Author’s note: This is a long-form, in-depth article about wXw’s 16 Carat Gold weekend, which took place in Oberhausen, Germany from 3/3 through 3/6. It is not just a collection of results, but an analysis of mainland Europe’s premier promotion after its first major strings of post-pandemic shows, looking at all major matches, storylines, political implications with connections to WWE and AEW and a look at what the future may hold for them and their roster going forward. Read on, if you are interested in wXw – whether you want to get up to speed after taking a break from them during the pandemic, are a longtime fan interested in the point of view of someone who has followed them closely for the past 12 years or just heard about them recently and are intrigued by the promotion that brought you WALTER, Ilja Dragunov, Marcel Barthel, Teoman, Alexander Wolfe and others.
ROH champion Jonathan Gresham wins wXw 16 Carat Gold, gets attacked post-match
Jonathan Gresham, 33 who also is the current Ring of Honor World champion, won the 2022 wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament, the 16th overall installment of what many call the biggest pro-wrestling tournament in Europe and arguably among the most prestigious in the world, besides PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles.
Gresham beat “Coach” Robert Dreissker, 32 in the finals in Oberhausen, Germany in a great heavyweight-monster-vs.-agile-small-man contest. Dreissker, the head coach of wXw’s own wrestling school, the wXw Academy, gradually turned heel over the weekend, starting with Inner Circle on Thursday, the prelude show held at said wrestling school. At the end of the tournament, he firmly was established as wXw’s new #1 heel and will most certainly be one of the building blocks of wXw’s revamped main event scene, which had greatly been transformed during the pandemic from when wXw held its biggest 16 Carat Gold tournament to date in 2020, days before the first lockdown.
The way to the finals was filled with great outings and unique matches for both men. Gresham beat former wXw world champion Bobby Gunns, who is among the best in Europe but hardly known to anybody but hardcore fans in Germany and the UK, in the first round, in the main event of Night 1 in a contest of technical wizardry. Gresham then beat Hungarian upstart, Peter Tihanyi, who has the potential to become a headliner all over Europe within a few years in the quarter-finals on Night 2 and Japanese journeyman standout Shigehiro Irie in the semi-finals on Night 3.
Dreissker beat current ZERO1 International and World Junior heavyweight champion Fuminori Abe (who some call the best wrestler not signed to a major promotion in Japan) in round one, current PROGRESS world champion Cara Noir in the quarter-finals and legendary Canadian female trailblazer, LuFisto (the first-ever woman to enter 16 Carat) in the semi-finals.
The final went just under 13:00 and got progressively more heated as it went on. The crowd was firmly behind Gresham, who was among the most popular wrestlers of the weekend and arguably the standout performer as far as consistent match quality went, along with Abe. Dreissker, through changes in his behavior during earlier matches, promos and some angles including a crew of students and fellow trainers at the wXw Academy, had become the most hated man in Oberhausen by the time the finals rolled around. He immediately avalanched Gresham in the corner at the opening bell and hit his DRSK Bomb (a Vader bomb) seconds into the match, with Gresham barely managing to grab the bottom rope during the pinfall. He continued with an onslaught at ringside before Gresham finally turned an attack around, ramming Dreissker into the ring post. The match continued with Dreissker manhandling smaller man, who is about 80 lbs. lighter than him with Gresham at times coming back with submission attempts and superior mat wrestling.
A few minutes before the finish, the whole roster came out, surrounding the ring and banging on the mat, as was customary for fans to do for the past two decades at wXw events in Oberhausen (due to the pandemic, for the first time ever, a 16 Carat Gold tournament was held with only seating available as compared to three sides rings being surrounded by rowdy fans). This immediately added to the contest and whipped the crowd into more of a frenzy, leading to a great atmosphere as the match went into the finishing stretches.
In the end, Gresham kicked out of a DRSKR bomb and survived a few lariats, traded clotheslines and forearms with Dreissker before locking in a sleeper hold that got the bigger man to his knees, then pinning him after a vicious running forearm smash.
Most in attendance had Dreissker, the only wXw regular alive in the final round of the tournament on Night 3 pegged as the winner – him winning made the most sense for storyline reasons going forward, plus Gresham as the ROH champion was an unsure commodity as far as future bookings were concerned. ROH was just bought by AEW, there were reports of him being backstage at a recent Dynamite, plus wXw has a distribution agreement where their shows air on the WWE Network and Peacock, besides their own wXwNOW streaming service, making the prominent visual of the current ROH champion raising the trophy and the belt now being owned by their competition, somewhat awkward and possible problematic in the politics of today’s wrestling landscape.
wXw COO Tassilo Jung told me during a media lunch that WWE has the right to edit the footage they receive to their liking, so it will be interesting to see how this is being handled or if the shows even air through WWE. WWE did cut out things in the past, including as David Starr calling out WALTER after a show in Toronto over SummerSlam weekend in 2019. On the other hand, a promo by Axel Tischer, the former Alexander Wolfe in Sanity/Imperium, from this past August, where he called his time in WWE “a nightmare he had just woken up from” aired unedited. Anthony Ogogo, the former boxer who is signed to AEW recently had a surprise match with PROGRESS, who have a similar deal with WWE and his match was cut, although it is not clear if this was a WWE decision or if AEW wouldn’t allow the match to air on the WWE version of the show.
