Westside Xtreme Wrestling
16 Carat Gold 2017 Night 2
Saturday 11th March
Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
The fourth show of five on 16 Carat weekend sees the traditional Night 2 Unified World Wrestling Championship match, this year between Ringkampf’s Axel Dieter Jr. and the former Champion who was never beaten for the title, Jurn Simmons. Also, all four quarter final matches take place ahead of the semi-finals and finals tomorrow, while Jeff Cobb makes his only appearance on a ’16 Carat’ show this weekend, having previously wrestled on the Inner Circle and AMBITION shows.
Jeff Cobb def. Donovan Dijak
wXw couldn’t guarantee Cobb’s booking due to his Lucha Underground commitments, so they couldn’t include him in the 16 Carat tournament, but his performances at Inner Circle, AMBITION, and in this match ensured that he remained a memorable part of the weekend. Dijak and Cobb leathered each other with hugely impressive power moves throughout this match; a true athletic display by two of the most dynamic indie big men. There wasn’t a whole load of nuance here, but the moves were crazy and got the crowd immediately hot, so this match more than fulfilled its purpose. Cobb hitting the Tour of the Islands on a man the size of Dijak was an excellent visual. wXw certainly seem to want to invite Cobb back for a bigger role on a future show, which would be excellent to see. ***½
Matt Riddle def. Mike Bailey
Riddle and Bailey had the best match of the AMBITION tournament earlier in the day, and they went straight back at it here. Riddle established his side knees as dangerous in that prior match, and used them again here very early on; that kind of use of continuity is what makes Riddle a special wrestler. The best moments of this match were martial-arts inspired, and that perhaps was to this match’s detriment when compared to the AMBITION fight, which was pretty much a straight 5 minutes of MMA-style shooting. That match had a really strong identity, and it sometimes felt like they wanted to do the same thing again, and the more flamboyant elements of the match didn’t quite mix in as well as they usually would with these two. That gripe aside though, this was still a really engaging, lightning-fast contest which felt like it could have ended at several different moments. In the end, it was a Riddle Bromission, after Bailey missed his 450° knees, which got the win for the Bro. ***½
Ilja Dragunov def. Timothy Thatcher
After a shaky Night 1, Thatcher’s 16 Carat weekend really got good on Saturday, with him being one of the standout performers in AMBITION and then bringing his best to this match with Dragunov. His Ringkampf character makes him so much more watchable and he inhabits it so well; just check out his ultra-nonchalant block of a Dragunov chop to see what I mean by that. He felt like a real challenge for Ilja to hang with, let alone beat, and that made things more dramatic as Ilja got closer and closer to breaking his control of the match. This wasn’t the most exciting quarter final of the lot, but Thatcher’s ground work felt like he was actually trying to ground Dragunov down and defeat him the Ringkampf way, rather than using holds for the sake of them. That made Dragunov’s comeback, with his spinning lariats and eventual Torpedo Moscow for the win, so very satisfying. ***
WALTER def. Marius Al-Ani
Dirty Dragan joined commentary for this one. Dragan was in a pink suit all 16 Carat weekend and has nailed his character work as a lackadaisical bullshitter; he’s so loveable in the role that it almost hurts me to type that.
Al-Ani’s a big guy, but WALTER dwarfed him here. WALTER straight up bullied Al-Ani for much of this match, dropping Al-Ani on his head, kicking him to the outside, and asking the ref to count him out. This was all about making WALTER look unbeatable, that even a well-pushed guy like Al-Ani couldn’t do any lasting damage to him. Al-Ani hung in there hit some impressive moves, especially his dive over the turnbuckle to the outside that’s usually reserved for the Ryan Smiles and Will Ospreays of the world, so he didn’t exactly look week here, it was just WALTER looking immensely strong. Al-Ani survived several big shots from WALTER and almost got WALTER with a prone octopus hold, but it wasn’t enough and eventually he passed out in WALTER’s Gojira Clutch. ***½
Bad Bones def. Cody Rhodes
This may very well have been Cody’s best singles match ever. The crowd were so hyped to see him and he turned their great reaction into a fantastic spectacle by crowd-surfing to the ring. Only a few wrestlers in the world can interact with a crowd as well as Cody can; that entrance made me realise his true value on the indies. Bad Bones by contrast was booed out of the building. There was no mistaking who the Turbinenhalle wanted to win this match. Crucially though, Bones’ heat is not ‘go away’ heat; the fans really wanted to see Bones wrestle here, but also wanted Cody to beat him. This dynamic and the crowd’s great investment in the characters made everything done in the match that little bit more exciting. Cody busted out plenty crowd-pleasing moves too, such as the Bionic Elbow, which were really fun to see live.
The final stretch of this match leaned fairly heavily on WWE-style tropes such as ref bumps and finisher kickouts to ramp up the tension, but their effect can’t be argued with; the crowd was glued to this match and were creating more noise than in any other non-main event match all weekend. They rallied behind Cody for his final hope-spot after kicking out of Bones’ running knee strike, but after missing a moonsault, Bones hit the knees one more time for the rather unpopular win. This was one of the most fun matches of the weekend, and Cody accentuated his great control of the crowd to create his best indie performance yet. ****
Koji Kanemoto def. Francis Kaspin
Kanemoto looked better here than on Night 1 against Thatcher, perhaps because he was up against a young, Junior-style wrestler in Kaspin, who has been getting buzz as a potential future star of wXw. With Kaspin, Kanemoto had the opportunity to do what he does best now; be the surly veteran teaching the young boy a lesson. His strikes felt a little stiffer and it felt like he was challenging Kaspin to stand up to him, and Kaspin got across to the crowd that this was a real test for him so early in his career. Cocky Kaspin bought the fight to Kanemoto, and his forearms really seemed to fire Kanemoto up, leading to some good-looking striking from both. Kanemoto rolled Kaspin time and again into an ankle lock after kicking his legs, and after some struggle this caused Kaspin to tap out. This still wasn’t quite up to the standard of any of the 16 Carat quarter final matches, but after his rather dull Night 1 performance, this match saw much more of the Kanemoto as advertised. ***
Post-match, Bobby Gunns came out to taunt Kanemoto in a more forward manner than on Night 1, ‘inviting’ him to a Smoke Break segment. Kanemoto hates smoking after growing up around it, so this feud isn’t entirely random. Kanemoto/Gunns takes place on Night 3.
