wXw 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 1





wXw 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 1

By Big Red Machine
From March 08, 2019

wXw 16 Carat Gold 2019: Night 1

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Axel Dieter Jr. vs. Marius Al-Ani - 7.75/10


An excellent way to start the tournament, although Axel could have sold his ankle better once Al-Ani started working it over. I'm a big fan of an exciting match that feels like it can go either way from a booking perspective to start off a tournament in order to set the right tone and get the crowd into things, and this was exactly that.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Rey Horus vs. Rey Fenix - 6.5/10


Many Lucha spots were done. The match was fine for the time it got.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Chris Brookes vs. Shigehiro Irie - 6/10


Irie worked over Brookes' midsection with his big splashes while Brookes mostly worked over the head. Irie got the slightly surprising win here in that Brookes is something of a name for wXw and Irie is less of a star, but a win like this shows that wXw is committed to building up his star while he is around.

TIMOTHY THATCHER VIDEO PACKAGE/PROMO - Same thing we got on Road to 16 Carat Gold 2019: Bielefeld. See my review of that show for the full explanation of why this was so awesome.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Lucky Kid vs. Timothy Thatcher - 7/10


The story here was that both guys had all of the counters to each other's signature moves. This went the whole way through the match, ending when Lucky slipped out of an attempted Rear Naked Choke to roll Thatcher up for the pin, scoring the big upset win on Thatcher for the second year in a row. Thatcher's elimination was completely shocking, as between his comments about WALTER and Axel Dieter Jr. in the video package and the story that Junior is coming back to for this tournament to accomplish the one thing he never managed to do in wXw, him meeting up with at least one of his (former?) stablemates over the course of the tournament seemed inevitable. Thatcher was stunned by the loss, then sat on the apron with his head in his hands for a bit before briskly heading to the back. Also of note was the fact that Thatcher did not wear his usual RingKampf trunks but rather a apir of blue tights that said his name on the back.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
"The Avalanche" Robert Dreissker vs. Jurn Simmons - 6.75/10


This was a fun brawl all throughout the bowels of the building... and when I say bowels I don't just mean some hallways and a loading bay. I mean long hallways with cement walls, exposed pipes, and lots of random broken pieces of wood and old doors and wooden pallets lying around for the wrestlers to throw each other into and hit each other with. Jurn eventually grabbed a Kendo stick and wound up choking/dragging avalanche back towards the ring with it. Once in the ring Jurn gave this grand speech in which he was either comparing himself to G-d or else saying that G-d was going to help him beat Avalanche but of course all of his bravado allowed Avalanche time to recover, wrestle the kendo stick away from Jurn, and turn the tables on him. Avalanche chased Jurn into the crowd and up a small scaffold (hitting him with the Kendo stick all the while) before knocking Jurn off of the scaffold via Kendo stick shot, climbing down, and getting the pin.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Penta el 0M vs. Mark Davis - 4/10


They did stuff. It's a Penta el 0M match so of course the armbreaker spot wasn't enough for the finish and we had to get a Canadian Destroyer afterwards.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
Ilja Dragunov vs. Daisuke Sekimoto - 7.5/10


A GREAT slugfest, although they seemed to be going about half a step slower than they should have been at times, causing them to come close to (if not actually) crossing that line where stuff looks a little more like a choreographed fight scene spot than a competitive sporting bout.

DAVID STARR VIDEO PACKAGE - Same thing we got on Road to 16 Carat Gold 2019: Bielefeld. See my review of that show for the full explanation of why this was so awesome.

16 CARAT GOLD TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND MATCH:
David Starr vs. WALTER - 9/10


The match started with Starr jumping the bell on WALTER during the intros, but he also made sure to go all the way to his corner before charging at WALTER all the way across the ring in WALTER's corner, and that WALTER was looking at him when he started his charge. I thought this was a WONDERFUL skirting of the line between the actions of a hyper-focused, determined babyface and the actions of a heel. This put WALTER in no mood to show any mercy when Starr took a nasty fall on a missed dive, and he marched right over, tossed some chairs out of his way, grabbed Starr, and stared beating on him. At this point they stayed on the outside without being counted out way too long, although I can give them a little bit of leeway because part of that was the referee rushing over to check on Starr to see if he was okay after his missed dive.

