ADVENTURES IN OBERHAUSEN 5:
WXW 16 CARAT GOLD WEEKEND 2019
March 7 2019
I’m in Birmingham International Airport. It’s cold. I am excited. It’s 16 Carat Gold weekend. My favourite weekend of the year. It’s my WrestleMania. It’s my Wrestle Kingdom. It’s my Superbowl. The thing I was most thrilled about this year was the sheer volume of guys coming over to Germany for the first time from UK and Ireland. People who were reading this very report a year ago and thought; that sounds like fun! Let’s do that. For everyone who gave me anything approaching praise this weekend; thank you so much. It was hugely appreciated.
The first guy I run into is Jake (@allyourvanity). Like so many of the crowd at this year’s Carat it is his first time going. First time in Germany no less. We’re joined by Evelyn (@evelynwrestler) and it is thanks to her that I have my first travel tip and one I was completely unaware of up to this point. Even if your liquids are the right size and collectively less than one litre they still need to fit in the little bags you get at the airport so don’t take too much!
After running into Dizz (@emilyjaynemorse) and Katie, and a passing Chris Brookes (“hi team”) we’re on our way to Dusseldorf. It’s overcast and the flight is quiet. I get the full empty row treatment in the back of the plane. We land at 9.30am and head to the “Pink Bar” in Dusseldorf airport. It’s become the meeting place for guys as they land on the Thursday. Mike Kilby, or to give his NASCAR name Micky Bob Kilby, has been there for hours.
On the train to Oberhausen and there must be thirty UK and Ireland people on this train. A German woman gets on at the first stop and looks incredibly confused as she suddenly finds herself in a minority in her own country. Where did all these people come from? More worrying for her is she’s asking if she’s on the right train for Wesel and nobody speaks German! I get to sit with Sarah (@SarahFlann), Mike, Jake and Gary (@garyongraps) and we have a lovely time. The puns are already starting to flow. As we go through Duisburg Sarah comments that it has a zoo. “Is it a shit zoo?” asks Jake. I guess you had to be there but it’s the first real big laugh of the weekend. The first of many.
We arrive at my spiritual second home the Tryp in Oberhausen. The procession from the train station was a drawn out affair. I sense not everyone in our party is used to walking as much as myself and Kilby. I leave my bag in Mike’s room as I’m rooming with Rob Reid (@britwresround) and he’s not here yet and we head over to CentrO for some food. There are already people there. It’s Three Sixty on Thursday because it’s Build-a-Burger day. You don’t want to miss out on that. Being able to read German is fairly key for putting together your ideal burger though. Get some of that knoblauch sauce. I have my first beer of the weekend, swiftly followed by my second beer of the weekend. The main debate is over the title of 16 Carat Gold and something I’d never even considered before but it’s like a lower quality of gold. 16 Carats is around 70% pure. Surely you’d want 24 Carats as that’s the best. I’m looking forward to an extra eight competitors next year and at least an extra day of tournament action. I am not joking. Please book this. The group gets a bit split up and some of us head to the Tryp for Happy Hour and Cherry Batista Bombs.
Alan 4L has asked me to do a preview of the weekend for the ProWres Paradise so I head up to his luxurious suite on the third floor and record for around 45 minutes. I finally nail down a prediction on who is winning 16 Carat: Tim Thatcher. I predict he’ll beat whoever wins WALTER vs. David Starr. More on my predictions later as I put them all down on paper at the press lunch. Myself and Rob manage to get booked in. Huge thanks to Rob who basically saved me sleeping on someone else’s floor after I lost my cards the day before flying to Germany for Carat. A potential disaster avoided. I was also overwhelmed at the amount of people who offered to lend me money. In particular JP, STRIGGA, Mort and Mike. You’re all lovely, lovely people.
We’re a little late heading over to the train station so follow Gary onto the tram. I’ve never used the tram before so I suddenly had travel fear! It was like 2017 all over again. After doing it once, and using “short stops” where you travel three stops for 1.70, it became a viable option for quick travel to the station. The platform gave us one of the most wonderful scenes of the weekend too. A kid sliding down the escalator rails over and over again until a fucking riot van turned up! A riot van! To put this in perspective the kid was about 8 years old.
This is the train you need to be on for Inner Circle. You’re aiming for Essen Zollverein Nord. The site of a coal mining museum. When you’re buying a ticket you first put in Essen and then you can select from a list. Type a Z into the machine and it pops right up. Everyone seemed to do ok and no one got fined. Happy days.
SHOW #9 OF 2019: WXW INNER CIRCLE
The queue was the most entertaining one of the weekend. I’m afraid you have a 45 minute wait here and it’s either that or risk missing the start of the show as the trains are hourly. There is an off licence with random beers in around the corner. There are a mass of UK and Ireland fans here. It has now gotten to the point where there are people who travel to these shows and not only do I not know them, I don’t even recognise them. I thought we were standing behind Germans in the queue until I overheard one say “mate, the north is fucking horrible” in a North London accent. The split is pushing 50/50 at Inner Circle. When I first went to Inner Circle there were about six people from the UK. Five later and it’s a totally different experience.