Gresham cut a very heartfelt, emotional and tearful promo in the ring after winning. He thanked the fans, especially those who hated him and never believed in him over the years, citing them as his motivation for working harder and becoming the wrestler he is now. Gresham appeared on a regular basis for wXw starting in the summer of 2011 through the end of 2015 and again at points in 2018 and 2019. He won the tag team titles in 2012 with German rookie Jay Skillet, which they held for over 200 days before losing them to WALTER & Dreissker. He also brought the DTU Alto Impacto title (DTU is a small Mexican hardcore style/lucha promotion) into wXw in 2015 after winning it in Mexico and it was defended there for over a year, before being brought back to Mexico. He always was beloved by most fans, but I remember at least one racial slur being shouted at him during a world title match with Tommy End (Malakai Black in AEW now) during 16 Carat in 2014, which prompted End to interrupt the match and threaten to personally beat up every fan who used such slurs on any wrestler going forward. Gresham said that the wXw office, Tassilo Jung, Felix Kohlenberg and former Managing Director, Christian Jakobi, always had his back and kept bringing him back, probably recognizing that he had the same passion for professional wrestling as they had and also mentioned that “as ayoung boy from the hood” he watched wXw DVDs and never dreamed of coming here, let alone win 16 Carat one day and how would treasure relationships made in Oberhausen for a lifetime. He said it was never his goal to go to WWE or Impact and that AEW had not been around in prior years and that now, at age 33, he felt he had accomplished everything in wrestling he ever set out to do and if he died today, he’d die a happy man. He said all that he wanted to do now was help the next generation and asked the fans to support the young wrestlers on the shows, stating that if he could do it, anybody could. He said for him, getting work with a major promotion was easier, as he had a working visa and green card in the U.S., but most in Europe don’t so they needed more support to reach their goals.
The transformation of Robert Dreissker
As Gresham left the ring and went up the entrance ramp, Dreissker returned and destroyed him, something that never happened during the long and storied history of the tournament. The closest thing to a “scandal” was Big van Walter (the former WALTER, now Gunther in NXT), the winner in 2010, destroying the trophy after his match. To make matters worse, the wXw Director of Sports, Francis Kaspin confronted Dreissker in the ring about his behavior. Dreissker at first backed off and seemed apologetic, then proceeded to beat down Kaspin, who very publicly retired at age 24 after just four years in the business due to problems with herniated discs in his back. He specifically attacked Kaspin’s back and put him in a camel clutch/chinlock before finally leaving to thunderous boos.
Dreissker, 32, originally from Austria, made his in-ring debut in 2009 after training with Michael Kovac in Vienna in his late teens. Kovac is a link between the old tournament days of the CWA and the newer European indies and is very good at teaching the basics. Dreissker quickly transitioned out of the stagnant wrestling scene in Austria and started appearing regularly for wXw in Germany in 2012 after also being given the ability to train at the BJW (Big Japan Wrestling) dojo in Japan a year prior. Even though he often appeared as a singles wrestler under his real name and the moniker of “Avalanche” over the years, he found his greatest success as a tag team wrestler, winning the wXw tag team titles on four occasions with different partners: with WALTER as the AUT-Siders in 2013, as part of the Cerberus stable with Ilja Dragunov and Julian Nero in 2015, with Nero as Monster Consulting in 2018 and with wXw Academy trainee Anil Marik in 2021. He also twice won the Shotgun title, wXw’s midcard/television title in 2019 and 2020.
One of his specialty matches is the “Käfigschlacht”, an annual War Games style cage match, which he won all four times he participated between 2016 and 2020. During the 2016 match, he tore his shoulder, but still finished it and submitted WALTER, then was out for almost a year due to surgery and rehabilitation. He returned to wXw at the 2017 version and also won in 2018 and 2020 before finally losing this year’s match when his partner, Anil Marik verbally submitted as the heel group of Maggot, Heisenberg and Baby Allison threatened to re-injure his shoulder with a chair. He worked both as a babyface and heel over the years, initially turning on friend and mentor WALTER in 2015 before turning back after his comeback from injury.
In February of 2020 Dreissker moved to Germany from Austria, giving up a government job in his local municipality in order to become the new head coach at wXw’s Wrestling Academy, a position initially held by WALTER before his WWE/NXT UK commitments become such that he could not be on hand on a daily basis any longer. After just five weeks in this new position, the pandemic hit and both the school and wXw were subject to lockdown-induced measures. wXw started taping weekly shows in front of no or limited audiences in May of 2020, where Dreissker incorporated his real-life role into his character as wXw’s head coach. An approachable babyface, he was mainly involved with current or recently graduated students making their wXw main roster debuts during the pandemic. He usually helped them out and sometimes dealt out tough love but never was mean-spirited or sadistic about it. After his renegade student Heisenberg joined Maggot and Allison, him and Marik feuded with the group.
