat-popping chairshots. That leads to a backstage segment where Kevin hangs a necklace on Melanie Gray as a thank-you present for her standing by him.

Now Kevin’s beaten Marius, the Alpha Lovers are free to live their life as they want… so they make out whilst Bobby Gunns blows smoke at the camera to censor anyone feeling queasy with that PDA.

We’re taken back to 16 Carat weekend where we see the segment where RINGKAMPF attacked Karsten Beck, only for the returning Kim Ray to make the save and wipe out everyone. This time we get subtitles on Ray’s promo, as he says he left wXw behind because of Christian Michael Jakobi putting obstacles in his way. Ray accused Jakobi of trying to destroy Karsten Beck the way he did to him – by ridding wXw of Jakobi!

Clips from the Inner Circle show follow, a surprisingly-good event for “just a trainee show”. Another backstage segment with commentator Sebastian Hollmichel and someone who isn’t named. Apparently they’re having problems setting out the chairs for the show… and ohmygod, Zack Gibson is here. Zack orders someone to get him a drink, but he just steals Sebastian’s while he waits.

Gibson’s aggrieved at having to change with the rest of the wrestlers, and he starts going through his usual “soon to be recognised” spiel. Minus the booing. Felix Kohlenberg (wXw head booker) comes up to Gibson and admonishes him… then we get Chris Colen laying into Gibson for not having any respect. Guess what our match is for later!

We’ve got a tour announcement from Christian Michael Jakobi – weirdly, not subtitled. He announces that the autumn tour of 2017 will be called the “Fight Forever Tour”, and runs down the upcoming dates for the rest of the year, which include that return date in London (October 28 for a show naturally called London Calling 2) and the World Tag Team League in Oberhausen (October 6-8). The tour wraps up with wXw’s 17th Anniversary show on December 23rd… that’s really close to Christmas! They’re also running at places called the Club From Hell and the Hellraiser. I love wacky venue names for wrestling!

Say what you will about wXw, but the fact that they’re this organised to be announcing dates for the rest of the year in MARCH… also running many shows so often has to put them right at the top of the conversation for “best promotion in Europe” right now.

From there, we’re taken to Melanie Gray who’s with Thomas Giesen. She’s happy with how her and Kevin have gotten rid of the curse of Alpha Female and Marius van Beethoven… but there’s one last thing to tick off. Melanie’s still angry with Marius after what he’s done to her, and we’ve got that match next!

Marius van Beethoven vs. Melanie Gray
This was taped in Düsseldorf on March 4, but was aired after that storyline was blown off at 16 Carat. Ah well, at least the previous promo gave us a loose thread to hang it from! On commentary, Alan tells us that this the first singles intergender match in wXw for almost a decade, with the last one featuring Cheerleader Melissa and Diego Latino. Yeah, he got a better name after that match…

Van Beethoven ducks a clothesline from Gray at the bell, just so he can yell his nickname to the crowd, but it just ends with him being tripped as Melanie tries to set up for the Mello-Drama (Texas Cloverleaf)… but Marius taps as soon as his legs are crossed over?! The bell rings, and the crowd boos at the sham result… but Alpha Kevin blocks Marius’ exit, and so the Goldjünge runs back into the ring and apparently we have a restart!

I get why in storyline, but strictly speaking, Marius tapped – regardless of the reason why – so our match was already over? Nevermind, we start with Marius elbowing Melanie, who replied with a flapjack… but van Beethoven rolls to the outside as he threatens to take a count-out loss. Melanie gives chase, before taking down Marius with some atomic drops for some more time killing on the outside. Gray trips up Marius, then lays into him with some clotheslines and a spinning back elbow to get a near-fall. He rolls out of the ring to avoid an avalanche, but now it’s Alpha Kevin who chases him around the ring as I hum the Benny Hill music in my head.

Back inside, Melanie hits Marius with some knees in the corner for another two-count, but her back senton’s blocked by Marius’ knees. Kevin gets involved after Marius spits on him, before a Famouser gets van Beethoven a near-fall over Gray as Kevin’s helped to his feet. It’s all Marius now in the ring though, as he stomps on Gray, then drops her with a suplex for an arrogant two-count.

