“Die Besten Der Welt” – My wXw 16 Carat Gold Experience

Added by Jenna MacDougall

So it’s been a little over a week since I got back from wXw’s 16 Carat Gold weekend and I can still honestly say, with all the hype having somewhat died down, that it was one of the best experiences of my life, wrestling or otherwise. I had planned on reviewing each of the events I attended, but at this point there are so many reviews and the shows themselves are all available to watch on wXw’s streaming service. Beyond that, simply reviewing the shows and watches wouldn’t optimally represent the experience I had in Oberhausen. That’s exactly what it was: an experience. It’s one that I’ll never forget and one that I hope I can do justice to in this piece. wXw is a promotion that reminds you of all the emotions that made you fall in love with wrestling in the first place.

Before I attended wXw 16 Carat Gold, I knew next to nothing about the promotion. I knew a few of the regular/local roster members, most notably Ringkampf, and I remembered hearing a ton about 2017’s Carat but I had never actively watched it at home. I went in totally blind. I didn’t arrive until after Thursday night’s Inner Circle show so my very first experience of the promotion was night one of the tournament itself. From the outside, the Turbinenhalle just looks like a massive, old warehouse. There’s nothing extravagant about it other than its sheer size. When I stepped inside, however, I was blown away. The interior was stunningly put together and seemed totally disparate from the building’s exterior. It looked modern, expensive, exciting. Before I saw even a single match, I was sold.

The thing that was made so clear from the outset was that this weekend was a big deal. From the extremely high production efforts, to the way each competitor was introduced, to the tangible atmosphere in the room. Everything felt important. On wXw in general, Christian Jakobi said, “This is an unnecessary product so it has to overdeliver.” This attention to bringing forward the absolute best and this desire to exceed any and all expectations came across through every single day of the weekend and I don’t think anyone who attended could say that Jakobi and the entire wXw roster and team didn’t achieve this goal. Night one was an incredible introduction. All the first round matches were great but the standout match of the night was undoubtedly the Contenders vs Champions tag team match of WALTER and ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey vs wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion John ‘Bad Bones’ Klinger and wXw Shotgun Champion Bobby Gunns. Night one got every single one of the 1,000 people in the Turbinenhalle hyped for the rest of the weekend.

Like I said before, I wasn’t totally familiar with most of the wXw roster before I attended Carat, especially their ‘homegrown’ talent. However, I walked away from night one with genuine new favourites. Bobby Gunns (one of those new favourites), when asked about the level of freedom they’re allowed in their characters and performances, said that he’s always given a vague idea of where to go and the rest is up to him. This creative freedom shows. The wrestlers are clearly allowed to embrace the aspects of themselves and their abilities that they are most invested in. This trust in the wrestlers is so important because it allows for genuine, meaningful growth and that, more than anything, is what connects with an audience.

Before the second night of Carat, wXw ran their yearly Ambition show. This was something totally different for me because I had never really actively sought that kind of shoot style wrestling before. It was really cool to see wXw provide something different throughout the weekend and I had so many friends say that it was exactly the kind of wrestling they loved. My favourite part, however, was just seeing how much the wrestlers were enjoying what they were doing. A fraction of the people who were attending Carat attended Ambition but it still had this excited, just joyous atmosphere. Everyone, competitors, fans, wrestlers who weren’t competing but just wanted to watch, we all wanted to be there. The tournament itself had fantastic matches in the form of Timothy Thatcher vs Bobby Gunns and Mike Bailey vs Jonah Rock. There was also an incredible “SUPERFIGHT” between Matt Riddle and WALTER that was maybe the most wince-inducing match I’ve ever seen live but in the best way possible. In the end, it was Thatcher who walked away with the trophy, deservedly so. It was amazing to see him win because he so obviously loves the promotion and the joy and appreciation he felt shone through. That’s exactly why Thatcher is so popular. He is genuine. He seems to have the same pure love for wrestling that all the fans do and to see someone succeed in something they love so much is a really beautiful thing.

