wXw Road to the 16 Carat
February 25 2018
We’re in Bielefeld, Germany at the Forum. This show will decide the final competitor in this years 16 Carat Gold tournament. Eight men will compete to determine who progresses the one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. Among those competing are wXw upstart Francis Kaspin, former tag champ Michael Dante, International superstar Mike Bailey and Marius Al-Ani, coming off an injury. I am naturally quite excited about this as we’re on the eve of 16 Carat, one of the best weekends of professional wrestling in the calendar year. I’ll be there, representing RVR, and will have a full report up by the middle of next week. Until then, let’s see how the tournament brackets round out;
Bobby Gunns was in the Road tournament but he’s been removed from it because he wants a piece of the champion; “Bad Bones” John Klinger! Hosts are Rico Bushido and Emil Sitoci.
Promo Time: Dirty Dragan
“I want to be cool and strong”. He calls out Emil Sitoci so they can settle their differences. Oh man, that’s a set up for who will turn on the other first surely? Instead Dragan gets Jurn Simmons. “You are not a real man”. I hope this is the start of a big Dirty Dragan push. He’s always been an excellent comedy wrestler but as a plucky underdog? I am all over that.
“You do not deserve to stand in my ring”. Alexander James, another total bastard, then appears to square up to Jurn but then he lays Dragan out. Oh, what a piece of crap. Dragan is left screaming for help and Emil Sitoci runs down to make the save and stop him taking the kendo stick. This results in a tag later tonight, and at some point an inevitable heel turn from Emil. Dragan isn’t so much swimming with sharks here, he’s swimming with assholes. Everyone he knows is a bastard. This was a very good segment. Sitoci at no point covered up his feelings for Dragan (“he’s a bit of an idiot”) and we kept a sense of who everyone was to each other.
Julian Pace vs. Mike Bailey vs. Jay Skillet
Bailey is clearly a bigger star than the other two guys, who are local talents. Both Pace and Skillet are very good and deserve a shot at showcasing their skills with a world-traveller like Bailey. Normally I’m not big on three-way dances unless they have plans. This is very well planned with all three guys being capable of having a fast-paced and exciting match.
The only issue the match has is that Rico Bushido refuses to let it breathe. He cannot stop talking. The match planning allows everyone to shine in turn. Skillet does a grand job of making everyone else’s stuff look good. There is always room in wrestling for guys who make other guys shit look good. All the guys have moments where they look like they’re going to win only to be denied by the third man. It’s a logical approach but they don’t skimp on the fun. Bailey breaks up a pin with the Shooting Star Knees and that’s what finishes because it impacts both guys. Lots of logic and excitement here. Good opener.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Francis Kaspin vs. Michael Dante vs. Veit Muller vs. Marius Al-Ani
This is the other qualifier for the final. Muller is a guy that doesn’t get used very often by wXw but he’s been appearing on a lot of tour shows.
Marius is clearly the favourite, although Kaspin is a huge up and coming talent for wXw. Dante hasn’t progressed much since Tommy End left so he’s barely being utilised by wXw. It’s pretty clear who the horses to bet on are. Having the extra man, and extra baggage, in this match shows why the triple threat beforehand was such a strong idea. There’s really no need for both Muller and Dante to be in this. I like Muller though, he’s a no nonsense bruiser. It’s a nice contrast to the more exciting Al-Ani and Kaspin. They keep the action constant in this but the logic goes out of the window. For the finish Dante is lying around for ages waiting for Al-Ani to shrug off Kaspin to allow him to hit the frogsplash. Al-Ani is a good choice as the final is now Bailey vs. Al-Ani and they’re the top two guys available.
Final Rating: **3/4
Absolute Andy vs. Tyler Colton
Colton is Canadian. He was on one of the dark matches at Dead End and is currently on tour in Germany. He is a big lad and presents a different kind of challenge for Andy, who’s usually much bigger than his opponents.
Andy still takes the strong man lightly because he’s such a jerk. Colton stands up to Andy and the big boot he hits is wonderful. There’s nothing like two enormous men beating each other up. This is Big Lads Wrestling. The trouble with Andy being a heel is that he hasn’t modified his game that much. He’s still hitting all these cool moves and it’s tough not to love him if you just watch his matches. He wins here with a bunch of power spots culminating in the F5. That heel promo persona is not bleeding through into his matches.