Internationally, Dreissker wrestled for Big Japan early in his career in 2011 and 2012 and has been on wXw shows in both the UK and the U.S. During WrestleMania weekend in 2019, he also was used by MLW, first in the Battle Riot II match, which was won by L.A. Park and then as a challenger for Tom Lawlor’s MLW championship in a title match where he was billed as the top wrestler in Germany. He had more bookings lined up in the UK before the pandemic, but those fell through once lockdowns and trave restrictions kicked in.
Fans got a first glimpse that something was off with Dreissker during Inner Circle, a kick-off show to 16 Carat held the day before at the wXw Academy. Dreissker and three students/coaches faced the trainers and students of Hungary’s HCW dojo. Dreissker was uncharacteristically strict with his teammates, loudly pointing out their mistakes and screaming at them to do better. This included him getting into the face of Oskar, a newer, 6’7” student who previously trained with Fale Dojo in New Zealand, eventually leading to Dreissker getting pinned and eliminated from the multi-man match. He then was super aggressive in his first-round match against Fuminori Abe before facing Cara Noir in the second round. Anil Marik, who had injured his shoulder just days before accompanied Dreissker to the second match. Dreissker would not let Cara Noir into the ring to perform his characteristic entrance, then eventually sent Marik to the back, claiming that Marik was causing distractions. In a post-match promo, he also accused Marik of rather hanging out in catering the previous day rather than joining him at ringside. The next day, during a backstage promo for a taped show that is set between 16 Carat Nights 2 and 3, he criticized another wXw Academy contingent that was looking to face Maggot, Allsion and Heisenberg, telling them they had soiled the reputation of the Academy before when Marik caused him to lose the Käfigschlacht match when he verbally submitted. He told them that he did not support their efforts. He then again was super aggressive with LuFisto, one of the weekend’s fan-favorites before finally turning full-fledged heel on Gresham and Kaspin in the main event.
The wXw 16 Carat Gold 202 2tournament
One featured participant never made it to Germany, as Biff Busick tested positive for COVID just one day before boarding the plane to Germany. He ended up being replaced by Marius Al-Ani, who in turn was replaced by Hektor Invictus after injuring his shoulder one match in.
The tournament kicked off with a five-way match to determine an alternate participant in case of injury. Ninja Mack of GCW fame was added to match on the same day and was only booked two days before the weekend on recommendation of Joey Janela. Hektor Invictus beat Ninja Mack, The Rotation, Norman Harras and Oskar.
One of the standout matches in the first round of the tournament was Hungarian upstart Peter Tihanyi beating French luchador Aigle Blanc (White Eagle) in 13:05 in a fast-paced, high-flying match that put both men on the map for many who may have seen them here for the first time. Tihanyi has the potential to be the next big thing in Europe and Aigle Blanc improved a lot over the past two years.
In other matches, Dreissker beat Fuminori Abe in 8:46, Cara Noir beat Heisenberg in 6:28, LuFisto beat Dennis Dullnig in an entertaining intergender match in 7:46 and Marius Al-Ani beat Michael Knight in 8:12. Al-Ani injured his shoulder here, probably in a spot bumping on concrete outside of the ring and was out of the tournament after his first match back in wXw in over four months. Maggot beat Ace Romero, a 375 lbs. superheavyweight who was a regular with Impact from 2019 to 2021, in 12:49. Shigehiro Irie beat Senza Volto in another good match in 12:59.
The main event and final tournament match of round one was ROH champion Jonathan Gresham beating former wXw World champion Bobby Gunns in a great, technical match in 21:23. Their styles meshed really well and they put on a clinic that was raved about by those who enjoy the style. Some who do not enjoy or understand the style also called the match boring, which is fair if you consider some in attendance probably mostly watch WWE and matches like that are alien to them.
Night 2 saw the quarter-final matches with Irie beating Hektor (relacing Al-Ani) in 7:15, Gresham beating Tihanyi in 7:01 in another very good match, LuFisto beating Maggot in 11:49 and Dreissker beating Cara Noir in 9:09 in a match that was good, but might have been overshadowed by the angle between Dreissker and his student, Anil Marik. Considering where the story went, I’d say what they did was fine.
The semi-final matches on Night 3 were Dreissker beating LuFisto in just 5:57 with Dreissker being super aggressive and they brawled around ringside a lot. LuFisto took everything Dreissker had and dealt out a good deal of punishment as well but in the end was overwhelmed. Gresham beat Irie in the other semi-final in yet another very good match in 12:22. Irie previously was in the tournament in 2019 and 2020, was a semi-regular in wXw before the pandemic, also is a big fan favorite and unless he gets signed elsewhere will probably play out a quest storyline where at some point he may finally win 16 Carat a few years down the line.
All titles change hands, new paths are forged
The main event on Saturday’s Night 2 is traditionally a major world title match. For only the second time in Carat history, it was a Four Way Dance this year. Champion and former WWE and NXT superstar Axel Tischer (Alexander Wolfe in WWE) defended his belt against Tristan Archer (a veteran from France who also was in the Cruiserweight Classic and on NXT UK), Levaniel and Jurn Simmons.