As we queue various things happen. Rob pitches changing the idea of the podcast to my backup plan because he thinks it would work better. So we have a live podcast the following day and not a lot of time to prepare for it. The beers are drunk. Mike has a Pedoboner. At close inspection it’s actually “Paderborner”. Time for another top travel tip: someone is bound to bring illness to Carat so never share drinks. I see multiple people make this mistake in the queue. I think we got lucky with illness this time but that’s how it goes wrong. You don’t want to fly home with Carat Flu. Finally Eamonn (@no_more_mutants) has baking for the queue like they do at OTT and holy shit. I now have another reason to go to OTT. This man is a culinary genius.
We get inside and I’m immediately reminded as to why I don’t want to visit the Academy in the summertime. It’s already warm and nothing has happened yet. It’s a sell out. Approximately 140 people in the building and very little space. I get to have a nice chat with Yilmaz and attempted to write down everything he was saying when he said “don’t write about me”. He also gave me a top tip by saying that he found my speech hard to understand because I spoke so quickly. I tried to slow it down and this is perhaps a valuable lesson for any English speaker overseas. Everyone is so fluent it’s easy to forget that English is not the first language of everyone over there. Speaking of languages I usually rely on STRIGGA for translations at Inner Circle and he went rogue on me. When I asked what Tommy was saying in his introduction he translated it to “he said he hates you all and you should just fuck off”. This is the first Carat weekend where Tommy has spoken English at Inner Circle as well due to the sheer number of travelling fans. Times have changed.
David Starr def. Jay Skillet
Chris Brookes def. Avalanche, Julian Pace & Francis Kaspin
Jurn Simmons def. Kyle Fletcher
Ilja Dragonov def. Mark Davis
Killer Kelly def. Yuu
WALTER & Timothy Thatcher def. Yuki Ishikawa & Shigehiro Irie
This may be the best Inner Circle I’ve ever been to. Yuki Ishikawa was phenomenal. His sequences with Thatcher and WALTER were a joy to behold. I also loved the coaching from both Ringkampf members. Tim talking WALTER through escapes from the apron. WALTER also joining in when Thatcher was in trouble. “Tim, whack him!” Irie was also really good. The atmosphere was incredible. Inner Circle often starts off a little sedated because it’s a big weekend and people save themselves for it. Not here. Some creative and amusing chants, hard work from the wrestlers and the result was a great little show. I thought Starr in particular looked very fired up. Ilja/Dunkzilla was excellent. It was a great start to the weekend.
I love STRIGGA. He offered a lift and we headed back to Tryp with Rob, Joao and Shauna. Both Joao and Shauna were determined to get some sleep and I don’t blame them. However I was intent on outlasting everyone all weekend so I could declare myself the “Last Out of the Bar” champion. The evening was a wonderful experience in itself. STRIGGA with his “I like to do u-turns” failure to take the right route back. Trying to guess what M4A stood for on Starr’s tights (Magic 4 Abs, Mad 4 Ass). This was a typical exchange:
“Nobody wants a 450 to the dick” – Rob
“Don’t knock it til you try it” – Joao
We’re joined by Jamie Hickman (@SirJamieH) and his mates Liam and Ryan. Also I get to hear Alan 4L’s Yuki Ishikawa story about how Yuki was overwhelmed at how many of his matches Alan had seen and they’re now friends on Facebook. Kilby tells us about how experience chatting to Killer Kelly. She leaned in to whisper into his ear and said “I’m gonna kill you”. Living the gimmick. We get to chatting about some of the worst UK promotions and someone’s son booking the promotion because he’s good at career mode on WWE. Jamie’s response: “I was good at Wifit but I’m still fat”. As the evening progressed it got a little rowdy for a Thursday. The Russian lady on the night shift at Tryp got pathologically angry at someone ordering a vodka and coke. I guess they don’t mix vodka over there. Ryan tried to hit on her and failed. At 2.14am we were on the “long bombs” and my handwriting started getting a bit erratic. 2.18am and it was shots. Just after 4am I got to my room…after everyone else had gone. Last at the Bar champ!
March 8 2019
Four hours sleep. Pretty standard. Rob was awake enough to hit our first podcast of the weekend raving about Yuki Ishikawa. Also love for Starr, Davis and Dragunov. Rob got confused by a trouser press. “What’s this for?” We had a lunch engagement for the press but dropped into the Tryp bar on the way out. Blayne (@bpk1990) was on it already with a pint in hand. “I like the taste”.
Louisiana in CentrO for the press lunch. With the press set up changing it almost feels like this is an expense that might have been cut here but I appreciate Tas and Felix buying us lunch. Speaking of which I got to have an interesting conversation with Tas about 16 Carat this year and his experiences of booking difficult talent (I’m probably not allowed to name and shame but this was very interesting). As per usual wXw are very open. It’s rare they won’t talk about things and only really WWE related stuff where they’ve been told to not talk. On the way out we tell Tas we’ll see him at the podcast marathon. “Don’t blow it” he says back. No pressure! Unrelated to this is some menu items in Louisiana that sound like old territory wrestlers: Crunchy Jack Escalope and Minnesota Crispy. They were a hell of a tag team.
First round winners; WALTER, Irie, Penta, Fenix, ADJ, Thatcher, Avalanche, Dragunov
Semi-finals: Tim, WALTER, Ilja, Avalanche
Winner: Tim Thatcher
This is on paper and was recorded and noted by Mike, Rob and Tas at the time. So I booked the tournament identical to wXw apart from the winner. I feel like this is a good display of how good we can be on BWR at reading the booking. Rob did less well. Also I got all our tiebreakers wrong; Andy, Kelly, Veit.
