wXw 16 Carat Gold 2023 N1
March 10, 2023
We’re in Oberhausen, Germany at the Turbinenhalle. A historic building, famous for loud crowds, dirty toilets and beer you buy with bons. I’ve been there many times and have fond memories of the building and Oberhausen in general. 850 souls packed in for Night 1 of this year’s tournament including a host of my mates from BritWres and Eurograps.
After reviewing Inner Circle, it occurred to me that my ratings have gotten significantly harsher. As a result only two matches clocked in at *** or higher. Is there any point even rating matches that don’t clock in at ***? It seems pointless. Does anyone really care if a match is ** or DUD or anything in between? I appreciate it makes reviews easier to skim read and just look at the ratings but if I’m not rating something, is it worth going out of your way to watch? Another reason for wanting to remove low ratings is the wrestlers themselves. Constructive criticism is better for a wrestler’s mental health than a whopping great big DUD next to their name.
Always believin’…you are GOLD. GOLD! 16 CARAT GOOOOOLD.
This year’s 16 Carat Gold tournament is different as the winner is not only the tournament winner but also the new wXw Unified World Heavyweight Champion. Which is a shame because Saturday night always had a killer title match.
The participants are introduced, and I’m frankly delighted that I can see Griese in the crowd. There are a few fan favourites. Notably Maggot and Shigehiro Irie. The company has had bad luck with injuries coming into this and notable by their absence are perennial contenders Avalanche and Jurn Simmons. Every match tonight is a 16 Carat Gold first round match up.
Laurance Roman vs. Francesco Akira
I’m shocked to discover Akira is now in New Japan. I’m assuming he’s dramatically improved. Roman is in Robert Dreissker’s Amboss stable and is the current Shotgun champion. Both these guys are pretty unconvincing strikers and sadly do a lot of brawling early on. Roman’s forearms are especially bad. There’s clear air in between the arm and the target. When he was a babyface, he could coast by on personality. Having to lead the match he’s exposed. Akira has a lot of ideas that scream ‘I’m mates with Will Ospreay’. He probably looks good in the New Japan juniors when he’s got good wrestlers to bounce off. Roman does have a good heel personality and it allows the face/heel dynamic to work effectively. Akira nails Roman in the back of the head with his double knees finish dubbed the Fireball for the win. Akira is clearly the better worker of the two. Roman has a good attitude and decent facial expressions but that’s about it.
Tristan Archer vs. Mike D. Vecchio
I’ve always thought Archer was fine. He’s technically gifted and solid in the ring. He’s an excellent foil for a more exciting wrestler.
Mike D is a GWF guy who’s barely appeared in wXw and goes straight into 16 Carat. On paper he’s not expected to progress. However, he came across incredibly well at Inner Circle and I’m routing for him. They start with some technical mat work and it’s horrible. This is not Mike D’s strength. Mike D likes to increase the tempo. He lives on the explosive edge of reality! Sprinting across the ring. Springboarding off the top rope. Full barrel, chewing coffee grounds intensity. Him coming in and unsettling Archer like Tristan is a dinosaur and Mike D is Randy Savage rolling into WWF in 1985. Archer irks me with stupid little things, like slapping his thigh when he’s hit. Whereas Mike D sells a German suplex by rolling backwards, rebounding off the ropes and hitting a lariat. Haha. I love this guy. Archer isn’t all bad and wins with the Coupe d’etat. This was flawed with Archer not working to Mike D’s strengths. There’s a sensational wrestler somewhere in Mike D. Vecchio and I’m sure wXw will find it. ***
Masha Slamovich vs. Fuminori Abe
Slamovich is aiming to be the first female champion. I’ve seen her work and quite like her. Abe, I’ve seen a lot in Japan and I’m a fan. Abe wants to slow it down. Slamovich can be showier by comparison.
They don’t click. At one point Abe throws a punch at Slamovich and she doesn’t notice. Abe is better off sticking to various submission attempts and suplexes. Slamovich tries to trade on strikes and struggles to get the same level of realism that Abe has. With one notable exception; the punch that blocks the Baseball Punch and leads right into the Shining Wizard for the finish. This was short but sweet. It left me wanting more Abe this weekend. Slamovich has a lot of key pieces to be a star but needs to nail the timing on her strikes if she’s going to use so many.
Metehan vs. Shigehiro Irie
Has there been a more ill-advised heel turn than Lucky Kid in 2020 in recent years? I don’t know, as I’ve not been watching it, but it still feels like a mistake. Metehan was a great babyface. He is an excellent technician and the mat work in this is clean as fuck. Irie is both a fun wrestler to watch and has an intensity and sharpness that appeals to the more hardcore fan. Appreciated across the board.
Metehan’s worst work comes in the form of traditional WWF style punches and stomps, which look frankly dreadful. Everything else looks good. Irie launches himself into various dives and cannonballs, with reckless abandon. It helps to go all in because they frequently have moments of clear miscommunication. It’s a good match despite that with both willing to commit 100%. Metehan spends an eternity messing with his belt before eventually pulling it off for the false finish. They have another awkward tease with an exposed turnbuckle. It’s a shame because they have some great spots in between. Like Metehan catching Irie in a flying crossface. They even fuck up the finish by having Metehan run into the buckle he exposed and hit with Irie’s Beast Bomber finish. That’s a near fall. Should be the finish. They lie around a bit, Metehan tries a pin using the ropes. Tas tells him off and Irie rolls him up for the pin. This was overbooked. They had delicious chemistry at times but when it takes you about a minute to remove your belt, maybe just don’t do that spot? ***
Trey Miguel vs. Peter Tihanyi
Miguel is the Impact X Division Champion.
