Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, April 17, 2016

WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 4/2/16

PAS: My buddy Dylan Waco called this show the best show he has ever seen live, so I figured I would check it out. Lots of awesome on paper stuff here, hopefully it lives up to the hype.

ER: Last year's Evolve/WWN Mania weekend shows were far and away my favorite live wrestling experience of the year, and right up there with all time for me. Great atmosphere, great wrestling, tons of my buddies with me. Can't really go wrong. Watching these VOD might not feel as special, but I love a lot of the talent, and the venue itself has a killer vibe. All the faux storefronts and strung up hanging lights make for a cool visual as guys spill to the floor. I'm in.

1. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

PAS: Man Chris Hero's throwback Golden State Warriors gear makes him my new favorite wrestler, that is so dope. Hero was awesome in this match, I think it is his best performance in year. He totally brutalizes ZSJ while delivering some sweet smack talk, at one point he calls Sabre sweetheart while begging him to hit him. I loved how Hero used typical indy counter stuff as a shit talking move, he would counter Sabre's stuff and use it to taunt him, nice use of something which can come off like applause pandering under other circumstances. Sabre is still a little unnatural to me, his KO selling and fired up faces seem pretty performative, it isn't nearly as bad as Davey Richards, but it is in that same phylum. This also goes a bit too long, no opener, no matter the back story or talent involved should go 30 minutes. Still I did love the finish run, with Hero getting more and more vicious and Sabre trying to pull out a flash submission, or roll up and just getting overwhelmed until he gets put to sleep. Great stuff, and I like ZSJ consistently falling short to Hero, it is going to make his big win really big.

ER: Hero's too-tight Golden State tank top and trunks make him look like he's wearing half of a kid's jammie set. Or like Hank Venture wearing his Aquaman PJs. Hero is one of my favorite guys in wrestling, one of those guys who I would go out of my way to watch wrestle anybody. And I loved his act here. He really had this cocky thing going, but not in a way that was brushing off Sabre, but more like a guy confident in his abilities who went out partying the night before. So he was out having a good time, and throwing some elbows and kicks on his way there. And I loved how this match progressed, with Sabre easily outpacing him to start, kicking him all around the ring, catching and blocking all of Hero's chops and elbows, and eventually Hero has enough of that and just straight punches him in the face. And from there the match settles into Hero kicking some ass, with Sabre being so damn squirmy and smart that he occasionally finds ways to reverse Hero, or make Hero's body or attitude work against him. Sabre always pulls out quirky reversals and here I flipped out when Hero went for a senton and Sabre kicked his legs up so Hero landed on the back of Sabre's thighs, right into an armbar. THAT was awesome. But Hero is too damn strong and while Sabre is good at blocking or catching some elbows, he can't catch them all, and those elbows that land, land HARD. And Hero starts punishing Sabre for his earlier reversals, planting him with a couple of authoritative sentons. Hero has arguably my favorite moveset in wrestling, and I love it against Sabre. Also love that Sabre hung in there the whole time, always looking for an opening. At one point Hero opens his arms for crowd adulation, and Sabre rushed into frame to grab Hero's outstretched arm. There was some punishing stuff throughout this one, all of that ankle/wrist/finger/elbow joint manipulation always makes me cringe, and I love Hero getting occasionally frustrated (him flipping out when Sabre wraps a chair around his arm, but then accidentally swinging his trapped arm into a ringpost was a great little moment) but never completely losing sight of beating down Sabre. It did go a little long, but I've seen tons of shorter indy matches that felt much longer. These two know how to fill time. This felt like maybe the greatest ever Hero performance, a perfect convergence of his ringwork and character.

2. Fred Yehi vs. Drew Gulak

ER: A year ago I thought Gulak was a step behind the best of the grappling sub guys, and at this point he may be my favorite of them. But then you have Yehi who at this point is must see against anybody. Guy is legit. And these two tear down for 9 hot minutes and it's great every step of the way. Both guys are constantly working to be one step ahead of the other, and you always end up seeing a reversal or transition that is totally new and totally fresh. I don't know how these two maintain their bearings with how fast they move in their scrambles. I imagine it would be like not knowing which direction is up while underwater, but they always look totally locked in. Too many cool things in this one to list them all, but I especially loved Gulak locking on a side headlock and running circles around Yehi, like he wanted to twist that head right off. I've seen Yehi sell a knee like he did here before, and it's an impressively real touch to this kind of grappling. Sweet Dee on Always Sunny does a real great fake gagging face, and I imagine doing a convincing knee buckle is as impressive a personal niche to a wrestler as a fake gag is to a physical comedienne. It lead to some real exciting momentum shifts as Yehi would come up swinging and plant on that leg, once sending him falling to his face, another time making him wobble hard. Both times Gulak smelled blood in the water and pounced. I like how the knee played into the finish, but not in a traditional "work the leg" kind of way. Instead it just slowed Yehi down and left openings for Gulak, which allowed him to roll through with his dragon sleeper choke, a chance he might not have gotten otherwise. I pretty much want to see every match these two have, against anyone.

