We’re less than a month away from the most wonderful time of the year for wXw: 16 Carat Gold Weekend. Before we can concentrate on that though, we have some big title matches on this show, including Mike Bailey, fresh off the plane from Tokyo where he battled Violent Giants and Handsome Men, going up against the current main man of wXw, Bad Bones. Bones has extra pressure on him here, because his disgruntled RISE underlings have issued him with an ultimatum – win and retain the title, or be removed from leadership. The RISE story has become ultra-compelling in recent weeks and the turmoil within the team has led to Lucky Kid and Ivan Kiev battling for a 16 Carat tournament spot on this show.

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
Dead End XVII
February 9, 2018
Hamburg Germany

Watch: wXw Now 

wXw Tag Team Championship
Ringkampf (c) def. Jay FK

WALTER and Thatcher may have been out of the spotlight on this show, but that was no excuse not to put on a banger in the opening match slot. Their opponents here were Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin – while Kaspin had remained cordial with the Ringkampf boys in the build-up, Skillet had suggested they were after an easy title defence by picking the youngster team, riling up WALTER in particular. No crazy twists and turns in the build to this match, but compelling nonetheless.

As the build-up promised, the match was focussed on Ringkampf beating some sense back into Skillet. The young man got stretched out by Thatcher and brutalised by WALTER, not in the same way as Bobby Gunns’ comeuppance back in November, but rather in a way to get the crowd back behind him and Kaspin. While the story was focussed on his partner, Kaspin was more than up for showing his spirit and taking a kicking here too. Jay FK did seize control momentarily, but before they could run through their finishing sequence of moves, WALTER popped up onto the apron, grabbed Kaspin in a choke hold while Thatcher did the same to Skillet, and the last-gasp teamwork from Jay FK couldn’t keep Skillet from submitting.

Post-match, the two teams buried the hatchet with handshakes all round, but only after a tense exchange of slaps from Skillet and WALTER. Jay FK showed Ringkampf spirit in defeat. A quality opener to the show. Jay FK have established a consistently strong quality in their matches recently, now it feels like only a matter of time before they have a really awesome one that helps them break out on a larger scale. ***½

Jurn Simmons def. Mike Schwarz

After dismantling his former best friend Dirty Dragan, Jurn Simmons has embraced his monstrous side. He’s being heavily built up ahead of his Night 1 No DQ main event against David Starr at 16 Carat Gold. Mike Schwarz, in his return match in wXw after being out for a year, is rather being fed to the lions here.

Schwarz did get the jump on Simmons early though, and re-established his ‘working man’ gimmick through this match’s hardcore stipulation, using toys such as a pole with a bucket on the end to bash Simmons and even up the odds. Mike got a chance to shine by taking Simmons’ kendo stick shots and shrugging them off by breaking the stick across his knee, before chokeslamming Simmons through a table. This was all good fun, but there was always a sense that the inevitable had to occur sooner or later. Schwarz wasn’t winning this one so close to that big Carat match and some of his comeback spots looked awkward compared to his fun use of the weapons.

Simmons piledriving Schwarz through a pile of chairs was the beginning of the end, as he executed a kendo stick decapitation and his new submission finisher, a Rings of Saturn named ‘The Tentacles of Terror’ by Rico Bushido. A decent plunder brawl that reinforced Simmons’ dominance a month away from his showdown with Starr at Carat. **½

16 Carat Gold Qualifier
Lucky Kid def. Ivan Kiev

The drama surrounding RISE has been excellent recently, with the fractures and sub-alliances within the unit causing great strife in relations between boss Bad Bones and his hired goons, who have over time become some of the most emotionally sympathetic characters in all of indie wrestling. RISE started out as a generic ‘numbers game’ heel stable but wXw have produced segment after segment of intriguing character development for the Young Lions, Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev to the point where every little detail feels like it could swing the fate of the group. We’ll see more of that storytelling pay off in the main event, but it comes through in this match too, as the remaining active wrestlers of the group compete for a second RISE spot in Carat. They’re all pissed off because Bad Bones played favourite with his protégé and right-hand man Da Mack, by giving him the first spot without contest. As with all Shotgun stories, none of it is essential viewing, but you get as much out of it as you put in, and right now wXw are really rewarding Shotgun viewers for paying attention to the intricacies of RISE.

