Monday, January 2, 2017

wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016: Night 1 Review

wXw kicks off their annual tournament!

For those of you who may not know, wXw (Westside Xtreme Wrestling) is a promotion based out of Germany. I think it’s fair to say that wXw is the biggest, or at least the most well known, wrestling promotion in Continental Europe. They feature a good mix of talent from Germany itself and nearby countries like the UK, as well as from places halfway across the world, like the United States & Japan. One of their biggest events of the year is their annual single elimination tournament, called the 16 Carat Gold Tournament. It’s essentially the wXw version of something like PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles. The 2016 edition of the tournament features a great array of talent, and I can’t wait to dive into wXw!

I should not that for Night 1 & Night 2, I watched the versions with German Commentary (there is English Commentary available for these shows, I’m pretty sure), but the version of Night 3 I saw had no commentary.

wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016: Night 1
Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany 3/11/16

1.) Alternate Fatal Four-Way Match - Tyler Bate vs. Aaron Insane vs. Mike Schwarz vs. David Starr: **1/2

The first match featured on the VOD was technically a dark match, but it does play into the tournament. The winner of this match will basically serve as an alternate for the 16 Carat Gold Tournament. I guess if someone in the tournament is injured, or is unable to compete for one reason or another, they will step in to fill the open spot. This match went about five minutes or so, but it was fine for what it was. All four guys got a chance to (briefly) shine, and again, it was a decent five-minute match. David Starr got the win here, meaning that he’ll be the alternate for the tournament.

The main show opens up with all of the competitors coming out to pose for a photo in the ring with the trophy that will go to the winner. I always like when they do that group photo at the beginning. It may seem like a small thing, but I think it really helps the tournament feel more important.

2.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Big Daddy Walter: ****

Apparently these two were tag team partners (and former wXw World Tag Team Champions) at one point, so that adds another dynamic to this match. Big Daddy Walter is someone who I’ve heard a lot about when I’ve listened to coverage on wrestling scene in the UK & Europe as a whole. He’s a big guy, and wrestles like a big guy, but also manages to incorporate the technical style that we’ve seen from the likes of Zack Sabre Jr. and others. I thought this was a great way to kick off the tournament. As I just mentioned, these two know each other very well, and it showed in this match. The action was very good from start to finish, and they also told a good story with Zack Sabre Jr. trying a number of different strategies against Big Daddy Walter. Eventually, he managed to catch him in a cradle pin for the win, and Zack Sabre Jr. advances to the next round!

After the match, Big Daddy Walter immediately gives Zack Sabre Jr. a clothesline out of pure frustration.

3.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - wXw Shotgun Champion Sasa Keel vs. Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher: **3/4

Sasa Keel, at the time, was the wXw Shotgun Champion, which is basically wXw’s secondary title (like WWE’s Intercontinental Title or ROH’s World TV Title). Timothy Thatcher actually wrestles a lot for wXw. It’s probably one of his home promotions, outside of Evolve of course. This was very much a Timothy Thatcher-style of match, so your enjoyment of this one is going to completely depend on what you think of the style that Thatcher utilizes. It was decent, but not spectacular by any means. Timothy Thatcher wins with a headbutt out of nowhere to advances to the next round.

4.) Leva Bates vs. Toni Storm: **1/4

Up next, we’re getting a break from tournament action with a women’s match. Of course, Leva Bates is best known for her run as “Blue Pants” in NXT. Toni Storm is a name that I’ve heard a lot about recently. It sounds like she’s one of the best women’s wrestlers on the independent scene right now (though she mainly wrestles in Japan, the last time I checked). This was a pretty average women’s match. I’m sure it would’ve been better if Storm had a different opponent, but then again, it only went a few minutes, so I guess it really doesn’t matter that much. Storm would end up getting the win here.

After the match, Toni Storm was attacked by Melanie Gray, who cuts a promo in German after her attack. This would set up a singles match between the two that would take place the following night.

5.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - wXw World Tag Team Champion Ilja Dragunov (with Adam Polak) vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey: ***3/4

Ilja Dragunov (from Russia) is part of a team called Ceberus, who are the current wXw World Tag Team Champions. As for Mike Bailey, this was right around the time when he (unfortunately) got barred from entering the United States for five years (or, at least, that’s what the word is). I thought this was a really good match. Of course, I knew that Mike Bailey was awesome, and he was here, but Ilja Dragunov showed a lot here as well. I know this was just one match, but I came away really impressed with Dragunov. There was some very strong action throughout this match, and in the end, Dragunov was able to outlast Bailey, and got the win to advance to the next round. 

