The second day of Germany's wXw 16 Carat Gold 2019 managed to put an exclamation point on the fact that wXw is probably the premier wrestling promotion in Europe right now.
The match quality and in-ring work was even better than on day one in many matches -- and the show nicely managed to progress the stories for a number of characters like WALTER, Lucky Kid, and Avalanche.
Also, for the second year in a row, wXw managed to blow the roof off the place with a surprise that virtually nobody saw coming. Former wXw wrestler and current WWE main roster member Alexander Wolfe (formerly known as Axel Tischer and Axeman in wXw) made a surprise appearance to answer an open challenge of wXw Shotgun Champion Marius Al-Ani.
Al-Ani was in the ring for the semi-main event spot of the show to issue his challenge. wXw Director of Sports Karsten Beck came out and asked if he was serious and said that he had met someone backstage who might be interested.
Most people probably expected the return of Bad Bones John Klinger here, who was suspended for some sort of backstage snafu shortly after last year's Carat, had been on two smaller shows in the same arena complex that day, and was openly wandering around the show for the first time since leaving the promotion. Instead, as the lights went out, air raid sirens started playing and a spotlight appeared on the screen.
After a few seconds, the SAnitY theme hit and -- as people recognized what was going on -- there was a pop that rivaled the surprise return of Ilja Dragunov last year as people went nuts for Wolfe, who came out in his WWE gear, removed his shirt to reveal a RINGKAMPF one (as he is one of the members of that stable), and went to the ring. He had a great match with Al-Ani but came short of winning.
The other highlight on the show was the final ascension and World title win of Bobby Gunns, 26, who finally managed to best Absolute Andy. As was the case in his match back in October with Dragunov, the rabid mixed German/UK crowd chanted "Gunns, Bobby Gunns" throughout the match, only this time it felt like it didn't happen as organically as it did before.
The promotion very much bet on the chant happening again, with them repeatedly hyping the previous chant that lasted 14 minutes straight and them putting this match on before the same crowd. While it certainly is a cool thing to brag about, the problem is that it felt like the chant being more over than the wrestler. And as history has shown, especially with the "What!?" chants in WWE, giving fans an easy way to put themselves over in a match can come back to haunt you in the end.
Now, I am not saying that this will happen, I am only fearing that if fans are being conditioned to chant this, whether it is warranted or not, it might eventually become a distraction in Gunns' matches in the future and may hurt him as a character. While it's certainly a nice tool and a unique thing, Gunns is more than talented enough, both as a worker and a promo, that he does not need this as a crutch.
The match itself was very good, but the continuous chanting also distracted from it, as virtually no natural reactions such as pops, boos, or other chants to fire up the face or heckle the heel had a chance to get started -- and the immense noise in a way also felt a bit like the match was just on mute on the other hand.
In tournament news, WALTER, Dragunov, Lucky Kid, and Avalanche advanced to the semifinals. WALTER beat Fenix, who he inadvertently unmasked twice in the process and seemed to cement a heel turn that had started the previous day with his victory over David Starr. Dragunov defeated Pentagon Jr. in a great match, Lucky pulled out another surprise over RINGKAMPF member Axel Dieter Jr., and Avalanche bested Japanese powerhouse Shigehiro Irie.
Elsewhere, Aussie Open won the wXw Tag Team titles with some help by Chris Brookes and subsequently founded the wXw incarnation of their Schadenfreude stable, putting Lucky Kid in a precarious situation, as there was tension between the RISE and Schadenfreude stables which he both belongs to.
wXw had 1,510 tickets sold, making this their biggest crowd ever.
Killer Kelly & Yuu defeated Toni Storm & Wesna in 9:32 when Kelly pinned Wesna after a Death Valley Driver
A surprise match as Storm wasn't expected to be here until the next day for her match against Kelly and Wesna. Storm got in Kelly's face early on and played the cocky heel champion here.