Final Rating: **1/2
Jurn Simmons & Alexander James vs. Emil Sitoci & Dirty Dragan
I like how this storyline has been weaved together. Jurn and AJ gaining an understanding based on their feud. Jurn basically turning heel because AJ got in his head. He didn’t want to get manipulated anymore. Now they’re on the same team. There’s an interesting dynamic there where Jurn stands on the buckles and AJ is left standing in the ring. It’s clear who is more important. Sitoci plays fiery babyface here, it’s totally weird. I’m stunned at how good he is at it. Rico points out that Jurn has turned on everyone he’s ever been friends with in wXw. So AJ and Jurn don’t trust each other at all. While Sitoci takes the bulk of the match the hot tag to Dragan is incredible and I love how he tags himself in. His success is short-lived and we rapidly go into formula and heat on poor Dragan. Alexander James gets to look really good here, stretching Dragan and Sitoci and being all calm and in control. Sitoci gets a second red hot tag and goes on another rampage. Why has he not been working face for years? He’s great! Brainbuster puts Dragan away and AJ gets the pin. This match was all about AJ and Sitoci getting a chance to shine. The heat dragged a bit but I am excited to see Dragan get a win over one of these assholes sooner or later.
Final Rating: ***
Bobby Gunns vs. John Klinger
Shotgun Champion vs. wXw Unified Champion. It’s another massive test for Bobby Gunns.
Bones makes a point of bringing all of RISE out here with him. Bobby Gunns, being a dick, has got no mates.
wXw clearly have a lot of confidence in Bobby Gunns and it’s certainly not misplaced. He had a great match with WALTER and they’re seeing if he can perform with all their top guys. Klinger is wXw’s utility guy. He can fit into any slot, depending on what the company needs. So he’s been positioned as Gunns’ next hurdle. Due to Bones’ impressive win/loss record it’s highly likely this will be a long-term hurdle. Gunns can beat all the imports he likes but there’s a pecking order in wXw itself. Bobby is a defacto babyface here because he’s up against RISE but that’s been the aim for a while. They want Gunns to get a following and that has happened. This is a fiercely competitive match, which is something Bones probably doesn’t need this close to 16 Carat and his defence against WALTER. Especially with his campaigning to get WALTER in against RISE members to wear him down. This is easily more damaging to Bones than WALTER tagging against Ivan Kiev and Lucky Kid. Especially with Bob Gunns working his arm over. “I’m not a big fan of smoking……tobacco” – Rico Bushido. The match is lacking something. Gunns continually goes after the arm but Bones doesn’t seem particularly bothered about it. It’s weird. Perhaps Klinger is over confident but there’s no sign of panic when Gunns is on the verge of a win. And the arm work is the focal point of the entire match. When they abandon this and just go into big spots it’s much better. They thrill the crowd with near falls until Bones hits the Shadow Driver and the RISElock finishes an unconscious Gunns. This could have been a belter but it was lacking emotionally, which stems from the heel/heel set up (I know Gunns is getting cheered but he’s a defacto face at best) and the lack of interest in the submission story. Great stretch though.
Final Rating: ***1/4
wXw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match
Melanie Gray vs. Veda Scott vs. Killer Kelly
There are a few possible winners here. Kelly feels like she’s just started on her route back to the championship, having lost the title after being the first champion. It’s too soon for that angle to pay off. Veda is basically over here with Mike Bailey so this will tells us a lot about whether Bailey is involved at Carat. It wouldn’t be a bad one-off match. Mella hasn’t been involved in the title picture after bombing out of the title tournament and turning heel. Logically she’s the best choice, although all three would make sense in some capacity. I’m not overly thrilled with another triple threat match on a show that’s already had one triple threat and a four-way. This starts well but rapidly goes downhill. Veda and Mella botch something and I have no idea what it was. Veda gets described as “unconventional” but untidy would also be accurate. It’s not one of her better performances. Killer Kelly is the star of the match. She has intensity and her strikes are on point. She’s already improved a great deal since debuting for wXw. Some of her movements are a bit wooden but when she’s not thinking about it, she’s getting slicker. Her corner dropkick is sick. I wouldn’t want to be Mella on that spot. In all honesty I would rather have seen Mella vs. Kelly here. Veda doesn’t add much to the contest. Mella puts her away with the Texas Cloverleaf to win the match and that’s what Veda was here for. To take the loss. Really promising showing from Killer Kelly here.
