Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), an 18-year old indie that has emerged as the nation’s most recognizable independent promotion, is gearing up for its most prestigious tournament, 16 Carat Gold, that is the longest running tournament still active in European wrestling. Here’s a look at the sixteen people entered in the 2019 tournament, an event that has seen past winners such as Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno), WALTER, Sami Callihan, El Generico (Sami Zayn), Tommy End (Aleister Black), Zack Sabre Jr., and recent NXT UK signee, Ilja Dragunov. Not to mention a field of competitors matching the best of the European indies against the best of North America, Japan and beyond, including Daniel Bryan, PAC, Noamichi Marufuji, Cesaro, The Young Bucks (in singles action), Nigel McGuinness, Taiji Ishimori, Marty Scurll, Mike Quackenbush, Jonathan Gresham, Rocky Romero, Doug Williams – the list goes on.
The reigning wXw Shotgun Champion just is heading into this third 16 Carat Gold tournament and is hoping his momentum of over 200+ days as Shotgun Champion can carry him further than he made in past outings. He’s also a former wXw World Tag Team Champion as part of A4 with Absolute Andy.
wXw Shotgun Champion @MariusAl_Ani explains his plans for #wXw16Carat. (Video taken from #wXwRoadto16Carat – complete event from Bielefeld available at https://t.co/z19tqNjzM7.) #wXwNOW pic.twitter.com/H6ssKfDAHy
— wXw Germany (@wXwGermany) February 25, 2019
A tag team specialist who has held the wXw World Tag Team titles on three occasions – once with WALTER in the AUTsiders, once with Ilja Dragunov and Julian Nero in the stable Cerberus, and last with Julian Nero in Monster Consulting – and is entering his sixth 16 Carat Gold tournament.
One of the top stars in the UK indie scene and has been wrestling for wXw in Germany since 2013, but 2019 marks his first entry into the 16 Carat Gold tournament. More known as a tag team specialist in CCK, where he’s won tag team titles in nearly every major British promotion, this will be a huge test for Brookes as a singles competitor.
Like Brookes, “Dunkzilla” Mark Davis is best known as a tag specialist, as he’s one half of Aussie Open, who have won tag titles in PROGRESS and HOPE and is currently the 2x and reigning tag champs in ATTACK! and Defiant. But prior to Aussie Open’s UK domination of late, he was a successful singles grappler in his native Australia, where he’s a former Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA) Heavyweight Champion and 2x PWA Queensland Champion. This is his first 16 Carat Gold.
Axel Dieter Jr.
NXT has loaned back a former wXw star in Marcel Barthel (currently teaming in NXT and NXT UK with Fabian Aichner in the European Union), who will be competing in his third 16 Carat Gold. In both his past tournament entries, he made the finals (in 2015 and 2016) but failed to earn the tournament crown. Returning as Axel Dieter Jr., he’ll be looking to finally win the tournament that always just escaped his grasp.
One of NXT UK’s most recent signees, Ilja Dragunov has become one of the absolute Superstars in wXw the past two years. The 25-year old Russian is a former wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion and 2x wXw Shotgun Champion and 2x wXw World Tag Team Champion. This marks his third 16 Carat Gold tournament, and first since winning the 2017 edition.
The reigning AAA Mega Champion and IMPACT World Tag Team Champion is in hot demand right now, but its primarily been in tag team action alongside his brother, Pentagon Jr., of late. He makes his 16 Carat Gold tournament debut in the 2019 edition where the high flyer can re-focus on his singles career with a chance to add his name to a long list of legends who have won.
DDT Pro and Big Japan Wrestling veteran Shigehiro Irie, a former 3x DDT KO-D Openweight Champion, has been on a bit of a European excursion the past few months and continues by entering his first 16 Carat Gold tournament in Germany this year. A heavy hitter, he’ll fit in well with the German style of wXw and is an early favorite to win the entire thing.
Lucky Kid is yet another competitor who has primarily excelled in tag team competition, as a former multi-time tag team champion in Europe with Tarkan Aslan in The Young Lions. He entered his first 16 Carat Gold last year, eliminated before the semi-finals, but a strong showing this year could further his singles career in wXw.
Much like his brother Fenix, Pentagon Jr. has been seen primarily as a tag team wrestler the past six months or so, but don’t count him out in his first 16 Carat Gold. Pentagon is a more than capable singles wrestler, who is a former IMPACT World Heavyweight Champion, 2x Lucha Underground Champion, and 2x PCW ULTRA Heavyweight Champion in the past year or so.
A veteran of Mexican lucha libre for over a decade, Rey Horus‘ stock exploded after appearing with Lucha Underground as Dragon Azteca Jr. Now a staple on the US indie scene and working his way into the UK and European scene, he enters his first 16 Carat Gold tournament.
The reigning 4x BJW Strong World Heavyweight Champion Daisuke Sekimoto is one of Japan’s toughest combatants and he returns to Germany to enter his third 16 Carat Gold tournament, but first since 2010. Both times he was eliminated before the semi-finals, but with another decade of experience behind him, Sekimoto will be looking to go deep.
Despite being a former 2x wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion, 2019 marks the first time that Jurn Simmons has entered a 16 Carat Gold tournament. His first foray is going to start off with a vendetta, as he’s facing his current arch-rival Avalanche in the first round.
US indie star David Starr has been a regular competitor with wXw for years and enters his third consecutive 16 Carat Gold tournament. He came close to winning last year’s edition, losing to Absolute Andy in the finals, and he’ll be looking to finally stake claim the crown of winning Europe’s most prestigious tournament. But his first round opponent is a man that has become one of his obsessions the past year, in the big man WALTER, who has been his bane in wXw as well as Ireland’s Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling.
As a member of Ringkampf, Timothy Thatcher has had a huge presence in wXw for years now. He’s entering his fifth 16 Carat Gold tournament this year (competing every year since 2015) and last year he finally made it to the semi-finals. He’s facing a significantly smaller opponent in the opening round, Lucky Kid, that should prove to be an easy win, but only if he doesn’t look past his opponent.
This will be WALTER’s ninth entry into the 16 Carat Gold tournament, making him the most experienced entrant in the field this year. He’s always had a good showing, but WALTER’s only tournament win came back in 2010. But for the past year, arguably no one has been as unstoppable as the Austrian juggernaut, who has held the top titles in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), PROGRESS and OTT and is now gunning for Pete Dunne‘s NXT UK Championship.