Podcast Marathon. This was a new event over at the Haus Union, the hotel the wrestlers stay at. We were on second at 3.30pm and had a 25 minute slot. We ended up going 17 minutes and finishing way too early. The topic was “We Hate Wrestling” and it was supposed to be a back and forth about bad things in wrestling and their good equivilent but ended up just us ripping into shit things about wrestling. It was very weird talking in front of a crowd. I’m so used to having conversations and feeding off another person that sitting there and just talking was something I was not well prepared for. I came away from it with a newfound sense of respect for anyone that talks to an audience for an extended period of time. At one point my mind went completely blank and if I hadn’t had the notes in front of me I would have been utterly lost. On a related note; Alan 4L is the nicest man in the world. He noticed we were struggling a little bit and trying to get people involved and helped us out. I already love Alan but this just made me love him more.
The other podcasts were fun to watch. A shout out to the guy on the pod after us who sang HBK’s entrance music. The stories in Alan’s podcast with Manka were great. Sha Samuels and Martin Stone swigging from a bottle of JD backstage ten years ago, Sha and Terry Frazier renting niche porn from Buster’s Erotik Discount (one of Oberhausen’s finest landmarks). The Indy Corner did a Brits abroad piece that included Chelsea fans being “absolute scum”, German tinder, Primark child labour, how bad Blackpool is and soap discussion. The timing of the marathon wasn’t ideal and the numbers dried up at the end for Maffew and Botchamania. He had JayFK on as guests and it was very awkward. “Nobody’s reacting, I feel like Da Mack”. Maffew has a unique ability to talk that I wished I had and coasted past the awkwardness with a series of gags. The laptop didn’t cooperate with him, which made matters worse but the shot at Veda Scott was incredible. “Why are you so mean to Veda?” – Jay Skillet. “Oh, no reason” – Maffew, immediately loading the video of Martina/Veda from Carat. Comedy is all about timing.
SHOW #10 OF 2019: WXW 16 CARAT GOLD NIGHT ONE
The main room is beautiful. It’s huge. Even bigger than the room that is usually used for wXw events. To put things into perspective; the first wXw 16 Carat I saw on tape was 2010. It was filmed in one of the smaller rooms in the building. This year they used that room for merch. Walking into there was like walking into history. I found myself extremely emotional before we’d even started. The main room was almost overwhelming. They’d added some new things to production including a vertical pointing Carat sign. Every balcony had a banner. The building was superbly dressed. Shout out to Dennis Birkendahl. Another outstanding performance from him and his team. Also to Katja Pilz and everyone in video production. The video packages were again majestic and drove the emotional core of the storytelling all weekend long. The building was packed out with 1300 fans in attendance. STRIGGA was excited that it was more than Big Japan draw to a normal Korakuen Hall show.
Speaking of STRIGGA. Last year he beat Maffew Gregg in a much laughed at clip where Matt didn’t know WALTER’s nickname. A measure of revenge for Maffew here as they played a competition where you have to find the ring bell blindfolded. The feud is even at 1-1 and I’m already excited for next year’s Carat where they have a no ropes barbed wire match to settle the feud. STRIGGA bouncing in the ring, to try and put Maffew off, is my spirit animal. I hope someone has that on tape so I can watch it in GIF form whenever I need cheering up.
Veit Muller def. Julian Pace, Leon Van Gastern & Kyle Fletcher
Axel Dieter Jr def. Marius Al-Ani
Rey Fenix def. Rey Horus
Shigehiro Irie def. Chris Brookes
Lucky Kid def. Tim Thatcher
Avalanche def. Jurn Simmons
Pentagon Jr def. Mark Davis
Ilja Dragunov def. Daisuke Sekimoto
WALTER def. David Starr
I was up in the press gantry, or rather the bit to the right of the workers gantry and got some serious side-eye for celebrating WALTER’s main event win. That match is so good I spent hours afterwards explaining what I loved about it and the theory I had about Starr maybe never winning against WALTER. I loved it. The only match I got wrong, predictions wise, was Thatcher losing. That felt so out of left field and yet looking back the idea was to screen Lucky’s run by putting him in a losing position in the first round. Extremely clever stuff from wXw.
All in all it was a solid first night of wrestling. The main event was way above everything else and I think that was quite deliberate. The undercard had a lot of potential but rarely lived up to the highest possible desires of those watching. Dragunov/Sekimoto was very good, as was Fenix/Horus. I thought I might walk away from night one saying “this was incredible…and it’s only night one” but I didn’t. However the main event is absolutely essential. It’s the best match they’ve had, especially from a storyline perspective and it set up WALTER’s entire run. Just being a bit of a dick about winning. Tapping out when he knew he was safe under the ropes to cause Starr to believe he’d won was devious as all hell.
As everyone piled across to Knippi’s for the bowling myself and Rob went back to the Tryp to record the night one podcast. It ended up being fairly ideal although we got soaked walking over to Knippi’s to check out the action. It was a wild affair. All lanes booked out. Wrestlers everywhere. Massive smiles on everyone’s faces. Kelly and Andy with their daddy/daughter matching bowling gear was amazing. I discovered Chris Brookes isn’t a good bowler. I told him he was supposed to be a professional athlete but apparently bowling and wrestling require different mindsets. I get to have a quick chat with Avalanche who confirms my suspicions about how the falls count anywhere match was shot. I’m not allowed to tell anyone about it or he’ll tell people about my horrendous mistaken identity moment at the bowling alley.