The finish saw Storm eat a double team buckle bomb and Kelly pick up Wesna for the DVD, which she initially struggled with, for the win.
David Starr promo
David Starr came out after losing to WALTER the night before and was devastated that he didn't defeat WALTER.
Starr apologized for an interview he did with Rico Bushido and Alan Counihan after the match the previous night and how he conducted himself (Alan later told us that he legit never was as scared as he was during this interview, so I guess this is something to look forward to once the show gets released in a few days).
Starr said that we all knew that WALTER tapped out and that he was a coward. He was here for two things only (beating WALTER and winning Carat) and now that both of those are out the window, he was sorry, but he would not be competing in any matches for the rest of the weekend and didn't want to be part of some multi-men dream match that internet fans can fawn about.
Starr left, as devastated as he had entered.
16 Carat Gold tournament quarterfinal match: Ilja Dragunov pinned Pentagon Jr. in 10:37 after Torpedo Moscow
As was to be expected with these two, this was another tremendous offering, with the crowd going into a "this is awesome" frenzy even before the match kicked off. There were hard strikes, chops, kicks, flips, and a ton of charisma between these two.
A big enzuigiri by Dragunov literally blew the taste out of Penta's mouth as spit went flying everywhere. Highlights were Penta getting a near fall with a pumphandle driver and Dragunov coming back with a Death Valley Driver into the corner.
Dragunov hit a back senton, then did a headstand in the corner off a whip and Penta superkicked him off from that position in a spot that looked both cool and dangerous. Penta at one point also hit his package piledriver on the apron.
Penta went to break the arm, but Dragunov countered out and hit a series of elbows, only to get caught with a backcracker. The finish came with a lariat, swivel lariat, and Torpedo Moscow and Dragunov progressed to the semis. The match was far better than I can even begin to describe here.
16 Carat Gold tournament quarterfinal match: Avalanche pinned Shigehiro Irie after a DRSKR Bomb
This was a mean guy hoss fight. Irie came off of winning AMBITION 10 in the afternoon and Avalanche came off the street fight the day before, so both had proven their worth in battle and were now scheduled to clash.
Avalanche managed to tackle Irie right away, sending him to his butt. Avalanche hit a belly-to-belly and a running sunset flip for a two count.
Irie hit a splash off the top for a near fall and a Beast Bomber for another one. They traded strikes and elbows and at one point, corner charges, culminating with Irie hitting a running corner-to-corner cannonball.
Finally, Avalanche hit a fallaway slam and the DRSKR Bomb for the win.
Four-way match: Julian Pace defeated Chris Brookes, Daisuke Sekimoto, and Rey Horus in 8:17 after pinning Horus with a small package
Fun match with a unique cast. Everyone ganged up on Sekimoto early, who did the roar spot to send everyone flying. Horus tried a shoulder block and literally spun around his axis as he bounced off the big man. An enzuigiri by Pace connected, but Sekimoto pressed him over his head and threw him to the outside onto Brookes and Horus.
A four way chop-around started, with Pace getting the worst of it from Sekimoto. Pace hit his Vollgas Code Red on Brookes, which looked impressive with a guy that size. Another match highlight was a tower of doom German suplex spot, with Sekimoto German suplexing a full stack of opponents from the top rope in one of the coolest spots of the night.
Eventually, Pace picked up the win with a small package on Horus.
After the match, as Pace cheered, Emil Sitoci in a hoodie with new music and graphics hit the ring and gave Pace two spinning piledrivers. Sitoci is great, but by this point his number of unexplained turns may rival that of the Big Show.
16 Carat Gold tournament quarterfinal match: WALTER submitted Fenix in 11:45 with the Gojira clutch
This was amazing -- and these two got together like peanut butter and jelly. WALTER was so great being the grumpy big mean guy who would cancel any cool move Fenix pulled out.
