wXw 16 Carat Gold 2017 Day Three on March 12, 2017
Turbinenhalle – Oberhausen, Germany
Our reviews of (hyperlink on show): Inner Circle; 16 Carat Day One; Ambition; 16 Carat Day Two
We get shots of the trophy as well as promos from Ilja Dragunov, Bad Bones, Matt Riddle, and WALTER as we approach their semi-final matches.
16 Carat Gold Semi-Final: Bad Bones vs. Ilja Dragunov
As expected the crowd was molten hot and so was the action in our opener. A huge backdrop combined with huge chants for Ilja. The two wasted no time getting to the insanity tier of spots with a double suplex out of the ring. Ilja is one of the best faces in peril in the world, as the fans have still been turning on Bad Bones in part to the Cody match. For example, “John Klinger sucks…” chants still were happening. Bones caught Ilja in mid-air for a codebreaker as well as hitting his dive, but that wasn’t nearly enough. An amazing forearm exchange ended in Dragunov being suplexed as well as being hit with the decapitation kick, still no bueno. Eventually the Torpedo Moskau earned Dragunov the golden ticket to the finals of 16 Carat. The match was worked extremely well with Bones in control for the majority of the time, the two upping the intensity as the match went on, and the Moskau being put over as a finish that can end any match at any time. That would become an important aspect of the finals.
16 Carat Gold Semi-Final: WALTER vs. Matt Riddle
Oh man. I didn’t even realize that this was a match possible until it happened. Although it was short, it made so much of the time. WALTER was in control early on as Riddle meshed perfectly with the big man offense. He sold a big boot like a GOD and made sure to have me convinced he was passing out in the sleeper or tapping to the ankle lock. The limbwork was wonderful as well as WALTER wouldn’t stop destroying Riddle’s foot. He even took him to the ring steps and smashed his foot into it with a stomp. A fired up Bro absorbed a German suplex and also hit a knee and fisherman’s suplex for a near fall. Riddle pulled out a huge swanton to keep WALTER grounded. The Bromission was countered with an ankle lock on the bad leg of Riddle’s at that. The last few minutes were even more insane with Riddle staying in it, but missing his high kick, being put into the sleeper. He ended up on top of WALTER with huge hammerfist strikes and I thought it was over. The match climaxed with WALTER not being able to tap out Riddle, avoiding the TKO, then hitting two massive powerbombs for his golden ticket to the 16 Carat finals. The more I think about it, the more I love this match. Tremendous work of art shoved into a 10-11 minute time-frame.
Non-Tournament: Bobby Gunns vs. Koji Kanemoto
It was time for a mini feud to be resolved in non tournament action. Gunns got his wish. Kanemoto was the most fired up he’s been all weekend as he jumped Gunns right away, hitting the PK, facewash/boot combo, but that wasn’t enough. Gunns on offense was a lot more fun than expected in terms of how the match was built; he brought the heat just as much as Francis Kaspin did. Not only did he sleazily hump Kanemoto but he mounted him, working on the arm with uppercuts and slaps between the the two following. A special arm bar was countered into an ankle lock that was held onto for about a minute, at three different stages, and Bobby sold so well. He even kicked out of the falcon arrow! Nobody kicks out of the falcon arrow! Gunns then shocked everyone by pinning Kanemoto with a trap roll-up. Masterfully put together in the sense that Kanemoto hit everything possible but it just didn’t come together for him at the right times, leading to Gunns hanging in there and winning in a shock. Tons of fun and a great addition to the weekend, in which interactions between the two spanned across all three nights of Carat. Apparently people didn’t think Kanemoto had a good weekend. LOL.
wXw World Tag Team Championship Gauntlet: A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani) (c) vs. Da Mack & Paul London vs. Francis Kaspin & Chris Colen vs. Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & Axel Dieter Jr.)
Yet another match that when you look deep into the psychology and how everything was put together; you like it even more. The gauntlet started with Francis and Colen vs. London and Mack. The combos were excellent and paid off right away seeing all the action. Mack was ready to dive but Colen POUNCED him. Colen is one of the most underrated “unknown” wrestlers in the world. London got dazed on the apron being hit off but was back in for the finish as Colen was pushed off the top rope, crashing into the other ropes, as a Mack Magic outta nowhere and a London shooting star press were hit on Kaspin for the victory. My favorite match in terms of entertainment in the gauntlet. Avalanche and Julian Nero were in next to take on the entertainment powerhouses. It wasn’t much to write home for but was still enjoyable. Avalanche kept destroying whomever entered his path. We once again got the Mack Magic/SSP combo but this time Avalanche kicked out. Nero hit a double dropkick and Avalanche hit the blue thunder bomb on London for the victory. Your champs A4 were finally out as the main takeaway as that Ani was out quickly as not only was he shook up but he hurt his ear again which was taped up. Medics took him to the back as Andy had to fight on his own to stay in the gauntlet and to keep the title.s He did just that, as Avalanche hit a splash but he kicked out, then avoided Avalanche and hit a superkick on Nero for the win. Out came Ringkampf, and I just have to share this tremendous shot.