Mort is in a good mood on his first night in Germany. He’s off to “shower drunk” because he can’t shower with a hangover. I personally love showering with a hangover. It’s a good cure. I get to experience two minutes in the life of Chris Linay. He went from buying a beer to pulling out some of Joao’s chest hair and eating it to fist bumping Daisuke Sekimoto. All this happened inside two minutes. Imagine living that life? Sekimoto chopped one of the fans and gave him one of the best worked chops I’ve ever seen. Elbow to fingertip connection for maximum sound and minimal pain. It looked incredible. Lessons to be learned there, I feel. By the time we left Knippi’s it was raining heavily so we got a little damp on the way back to the Tryp.
At the Tryp bar we got into conversation with some Germans who told us they’d met a Brit at Carat last year and then again at Mania and over Mania weekend he made a sex tape with a hooker and was showing everyone. A different wild ride! Shauna drew a dalek on my notepad. It looks suspiciously like a novelty condom. Shauna had been watching I Dream of Genie in German, “I watched a few episodes of that”. All of this was overlapping with talk of ADJ’s tan in a can. “Just look at his nipples” says Connor. Indeed. The last thing I have for Friday is “always leave them wanting mor….t”. Good news for my Last at the Bar defence as people faded quickly and I was in my room not long after 4am with title in tact.
March 9 2019
I switch to my comfy tournament shoes because it’s Saturday, which means it’s Mike Kilby’s Wild Ride 2. The aim is to attend four wrestling shows and the after party without dying or tapping out. At the lobby in the Tryp I get to meet Marie from Ireland (@cliffe_marie) who predicted Absolute Andy would win 16 Carat last year. Her prediction this year? Lucky Kid. And I know that call was made before night one because Sarah 4L told me before the first round happened. What’s more is 2018 was her first Carat so she’s battling 100%.
SHOW #11 OF 2019: WRESTLING KULT FRUHCHOPPEN
This is my first time at the Kult Tempel. Last year’s Kult Carat show took place at the Zentrum Altenberg, which was a brilliant venue. The Kult Tempel isn’t as good. It’s very small, very compact and the ring takes up about half the building. There’s hardly any space on the sides and the entrance is at the back so the bulk of the crowd are on one side. Seeing the ring, and getting sleep, were not a combined option. The attendance was way higher with it being so much closer to the Turbinenhalle. From the UK/Ireland contingent at Carat the year before we had six people at Kult. This year it was more like 25/30.
The Kult Tempel has a weird system that’s similar to bons but not the same. So you get a drinks card as you enter. It has six Euros already marked off. So you need to drink six Euros worth of drinks just to break even. I was sensible and drank a coke but that was it, so I was out of pocket. Then when you went past the six Euro mark they marked your card. Germany is weird about cash-free bars. The idea is you pay as you leave the building. Which is fine unless you’re hosting an event where everyone leaves at the same time! I was second out of the door in an inspired escape back on the final pinfall but anyone near the ring was fucked.
Hollandse Glory def. Der Schwinger Club
Vinny Vortex def. Matthias Bernstein, Timo Theiss & Kevin Roadster
Sean Kustom def. Senza Volto & Robbie X
Amale Winchester def. Melanie Gray
Carnage def. Demolition Davies
Bad Bones def. Tristan Archer & Kay Jutler
The stand out match here was the Wrestle Gate Pro presents bout with Kustom, Volto and Robbie. I was blown away at how good they were. It was fast paced, innovative and the difficulty level was so much higher than everything else on the show. They did some dives that I really wasn’t expecting due to how close everything was to the ring. I noticed Robbie eyeballing the disco ball in particular. My favourite spot was Robbie going up top and Volto doing a 619 style move to take him down, having him fall backwards off the buckles and flip bump onto his face. Amazing.
The rest of the show operated a lower level but some of the guys endeared themselves to new fans. Der Schwinger Club’s slogan of “wrestling, bier und titten” provoked a building wide chant. There were a lot of dick jokes and bare arse antics for 10.20am. Matthias Bernstein was also hugely over with everyone for his germophobe gimmick. After getting upset with how someone’s garments were folded he neatly folded his up and handed them out of the ring provoking a “he folds when he wants” chant that I’m still chuckling about now. Julian Pace also got a great reaction for his brawl with Norman Harrass and for using White Comic “This Ain’t the End of Me” as entrance music. I also got to witness another enormous chop from mere yards away during a crowd brawl and can confirm Julian Pace is quite good at chops.
Two title changes here. One with Bad Bones, which alters the match at Wrestling Deutschland from Archer vs. Carnage to Bones vs. Carnage. The other Amale Winchester winning the Women of Kult belt. Winchester was at last year’s Kult show and I thought she was good but she has improved over the last year. Giving Lison (@lisonma) two great French wrestlers to cheer on this show. I think it’s only a matter of time before Amale is in wXw and then breaks out across Europe. The triple threat being so good caused an issue with the rest of the card. It felt like that match woke the crowd up. Mort thought differently; “the penis match woke me up. Touche.
Top tip for Kult Tempel, other than leave as early as possible, is that they have a balcony. I had no idea until Will Cooling told me about it after the show. It you can’t see at all downstairs, try your luck upstairs.