They did a fantastic job playing into the promos both had cut to build this match up, with WALTER- apart from his early flaring-up of anger at being jumped- being cool and collected and focused on the struggle, while Starr was very emotional. Starr was able to use this to fire him up at times, but it also wound up being the thing that cost him in the end.

The finish saw Starr get WALTER in the Gojira Clutch and WALTER tapped out, but he did so in a shockingly measured and methodical way. The reason for this was that he was tired of the referee not noticing that his foot was under the rope, and he knew that Starr letting go of the hold would allow him to actually tell the referee this (and, to WALTER's credit, he immediately reached out and grabbed a hold of the referee to get the referee's attention, then pointed to his leg, not moving any other muscle in his body. He didn't want anyone to be able to claim he was being deceitful by doing this.
The referee saw the foot and went over to tell Starr that he made a mistake and the match was still continuing. Starr basically broke down upon hearing this, grabbing the referee and just repeating something to the effect of "are you kidding me?!" WALTER then grabbed Starr from behind and locked in the Gojira Clutch, and Starr eventually passed out.

Needless to say, this finish is going to be a bit controversial. I assume that it was necessary to send Starr in some obsessively crazy direction regarding WALTER or to have him break entirely and take time off from wXw or something like that, and everyone involved in the execution here deserves high praise for just how perfectly they pulled this off. Even little things like the bell never having been rung added to this (that should have bade it easier for Starr to accept that the match wasn't over, and makes WALTER grabbing him from behind while he's arguing with the referee feel less cheap... although that assumes you are a clear-headed competitor like WALTER and not in the emotional state Starr had worked himself up into). That being said, I think wXw has done this rather literal "false finish" spot way too often recently (this at least the third one they've done in less than three months).

POST-MATCH SEGMENT - FANTASTIC! Starr was coughing up blood in the ring. He did an amazing job of selling his shock and disappointment and disbelief and finally seemingly coming to terms with his loss. He then went up for an interview with Rico Bushido where he did a FANTASTIC job of coming across as this wonderful combination of being both sane and rational while also being so furious that he was having trouble thinking straight. He accepted that he lost the match while pointing out that WALTER tapped out and saying that WALTER's victory was the result of playing dirty. He almost came out of it with a more positive outlook, saying WALTER wouldn't have played dirty unless- contrary to what he has claimed- their rivalry actually does mean something to WALTER... and that WALTER wouldn't have resorted to such tactics unless WALTER knew that Starr was going to beat him. Which proves to Starr that he can beat WALTER.

And then he veered off into this wonderful place that came off as the beginnings of being delusional, but Starr had admitted that he was only standing right now because of adrenaline and seemed a little delirious throughout, so this might just have been a passing, emotion-fueled that he let out because he had no control but not something he actually believes. Starr said that WALTER knew Starr was going to win 16 Carat Gold and be the one standing in the middle of the ring with all of the confetti falling "like I didn't get to last year" and so WALTER decided to play dirty and take it all away from him because their rivalry really does mean something to WALTER.
It could just be something he said in a moment of mental deterioration due to stress and exhaustion and mental anguish and frustration and despair; a thought which would never have even occurred to him under any other circumstances. Or maybe it's the first step down the road to crazy-town. All I know is that I CANNOT F*CKING WAIT for the next time David Starr and WALTER come into contact with each other.

Final Thoughts
A GREAT start to Europe's most prestigious professional wrestling tournament. The action was all solid, and there were quite a few surprises in the booking that open up some interesting storyline possibilities. The Jurn/Avalanche blow-off (I assume this was the blow-off, anyway) was a little disappointing, but at least they made good use of the Falls Count Anywhere part of the stip instead of just using it as an excuse to have a standard no DQs match. I can't wait for the rest of the weekend.

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