COUNTDOWN TO CARAT
Hi there. In a month’s time the wrestling fans of Europe will descend on Oberhausen, the normally sleepy Western German industrial town, for 16 Carat Gold. It only happens once a year and it’s a massive weekend of professional wrestling. If it’s your first time, or you’re a seasoned veteran, Oberhausen is a delightful pilgrimage every March. This year will be my second but I’m aware some people will be going for the first time. With that in mind here are a few hints and tips.
Fly to Dusseldorf, if you can. It’s by far the easiest airport to get to Oberhausen from. Rob made the mistake of flying to Dortmund last year for tag league and arrived hours after everyone else. It’s not impossible to get there from Dortmund but it is harder.
Follow the crowd from the airport. You want the Sky Train to the train station. There’s no charge, just jump on and ignore the ticket machines that surround the entranceway.
When you get to Dusseldorf’s train station you’ll be confronted with your first major obstacle. The ticket machine. Luckily for you there’s an option to change the language to English so you’re not navigating your way through the options in German. You want to grab yourself a single to Oberhausen. It’s about 6-7 Euros. The machines take plastic but it refused to take my card last time so it helps if you have Euros too.
Before you get onto the train you must GET YOUR TICKET STAMPED. Failure to do so means a SIXTY Euro fine and shaking of the heads by angry looking German police types. This is achieved by going to a little box on the wall next to the entrance to the platforms and sticking the ticket in. It’ll stamp a time and date on the ticket, that’s how you know you’re good. I was going to photograph one to demonstrate but managed to misplace it. Next time. If entirely possible here avoid getting on a train during rush hour. It’s horrifying.
^ Ticket stamping machine (thanks to @vpluspassi for the picture)
That’s all the travelling issues you will face getting to Oberhausen. Once you’re off the train you’re walking distance from the main hotels. If you’re first-timer you’re probably staying at the NH, which is very close to the station. Ten minutes walk tops. Congratulations, you’ve made it to Oberhausen! Check yourself in and get ready for some wrestling.
If you’re going to Inner Circle however you’ll need to get back on the train and find your way to Essen-Zollverein Nord station. The train runs once per hour. Once in Essen it’s a very short walk to the wXw Academy. The trains run late enough that you can get back to the hotel but I always seem to end up getting a lift. Making friends and influencing people.
The Turbinenhalle is where the vast majority of the action takes place over Carat weekend. The Turbinenhalle is a fair stroll from the NH, which is why I prefer the Tryp. However you do it walking is entirely doable. There is also an elevated train which runs the route every 15 minutes if walking isn’t your thing. Like with the trains you should always GET YOUR TICKET STAMPED. You should make at least one pilgrimage on foot so you can visit Shellakabuukiee, the bizarre metal snail statue, which is on the way from the NH to the Turbinenhalle.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about the Turbinenhalle is it’s a total shithole from the outside. The car park is loose gravel. The walk down past McDonalds to the actual venue entrance includes at least one part where you have to cut through some bushes. It’s an Industrial wasteland and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the wrong place. Just follow the trail of carrots. Once your ticket is checked you’re through a checkpoint, as with any venue nowadays, and there’s one last thing…
You have to buy these things called “bons”. Bons are the currency of the Turbinenhalle. The bar doesn’t take cash. Or cards. You pay in bons. So load up on bons and get drinking. One bon = one Euro. Beer is two bons but it’s not a pint. The beer is Ventins pilsner. It’s fine. It quenches a thirst. They also sell a white beer that I really like but that’s pricy. On entering the Turbinenhalle for the first time you’ll notice how much work wXw have done on the interior. You’d never know it was the dump it looks like from the outside. It’s a different world.
I would talk about merch tables but they move. Sometimes they’re on the left inside the doors, sometimes at the back of the hall, opposite the entranceway. It depends on how many tickets have been sold. You’ll notice there is an upper level but that’s reserved for people who spent a lot of money on tickets, press and the wrestlers who like to watch from up there. You can’t go upstairs.
When the show is over your food options are quite limited. So either pop into one of the supermarket type places and stock up or you’ll be living on McDonalds and kebabs. Although the kebab place right outside the venue is tremendous. They don’t speak a word of English. If you’ve opted to stay at the Tryp you have other food options as it’s next to the CentrO, one of Europe’s largest malls. It has a massive food court and a load of restaurants and bars.
Speaking of the Tryp, we’ll be there Friday afternoon in the bar, waiting for festivities to begin. If you’re planning on hitting up the mall Friday daytime swing by and say hello. We may be recording a podcast. If you’re fortunate enough to have scored tickets to the after party on Saturday; that takes place in the super secret bar that’s behind the merch table and in a different part of the building. The entrance to this is around the corner and by the fitness place. We’ll definitely see you there, come say hi.