The story was that Tischer had issues with all of them. He previously beat Simmons twice, but the first win actually was a double pin that the referee missed, while Tischer won the second match after an eye poke that may or may not have been intentional. Levaniel, a young upstart with a unique gimmick of “spreading love” that transitioned from a comedy gimmick into being a serious gimmick, had won a ladder match to qualify for a title shot. Before his match with Tischer, he was brutally attacked by Archer before being saved by friend and sometimes tag team partner Simmons. He still wanted to compete and was cleared by officials but was in no shape to wrestle a world title match and eventually was choked out by Tischer, who portrayed it as an act of mercy and complained that Levaniel never should have been cleared in the first place. Archer was put in the match basically because he acted shitty and the other three were mad at him.
Levaniel was super over with the crowd, who ate up every word of his promo walking to the ring and every move he did. His entrance included hundreds of red, heart-shaped balloons dropping from the arena ceiling, while Archer had a contingent waving French flags and Tischer was shouted to the ring by Dave Grunewald, the former singer/shouter for German hardcore band Annisokay who perform’s Tischer’s theme and is a longtime wrestling fan. The match was heated and well-wrestled with lots of typical multi-men spots and big kickouts after finishers. In the end, Simmons hit Levaniel with a spear intended for Archer, who then low-blowed Simmons and hit his Decapité finisher on Levaniel to pin him and win the title. The crowd was livid and wXw may have missed out on a monster pop and feelgood moment here.
The next day, during an afternoon taping for We Love Wrestling #28, Archer defeated Fuminori Abe in his first defense while Levaniel and Simmons teamed up against the Hungarian Gulyas Brothers and won, patching up their issues from the previous night. Tischer beat Abe in a match on Night 3 and in a post-match promo announced he would demand a rematch with Archer, since he had not been pinned. Tischer, while probably doing the best in-ring work in his career has noticeably cooled off with the crowd since his return to wXw in August and does not need the title to be a star here. He also showed some heelish tendencies in prior months so he might end up turning. He did some of his best work in wXw as a heel previously.
Levaniel is clearly the most over babyface in the promotion right now and has the right combination of promo skills, looks and in-ring work to be a major player here for the next few years. Dreissker also is the major heel going forward and is a natural fit in the main even picture. Then there is also Gresham who received a future title shot with his win of the tournament. I can easily see Archer defending the title against Tischer, Simmons and Gresham before eventually succumbing to Levaniel. There are natural rematches with Archer and Tischer built-in here, plus a match with his friend Simmons and eventually Dreissker as the top heel. If wXw plays their cards right, they can prolong the story with these six men and culminate in a major title match between Levaniel and Dreissker at next year’s 16 Carat.
The tag team titles also changed hands, when the intergender team of Fast Time Moodo and Stephanie Maze beat The Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover) in a good match. Moodo & Maze had previously won the titles in a match taped during the summer of 2020, but Maze injured her knee during the tapings, was out for over a year and so the team never got to defend them. The Arrows had won them off Dreissker & Anil Marik, who had won a tournament for the vacant titles before that. Maze & Moodo both use a martial-arts-based style with lots of kicks and Maze looks believable in the ring against male opponents. She eventually pinned Dover for the win and was legit emotional after the match, citing all the hardships she had to overcome with rehabbing her injury in a post-match promo.
Former rivals Bobby Gunns and Michael Knight won a gauntlet match to become the new #1 contenders on Night 2, then challenged for the titles at the We Love Wrestling #28 taping. They had a very good match which ended on a sour note as Knight landed on his head off a Pedigree by Moodo and was quickly pinned. From talking to him that same night, he believes to have received a stinger and briefly lost feeling in his arm, which slowly started coming back a few hours later.
Maze & Moodo probably were set up for a longer title reign initially, which they will now probably receive. The Arrows of Hungary, Gunns & Knight, Rott & Flott, The Gulyas Brothers, Senza Volto & Aigle Blanc, Hektor Invictus & Dennis Dullnig, plus any combination of Maggot, Baby Allison and Heisenberg are probably viable opponents for them over the next few months. wXw also announced that they will bring back the World Tag Team Festival in October, so Maze & Moodo will probably be a major part of that tournament as well.
The Shotgun title, the promotion’s #2 championship also changed hands twice over the weekend. Current champion Absolute Andy, an 18-year veteran probably nearing the dawn of his career, had to miss the weekend due to a non-COVID sickness, throwing out any plans there may have been for him. The title was vacated and two names were drawn from a lottery (the gimmick is, that the challenger always gets drawn right before the match and is a mystery) on Saturday, which ended up being Ninja Mack and Ace Romero. They had an average outing, with comedy elements and Ninja Mack repeatedly working a headlock on the opponent twice his size and eventually winning the title.
