With another prestigious wXw 16 Carat Gold weekend in the books I felt the urge to do a little follow up. I’ve always had a good relationship with wXw as a promotion and part of that relationship is the two-way street of information exchanges. As we feed back to them, they also feed back to us. I’ve always wanted to do an interview with Christian Jakobi after Carat but he also felt the need to do a big Sunday panel where he talked about the weekend and that pretty much covered all the bases. However I came out of this 16 Carat weekend hungry for more so I asked Tas if he’d mind answering a few questions and this is what happened. Some questions ended up being omitted due to relevance of storytelling and ongoing booking so if it seems like I’ve missed some obvious questions out that’s not the case. Additionally a lot of questions were asked during a press conference on Sunday morning relating to the WWE connection and business decisions. This is in addition to those questions.
ARNOLD FURIOUS: What was the official attendance and was it in line with what you were hoping for?
TASSILO JUNG: Attendance for the three nights of wXw 16 Carat Gold 2019 has been 1,211 – 1,510 – 1,341. By my knowledge this makes the three nights of this year’s 16 Carat the three singular biggest German independent wrestling events in the last twenty years. This is an unbelievable success and has very much exceeded our hopes. We have shattered our previous all-time attendance record by 37.2% and even the traditionally weaker Friday has attracted a higher crowd than any event we have ever done.
AF: Was Wrestling Deutschland considered a success this year?
TJ: Yes and no. With a total of four wrestling events spanning over 13 ½ hours a little less than 400 fans have been interested in checking this event out and seeing what other promotions have been offering. Economically this is a success. However, I am unhappy with the quality. Last year’s event felt dragged out with a lot of long talking segments (of often sub-par quality) to introduce the promotions. The event ran long and the main event wrestlers ended up wrestling in a semi-empty building. We had this experienced in mind and tried to shorten this event, so everyone could watch it and still get in queue for Night 2. We might have overshot here. The event ran a little short, a lot of the matches ended up using less time than we had planned and we do not feel fans really got what the promotions were about. Needless to say, this year had two very poor matches. We have talked to both promotions (who we value btw – I believe both of them are among the better German examples of how to promote wrestling events for a regional audience) and have informed them that we would like a different quality from them next time.
With the Steffy being needed for other events around the weekend of 16 Carat we did not have the opportunity to use the stage and thus ended up with a sub-par entrance which hasn’t helped the show. To sum this up: I do not think this event was worth the price of admission and I do not think all of the promotions got what they could have gotten out of this.
AF: Is there are WD3 planned for 2020?
Maybe. We have decided to collect some feedback about wXw 16 Carat and then get together to evaluate all parts and procedures of our festival. This is our usual process and something we feel is doing us very well. Personally I’d say #WD1 was successful. #WD2 attracted a lot of people and promotions, yet wasn’t a good show. I feel there is something to learn from both events. Possibly focussing the event on 6 promotions (rather than including 7 promotions plus adding the battle royal, so more wrestlers would get a little spotlight), doing a little longer matches, adding a way for the promotions to be introduced (e.g. by a host or video package), adding a little production value and ensuring a minimum quality of wrestlers involved (rather than having promotions decide on their match without any feedback from us) would be a recipe to get a good event out of #WD3. That being said: wXw is very much a team effort and we do not work in a way where one person pushes his opinion on everyone. If our ‘inner circle’ has a different opinion on this, we might also not do a third episode.
AF: Would wXw be open to entertaining promotions from wXwNow over Carat weekend like White Wolf or Bodyslam? Either for part of WD or in that slot or in pre-show matches to warm the crowd up?
TJ: This is something we are discussing either as an alternative to or as an addition to #WrestlingDeutschland. I believe there are some interesting wrestling products on wXwNOW and it might help if they got some additional spotlight.
AF: When you saw our predictions at the press lunch were you surprised at how close they were? Also were you pleased that none of us predicted the winner?
TJ: At times people believe I am involved more in creative than I actually am. 🙂 I think our creative team does a wonderful job at the moment and they have very much found their rhythm since the beginning of the year.
AF: What sort of restrictions do you have with WALTER and Toni Storm going forward? I think a lot of people were expecting Toni to drop the title because of NXT UK.
TJ: WALTER and Toni Storm (and Ilja Dragunov and Killer Kelly) are wXw roster members. Due to their WWE/NXT UK deals this has not changed. The only change is of course that WWE dates have priority, e.g. if NXT UK tapings and wXw events are taking place on the same date, chances are very high that the WWE-contracted talent will be at the NXT UK events.