Tihanyi has ground out a reputation in wXw over the past few years. Tihanyi is a little green and struggles to keep up with Miguel’s speedy offence. Miguel has to work heel because the crowd love Tihanyi. Miguel feels like a really obvious choice for the night three clusterfuck tag so has little chance of progressing. Tihanyi feels like he has a tournament story. The downside to Miguel is a lot of thighs being slapped. Miguel does have a range of weird offence, which makes Tihanyi look less exciting by comparison. I’m not sure that’s helpful. They do have a very cool spot where Tihanyi catches Miguel with a cutter in mid-air, right into his 450 Splash. That’s a hot finish. Enough for the recommendation. This crept over 3 stars, while Irie-Metehan got dragged down to it, if that makes sense. ***
Arez vs. Komander
I’ve seen Arez before but nothing about him suggested he should be booked here. Komander is completely new to me.
His cagematch rating is 8.33, so that bodes well. It doesn’t take long for this to become the best match of the night. The switches on the mat and cool near falls are more fun than anything else tonight. 2 minutes in Komander tries to do a rope walk rana and gets planted with a powerbomb. Two of my favourite things are innovation and high flying wrestlers getting absolutely planted attempted innovation. Komander does some dumb rope bouncing thing and Arez pulls him off the ropes and knees him in the midsection. Beautiful. Some of the bigger spots don’t land but when the difficulty is this high, it’s hard to complain. Komander frequently waits for Arez to be in position before starting his spots. Is it overly cautious? Arez being a dick is a more consistent presence in the match and he persistently cuts Komander off. The obvious ‘big spot’ is Komander running along the top rope and diving off the other side. When I saw that isolated, I thought it was dumb, but it makes sense here as Arez is tired and has bailed out and isn’t even looking at where Komander is. Komander runs the top rope again on the finish. Astonishing balance. This rocked balls. Easily MOTN. Excellent technique, good storytelling and while Komander is a little raw he’s super exciting. ***¾.
Axel Tischer vs. Davey Richards
I’ve never liked Tischer.
This weekend provides him with a shot at redemption. He’s clearly lined up as the backbone of the tournament. The last time I watched wrestling regularly Davey Richards was a few years into retirement. The three-year break appears to have helped him. Davey looks in decent shape, although he’ll probably never reclaim that 2014 level of mobility. Axeman chops the ring post allowing Richards a focus. It’s a technically solid match with both guys displaying good mat technique. On the back of the last match, it feels both pedestrian and dated. The ‘will he get him over’ sunset flip is particularly embarrassing. I’m not saying wrestling has to be one thing, or another, but the card placement doesn’t help.
One of my biggest beefs with Tischer is that he’s a goofball but that actually suits him more as a heel as the goofiness is still there but it’s less pronounced. Tischer tries to sell a leg injury but does so by rubbing it a bit and limping between spots. It doesn’t stop him doing anything. At least Davey gets on it with an anklelock. Tischer wins out of nowhere with the Horrible Slam. There are signs here that Tischer isn’t going to be a disaster in this tournament. If he can do more with his selling, which is clearly supposed to be a big storyline, we could be in business.
Maggot vs. Ahura
Ahura attacked Baby Allison at Back to the Roots, thus costing Maggot the Shotgun title.
Ahura has spent some time in the gym and now he’s a main event. Griese remains unimpressed as you can see above. Marvin is thinking about it. STRIGGA isn’t even looking, which means he doesn’t make the screenshot. Having the Pretty Bastards implode was certainly a choice from wXw. I don’t know if their feud has been good or not. Maggot is certainly over. Ahura gets in an obvious bladejob after the opening scuffle.
This is followed by a lot of brawling around ringside. As I’ve parachuted into this blind, the match doesn’t have the same impact as to those who’ve followed the storyline. I fully admit that. It feels painfully sluggish, which is not what you want from a main event ideally. 10 minutes in we hit the fatigue selling. If I could give Ahura one tip, regarding his look, it would be knee pads. His legs look so odd being completely exposed with tiny boots and tiny trunks. He just looks weird and awkward. Speaking of weird and awkward, they have a slingshot spot where Ahura just hangs there chilling, like he’s glitched and when they eventually go for it Ahura falls off the ropes. Was that intentional? It looked awful. They do have good ring positioning on a near fall off a Maggot cutter. Ahura able to drape his leg over the bottom rope casually. It helps that he has long legs. Ahura has a spot where he pulls out Maggot’s nose piercing, which is really hard to show in the ring and then just finishes with Paradise Waterfall. This was not good enough for a main event. They had a few good ideas but stretched out across 20 minutes didn’t cut it. Plus the finish was terrible. Maggot’s nose piercing is clearly still in his nose as Tas checks on him. Given the amount of time this was given, it’s easily my least favourite thing on the show.
When WWE came and plundered the European Indies they lost the likes of WALTER, Tim Thatcher and Ilja. Guys who made wXw great for me personally. Guys I was invested in. Replacing talent like that is not easy and won’t happen overnight. The Speaking Out movement costing wXw the likes of David Starr and Julian Pace has not helped at all. They’ve done a great job of avoiding people involved in dubious activities outside the ring but the culling of talent in recent years leaves big gaping holes on the card. Losing Avalanche and Jurn Simmons to injuries hasn’t helped and Absolute Andy appears to have retired. The obvious solution is flying in matches like Arez vs. Komander, which stole the show. Metehan is potentially a fix for a lot of the upper card problems but some of his ideas on this show didn’t help his match at all. It’s a long road back for European wrestling. It looks like it’ll be baby steps.