The next day, Director of Sports, Francis Kaspin announced a four-way featuring young, hungry wXw talent, which ended up being The Rotation, Ender Kara and Maggot. They had a great, crazy, fast-paced match which included a balcony dive by Ninja Mack on everybody from about 15-20 feet up. Maggot eventually won and was the most over guy in the match by far. While technically still a heel, his entrance as a kind of Goth Jesus including a golden crown of barbed wire strutting to the ring with real-life girlfriend Baby Allison decked out in black leather and menacing giant Heisenberg as their brainwashed enforcer gets over huge, as does his theme, overall charisma and in-ring work. I could easily see them officially turning face down the line, which also would give him a fresh set of opponents, even though the lottery gimmick makes it easy for him to work with everybody. Maggot, Allison and previous tag team partner Prince Ahura also were featured in a two-season, multi-part documentary on German national television in recent months, so putting a title on someone with a measure of mainstream exposure probably is a smart move as well.
Finally, the women’s title also changed hands. It probably was the weakest title during the pandemic, as it initially was held by Amale who is under an NXT UK deal and was not allowed to work other promotions for most of 2020 and 2021. It was eventually vacated in September of 2021 and won by Iva Kolasky from Hungary after a best-of-three series with Stephanie Maze.
After defending it for almost six months, she finally lost it to Ava Everett here. Everett from New England but doing an over the top “annoyed girl from Florida” gimmick primarily wrestled for Limitless Wrestling and Beyond over the past three years and came to Europe in February, alongside B3CCA, who has a similar background and level of experience but who got hurt on her first match of the tour in Spain. Ava and B3CCA were supposed to wrestle once leading up the show and there may have been plans for both of them for 16 Carat, but those obviously changed. Given that Everett is a fly-in from the U.S., most people probably didn’t give her much of a shot or consider her a transitional champion. She beat Hungarian newcomer Orsi during the afternoon tapings on Sunday, then promptly lost a non-title match to Baby Allison on Night 3 in just over three minutes, which probably sets up a title match. The next show, 16 Carat Gold Revenge, takes place in April in Frankfurt, which is also Allison’s hometown, so they may give her the big win there to coincide with her real-life boyfriend and stablemate Maggot also winning the Shotgun title. Kolasky also seemingly turned heel on Sunday after losing the title, which makes sense if she goes into a program with Allison, who would then probably be a babyface.
Odds, ends and other shows
In non-tournament and non-title matches, there was a tag team gauntlet to determine the #1 contenders to the tag team titles on Saturday, which was won by the team of Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight. Those two had a series of super stiff, competitive matches over the past few months and then decided to become buddies and use their violence on everybody else. The gauntlet was initiated by the midcard heel team of Rott & Flott (Nikita Charisma & Michael Schenkenberg), who also did a comedy version of the famous Game of Thrones “Walk of Shame” episode. They also had a bell and would scream “SHAME!” throughout their entrance promo and parts of the match. This was chaotic and entertaining but might have gone a tad too long.
On Sunday’s Night 3, Cara Noir beat Dennis Dullnig in an entertaining match with very good work, showing a comedic side of Cara Noir that had not been seen from him by the fans in Germany yet. Tischer also beat Abe in a throwback to the early 2010s when Tischer would tear the house down with a number of Japanese opponents over the years. There also was the traditional whacky spotfest match in the semi-main spot, this time featuring Senza Volto, Aigle Blanc and Ace Romero taking on the Arrows of Hungary and Peter Tihanyi. Besides some crazy stuff and dives, they also had a dance-off battle, which included everyone in the match plus referee/wXw COO Tassilo Jung.
Saturday traditionally also featured the shoot-style AMBITION tournament, which also may have served as an inspiration for GCW’s Matt Riddle/Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport series of events.
Bobby Gunns won the tournament, beating Icarus, Laurance Roman and Fuminori Abe on his path to the cup. This was Gunns’ 8th tournament, which is a record, but only the second time he reached the finals. Abe on his way to the finals beat Oskar and Shigehiro Irie, who had won the last AMBITION tournament in 2020.
In a non-tournament superfight, Fast Time Moodo went to a no-contest with Jonathan Gresham (replacing the injured Al-Ani, who was supposed to replace Biff Busick, Moodo’s original opponent). The finish came after Gresham couldn’t continue after an inadvertent low-blow. This was the first NC finish in an AMBITION fight in history and probably the only way to spare ROH champion Gresham a loss without beating Moodo (who probably was supposed to win over Busick).
In another non-tournament AMBITION fight, Peter Tihany beat Golden Boy Santos.
Inner Circle before about 80 fans at the small wXw Academy in Essen was an entertaining kick-off to the weekend, with Fuminori Abe vs. Ender Kara, a small, 150 lbs. wrestler originally from Turkey being the match of the night. Ace Romero and Dennis Dullnig had a hilarious comedy match, which also was Romero’s best performance of the weekend. The eight men between the team of the wXw Academy vs. the Hungarian team of the HCW Dojo was both a solid main event and a great prelude to Dreissker’s gradual heel turn.