I thought to myself, “OH GOD!” Andy was the fallen hero ready to be put to rest by the menacing, pissed off, unsuccessful during the weekend, Ringkampf. Simply great storytelling played out in the finishing stretch of the gauntlet. Andy had to stay in multiple times, and when he got in offense after being worked over for so long, Thatcher sold the suplex as if he broke his back. Ani was back at the last second all bandaged up, but his involvement was mostly one to shift momentum, as Andy still was in the ring the entire time. Thatcher’s roll-up was reversed as Andy sneaks out the win HBK underdog style to keep their tag titles. AMAZING finish which was made even better when Thatcher whined on the outside, complaining about the finish, as Ringkampf remain losers for the weekend. Even if I did fall off the in ring for a bit, I remained invested in the storytelling at hand, and so much added to it. I loved this.
Post-match CMJ stole the title belts and we got a brawl with Ringkapmf and CMJ vs. A4, Chris Colen & Francis Kaspin and Karsten Beck. So much insanity ensued but that wouldn’t top CMJ finally getting cheap shots in on Beck only for Kim Ray, who had retired last year, to return to the promotion; clearing house and cutting a spirited promo. Great segment that combined tons of brawling elements, continuity and providing an insane return.
David Starr was back in the CM Punk pipebomb position, explaining that he is going to continue the Shotgun Title invitational and that this is the most important title in wXw. HE SAID SOMETHING VERY BAD. Out came Jurn Simmons, new Unified World Wrestling Champ with a retort. They bantered as Starr took a happy-go-lucky approach in his responses to Jurn’s questions. You have to see this banter to believe it. Both provided a little love fest as they revealed that they cheered each other on in their separate matches the night before. Emil Sitoci and Cody Rhodes were out as we’ve got our second four way Shotgun Title match of the weekend.
wXw Shotgun Championship: David Starr (c) vs. Jurn Simmons vs. Emil Sitoci vs. Cody Rhodes
This was nearly as insane as the night prior’s title match, but in many different ways. Emil wanted to too sweet Cody like a mark, picking an alliance to fight the champs, but was taken out in short order. “MASSIVE PRODUCT” chants strung out the venue. It picked up fast as the crowd loved it. Sitoci was hit with a piledriver as Starr hit a suplex off the top rope on Cody. Starr and Cody had a tremendous dynamic, providing my favorite portions of the match. I loved their chemistry and hope to see them in a singles match, particularly in wXw. Starr ducked a lariat and dove onto Jurn, and it was Cody’s turn for dives, then it was Starr again! Tons of fun as a DDT was hit on Cody, but Cody was so loopy that he knocked the ref down upon slipping. Emil smashed Cody’s face in with the Shotgun belt and Starr grabbed it. He chose to finally turn evil and not be that clean fighting champion, yet it cost him. Sitoci hit the snapmare driver on Starr, ending the fantastic Shotgun Title reign of The Product’s. This was a great four way that booked Sitoci so well, providing tons of fun with the dynamic of the double champs, and hammered home the fact that Starr lost twice in big matches this weekend.
Post-match saw Starr selling the loss like a death, as Jurn and Cody put him over as the crowd erupted in thank yous.
A great video package recapped the feud between Alpha Lovers and Marius van Beethoven/Alpha Female.
No Ropes Match: Alpha Kevin vs. Marius van Beethoven
The ring looks so much scarier to bump on, and in general stature, when there’s no supporting ropes. It’s bare and naked, as we got down to the nitty gritty in this grudge match. Marius ran away to start but Melanie Gray brought him back. Gray ate a punch to the face though. Highlights included a chair to the head, kendo stick shots to Kevin’s HEAD, Marius raking the eyes of Kevin only to be slammed on the bare apron multiple times, and an insane suplex on the floor. This went from spot to spot quick at only 14 minutes, but the scariest was to come. A table was set up on the outside as the two brilliantly teased who’d to be going through it. Marius locked in a leg lock surprisingly as there were no rope breaks. Gray came out with a weapon as Kevin hit Marius with it in the same way Marius betrayed him last year. Beautiful storytelling and continuity. Marius tried to attack Kevin but Kevin absorbed everything and hit a piledriver. In the cover he picked Marius back up, brought him to the apron, package piledrivered him through a table, then covered him to win the feud. This was a great gimmick match to put an end to their feud. Melanie was involved and used at the right moments. No Alpha Female was satisfying. Everyone can gloat happily headed into the last match before the finals.