SHOW #12 OF 2019: WXW AMBITION 10
Rico Bushido def. Veit Muller
Punch-Drunk Istria def. Danny Jones
Shigehiro Irie def. Laurence Roman
Chris Ridgway def. A-Kid
Rico Bushido def. Punch-Drunk Istria
Shigehiro Irie def. Chris Ridgeway
Yuki Ishikawa def. Tim Thatcher
Shigehiro Irie def. Rico Bushido
A very strong and unique field for AMBITION this year. Including Rico in his comeback and looking good with his wild kicks, A-Kid from Spain, Istria from Australia plus some local talent that don’t always get the chance to shine. It was a great line up and it produced some cracking little matches. In particular Riddy vs. A-Kid. This was incredible. They were both great on the mat and then Riddy got the win via stand up. I could have watched that match over and over again. Riddy vs. Irie was also really good. Yuki vs. Tim was good again and I was thrilled for Irie getting the big win. It was almost a reward for how great he’s been over in Germany for the past three months. I have enjoyed his run a great deal.
AMBITION is weird because wrestling is presented as ‘real’ but shoot-style is ‘more real’ and that’s very hard to explain to anyone outside of wrestling. Although if it was really more real Rico Bushido would be disqualified for drug use.
Last year during Mike Kilby’s Wild Ride I coped without food until midway through the show at Steffys but this year I knew I was struggling and we went for food after AMBITION. The queue for McDonalds was out of the door so we went to Burger King and the queue there was enormous. It’s hard to plan around wall to wall wrestling because everyone has the same meal times and it’s difficult for even a smaller crowd like AMBITION to get fed and move on to another show. wXw has gotten much better at providing food in the venue but planning wrestling is easier than planning meals I find. The weather did not help. It hailed during AMBITION and everyone got very wet all weekend with the rain pissing it down at times. I brought an umbrella but it was so windy it would have been of no use whatsoever.
SHOW #13 OF 2019: WRESTLING DEUTSCHLAND
Rotation, Vinny Vortex & Norman Harrass def. Bailey Matthews, Timo Theiss & Levaniel
Laurence Roman def. Ronny Kessler
Fynn Freyhart def. Crowchester & Nikolas Kluth
Jake Steakhouse & Mrs Steakhouse def. Friar Fuck & Xara Grace
Blackwell def. Jester
Pretty Bastards def. Michael Isotov & Sadistico
Bad Bones def. Carnage
How can I put this tactfully? It felt like this show took place in a different universe to the wXw shows this weekend. The standard of wrestling varied wildly. Some of the people involved looked untrained. Some of the storytelling was very suspect. I overheard one of the guys at the bar later say it was the worst show they’d ever seen, which led to much debate and me pitching a MPW show where Keith Myatt had to drag an over enthusiastic fan out of the ring during a battle royal.
I think ‘worst show ever’ is hyperbole. My notes state that I thought the show was “rotten” but that’s not on any particular wrestler or indeed on wXw. It just felt less organised this year. Less of a focal point. Less useful to the overall feel of the day. I enjoyed multiple things about it because I love wrestling but it wasn’t very good. I enjoyed Rotation although I only caught the very end of his match. I like raccoons so Roman was fine. Crowchester looked good, albeit in a match that had some quite dangerous looking spots. Jester did some lucha spots I quite liked. Match of the night was probably Pretty Bastards vs. Keel Holding but it was a low bar.
As we left for N2 of Carat the Wild Ride had gone soggy. It was raining, a few people were quite irritable and there’s nothing like bad wrestling for rubbing people the wrong way. We cheered ourselves up by heading to McDonalds and laughing at the name Jake Steakhouse (thanks @bryanisnotfunny) for about 20 minutes. To the point where German people were staring at us like we were high. From the outsiders point of view it would seem that way. It’s not even his name! It’s what Bryan overheard the name as being. His name is Rodeo Chase Jenkins. I messaged him to see if he was open to changing name but aside from liking steaks he was quite attached to his existing name. Missed opportunity there Jake.
SHOW #14 OF 2019: WXW 16 CARAT GOLD NIGHT TWO
One thing I need to say about vantage points is that the bigger room creates more high level angles to see from the media perspective. This is, hands down, the best view I’ve ever had at a wXw series of shows. Thanks to wXw for letting us watch from the VIP areas on the top floor. That said I was determined to watch the main event of this show from the ‘mosh pit’ off to the side of the ramp. I wanted to soak in that atmosphere. The rest of the time I was up top and loving the view.
You can tell when wXw has a blow-away great show lined up because everyone is so calm. Nobody is rushing around. It’s all smiling faces. I got to see that first hand here and I started getting goosebumps at every video package, every chant and every song that played. Sometimes you get that atmosphere and night two 2018 was an incredible experience. When “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey was the final song before the show started I found myself incredibly fired up for the show.
That inescapable air of positivity is one of the things I thrive on when I’m at wXw. If I could bottle it and drink it every morning I would do so without hesitation. I would love to feel that good all year around. Writing this up I’m still buzzing from that feeling.