Kid and Kiev have both shown potential that makes them Carat-worthy. Kiev had a really good match with WALTER last year though has also looked ungainly in other matches, while Kid has really stood out as a Hirmou-like maniac and impressed in front of an unfamiliar London crowd against Chris Brookes too. This match didn’t give them a huge chance to impress in-ring though because a lot of focus was placed on Tarkan Aslan and Pete Bouncer backing up their respective best buds. After Kid decked partner Aslan in the head with a chair at Back to the Roots, Aslan has been through a retirement angle and is now Kid’s full-time manager, a good move as he’s best used in promos. As part of that angle though, he’s playing up a concussion and as a result got involved in the match without good reason, confusing Kid and putting him on the back foot. As good as the RISE story has been recently, I’d have preferred to see a Carat qualifier remain focussed on the wrestling itself.

Both men busted out some cool stuff here, but despite breaking out a Benson Richards leg lariat, Kiev didn’t look as crisp as Kid, who showed he was Carat-ready here. He got the crowd into the match after a story-heavy start with great selling, and delivered a beautiful dragon suplex to finish off Kiev. He may be the least well known participant in the 16 Carat field, but if there’s a RISE man who’s primed to hang with the big name imports, it’s Kid. **½

The British Wrestling Experience on POSTWrestling.com: postwrestling.com/category/podcasts/bwe

Martin Bushby, Oli Court & Benno review all the major happenings from the British wrestling scene including PROGRESS, RevPro, OTT, ICW & much more.

wXw Women’s Championship
Toni Storm (c) def. Session Moth Martina, Killer Kelly and Veda Scott

We’re entering into an important period for wXw’s Women’s division. Now that the title tournament is over and the first story of rookie Kelly’s fluke reign ending at the hands of the undisputed best Toni Storm, wXw need to keep the momentum going and build some relevant, interesting feuds. It’s great to see Martina sticking around in particular because the German crowds love her and it keeps things from becoming the Toni and Kelly show.

Everyone did a dive early on, some looking more impressive than others, before Martina attempted to hit one, powered down through lack of drink, and was revived by the crowd lending her some bier they purchased with hard earned bons (I’m not sure if the Markethalle runs a ‘bons’ system like the Turbinenhalle but you can be damn sure I’m hyped to stock up on my bons come Carat). While Martina’s antics kept the match flowing, it was the small moments between Kelly and Storm that were the most intriguing. Kelly almost sees Storm as a mentor to look up towards, as shown by their mirror spots when attacking Scott and Martina. They have similar personalities and wrestling styles. I also appreciated the effort taken to ensure more than two women were in the ring at a time for the majority of the match, with lots of spots working all four of them in. No waiting around at the apron while two women wrestle a singles match here. I also really liked the finish of Kelly just being unable to break up Storm’s pin on Martina after a Strong Zero. It showed Kelly was still in contention but lacked the experience of these matches to get her placement and timing correct. I’m excited to see their feud develop over the course of the year. **½

wXw Shotgun Championship
Bobby Gunns (c) def. Absolute Andy

Andy has been Gotten To by the younger generation after Marius Al-Ani got more attention than him in their tag team, causing to lash out and attack Al-Ani in the most dramatic of ways, beginning a crusade against the younger generation, including the brash Bobby Gunns. The pair had a war of words at Back to the Roots culminating in Andy beating Gunns and earning a shot at his Shotgun title. I wasn’t too into that match, but I’m happy to report their title match was a much more compelling affair.

Gunns and Andy had the longest match on the show here, shooting for an epic and mostly succeeding. Their interactions were heated throughout and more than matched the intensity of their promo battle – they were both up for this generational clash of utter bastards. My complaints about the lack of danger on Gunns’ armbar in their BttR match didn’t re-emerge in this one, with Andy rolling away quickly from every armbar attempt rather than sitting in them for too long, until one false finish near the end, which I can deal with. Gunns’ attack of the arm was more focussed and he felt like the ‘killer’ he claims to be. That physicality kept the match’s momentum up while the story beats took place, and there was no shortage of those.