AF: You mentioned wXw has nine shareholders. Are those shareholders listed anywhere or is that private? Also, how do you become a shareholder? Is there a way to invest?
TJ: While we do not have them listed on our homepage(s), shareholders of GmbH/UG companies are public knowledge in Germany, so they aren’t secrets. The initial shareholders have been Felix (Kohlenberg), Christian (Jakobi) and myself as we had originally purchased (the rights to) wXw from its founder, Hate. As it’s the law, three people doing business together automatically become a GbR (basic German company form). After doing that for three years, we wanted to get rid of the private liability for anything wXw did and turned the GbR into a GmbH (German limited liability company). Our (back then) video editor Marc (Weingartner) became the fourth share holder when turning the GbR into a GmbH. He has later sold his shares to Joerg (Steinmetzler). The four of us remain the shareholders of the wXw Europe GmbH to this date.
The wXw Wrestling Academy UG is owned by wXw Europe GmbH and an additional share holder. The wXw NOW GmbH is owned by Christian, Felix, myself and five additional shareholders. All ‘wXw company family share holders’ are people who have worked with us for many years and who due to this structure are able to own part of our companies and ideally financially benefit from their company doing well. The only way to become a shareholder is by a current share holder selling his part of the company and the other shareholders (a) agreeing not to purchase it themselves and (b) agreeing on there being
a new share holder. This is unlikely to open up to anyone outside of wXw.
There are ways to invest in wXw. If someone would like to seriously inquire about this, we could always get together and discuss amounts and risk aversion to find the right project. I need to state in advance though: We have very limited use for a 500 EUR investment and whatever we would acquire outside capital for will have a far higher risk profile than what we do as our day-by-day business.
AF: Regarding the pre-taped Avalanche/Jurn match; did you expect people to become frustrated with that being the only footage on the big screens when, with restricted views, some people are eager for live footage of the shows on the screens?
TJ: Not necessarily, no. To me it is very straight-forward that from the backstage area we have different ways to film a match and broadcast it to a screen that aren’t available in the venue itself. For example: As our cameras do not transmit data via Wi-Fi, how would you carry the cables for cameras around Turbinenhalle with a standing room audience? I do not believe this thought (of us doing a live backstage feed for the very first time leading to people becoming frustrated that there wasn’t a live feed of the full event) has been part of our considerations. I also think it wouldn’t have changed the decision on doing it.
AF: What are the chances of having a live feed on the big screen? Progress have taken to doing this when they have a bigger crowd and limited line of sight. EVE do it in their venues too for similar reasons.
TJ: With our current equipment (cameras, LED wall) and our current setup of the venue this is not an option. I am sure Katja (Pilz) and Dennis (Birkendahl) will get together once the whole editing process of the 16 Carat events has been completed and once they have recharged their batteries. If this is something we can do with a fair amount of work and a fair investment, I can’t imagine them not doing it. If this is something they won’t do, knowing them they’ll have excellent reasons for this.
AF: What consideration do you give to presenting the weekend in two languages? Is it hard to get a balance? You’re pretty much the only promotion that caters to two different languages in Europe. Is New Japan something you learn from?
TJ: I actually believe New Japan was a little later than us. They started doing English commentary on every major event in 2017, didn’t they? We have one specific disadvantage towards American, English or even Australian promotions. Our native language is German, e.g. our product translates harder to non-German speakers. As we have decided to be a storytelling wrestling promotion rather than a dream match factory, understanding of our characters and storylines is key to really get the most out of wXw. We have tried to make our product as accessible as possible with English (live and studio) commentary and with subtitles. This does take a lot of extra time as every event does need two different audio edits, two different rendering sessions, two different uploads. Also, getting those subtitles done in a certain quality is quite a hassle. When you need a 72 hour turnaround from final bell to release there is very little room for error and there is very little time. We require someone to have the footage the next day and someone to subtitle it the next day, no matter what their plans are. We are beyond grateful to Ines (Kelch) doing a wonderful job on the subtitles. Of course there also are the ‘little’ things. Scripts for commentators need to be prepared in two languages. You need to book two sets of commentators and arrange for their travel and their hotel rooms. Those very much pale in comparison to the actual editing work.
I’d like to thank Tas for taking the time to talk to me about 16 Carat weekend. The events are available on wXwNOW.de. wXw can be followed on social media @wXwGermany and Tas himself can be found @wXwTas. Tickets for the 2020 version of 16 Carat Gold are available now!