Killer Kelly & Yuu def. Toni Storm & Wesna
Ilja Dragunov def. Pentagon Jr
Avalanche def. Shigehiro Irie
Julian Pace def. Rey Horus, Chris Brookes & Daisuke Sekimoto
WALTER def. Rey Fenix
Lucky Kid def. Axel Dieter Jr
Aussie Open def. RISE & JayFK
Marius Al-Ani def. Alexander Wolfe
Bobby Gunns def. Absolute Andy
The elephant in the title match, the ever looming presence of Vinny Vortex at ringside, had me thinking that Andy was retaining here but instead we got some shenanigans but not those shenanigans. Gunns winning was a fantastic experience. I’m not as high on him as a lot of the fans but being in the mosh pit when he won was amazing. I’ve never seen celebrations like it. It was like your team winning or scoring an important goal. People were dancing and jumping for joy. Much like me when WALTER won on Friday night. I’ve heard some German fans complaining that the relentless chanting is distracting and yet I’m sure they’d rather have noise than silence. Any reaction is better than no reaction. Ask anyone who’s been to an EVOLVE show.
The pop for Axel Tischer was pretty insane. No one knew he was there. It was a massive surprise. I like the idea that the WWE collaboration is essentially a one way street of getting little party favours from New York until they want something back. Hey, it may never happen. Make hay while the sun shines. The arrival of Schadenfreude in wXw came as a genuine surprise too. Although when Brookes first aided Aussie Open it was to prevent heels from screwing them over it suddenly opened up the possibility of a replacement stable for RISE. The RISE angle is completely finished at this point. Schadenfreude has become a successful stable in Fight Club Pro but they’ve never really shared continuity before. It’s an interesting move. Especially as Lucky Kid and Tim Thatcher are members of the UK version.
The Lucky Kid story became very apparent here as he beat Axel Dieter Jr. The story was so obvious and yet so well concealed. Fenix vs. WALTER might be the best match of the tournament. An outstanding contest and a clash of styles. WALTER chopping Fenix off the ropes and shredding his mask. Fenix bringing a mix of intensity and high spots. The fan throwing the replacement mask in felt so organic that I couldn’t tell if it was intended or not.
Emil Sitoci returned to attack Julian Pace. I’m a little sad about that because Emil is such a good babyface but his natural state in this company is heel. Avalanche/Irie was great, as was Dragunov/Penta. As a show Night Two delivered above Night One but a pattern was emerging with stories being developed over the weekend and everything just falling into place.
Midnight. Outside McDonalds. Lots of happy looking people waiting for the after party to start. “I can’t wait for PCW next week” says Andy Ogden (@oggypart3). That’s what a good show will do for mental positivity. No wonder everyone looked so calm. While waiting I had Matthew Gregg doing box reviews for Maccies. This box so beautiful and let’s see what the food looks like…oh. Maffew also compared John Major winning an election with ICW winning UK promotion of the year in FSM.
The after party was in a different part of the Turbinenhalle to usual. The normal party takes place in the bar off the normal venue with the venue toilets being used. This one was at Cosmo, a bar up a fire escape on the side of the building that I never knew existed. The Turbinenhalle is such a maze it could be used for a wrestling festival. Put on two shows at the same time! It’s that big. I wasn’t a big fan of the after party this time because it was all in one room. The only quiet space was the smoking area, which was on a fire escape. Which caused STRIGGA to point out if there was a fire we’ll all get cancer. So you have the choice; burn to death or lung cancer.
I do prefer having quiet space to chat with people but that wasn’t there and that was a little disappointing. You have to make do so I drank a bunch of beers and listened to people’s terrible singing. Jamo’s version of “The Shallow” almost made me cry. It’s been an emotional day. We bailed early on the after party to record our thoughts on Night Two. It’s always hard to fit in podcasts but this is how we do it over these weekends. Keep the thoughts fresh. I did get to see Bobby Gunns getting crowd surfed, the Absolute Andy conga line, Rico Bushido passing a bottle of vodka around and David Starr walking around with Rev Pro merch on. I also broke my shared drinks rule because Dirty Dragan passed the bottle to me and I break my rules for Dirty Dragan. It’s out of love. I would rather be sick than disappoint him.
March 10 2019
I wake up and the first thing I see, after failing to defend my Last at the Bar championship, is a note pushed under the door which simply reads “COWARD”. Thanks Joao.
We headed over to the Turbinenhalle for the only media panels of the weekend. With WALTER first and then a duo one with Tasilo and Felix Kohlenberg. WALTER was really open and forthright. He got asked about his WWE committments and repeated that he wasn’t leaving and wouldn’t want to live in America. Nor was he involved in the training like he is in wXw. Getting tips off Shawn Michaels was helping him a lot and it allowed to work a reduced schedule for more money. As he spoke I found it hard to argue with the logic of him working loosely with WWE. Everyone got what they wanted out of the arrangement. So it means I get to see him less but it’ll probably prolong his career and make him a rich man.
I got to ask about a possible Japanese move and he says he was never contacted by New Japan. Anyone who says he was were merely speculating. I also got to ask about Japan in general and he feels there’s more money to be made on the Indies, in America and Europe, than by going to Japan. There always used to be money to be made that way back in the days of Stan Hansen but now you have to be a star in New Japan or maybe Dragon Gate to get that pay because no one else is doing big houses. I neglected to ask about DDT. He pointedly said that “Austrian Anomaly” isn’t an official branded nickname.
Some other points: puts over Veit Muller, Julian Pace and Jay Skillet. Thinks the future of German wrestling is in good hands after it skipped a generation before him. He talked about creative highs in OTT and wXw. Talked about how he likes to drive storyline over “bullshit” and tells us there will always be Ringkampf in wXw. As for wXw he tells us the weekend has run smoothly, there is interesting stuff ahead and that five years ago having 1500 at Carat was unthinkable. Where will we be in five more years?