Andy established himself much more as the definitive heel of the matchup by pushing the referee early, choking Gunns with a towel later on, and then attacking Gunns’ brother and former tag team partner Vincent from Die Schilds when Vinnie protested Andy’s cheating. This slowed the pace of the match down but the personality of the two opponents kept things moving. The ultimate story beat saw a Marius Al-Ani flash up on screen, distracting Andy and allowing Gunns to finally lock in his armbar and earn a submission win, protecting that finisher much better than in their first match. This was very story-heavy but both men worked hard to keep things churning over. Andy’s feud with Al-Ani is about to be re-ignited with Marius returning to action soon, while Gunns is going to be busy over 16 Carat weekend defending the Shotgun title. ***

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship
Bad Bones (c) def. Mike Bailey

This was the match earmarked to be excellent when this card came together, it was given every opportunity to be excellent and by gum did it deliver. Mike Bailey has put in more effort than any other wrestler in 2018 so far, crushing the DDT Grand Prix with many gutsy performances and a highlight match against Shuji Ishikawa, and since this match has gone over to Ireland for OTT and crushed it again with Keith Lee. Bailey may be the only wrestler in 2018 to have three excellent matches in three different countries, none of which were the USA or UK.

With all that said, the star of this match was actually Bad Bones. WALTER may be the man getting the international recognition and deservedly so, but John Klinger has absolutely delivered in big time singles matches every time he’s asked to, from his war with Ilja Dragunov at 17th Anniversary, to his surprisingly brilliant match against Cody at Carat last year. He’s proven that he fully deserves his long title reign and is thriving considering this is actually the first time he’s really been given a big main event run. This match against Bailey was another feather in his cap.

Both men exhibited great, heated chemistry here. Bones had been issued the ultimatum that if he lost the title in this match, he would be removed as leader of RISE. He sold this focus really well – Klinger was all business and gave out a defiant aura. The one obstacle to full on investment in this match was that we all knew Bailey wasn’t winning going in. Bones carrying himself in a different way to usual helped navigate around that fact. This match didn’t feel like an exhibition or a throwaway challenge before Carat and Bones’ subtle character work in bossing Bailey around while simultaneously fearing the consequences of slipping up is responsible for that.

There was an amazing moment midway through the match where the two men came to a dead heat and just stared each other down for a good 90 seconds, just whipping the crowd into a frenzy as they waited to see who would blink first. It was an odd sight to see at first but it worked so well in taking the match and the entire show up to another level, whether it was a planned staredown or not.

From here, it felt like the outcome of the match hung on the result of just a couple of moves. Bailey attempted but missed two of his shooting star kneedrops, while Bones managed to hit two of his wrecking ball knees, which ultimately swung the match in his favour, allowing him to hook in a crossface to score a submission win. Had those knees gone the other way, it really did feel like Bailey could have won. The first undisputed great match in 2018 wXw. If we have a few more matches like this at Carat, we’re in for a great tournament. ****

Post-match, RISE congratulated their leader on retaining the title and his position, some more reluctantly than others. Bones’ issues with Pete Bouncer reared their head here too, as Bouncer was slow in posing with the team and Bones noticed, shoving the Unified Title in his face as the other members carried him around on their shoulders. wXw get the little moments right more than anyone else and this small face-off between leader and frustrated follower was so enthralling for those invested. 6 months ago, Pete Bouncer was a generic goon, now he’s the man the fans want to unseat Bad Bones for the championship.

Final Thoughts

A lot of wXw’s stories are peaking just at the right time ahead of 16 Carat, when the most eyes will be on them. This show saw a lot of those stories advance along with a really fun Tag Title match and a proper banger in the main event. Bad Bones and the RISE story in particular are fascinating right now, so wXw can feel very proud about the job they’ve done with them over the past few months.