Fenix wanted to do a cool back handspring move? Let him try that while eating a lariat to the back of the head. He wanted to fly at WALTER? Sure, have another lariat to go with that. Fenix wanted to do a cool springboard move? Try that with your leg kicked out from under you. WALTER was mean and Fenix flipped in a symphony that most probably would have watched for hours on end.
There were "Big Daddy Sellout" chants for WALTER early, courtesy of the David Starr performance the previous night. Fenix did the Matrix duck on a chop early on, which was a cool visual. WALTER ripped on Fenix's mask but used a bit too much power as he ripped about half of the mask off and a lot of Fenix's face was exposed.
What was worse was when the mask fully came off on a top rope powerbomb by WALTER, sending the ref scurrying to put it back on while Fenix covered his face. It came off again a second time on a cutter by Fenix, until somebody brought him a spare mask to put on.
The finish saw WALTER, after trying about everything in his arsenal, put on the Gojira clutch and with the other hand, pull off Fenix's mask, forcing him to tap to protect his identity. The crowd and the ref were furious, but I guess there are no rules against being a d*ckhead.
Tremendous match everyone should watch, a bit hampered by the unintentional coming off of the mask, but in a way, that added a bit of realism to the whole affair.
16 Carat Gold tournament quarterfinal match: Lucky Kid pinned Axel Dieter Jr. (NXT/NXT UK's Marcel Barthel) in 14:42 with a rolling reverse prawn hold
Another very good match between these two. It was actually their first singles match, after they had only faced off in tag team matches before. Dieter started out strong and bounced the smaller Lucky Kid around. He did his "Nein!" Spot, which he also does on NXT. Lucky pulled off some of his antics, screaming "NEIN!" back at Dieter, who was in no mood for these antics.
Dieter suplex Lucky into the corner and then back on the mat, before finally disposing of him and throwing him out of the ring a number of times. Dieter was going for the countout victory and repeatedly told Lucky to stay down. Lucky at one point hardly beat the count, making it in after the nine count. Dieter showed some more heelish tendencies here and the fans actually started to boo him and cheer Lucky more.
Lucky hit a missile dropkick and went for La Mistica, but Dieter transitioned it into a choke. Lucky rolled through for a near fall. Lucky then hit La Mistica into a crossface until Dieter made the ropes. Dieter went for a top rope uppercut that was blocked, but he hit a lariat for a near fall anyway.
As Dieter got more and more frustrated, Lucky suddenly rolled him up for the upset victory and has now defeated two members of RINGKAMPF!
wXw World Tag Team Championship tornado three-way match: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) defeated RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) and Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) in 9:50 to win the titles
RISE and Aussie Open got rid of Jay FK early on and battled among themselves. When Jay FK were back in, they took over for a bit until Davis picked them both up for an impressive double slam. Aussie Open hit a double-team running Iconoclasm and Fletcher also hit a tope on RISE on the outside. Skillet then took a hanging neckbreaker for another near fall.
Kaspin came in with the belt and laid out Fletcher, but Chris Brookes appeared and pulled the referee out of the ring. Of course, Brookes and Jonathan Gresham lost the finals of the World Tag Team League to Jay FK back in October and also are associated with Aussie Open in the Schadenfreude stable.
Aussie Open then hit a sliding punch and Fidget Spinner on Skillet to win the match and the titles.
Post-match, Aussie Open and Brookes got together and displayed the Schadenfreude banner, a super-group which was established in Fight Club: Pro, which also includes Gresham, Kid Lykos, Timothy Thatcher, Jinny, and Lucky Kid, who is also a member of RISE -- who just had lost the titles.
Of course, RISE went to confront Schadenfreude, prompting Lucky Kid to run out and try to play peacemaker, which he mostly succeeded in. For now.
wXw Shotgun Championship match: Marius Al-Ani retained against "Axeman" Axel Tischer (WWE's Alexander Wolfe) in 14:32 after a frog splash
Al-Ani came to the ring to issue an open challenge to anyone in the back. Karsten Beck came out and said there was someone in the back who probably had some issues with what Al-Ani had been saying.