Saturday also featured a showcase of international promotions, most of which are also featured on the wXwNOW streaming service. Matches were being presented by SMASH Wrestling (Canada), BodyZoi Wrestling (Belgium), APC (France), Bodyslam! Pro Wrestling (Denmark), Passion Pro (Hungary), Carnival Wrestling (England) and the wXw Academy (Germany). Oskar won the wXw Academy Cup from Goldenboy Santos while the team of Rivality beat Les Enfants Terrible to win the vacant BodyZoi tag team titles. The performer of the show was Psycho Mike, who beat Vaughn Vertigo in the SMASH match. He does the gimmick of a lovable lunatic and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand and probably got the most out of a bodyslam since Lex Luger slammed Yokozuna almost 30 years ago. Not sure if the gimmick would work on a national level on television, but people also doubted Orange Cassidy would work on that level, so who knows.
Sunday afternoon also saw the taping of We Love Wrestling #28, which chronologically also takes place between 16 Carat Nights 2 and 3. As mentioned above, Archer defended the world title against Abe, new women’s champion Ava Everett beat Hungarian newcomer Orsi and Maze & Moodo beat Gunns & Knight. Shotgun champion Ninja Mack beat Tamas Szabo, Dreissker cut the promo on the wXw Academy team before they lost to Maggot, Heisenberg & Allison. Jurn Simmons & Levaniel teamed up, beating the Gulyas Brothers in a very good match and also showed that they were still friends after the Four Way the night before. There also was a “Parejas Increíbles”-style eight men match, which split up the heel team of Rott & Flott and had Psycho Mike, Dennis Dullnig and Sebastian Suave (from SMASH) in there for more comedy purposes. This was a fun, feel-good show with some repercussions for the future.
Conclusion, Questions and the future
There probably is one conclusion that most in attendance will agree on: the weekend was a mixed bag. From reading some feedback, some said, it was the weakest 16 Carat in history, both as tournament matches, title matches and major angles go. I would not agree wholeheartedly with that, as to me, it still felt like 16 Carat, I was still wildly entertained and there were memorable and emotional moments, enough that for me it warrants the full 16 Carat experience I have come to expect and love since first attending in 2010.
Was it on the level of the final Carat before the pandemic in 2020? No. Could it have been? No, not under these circumstances. For one, the amount of talent available on an international basis has changed considerably. First and foremost, the pandemic made it hard for everyone. Wrestlers had to be available, healthy and vaccinated to get booked here. wXw had to book talent way in advance. At that point, nobody even knew what the COVID situation would be like in March – would the show even be allowed to take place, how many fans could fit, what revenue could be generated from advance ticket sales, etc.? Then there’s are other issues: the landscape of independent wrestling changed, a lot of former indy talent is locked up now, whether it be with AEW, WWE, Impact, MLW or other groups. Also, with the shows airing on Peacock/WWE Network, there are political issues in that certain people just wouldn’t be able to appear. Having Gresham appear, announced as the ROH champion and having him win was a gutsy move and one that may not be possible again even one month into the future.
COVID precautions also changed the dynamic of fan reactions. For one, the traditional atmosphere of fans surrounding the ring was gone, both visually and on a noise level. This was made painfully clear as wrestlers appeared and banged on the mat in the final minutes of the finals. It immediately brought back a part of the show that was dearly missing, whether people had consciously noticed it up to that point or not. There were less fans at the shows, also due to COVID regulation up to the day before the show not allowing them to run at maximum capacity and even now, there are so many rules and regulations in place still that it would not have been feasible to plan for it in advance. wXw did not announce attendance numbers for any of the weekend shows, but there were only 750 tickets available and probably less people than that in attendance on Friday and Sunday, compared to 1,250 to 1,600 fans at the shows two years ago.
The core roster (of German and international talent) also changed over the past two years, with a good number of established wrestlers gone due to other real-life or WWE/NXT UK commitments, accusations during the #SpeakingOut movement or pandemic related reasons. Others have stepped up, mostly talent from Hungary and France but also from other German promotions.
For me, this was not just another year of 16 Carat, with expectations to top the previous year’s show, as has probably been the case very year since 2016 or 2017. This was the first Carat back, the first multi-day wrestling festival in two years, the weekend wXw finally found their footing in a post-pandemic/endemic world and is ready to take the next steps on their way to recapture the glorious days of yesteryear. They are reinventing themselves and adapting to a changing landscape to the best of their abilities. They reset the board and are betting their horses on a number of people to step up and deliver, who also received the spotlight this weekend.
Robert Dreissker, Levaniel, Maggot, Peter Tihanyi, Aigle Blanc, Stephanie Maze & Fast Time Moodo, Ender Kara, Oskar, Dennis Dullnig and the Gulyas Brothers all put on great performances this weekend, whether it was in-ring on promos or both. With the exception of Dreissker, Levaniel and Maggot (all in less prominent roles) none of those names even were in wXw two years ago. Successful promotions have been built on the shoulders of lesser talents in the past. I would count on most of them stealing the show again and being more established by the time 16 Carat rolls around in 2023.