wXw Shotgun Championship
David Starr (c) def. ACH, Absolute Andy and Paul London
After his emotional loss to WALTER in the Night 1 main event, the rest of Starr’s 16 Carat weekend will be focussed on defending his Shotgun Championship in matches more focussed on fun. His three opponents here were undoubtedly the three most fun wrestlers of the weekend, with ACH’s afterparty antics and London’s wacky attire and intrepid travelling entrances around the Turbinenhalle bringing the laughs. Special mention has to be made to Absolute Andy’s entrance video though, which features him randomly pointing to a ladies’ toilets sign and has started a phenomenon of ‘Andying’ on Twitter. He explained why he was pointing to them at the Fan Expo, but in German. The mystery goes on.
The antics were in full flow from the start of this match, with every man getting a bit of ACH’s banana, before Andy slipped on it while attempting a dive, causing Alan Counihan on commentary to shout ‘Mario Kart!’ The three smaller guys bumped around for Andy a lot, with plenty of banter stemming from the ‘Absolute-ANDY’ chant and ACH stealing it for himself. Andy’s falling knee after so much build-up is always so anti-climactic, but that’s the charm of it.
The whole match was manic and it’s difficult to describe it without going play-by-play, but all the big characters in it played off of each other really well. ACH, not one to underplay anything, went all out to make every little moment a bit more impactful, like holding some empty cups on the outside so that when Starr dived on him, they sprayed everywhere. ACH also hit his Air Jordan dive from the ramp into the ring, which he later said would be the final time he did that dive due to not wanting to be typecast by it. He was the star of this match, and also took the pinfall after Starr hit him with a JML driver to end a crazy match. ***½
‘Avalanche’ Robert Dreissker def. JT Dunn
The placement of this match just before the main event certainly prevented it from feeling super important, but it did do a very good job of re-establishing Dreissker as a monster after his loss on Night 1. He tossed around Dunn and took his elbows mostly on the chin, making this match feel like more of an extended squash. It’s not like Dunn doesn’t mean anything in the wXw hierarchy either, so Dreissker’s dominance here did feel impressive. An Avalanche and a Blue Thunder Bomb were enough to put Dunn away; a strong combination of moves that wXw would be wise to put over as a killer to anyone who gets hit by them. **½
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship
Jurn Simmons def. Axel Dieter Jr. (c)
Both men had special entrances for this traditional Night 2 Championship match. Jurn had dry ice cannons to go along with his usual vast array of poses, but the really special entrance belonged to Dieter. For the whole weekend, WALTER and Thatcher had used the Ringkampf logo as their entrance video; an intimidating backdrop that matched their Antonin Dvorak theme (AKA the Brit Wres Roundtable theme!) so well. For Dieter, the Ringkampf logo slowly morphed into an art deco kaleidoscope, the art style the Ringkampf logo was based on; representative of the era that the stable evokes. It was a tremendous visual, added to with ‘Die matte ist hellig’ banners (which should have unfurled with a ‘bang’ noise, but that’s a minor gripe), all of which made Dieter’s entrance feel like a true image of what he and Ringkampf stood for; an image that Jurn would have to pull out all the stops to defeat.
The potential for late match shenanigans was averted early on, as Ringkampf’s attempted interferences were thwarted by A4, ensuring that the story of Axel finally having to face Jurn on his own would be fulfilled. Jurn has grown so much as an in-ring talent since he first won the Unified Championship at last year’s 16 Carat, and him being able to create a really good match without any Ringkampf shenanigans proves that growth. Long gone are the days of his boring stalling, instead he sold Axel’s holds really well, got the crowd behind him, and paid their reactions off with some great-looking power moves. He’s certainly no in-ring master yet, but like Cody earlier in the show, sometimes it’s better to focus on keeping things simple and get a big crowd reaction through innate charisma.
That isn’t to say that this match didn’t have some crazy moments. The Massive Moonsault is such a great visual, and Dieter Jr.’s DDT on the outside looked vicious. Those moves heated the match up through to the finish, with Jurn finally being able to land his piledriver after Axel slipped out several times. It was a great moment to see Jurn recapture the title as a babyface. wXw switched the alignments of its three biggest young stars in the last year, and they have all come through the switch much better off, Jurn especially. This match proved that he could be the top face for wXw for years to come. It may not have been as good if you don’t have any investment in the stories of Jurn, Axel or Ringkampf though. ***½
Night 2 was an even better show than Night 1, as the 16 Carat weekend continued to build momentum. All the 16 Carat quarter final matches were strong, but Bones/Cody especially got the crowd fired up and created a special atmosphere. The main event felt very important too, and paid off all the story build since the 16th Anniversary show. Another strong show in the 2017 16 Carat weekend.