In between interviews one of the German media guys refers to JP as the “Burt Reynolds of BritWres”. I felt that needed to make it in here.
Tas and Felix take the stage. They face some interesting questions in another very open session. The media have learned to ask proper journalistic questions now and it leads to a very interesting session. We heard about CMJ; he’s getting better but isn’t ready to come back yet. When he is ready it’ll be his choice as to whether he wants to be involved with wXw or not. They’re asked about not announcing Alexander Wolfe, which could have been a big draw. Tas told us he liked Carat to have surprises to keep it special and that pre-sale tickets had already gone well enough to not need to announce him. They hope the Mania weekend show will have a 48 hour turnaround on wXw now depending on WWN getting the footage to them. They’re happy with the output from the Academy and refer to Bobby Gunns and Julian Pace as particular success stories. They talked about talent sharing and how other promotions always share dates in order to allow planning and cooperation. The only topic that was avoided was the possibility of wXw going on the Network, which Tas slyly deflected by saying WWE couldn’t buy them out and close them as there was nine shareholders and they owned everything important.
After leaving the presser we went for lunch at McDonalds as the Fan Expo had opened but the thing never really interests me that much. So I got to sit down and chat with Rob, Matthew Gregg and Mike Kilby for a while. Sharing scoops and stories and ideas. An idea for wXw to do next year; a show for all the partners on wXwNow instead of Wrestling Deutschland. Then we could see matches from White Wolf, Bodyslam and other promotions. Carat is becoming an International weekend so why not make it more so?
On a lighter note we got into a Daichi Hashimoto story with him being mistaken for Shinya Hashimoto, which in turn lead to “Shinya Hashimoto is in heaven, kicking the shit out of angels”. Also Mike had a Happy Meal because it was a better deal. He looked very happy!
Into the Fan Expo because there were matches happening and wXw taped the Road to New York City. It was a low key affair and we were embargoed on reporting it. The women’s match on the show is decent and I liked the tag that went second last. Doing back to back tags at the end was very weird booking and the whole thing felt like an episode of RAW.
During the show the international theme returned as I was watching a match involving Persians and Hungarians and our group were me, a Portuguese, a Dane, a German and a Japanese. Lots of nationalities brought together by professional wrestling. I also had a lovely chat with Mort about how you would pin a car in a wrestling match (shoot car) that got actually quite serious until we both burst out laughing. I wish I could laugh as much on a day to day basis as I laugh in Oberhausen.
Mosch Mosch. The Japanese restaurant in CentrO. We went there with Marvin (@marvinacell) who was amused at my pronunciation of German words. Apparently Lowenbrau is pronounced “Lovrenbry”, or at least that how it sounded. We got deeper into languages and he gave me this fantastic quote; “the dutch language, you take the German language and then stamp it on for one hour straight”. We then spent some time laughing at the clothesline on Jack Grealish during the Birmingham derby and talked about the most ridiculous things we’d seen happen in football. The Sporting Lisbon controversies of last year made for fascinating discussion. It was yet another change of speed and new topic with another different friend to everything else that happened over the weekend. I love how Carat weekend does that.
We left Mosch Mosch full of ramen and ready for night three. The wind had picked up a little and part of the neighbouring building looked like it was about to blow away. The wind was horrific and this might be the most extreme weather I’ve seen during one of these weekenders. It effected flights the next day too.
Christian Bischoff has his gold suit on. Alan 4L has his gold tie. It must be 16 Carat Gold’s final night. As we hit the usual spot upstairs it occured to me the guy in control of security in that area all weekend had been Crowchester. You did a fine job sir!
SHOW #16 OF 2019: WXW 16 CARAT GOLD NIGHT THREE
Lucky Kid def. Ilja Dragunov
WALTER def. Avalanche
Sekimoto, Irie & Ishikawa def. Wolfe, Muller & Thatcher
Toni Storm def. Killer Kelly
Hot & Spicy def. JayFK
Schadenfraude def. Lucha Bros & Rey Horus
Lucky Kid def. WALTER
This tournament left me emotionally full. Satisfied with professional wrestling to my very core. As Lucky Kid held the trophy aloft I was overcome with emotions but I felt completely at peace. As if the 2019 16 Carat Gold tournament had helped me find my centre. My zen. It’s hard to describe but it was a feeling of having no worries, no concerns and nothing but love flowing through my veins. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced before and 16 Carat has a habit of introducing my body to strange new sensations. Whether it’s emotional exhaustion, pure ecstacy or surprising me in ways I thought wrestling was incapable of doing.
On specifics; Lucky Kid was a great winner. He has incredible sympathy and I loved how he went from fluke roll ups and soundly beating Ilja Dragunov and kicking out of Torpedo Moscow (from a fucking handspring no less) to making the almost indestructible WALTER tap out. What an incredible underdog story it was. I feel wXw made a slight mistake in placing Lucky/Dragunov in the opening match when the outcome made WALTER a more obvious winner and meant people didn’t buy into Avalanche’s near falls. Swap those two matches around and it would improve the reactions. I loved Veit Muller being inducted into Ringkampf but Thatcher refusing to stay. I also loved him shaking hands with Veit so that Muller was not negatively effected by Tim’s decision.