What’s important is, that if nothing changes pandemic-wise, wXw is finally back as a touring company and will be hitting all of their major markets over the next few months. Marquee events they run include “16 Carat Gold Revenge” in Frankfurt in early April, “True Colors” in Dresden in late May, “Broken Rules” and another event on a doubleheader weekend in Oberhausen in June and “Dead End” in Hamburg in July. Between and after these dates, they are also running smaller towns throughout Germany. World Tag Team Festival, their Fall weekend festival takes place from 10/1 through 10/3, while 16 Carat Gold 2023 was announced for 3/10 through 3/12; both festivals will be in the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen again.
As far as COVID goes, they took strict precautions, initially announcing that the event would be held under 2G rules, with people having to be fully vaccinated or recovered, but changed it to 3G (allowing tested people to attend too), after the state relaxed the rules shortly before the show. They checked tickets and proof of vaccination/recovery/negative tests, then handed out wristbands for the duration of the weekend. Masks were mandatory and security mostly enforced those rules. That being said, they announced on Twitter on Tuesday morning that four of their staff/talent had testes positive for COVID and I know of at least one fan in attendance who also tested positive shortly after the weekend.
A final farewell
While talking about the future of wXw, it would be amiss to ignore that another person, an integral part of their team and one who left as much if not more of an impression and a legacy behind as some of their biggest in-ring talent, is getting ready to leave the promotion this spring. Katja Pilz, wXw’s Head of Video joined the promotion as a freelancer in 2015 after a chance meeting with Head of Creative, Dennis Birkendahl on a WrestleMania trip a few years earlier. Pilz, who trained as an Audiovisual Media Designer worked with a production company that produced daily edits of Germany’s Federal Soccer League for major clients such as Sky Germany, Sport1 and BILD for a few years. After producing clips and editing some wXw shows in those early years, she joined the promotion on a full-time basis in September of 2017. She spearheaded major improvements to the company’s video production department, including editing shows in record time for release on wXwNOW, the company’s streaming service, which she also had a big part of developing. Production quality improved greatly with her and Birkendahl at the helm, both as far as video quality, camera angles, cuts and edits, video packages and stage/set production goes. She filmed events, edited them, put together a lot of non-wrestling shows for their network, worked tirelessly at shows and always had a smile on her face while doing so. I specifically remember seeing her being super happy, smiling and hugging people after they got the final shot of the commentary team done in one take after 16 Carat in 2020, just genuinely happy to be there and buzzing with positive energy.
Her latest accomplishment was producing a multi-camera live-edit of the shows of 16 Carat, which they immediately uploaded to their VOD service, so the first half of the show would be available as the show went to intermission. From what I was told, these edits looked really good and there was no problem watching the shows, so this was an immediate success for the promotion as well. She also holds an 8.3% stake in the wXwNOW GmbH, an LLC that markets and distributes all of wXw’s media content.
Ring announcer Thommy Giesen called her into the ring after the main event angle was finished on Night 3, talked at lengths about what she meant to the company and what projects she was involved in and the fans gave her a standing ovation. They mentioned how not only was she responsible for making wXw look great over the years, but how she always spread joy at the events backstage and always made people smile even during days with high workloads. There was no official word on what the future holds for her, besides saying she would leave in order to take on “bigger challenges”, but she did work a number of NXT UK tapings in the past, so if she heads there it would probably not be a huge surprise to anyone knowing her work. They were looking for a replacement as of a few weeks ago and I was told she would be involved with choosing her successor and also bringing them up to speed on everything involved in her daily work. Thank You Katja!
03/03/2022: wXw Inner Circle 11 – wXw Wrestling Academy in Essen
- Shigehiro Irie beat Gulyas Junior
- Norman Harras & Sebastian Suave beat Goldenboy Santos & Vaughn Vertigo
- Ava Everett beat Orsi
- Fuminori Abe beat Ender Kara
- Ace Romero beat Dennis Dullnig
- Eight Man Tag Team Elimination: HCW Dojo (Dover, Icarus, Maverick & Peter Tihanyi) beat wXw Academy (James Runyan, Oskar, Robert Dreissker & The Rotation)
03/04/2022: wXw 16 Carat Gold 2022 – Night 1 – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- Alternate Five Way (Pre-Show): Hektor Invictus beat Ninja Mack, Norman Harras , Oskar and The Rotation