JT Dunn & Donovan Dijak (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. Speedball Mike Bailey & ACH
This was perfectly slotted into the card as it was a match you could take at face value; it being one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament with fantastic wrestling and an unexpected manager at hand. Cody was out with the Northeastern pair, prancing about like a territory manager would, with a suit and sunglasses on. It was genuinely hilarious and added a lot to the match. The fans threw money into the ring right away again for ACH, as Cody stole some thinking it was real money. It was just the Marius money from his entrance last match. Highlights included stereo PKs, kicks from Bailey and a slap from ACH, Cody distracting the ref for a rolling elbow to be hit, and the Dijak and Speedball interactions being a ball. Dijak all huddled up, flopping like a mad man when hit with Speedball kicks is exactly what I love from pro wrestling’s absurd nature. The trend of middle fingers while being downed continued with Dijak, but Speedball kicked the turnbuckle and was hit with a flapjack cutter combo, but ACH broke it up. The finishing sequence was amazing with ACH taking a tombstone on the ramp and the FEAST YOUR EYES ON ROLLING ELBOW being hit……….for a goddamn kickout. One of the biggest surprises of the weekend was Bailey staying in it. Speedball hit a moonsault to the outside as ACH came flying in from the ramp to hit a cutter and Buster Call for the win. One of my favorite matches of the year and an incredible way to bridge into the finals. What a match!
16 Carat Gold Final: WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov
It’s only fitting that the main event and final of the tournament delivers to the same degree that these set of shows (among some of the best wrestling shows I’ve seen in tournament format) have. It’s also important to note how we got here. Ilja worked from under in every match he was in, and no matter the situation, would win with Torpedo Moskau. WALTER dominated the competition when it came down to the end-game. No one escaped the sleeper when it was clenched in at its peak, or when he powerbombed you two times. These forces somehow ended up on opposing sides of the brackets, meeting in the finals of the tournament, with the stakes at the highest they could be. The intensity scale was broken as the initial feeling out process was already at 100 miles per hour. Highlights included WALTER hitting a dropkick, punching Ilja in a headlock only to apply that very sleeper. Suplexes were hit too. It was all WALTER from the get go with kickouts. WALTER was chopped off the top rope and hit with a huge senton fit for the finals! Although we’d soon find out that a suicide dive and Torpedo Moskau early on wouldn’t nearly take enough. Ilja’s chest was already damaged but WALTER made it fifteen times worse.
Ilja just wouldn’t die though. My brain scrambled trying to compute the match as it kicked into its highest gear, with so so so many counters. A top rope underhook suplex kickout happened, then Ilja took gunshot chops…again, then a POWERBOMB OFF THE TOP ROPE, then multiple sleepers were applied and Ilja literally had to fight for his life. This is where the most important spots come of the entire tournament. Ilja survived what no one else could. WALTER survived what no one else could. Ilja survived the sleeper David Starr didn’t. The Torpedo Moskau was kicked out of. It became the ultimate battle because nothing else could work. CHOP FRENZY and finishers were teased again only for WALTER to hit the Rikishi driver for a KICKOUT! WALTER slapped the hell out of Ilja but Ilja came back out of nowhere with the third Torpedo Moskau of the match. YOUR WINNER OF 16 CARAT GOLD 2017…..ILJA DRAGUNOV!!!! What a fucking match. This is everything great about wrestling. So many layers of violence and psychology that rippled throughout the entire tournament. There was the arch of both men throughout the tournament that combined to tell the A+ story of the finals. Pro wrestling at its best.
End scene was Ilja celebrating with the trophy as confetti reigned down, after a heartfelt promo at that.
wXw 16 CARAT GOLD DAY THREE ON MARCH 12, 2017
Masterpiece - 9.5/10
This is as close to a perfect wrestling show/culmination that we'll see in a long time. Not only did the other days lay the foundation for what was to come on this show, but day three shot the other days out of a canon in multiple ways, paying off every single story that was built off the past and during the weekend itself; providing world class professional wrestling the whole way through, and giving the best variety out of a wrestling card in ages. You had comedy within a great scramble again. You had grudge matches. You had some of the most ridiculous hard hitting spots in a LONG time in the tournament final. Speaking of the tournament, you had those stories intertwine and every match deliver. You had two other title defenses that ROCKED, especially the tag gauntlet with the classic story it told. There is not only no weak link on this card, but every single match nailed its story on the head while showing no signs of not being great in the ring. Every match is really good spanning to out of this planet. Oh yeah, those fantastic segments too. And the production. And the crowd. wXw 16 Carat Gold 2017 was professional wrestling at its best.