Night two of 16 Carat Gold was a perfect night of professional wrestling. The second round matches were exciting and all three wXw Championships were on the line. Chris Brookes vs Keith Lee was a really fun match of opposites and Timothy Thatcher vs Lucky Kid was one of the best matches in the entire tournament (instantly fell in love with Lucky Kid btw). Toni Storm vs Melanie Grey for the wXw Women’s Championship was a fantastic end to their feud (which I knew about because they showed a really cool video package for it beforehand). I cannot wait to see the growth of wXw’s women’s division. Even though I did want to see a couple more women’s matches throughout the weekend, I understand that the women’s division is in its early stages in the promotion and I have faith that it will grow into something amazing. The highlight of the night, however, and probably the entire weekend, was the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship match. Earlier in the weekend, speaking about his match with WALTER, ‘Bad Bones’ said, “I slayed a dragon before so I have no problem slaying a Ring General.” Little did anyone know, the dragon would return. Ilja Dragunov returned to wXw. This was a moment I can’t explain. The room absolutely erupted. I had never experienced anything like it at a show before. People were crying, hugging each other, living for this moment. That’s what wrestling should be. It should make you forget about anything and everything beyond its walls. It should make you feel in a way that nothing else does because that’s why we all love it so much; for the way it makes us feel. The pure energy in the Turbinenhalle at this moment was pure magic.

Jakobi later said that they purposefully didn’t book Dragunov for two months in preparation for this moment. This is the kind of attention to detail and commitment to storytelling that a lot of other promotions nowadays seem to lack. Obviously moments like this one can’t happen at every show but they are more than possible to achieve. It just takes commitment. wXw, Ilja Dragunov and the fans reaped the highest rewards for this risk and managed to create an unparalleled moment of excitement.

The wXw Fan Convention on day three was a really fun and relaxed experience. All the wrestlers were around, there was a Q&A, Shotgun tapings and a performance by the wXw training academy’s young students which was just so cool to see. It was a nice way to get into the day after the emotionally draining (in the best way possible) events from the night before. With only two Carat tournament matches on night three, it was exciting to see what other match-ups we’d be getting. Okay, it would be extremely off-brand if I didn’t mention my favourite non-tournament match of the night first. The six-man tag match between Matt Sydal, Mike Bailey and Marius Al-Ani vs CCK FT. JONAH ROCK was unreal. I’m pretty sure that was the match that destroyed my vocal chords for the next week but it was totally worth it. Loved it. Dragunov also had his first title defense against Matt Riddle which was amazing. However, I don’t think anyone can deny that MOTN was definitely the 16 Carat Gold final between David Starr and Absolute Andy. This match was absolutely incredible. Both men hit each other with absolutely everything. It was a battle. Starr refused to go down and Andy refused to let up. There wasn’t a single moment that wasn’t dripping with suspense. The crowd were never silent. In the end, after what felt like 100 F5s, Starr went down and Absolute Andy won 16 Carat Gold 2018. While it seemed like a weird choice since the crowd were so behind Starr, Andy absolutely (haha) proved himself worthy of the victory and I trust wXw has big things planned.

wXw 16 Carat Gold 2018 was a physically and emotionally exhausting weekend of wrestling… and I would do every single second of it all over again. Wrestling is at its peak when it makes you feel something. When it goes beyond cool moves and interesting stories and moves into taking us out of our reality and making us feel like anything could happen. I know this all sounds a little cheesy but I can’t describe it any other way. It’s just a genuinely wonderful experience. Everyone came together to enjoy this crazy, exhausting, wonderful weekend in Oberhausen. If anyone ever asks me why I love professional wrestling, this weekend epitomises it. I left Germany with new friends, new favourites, new memories, new outlooks and a new favourite promotion. That’s what it’s all about and I couldn’t be more grateful to wXw for everything they’ve did for me that weekend. I can’t wait to watch the promotion grow even bigger and better. I would recommend 16 Carat Gold to any and all wrestling fans. There is genuinely something for everyone during the weekend. Next year, they run in the bigger Turbinenhalle 1, which holds 1,500 people…. you should totally go. Get a few BONs, throw on your Ringkampf merch and chant for (GUNNS) Bobby Gunns. You’ll have the time of your life. Promise.

For more super cool 16 Carat Gold stuff, check out:

wXw Now: wxwnow.de

The Indy Corner Podcast:
The Sarah & Sarah Podcast: @The2Sarahs