As the lights went out, a spotlight appeared and the SAnitY theme played. The crowd went berserk, as Alexander Wolfe, the former Axel Tischer, came out. He went wild on Al-Ani to kick things off.
They went into the crowd brawling, then Al-Ani hooked on an ankle lock back in the ring. Wolfe turned an armbar attempt into a brainbuster for a near fall.
Wolfe followed up with a number of uppercuts, a flying clothesline, and a bridging German suplex for another near fall. Al-Ani came back with an exploder and took Wolfe outside before hitting his dive over the post.
Back inside, Tischer went for a superplex but got his eyes raked, hit with double knees, and then a big frog splash by Al-Ani got the win.
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship match: Bobby Gunns submitted Absolute Andy in 26:03 with the SWIFT armbar to win the title
They had really cool entrances, with Gunns coming in through the back of the venue through a lot of smoke and a spotlight on him, while Andy basically descended from the heavens on a platform veiled in white.
The crowd was crazy from the get-go, with the above mentioned "Gunns, Bobby Gunns" echoing through the arena for virtually the entire length of the match.
Andy went for a cheap shot right away, but Gunns thwarted it. Gunns worked the arm and even got in a rope-assisted armbar by escaping an F5 attempt by Andy. They traded clotheslines and uppercuts and Andy tossed Gunns to the outside.
Back inside, Andy locked in a figure four and used the ropes for assistance. Gunns gritted through it and eventually turned the move around. Gunns came back with a superplex and German suplex for a near fall.
Andy rolled through a flying SWIFT armbar for a near fall, then hit a huge spinebuster. Gunns averted an A-Klasse, transitioned into a triangle and then a rear naked choke, but Andy wouldn't quit just yet. Eventually, Andy managed to transition the move into an F5 for another close fall.
Andy got his belt and wanted to use it, but referee Tassilo Jung stopped him. Andy then wanted to leave, but Gunns' brother, Vinny Vortex, came down the ramp to stop him. Vortex clotheslined Andy into the ring and Gunns applied another armbar, but Andy got his foot on the ropes.
Gunns went for a superkick, but Andy turned it into an F5 attempt and eventually hit the A-Klasse for a close near fall.
Andy went for the belt again. Vinny stopped him -- but Andy moved out of the way of Gunns, who accidentally charged into his brother and threw him off the apron, allowing Andy to hit another A-Klasse. Gunns narrowly kicked out again.
Andy's superkick missed, and after some back and forth low-blow attempts, Gunns actually hit one right in front of the referee, who was aghast and conflicted about what to do. In the end, he covered his eyes and decided he didn't see anything, finally paying Andy back for all the cheating he had committed in all the matches over the past year.
The crowd exploded as Gunns won with the SWIFT armbar. The new champion celebrated his victory in the ring with his brother.
Other events --
AMBITION 10 -- Trubinenahlle 1, Oberhausen, Germany (March 9, 2019) -- Attendance: 513
This was a UWF/RINGS/BattlArts style tournament, which is really fun for fans of that style.
Quarterfinals: Rico Bushido defeated Veit Müller via TKO
Quarterfinals: Punch Drunk Istria defeated Danny Jones via submission
Quarterfinals: Shigehiro Irie defeated Laurance Roman via submission
Quarterfinals: Chris Ridgeway defeated A-Kid via submission
Semifinals: Rico Bushido defeated Punch Drunk Istria via TKO
Semifinals: Shigehiro Irie defeated Chris Ridgeway via TKO
BattlArts Superfight: Yuki Ishikawa defeated Timothy Thatcher via submission
Ishikawa is Thatcher's mentor and former trainer -- and Thatcher was greatly influenced by BattlArts. They had a mean, stiff match and gave each other nothing.
Ishikawa finally got the win, besting his former student and the two shook hands and embraced afterwards.
Finals: Shigehiro Irie defeated Rico Bushido via submission