Final Rating: **1/2
RISE (Ivan Kiev & Lucky Kid) vs. Ringkampf
This is not for the tag titles. How great is Lucky Kid? I could screencap him a hundred times just during his entrance. His reaction to WALTER taking his jacket and tearing up a RISE shirt is incredible. Just mind-blowing work with the connection to the props. WALTER doesn’t treat these duo with any kind of respect, which is probably for the best. He needs to be above the likes of Kiev. CMJ joins commentary and makes some lucid points about WALTER taking on too much with global bookings, the wXw Academy, the tag belts and the title shot. The suggestion being taking the title from Bad Bones might be a step too far for him with his crowded schedule. WALTER murdering Lucky Kid is wonderful stuff. Whenever WALTER faces little lads he can get to look like a true monster. The biggest issue the match faces is convincing us that Thatcher can be troubled by RISE enough to take heat from this duo. I’m not buying it. Lucky Kid continues to be fantastically entertaining though. WALTER’s hot tag in this is amazing. I mean, they’re all amazing, but they keep being amazing.
Everything that I love about wrestling. Athleticism, comedy, @the_real_lions face, big chops from @WalterAUT #wxwRoadto16Carat @wXwGermany
Watch here:https://t.co/9m0rGyiu0I pic.twitter.com/vrosMKWGxt
— Arn @16 Carat (8-11 March) (@ArnoldFurious) March 3, 2018
His murderous big boot on Lucky Kid and his vicious lariat on Kiev are both incredible. As RISE look as if they’re going to cause an upset Tarkan Aslan tries to get involved with the title belt but Pete Bouncer stops him. RISE are imploding! The distraction allows Thatcher to beat Kiev. Great performances all round here. Best Kiev match since he broke into wXw against WALTER.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Mike Bailey vs. Marius Al-Ani
Winner of this match is entered into 16 Carat Gold 2018. They establish parity early on by demonstrating how fast and martial arts driven both guys are. Al-Ani has switched gear and is now “The Ninja”. Bailey has always relied on Tae Kwon Do for a basis of his work. The strikes here are super. Both ways. But they also know pro wrestling so the flow is great too and they litter the contest with exciting high spots. It’s all so fluid and lovely. You can tell when there’s a stretch of wrestling that’s not been pre-planned to detail though. It’s stop-start with rest holds before they launch into another planned out sequence. Or at least it feels that way. Maybe they intentionally inserted a rest as this is a 20 minute match and you can’t really go all out for 20 minutes. When they are working hard they’re working so, so hard. The agility of Marius is stunning at times, even if he does have certain sequences that are recognisable.
Speedball does ridiculous things here, including a backflip double knees on the apron. It helps to sell the importance of 16 Carat. If these two guys are prepared to kill each other just to qualify. They throw in a ref bump, which I don’t really agree with but the way Marius ducks the kick that does it is effective. Al-Ani has the match won but that snake Absolute Andy runs in and hits the F5.
Bailey refuses to take the win like that and boots Andy in the mush. Bobby Gunns then shows up to mess with Andy, by taking out Bailey.
I like how the match concludes, after this brief aside, with Bailey having the match won repeatedly only for Al-Ani to manage desperation kick-outs. Al-Ani dodges the Shooting Star Knees and hits the Frogsplash to qualify for 16 Carat! Run in’s aside I loved this fucking match. But then you have to keep the Al-Ani/Andy storyline strong. It’s about Andy being scared of Al-Ani making it into Carat. He should be…they’ll be facing each other in the first round!
Final Rating: ****
Really good show from wXw. Set the table nicely for 16 Carat. They have done a fine job of building up certain feuds ahead of Carat and I’m sure we’ll see those continue over the course of the weekend. Jurn/Starr and Andy/Al-Ani in round one of the tournament should add in some extra fire to those matches. The tournament is shaping up to be a memorable one. Given how high the standard is for this lead-in show, expectations are high.