We move to a hair pull that you’d have seen in the old Divas matches, before Marius elbows Gray in the corner, which leads to him following up with a diving dropkick. Gray comes back with some underhanded tactics, grabbing Marius’ groin, before throwing in an elbow and some forearms of her own.  Marius blocks a Northern Lights suplex and follows with Eat Defeat, before he leaps into an inverted atomic drop from Gray. She spends too long berating him, but manages to escape a reverse DDT, before finally taking down the Goldjünge with a spear for a near-fall. Finally she lands that Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, but we end up with a ref bump after a punch from Marius knocks Gray into the referee.

That allows Marius to head outside for a chair, but before he can use it, Alpha Kevin returns and whacks Marius with it – popping the seat padding off in the process! One Sky High spinebuster later, Gray locks in the Mello-drama, and now Marius taps for real! After the false start, this was a pretty decent match, they did what they had to, bearing in mind that this was taking place as a build-up to the blow-off… **¾

We cut backstage to a dejected Marius, who’s ripping up his Scheinchen fake money. In comes Dirty Dragan, who notes that this last year’s not been good for either of them. Dragan takes away several bottles of beer, because “alcohol is bad”, as he gives Marius a gold chain and it looks like we’ve got a new union between Dirty Dragan and Drunken Marius.

Clips from the Ambition 8 tournament follow – yep, that’s also worth watching!

Another backstage segment follows with Karsten Beck thanking David Starr. The Product’s disappointed in losing the Shotgun title over 16 Carat, but he vows to return in June and beat that “wannabe Billy Kidman” Emil Sitoci for his title.

More clips, this time from Axel Dieter Jr. vs. Jurn Simmons on night two of 16 Carat Gold weekend, and I only just realise during these clips that two RINGKAMPF-esque scarves were hanging from the entranceway for the entire match.

That leads to a dual-language promo with Thomas Giesen and Jurn Simmons. Of course, Jurn’s happy to have regained the title, in front of apparently the biggest crowd in wXw’s history. Jurn puts over Dieter, then looks ahead to his next challenge – which may be Mike Bailey, but it all depends on how “that fly” Jakobi wants to treat Jurn.

Afterwards, we’re backstage with Jurn – supposedly straight after that interview – and he runs into Karsten Beck, who’s glum because he was beaten down at 16 Carat. He’s unhappy that he can’t “solve problems the way I learned to”, which could well be a tease at him returning to the ring? For now though, Jurn tells Karsten to “punish Jakobi” in a way he sees fit…

Zack Gibson vs. Chris Colen
Our main event also comes from Düsseldorf, as Gibson is apparently representing PROGRESS here – but this is really a plug for the PROGRESS/wXw double-header in Cologne in July.

Colen grabs a cravat on Gibson early on, before it’s spun out into a wristlock as the two briefly work down the mat… then stand-off. More of the same follows as Gibson gets a headlock, then lands some shoulder tackles before Colen leaps over him and comes back with a hiptoss and a big slam for a near-fall.

They block each other’s suplex attempts, going back and forth until Colen finally gets the Scouser up into a stalling suplex! Gibson quickly counters back though, throwing Colen shoulder-first into the ringpost, before the Austrian marched back in to take some more punishment in the form of forearms from Gibson. Colen tries to fight back with some chops, but he’s taken down as Gibson lands a diving forearm for a near-fall, as Zack keeps up the pressure on Colen’s left arm.

A Jim Breaks Special takes down Colen again, but the Austrian comes back out of the corner, landing a clothesline from the middle rope as he launches into Gibson with European uppercuts. Colen followed up with a neckbreaker, before cornering Zack with some elbows and a powerslam to collect another two-count.

Colen tries for a uranage, only for Zack to elbow out of it as he took Colen into the corner, tapping him in the middle ropes for a Ticket To Ride (Codebreaker). The Shankly Gates follow, but Colen escapes it and comes in with an elbow, then a uranage that almost got him the victory. Gibson hits back with a Divorce Court, before trying for the Helter Skelter… but Colen reverses out, only to get rolled up into the Shankly Gates.

Colen stands up out of the hold though, then rolls through into the Angels Wings – and that’s enough for the win! A fun main event, with Colen being taken to the limit – and you can unsurprisingly add Zack to the list of names who I’d love to see back here again. ***½

That’s all from this week’s 16 Carat-heavy edition of Shotgun – a good mixture of recaps and fresh material, as wXw look to set the table for the months ahead.