With the New Japan Cup sucking up so much of my time, it’s taken me longer than I would have liked to get to wXw’s 16 Carat weekend. Judging purely by Twitter, it appears that everyone there had an absolute blast and not just because they were getting drunk in Germany. They kicked things off at Inner Circle 5 with all sorts of sexy match-ups. Let’s dish out some stars.
Travis Banks defeated Alexander James
We started on the mat with Alexander James getting the upper-hand on Travis Banks. He perhaps let that get to his head because he then made the mistake of mocking the Kiwi Buzzsaw and ended up getting kicked in response. I’m guessing that wasn’t fun for him.
James was able to survive that assault and went back to his tactic of attacking Banks’ arm, softening it up for the Coat of Arms. He did a fantastic job of getting over how desperate he was to attack it. At one point, he was literally diving across the ring arms outstretched as he tried to regain control.
Banks was always in this, though. Every time he got a bit of space, he was able to lash out with those strikes. James then made the mistake of creating some of that distance himself, and it was all Banks needed. A John Woo, followed by a double stomp was enough to set him for the Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Crusher for the win.
It needed a few more minutes to ascend to greatness, but it was still a lovely opener. Both men went out there with a plan which they built the match around. Perfect start to the weekend.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Timothy Thatcher defeated Julian Pace
I’d be fascinated to learn whether a young wrestler like Julian Pace loved being up against Timothy Thatcher or hated it. On the one hand, the guy can surely teach you a lot. On the other, you know he’s going to dish out those lessons by grinding you into the mat.
Which isn’t to say Pace got a total schooling from Thatcher. Julian was given a chance to create that distance and show off his, well, pace. On the ground, he didn’t stand a chance, but on the few occasions he was able to put his foot on the accelerator, he looked good.
The word few is vital, though. While Pace tried his best, the message was clear. You ain’t ready, kid. In the ring with someone like Thatcher, he didn’t have enough to compete. That giant bear-like man was able to assert his dominance and do what he does best. Whether you enjoy it or not will depend on what you think about his best.
Verdict: Three Stars
David Starr defeated Chris Brookes
Starr’s many nicknames were read out by a fan at ringside after the announcer failed in his duty. That comedy continued into the action as Starr complained that submissions were unfair because Brookes’ long legs made rope breaks easier.
The Physical Embodiment of Charisma then continued to get flustered when Brookes went ahead and did the wet willy despite The Product begging him not to. He tried to get revenge by thrusting his groin into Brookes’ face, a tactic that backfired when Chris grabbed a handful. A handful that the ref, Reiner Ringer, broke by slapping Brookes’ hands causing more damage to the man who is really good at Twitter’s poor manhood. Ringer then accidentally bounced the ropes into the same area of The King of Taunts’ anatomy while berating Brookes for repeatedly stomping on Davey Wrestling in the corner.
Mr Americanrana finally got his revenge by going down the simple route of punching Brookes straight in the nuts. That caused an argument about whether that was acceptable or not, with the Cream In Your Coffee making the fair point that the whole match had been dick based offence. That led to Brookes slapping The 104 Minute Man in the face which angered the Jewish Cannon, and things got serious.
That led to a frantic final few minutes which saw Your Favourite Wrestlers Favourite Wrestler get the win with a German Suplex. This was good fun. Ahead of a long weekend, both men were able to avoid going full-out and still deliver plenty of entertainment. Now, I need a lie-down, how does Michael Cole deal with all those nicknames?
Verdict: Three Stars
WALTER defeated Jonah Rock
There are a lot of exciting match-ups on Inner Circle, but if your eyes didn’t spot this one, highlight it and draw little hearts all around it we probably can’t be friends. The hosses are going to war.
And go to war they do. Rock and WALTER started off by charging into each other, showing that breathtaking combination of speed and power. Then WALTER started dishing out the chops. While Rock tries to compete, like many before him, he doesn’t stand a chance. He’s taken off his feet by the pure ferocity of the big man’s hand.
Despite that, Rock ain’t a guy you can bully. Even as his chest begun to turn that horrible shade of red, he was able to grit his teeth and start dishing out some punishment of his own. He got WALTER up for a suplex, and when WALTER went for a slam, Rock’s bulk prevented him from executing it. Jonah is that rare breed of wrestler who can go blow for blow with WALTER and every haymaker they threw made me wince at the sound of it connecting.
In the end, WALTER had that little bit more. A John Woo set him up for the Gojira Clutch. He got Rock down his knees before slapping him on the chest and grape-vining as they crashed to the floor. There was no getting out of that.
A fantastic big man sprint. WALTER shook Jonah Rock’s hand post-match and if promoters the world over have any sense that will not be the last time we see these two make war.
Verdict: Four Stars
Killer Kelly defeated Veda Scott
Kelly came flying out of the gate, apparently looking to get things over and done with as quickly as possible. Scott managed to fight off that early attack, though, and these two were going at each other hard.
I was, perhaps, a bit harsh on Veda Scott in my last wXw review. I can’t get a handle on how good she is. In some matches, she looks sloppy, but then she puts in a performance like this. She did a fantastic job of playing the experienced veteran, using her savvy to teach the tempestuous rookie a lesson.
Someone I can get a handle on is Kelly, and it’s all good. She’s bursting with potential yet to purely call it potential is unfair. The way she holds herself is fantastic while she brings an intensity to the ring that glues you to the screen. You want to see her kick ass and she delivers.
An enjoyable back and forth contest with both women dishing out the pain in all manner of fun ways. While it occasionally lacked in psychology as they moved from sequence to sequence without selling the effects of the last one, that’s a minor gripe. I still had fun.
Verdict: Three Stars
Speedball Mike Bailey defeated Mark Haskins
A story of two men with very similar styles. Both like dealing out a kicking with Bailey having a slight advantage there. However, while they are also outstanding technical wrestlers, Haskins is slightly more adept in that territory. It led to a fascinating contest where the momentum swung from side to side.
They weren’t going easy either. There was more than one whip-like crack as a kick connected while both men came flying off the top rope. Most of the undercard ended at the first opportunity they had, but this one went on a bit longer. Haskins and Bailey looking to grab an attention-grabbing win to kick off 16 Carat.
In the end, Speedball was the one to get his hand raised. Haskins looked to have things wrapped up as he transitioned from the Sit-Out DVD into an Armbar. Then Bailey refused to tap, desperately fighting out and after a frantic sequence connecting with a modified Standing Spanish Fly (I can’t quite figure out what the commentator called it, so if anyone knows drop a comment below) for the three.
A great match with a well-told story. These two were presented as equals, and it came down to Speedball hitting one big move at the right time. It didn’t hurt Haskins to take the loss and yet boosted Mike as he heads into his Shotgun Title shot on the second night.
Verdict: Four Stars
An hour and fifteen minutes long show that was a joy to watch from start to finish. I wish more wrestling were set out like this. Every match delivered and they were all different enough that it didn’t get samey. If you had given some of them a few more minutes, they might have hit the next level, but considering it was the first show of a long weekend, all the wrestlers went out and put in a shift.