I loved Toni Storm stealing Kelly’s mouthguard and then doing her moves. Then Kelly stealing it back and hitting them all over again. I also loved Toni retaining as she’s an incredible heel right now and Kelly is now in the same David Starr position, chasing a monster she cannot beat. I loved Hot & Spicy. Nordisch by Nature has been stuck in my head ever since. I LOVED the Flippy Tag so much. It might be my favourite Flippy Tag on the last day of Carat. The Mexican trio were just outstanding and it was brought together by the organisation. I literally messaged Chris Brookes as the match finished to tell him how fucking wild I thought it was. I had a nice time.
The main event was an experience for me as it started with Toni Storm standing behind me making observations. “I wish I was WALTER”. Then she got talking to Rotation and I was watching the match and just overhearing bits of their chat about the kid’s class at the Academy. She saw the exhibition earlier and wanted to join in and, this was said very jokingly, “kick their little heads in”. At that point I burst out laughing because how can you not. Then I let her stand in front of me so she could see and she kept worrying that I couldn’t see over her. Some people are just too wholesome to be involved with professional wrestling. We don’t deserve Toni Storm.
The tradition at these weekenders is to go, as a group, to Alex and eat there. Nobody called ahead this year so when 60 people turned up at 9pm to get food they weren’t prepared at all and we ended up splintered as a group. I got to eat in Louisiana with a bunch of people spread all over the restaurant. It didn’t have quite the same community feel unfortunately but we got to chat a bit between tables. The Formula One duelling chants thing with Chris Linay was fun. “Let’s go Senna”. “Prost. Alain Prost”. Big Chris was also doing the worker stomp with a series of chops with the waitress looking suitably confused. People who are suddenly around a mass of wrestling fans have the most confused looks on their faces. It’s quite wonderful.
“I don’t like it when they bump for the penis. I like it when they no sell it” says Mort as we discuss wrestling things in the bar at the Tryp. There’s talk about feuding pandas and how the Andreza storyline is playing out. Sarah Flann tactically adding a “fuck you TAKA” to it. Her voice almost gone but just enough left to get that dig in. Matthew Gregg has flight problems. High winds have caused cancellations and he’s trying to rebook. “I’m like a reverse Mr T, get me on the plane”. Myself and Mike come up with a Bushido Sound(s like) podcast where everyone sounds like Rico Bushido. I tried to rope Alan 4L into cohosting with four of us doing Rico impressions but I think that’s probably not happening. We try to book a TV show from wXw set in an office where Andy is the office manager and Julian Pace is in the mail room. We get distracted pretty quickly. I remembered yelling “get out of my sport” at a participant on Wrestling Deutschland, which draws a ripple of laughter from the one end of the table. This leads into me explaining that I have two German doppelgangers and soon there is a chant of “there’s only three Arnold Furious”.
MattEU (I forget the context of this) tells us a story about the first time he was at Carat and got accosted by a German fan who told him Germans chanting reminded him of something. Maffew looked blankly at him and got told “you know…Hitler?” We go back to Rico Bushido again and discover his job is essentially being Rico Bushido. Then it’s onto bowling and Daisuke Sekimoto takes tiny run up steps and bowls like Fred Flintstone. By this point the numbers start to thin out. Maffew almost falls asleep in mid sentence in a scene that reminds me of Homer Simpson’s slurred postcast to Marge. Before too long we’re down to Blayne, Brian, Joao, Mort, Rob and myself. The weekend is nearly over. The Irish head for bed and we’re left trying to book cards using only wrestlers that follow us on Twitter. Then Mort tells a story about a stripper at a Japanese show. “It was included in the price. You could touch her and everything. Then she rode on Tarzan Yamamoto’s face for a few minutes”.
March 11 2019
Dusseldorf airport and it’s over. The weather has not been kind and some of the travellers to Germany have a bad route home. In particular the Ogdens whose flight to Manchester was cancelled. They found themselves re-routed to London. Maffew barely made his connecting flight through Paris due to delays. Our flight was delayed by an hour. I was on the same flight as Joao and Evelyn on the way home. It was nice to have a quick word with Evelyn on how much she enjoyed the weekend. The big wXw weekenders are a tremendous time but there’s no weekender like the first one. It’s become so much easier now with the sheer volume of foreign fans that descend on Oberhausen for Carat and Tag League. If I wasn’t already going to these things (I’ve been to five weekenders in a row) I would certainly start going.
The airport is a time for reflection. We record one last podcast and I say goodbye to Rob, not knowing when we’ll be in the same building again but having had another great trip with my podcasting partner. I end up sat with Maffew and Joao, chatting about airlines, delays, Steve Austin taking charge of a plane to get us out of there (“I’ll fly when I want, can’t nobody stop me”). Then recording our sleep patterns over the weekend. I had a relatively healthy 19 hours. Maffew was there a day less and managed to get 20 hours. Joao clocked 23 over four days but 11 of those were on Thursday night. Finally we talk about prep and how Maffew took a bowl and a spoon with him this time and bought cereal and milk from Lidl. I bought cans of Monster from CentrO, although there’s also a garage right next to the Tryp, so I could power through Sunday morning. Also I’m told by the Ogdens there’s dirty porn on channel 21 if you get bored by late night Dusseldorf TV.
It’s hard to summerise the weekend in simple terms. I’ve already mentioned how it made me feel emotionally full. I’m aware part of Jakobism is that you can’t have rice pudding three days in a row. But I really like rice pudding. wXw gave me a lot of rice pudding on this trip and it was delicious.