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Robert Dreissker beat Fuminori Abe (8:46)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Cara Noir beat Vincent Heisenberg (6:28)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Peter Tihanyi beat Aigle Blanc (13:05)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: LuFisto beat Dennis Dullnig (7:46)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Marius Al-Ani beat Michael Knight (8:12)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Maggot (w/Baby Allison) beat Ace Romero (12:49)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Shigehiro Irie beat Senza Volto (12:59)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 First Round: Jonathan Gresham beat Bobby Gunns (21:23)
03/05/2022: WrestlingKULT #19: Früh Choppen 2022 – Kulttempel in Oberhausen
- WrestlingKULT Tag Team Title TLC: Rivality (MBM & Ultima Sombra) beat Kevin Roadster & The Rotation [replacing Mike Schwarz] (c) – TITLE CHANGE
- Baby Allison beat Mila Smidt
- Mot van Kunder beat Aaron Rammy
- WrestlingKULT No Limits Title #1 Contendership Four Way: Norman Harras beat Aaron Insane, Laurance Roman and Ender Kara
- Aigle Blanc beat Emil Sitoci
- Krampus beat John Klinger
- WrestlingKULT Title Match (vacant): Mike D beat Senza Volto – TITLE CHANGE
03/05/2022: wXwNOW & Friends – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- SMASH Wrestling (Canada): Psycho Mike beat Vaughn Vertigo
- wXw Academy (Germany): wXw Academy Trophy Title: Oskar beat Goldenboy Santos (c) – TITLE CHANGE
- BodyZoi Wrestling (Belgium): BodyZoi Tag Team Title Match (vacant): Rivality (MBM & Ultima Sombra) beat Les Enfants Terribles (Georges Balzac & Gustave Le Brun) – TITLE CHANGE
- APC (France): Three Way: Rick Salem beat Christianium Le Surrealiste and Thiago Montero
- Bodyslam! Pro Wrestling (Denmark): Emeritus beat Carlos Zamora
- Passion Pro (Hungary): Gulyas Testverek (Gulyas Vilmos & Gulyas Öcsi) beat Maverick & Tamas Szabo
- Carnival Wrestling (England): King Of The Carnival Title: Charles Crowley (c) beat Big Guns Joe
03/05/2022: AMBITION 13 – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- AMBITION 13 First Round: Bobby Gunns beat Laurance Roman (4:40)
- AMBITION 13 First Round: Icarus beat James Runyan (6:03)
- AMBITION 13 First Round: Fuminori Abe beat Oskar (3:56)
- AMBITION 13 First Round: Shigehiro Irie beat Ender Kara (2:07)
- AMBITION Next Generation Fight: Peter Tihanyi beat Goldenboy Santos (6:08)
- AMBITION 13 Semi Final: Bobby Gunns beat Icarus (4:10)
- AMBITION 13 Semi Final: Fuminori Abe beat Shigehiro Irie (5:57)
- AMBITION Super Fight: Fast Time Moodo vs. Jonathan Gresham – No Contest (9:56)
- AMBITION 13 Final: Bobby Gunns beat Fuminori Abe (12:21)
03/05/2022: wXw 16 Carat Gold 2022 – Night 2 – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Quarter Final: Shigehiro Irie beat Hektor Invictus (7:15)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Quarter Final: Jonathan Gresham beat Peter Tihanyi (7:01)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Quarter Final: LuFisto beat Maggot (11:49)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Quarter Final: Robert Dreissker beat Cara Noir (9:09)
- wXw World Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Gauntlet: Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight beat Dennis Dullnig & Hektor Invictus and Rott & Flott (Michael Schenkenberg & Nikita Charisma) and Norman Harras & Sebastian Suave and Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto and Baby Allison & Vincent Heisenberg (23:43)
- wXw Shotgun Title Lotterie Match (vacant): Ninja Mack beat Ace Romero (11:42) – TITLE CHANGE
- wXw World Tag Team Title: Fast Time Moodo & Stephanie Maze beat Arrows Of Hungary (Dover & Icarus) (c) (11:53) – TITLE CHANGE
- wXw Women’s Title: Ava Everett beat Iva Kolasky (c) (8:49) – TITLE CHANGE
- wXw Unified World Wrestling Title Four Way: Tristan Archer beat Axel Tischer (c), Jurn Simmons and Levaniel (17:02) – TITLE CHANGE
03/06/2022: wXw We Love Wrestling #28 – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- Jurn Simmons & Levaniel beat Gulyas Testverek (Gulyas Vilmos & Gulyas Öcsi)
- Ava Everett beat Orsi
- Baby Allison, Maggot & Vincent Heisenberg beat Feyyaz Aguila, Oskar & The Rotation
- Goldenboy Santos beat James Runyan
- wXw Shotgun Title: Ninja Mack (c) beat Tamas Szabo
- Iva Kolasky beat Gaya Glass
- Dennis Dullnig, Laurance Roman, Nikita Charisma & Sebastian Suave beat Michael Schenkenberg, Norman Harras, Psycho Mike & Vaughn Vertigo
- wXw World Tag Team Title: Fast Time Moodo & Stephanie Maze (c) beat Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight
- wXw Unified World Wrestling Title: Tristan Archer (c) beat Fuminori Abe
03/06/2022: wXw 16 Carat Gold 2022 – Night 3 – Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi Final: Robert Dreissker beat LuFisto (5:57)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Semi Final: Jonathan Gresham beat Shigehiro Irie (12:22)
- Baby Allison beat Ava Everett (3:03)
- Cara Noir beat Dennis Dullnig (11:56)
- wXw Shotgun Title Four Way: Maggot beat Ninja Mack (c), Ender Kara and The Rotation (10:12) – TITLE CHANGE
- Axel Tischer beat Fuminori Abe (11:11)
- Ace Romero, Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto beat Arrows Of Hungary (Dover & Icarus) & Peter Tihanyi (12:40)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2022 Final: Jonathan Gresham beat Robert Dreissker (12:45)
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