That’s it for a guide, if you have any questions hit me up on Twitter @arnoldfurious. DM’s are open. Until then enjoy these matches from Westside Xtreme Wrestling to prepare you for Carat weekend!
WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov (March 12 2017 16 Carat Gold 2017 N3)
This was Europe’s MOTY for 2017. Re-watch it to remind yourself why you signed up for wXw’s 16 Carat in the first place. The wonderment of this match, live, is something I will take to my grave. If you weren’t there, watch it to see what you missed. *****
Shortcut to the Top Match (July 1 2017)
wXw’s main booking angle in 2017 was RISE. A big stable, the first of its kind in wXw, that took over and took all the belts. It wasn’t until Shortcut to the Top that the angle began to take shape though. The culmination of this match, where Bad Bones comes into his own, was the first major storyline beat since RISE’s debut. ****
Ilja Dragunov vs. The Avalanche (September 1 2017 Fan Appreciation Night)
Ilja lost out on his title shot and found himself returned to a brief feud with Avalanche. It was a key match in Ilja’s road back to the main events and a great singles match, packed with violence and typical Dragunov madness. Much better than the main event of the same show where RISE captured the wXw title with shenanigans and bullshit. ****
WALTER vs. Bobby Gunns (September 30 2017 Fight Forever Tour Frankfurt)
WALTER had great matches with an assortment of opponents during 2017 but one of my outright favourites was this match. The proving ground contest for Bobby Gunns when he became a Man in wXw. He’d always had promise and a great character but this is where it all came together and he moved up in my estimations and up in the wXw pecking order. ****
Ringkampf vs. The Briscoe Brothers (October 6 2017 World Tag Team League N1)
Opening night’s main event at tag league didn’t disappoint. Ringkampf had been a cornerstone in wXw’s booking at the start of the year but the departure of Axel Dieter Jr caused issues with that storyline and the result was RISE. Dieter’s replacement Tim Thatcher did marvellous work during this weekend. ****
Toni Storm vs. Wesna (October 7 2017 Femmes Fatales)
This hit us totally out of left field. Wesna came into Femmes Fatales as one of the many replacements. Absolutely killed it. Had one of the best Toni Storm matches to date. Loved this. ****
Spirit Squad vs. A4 (October 8 World Tag Team League N3)
This might seem like a strange one, if you don’t know what happened, but it’s absolutely (pun intended) essential viewing. If you don’t know what’s been going on in wXw but you loved A4 you have to see this fucking match. It’s one of the greatest storyline moments in wrestling history. The stunned silence was akin to Brock Lesnar beating the Undertaker and no, I’m not being dramatic. **1/2
Massive Product vs. Ringkampf (October 8 2017 World Tag Team League N3)
The final of Tag League and one of wXw’s finest matches of 2017. Two teams, both a little unsure of each other, going head to head and Tim Thatcher killed it here. Great performances all round. ****1/2
WALTER vs. David Starr (October 28 2017 Fight Forever Tour London)
The ‘David Starr cannot beat WALTER’ storyline is one of my favourite ongoing things in wrestling. It’s a singles feud, it became a tag feud over WTTL weekend. It’s a feud that has no end in sight because Starr still isn’t getting any closer to beating WALTER. This was a masterpiece in one man’s desperation to win causing him to overthink stuff and get chopped to hell. ****3/4
Ilja Dragunov vs. Mark Haskins (October 28 2017 Fight Forever Tour London)
A match that gets totally overlooked because it happens to be on the same card as WALTER-Starr. A match that showed Ilja’s versatility and how over he is everywhere. ****1/4
Jurn Simmons vs. David Starr (December 23 2017 17th Anniversary Show)
Part of the fall-out of WTTL was that Starr and Jurn had a falling out. Not a big one, but a fraternal issue they felt should be settled in a wrestling match. Which is what happened here. However Jurn, being a massive dick about it, beat David down after the match and that’s the reason Jurn vs. Starr is happening in round one of 16 Carat is a no DQ blood feud. ***3/4
Bad Bones vs. Ilja Dragunov (December 23 2017 17th Anniversary Show)
Ilja had ‘one last shot’ at the wXw title at this show and it felt like he was going to win it here but instead wXw went a completely different direction. Ilja hasn’t wrestled since. ****
Bobby Gunns vs. Absolute Andy (January 20 2018 Back to the Roots XVII)
If you can speak the lingo you should probably watch their promo duel from the same show. Andy dismantling one of the most aggressive promo guys in the company. Then beating the shit out of him. ***3/4
Kafigschlacht! (January 20 2018 Back to the Roots XVII)
The annual cage match that helps to sew seeds for the forthcoming action. Here the internal issues faced by RISE, along with the alignment of the majority of wXw’s other top hitters (Cerberus and Ringkampf). ***1/2
That should keep you busy. I’ll see you in Oberhausen.