David Starr vs WALTER
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2017 First Round
Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
(reviewed 03/16/2017) In 2016, these two had one of my favorite matches of the year, a delightful little opener at Dead End XV. Here, they have a much bigger match that is quite a bit better, which sort of blows my mind. Leading into this match, Starr had never defeated WALTER, which was a big talking point among my circle of friends. We expected Starr to go far in this tournament, perhaps even win, and at the very least he’d finally defeat WALTER after a year of attempts. Clearly, these two had that in mind here, as Starr is grasping at straws in this match, scrambling for whatever foothold he can get to defeat the big Austrian. First he plays to his speed, forcing WALTER out of his element, but eventually the big man catches him and squashes him down. Starr finds energy in his cockiness, in his pride, in the crowd’s adoration of him. He takes to the air to even things up, later transitioning into strength and striking when it doesn’t put WALTER away. Through it all, WALTER is taking his shots when and where he can, occasionally nuking the poor American, but Starr’s resiliency refuses to let him die. I’ve talked before about how Starr’s DRAMA can take me out of matches, about how it’s a little too obvious and heavy-handed most of the time, but in this situation (main event of a big tournament show, being the new hotness of wXw, facing off against the ace and central figure of the promotion), it works. It’s not perfect, but it works, and it draws me into the moment. The crowd certainly loves it too. In the end, Starr just can’t do it. He goes for the kill with the Product Placement, but his pride, his need to show off with a big move, gets the best of him, as WALTER flattens him with a few suplexes, boots, and lariats (the last of which is honestly rough to watch) before trapping him in a sleeper (the sort of move that Starr should have been going for the whole time). Starr tries to rally out of it, fighting to keep his hand up as the referee drops it, but he simply doesn’t have it in him and the referee calls for the bell. Lovely, lovely stuff here. Simple, clear, full of life and intrigue and TONS of crisp, hard-hitting wrestling. There was perhaps one moment in here that I felt was subpar (a bit of tentativeness in the corner from Starr), but aside from that, this match is fairly flawless. I wish it went longer, going past 20 minutes, but this is a rare case in which I’m glad they hit a mostly-flawless 16 minutes as opposed to 20 minutes with some downtime. This might be my favorite match of the year so far, and in any case, you definitely need to see it.