6.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - Will Ospreay vs. Shane Strickland: ****1/2

Out of all of the first round matches, this one had a strong chance of stealing the show, and boy did it ever. This was a freaking fantastic match!! In my opinion, it was the best match not just on this show, but on the entire weekend. We all know how great Will Ospreay is, and he was amazing in this match, but Strickland also did a fantastic job here. We did get a dance off at the beginning of the match, but once things got more serious, the action picked up significantly. The action was so much fun to watch from start to finish, and the fans were into it every step of the way. In particular, the closing few minutes were especially insane. Eventually, Will Ospreay was able to score the victory to advance to the next round.

7.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - Angelico vs. Trevor Lee: ***1/2

I think it might have been a mistake to put this match (between two high flyers) right after Will Ospreay vs. Shane Strickland, this was still a pretty good match. It’s awesome to see guys from Lucha Underground on the independents (both in the United States and in Europe), and in particular, it’s really awesome to see Angelico getting opportunities like this. Trevor Lee was, of course, pretty good here as well. This was a very entertaining matchup, in my opinion. I’m probably the high person on this match, but I really enjoyed it. Angelico got the win here, and advances to the next round.

8.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - Drew Galloway vs. Silas Young: ***1/2

Silas Young was brought in as a late replacement when someone had to pull out. He might have been replacing Tommy End, who suffered a knee injury around this time. I thought this was also a very good match. What I liked about is that it was about the same (quality wise) as Angelico vs. Trevor Lee, it was an entirely different match. We got some brawling on the outside early, and once the match got back in the ring, it got a lot better, but again, it was different than the matches that came become it. This is another match where I feel like I’m the high person on this match, but again, I enjoyed it. In the end, Drew Galloway got the victory to advance to the next round.

After the match, Galloway cuts a promo about how excited he is to be making his wXw debut in the 16 Karat Gold Tournament. He says wXw is a special place, and then calls out Will Ospreay, saying he wants him in the Finals. Galloway concludes by explaining that since he won’t be able to wrestle on Night 2 (since he had another booking in the UK), he plans on coming back for Night 3 to win three matches in one night to win the 16 Carat Gold Tournament.

9.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - DTU Alto Impacto Champion Kim Ray (with Ivanov) vs. Sami Callihan: ***1/4

The DTU Alto Impacto Title, held at the time by Kim Ray, is from a Mexican Independent promotion. As far as Sami Callihan goes, he actually has a long history with wXw dating back several years. While this was far from the best match of the first round, this was still a pretty solid match. Callihan was good, and Kim Ray had some impressive moments. That being said, it seemed like there was a bad botch towards the end of the match, where Callihan tried to go for some sort of powerbomb, but it didn’t work, as he just dropped Kim Ray right on his neck. That looked very bad. Again, this was a solid match, but not really a memorable one. Sami Callihan gets the win to advance to the next round.

10.) wXw 16 Carat Gold 2016 - First Round - I Quit Match - Axel Dieter Jr. vs. Marty Scurll: ****

The final first round match of the tournament featured two guys who have been feuding for quite a while in wXw. They showed a great video package highlighting the feud between these two. It seemed like part of the story was that Marty Scurll was trying to get Axel Dieter Jr. to show more of a dark side. To add even more stakes to this first round match, it’s also an I Quit Match, with a few added stipulations. If Axel Dieter Jr. wins, then Scurll had promised that he would leave Axel Dieter Jr. alone, but if Scurll won, then Hot & Spicy, Axel Dieter Jr.’s tag team with Da Mack, would be forced to break up. I thought this was a great I Quit Match. There have been some varying opinions on the I Quit gimmick in recent years, but honestly, I enjoyed this match a lot. It did come off as more of a John Cena-esque match (with Axel Dieter Jr. playing the role of John Cena), but honestly, it didn’t really hurt the match that much, for me at least. This wasn’t a really hardcore match, as only a few weapons were used (kendo sticks, handcuffs, and I think a few chairs), but it was pretty brutal at points, and as a whole, it was a fitting end to the feud. Scurll was dominant for the most of the match, but eventually, Axel Dieter Jr. came back, and finally got Scurll to say I Quit to win the match, ending his feud with Scurll and advancing to the next round.

Overall: 8.5/10

This was my first time watching wXw, and I think it’s fair to say they made a pretty good impression with this show. I thought this was a strong start to the 2016 edition of the 16 Carat Gold Tournament. There were a lot of very good matches in the first round, and even a few great ones. Will Ospreay vs. Shane Strickland was the clear standout, and was easily the Match of the Night for me. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Big Daddy Walter, Axel Dieter Jr. vs. Marty Scurll, & Ilja Dragunov vs. Mike Bailey were also in that really good to great range, and are three matches that are definitely worth checking out as well. One thing I really took a way from this show was that this show, and the tournament as a whole, has a true international feel, with competitors from all over the world representing a multitude of promotions. It was really cool to see, and this show got me hyped for the rest of the tournament!

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