PAS: I loved this, Yehi is one of my favorite new guys in wrestling and it is really fun to watch him match up with a true pro like Gulak. His offense always looks a little different then regular wrestling offense. The angles he throws suplexes, the parts of the body he stomps it is just a bit off. Gulak has a much more traditional wrestling base, but knows how to work interesting struggles around Yehi's weird stuff. I agree with Eric about Yehi's leg selling it was awesome , and I loved how aggressive Gulak was when he saw it, they way a great counter puncher will parry until he sees any opening.

3. Tracy Williams vs. Matt Riddle

ER: Team Catch Point explodes! Is Matt Riddle the most obvious wrestling Rookie of the Year since Akiyama? Sure feels like it. He's shown so much intuition in his first year that I have no idea what he can do to improve past his current level. But if he keep cranking out matches like this then I'll continue to be along for the ride. Williams is a guy I like but also a guy with a lot of ideas, and a need to squeeze all of those ideas into his matches. Riddle is a guy who can dish it and take it so match him with Williams and you're going to see Riddle taking some damage, maybe too much. There were some real oh shit moments here, with Riddle bouncing right on the top of his head on a vicious lariat, and later on off a top rope DDT leading to an immediate tap out finish. Williams has some harsh offense to unload on Riddle. His upkicks were gross, and his power offense is done sparsely enough that it really impacts when he breaks it out. Riddle is so much fun during these matches, suckering Hot Sauce into a ropes assisted arm bar, taking a wild bump over the top to the floor (no shoes!!! People who wrestle with no shoes are certifiable), hitting a couple of cool flying knee variations, breaking out the neat Alabama Slam/heel hook combo, and bumping like wild. I liked the story of two teammates pushing each other further in competition, as opposed to one of them just suddenly acting like a heel and everything being cool afterwards. I may need a Team Catch Point t-shirt...

PAS: Yeah this was a total blast, I think I liked their match earlier in the year a bit better, but these two just click. I am also totally all in on Matt Riddle. His jumping knee strikes to the torso are totally nasty here he looks like he is going blast Williams kidneys out the other side of his ribs. Riddle also takes some truly sick bumps, like Eric mentioned that top rope brainbuster/DDT bump looked totally neck fracturing. Williams is a really solid guy in this style, he doesn't have the flash of Yehi or Riddle, but he is a great workmanlike member of this stable.

4. Anything Goes: Ethan Page vs. Anthony Nese

PAS: This was a fine WWE style garbage match, with both guys finding lots of different ways to land nastily on chairs. I especially liked Neese smushing Page's head into a chair with an Asai moonsault. I haven't really cared for either guy previously but this was fine violent stuff, and was a nice balance for the rest of the show. Still both guys really killed each other in a midcard match with a lukewarm reaction, felt like that punishment should have meant more.

ER: Fun match, felt like the kind of thing that would be regarded as a classic if it had happened in ECW. And I really liked Nese in this, really using all of his athleticism to take lunatic damage. And I kinda liked Page here more than I have before. This match was kind of the perfect use of his bloaty detached douche character. There was some pretty brutal stuff in this and I assumed it would go way into overkill, and it never did. That quebrada onto Nese's head on a chair is an all time brutal spot. Rewound that one a couple times. And Nese was great at sending his forehead into ladder shots, then getting turned inside out on a vicious tornado ladder shot from Page. Good grief. I thought things really built nicely and the powerbomb onto chairs with a nice piledriver after was a great way to finish things. For a match I went in with pretty low hopes for, this far exceeded them. Good stuff all around and made me want to revisit Nese.

5. Taylor Made vs. Nicole Matthews

PAS: Not a great idea on a weekend which had so much pushed high end women's wrestling to put on a dud like this. There was a mix of potato shots with some offense that looked really weak. I liked some of the stiffness, but both ladies were pretty awkward. The gimmick of these Wrestlemania weekend indy shows is that the ring work is going to be better then the big shows, this wasn't as good as the Divas 10 man, and was way lesser quality then either the NXT or Wrestlemania ladies matches.

ER: I'd not seen either gal before, and this match certainly isn't going to send me scrambling to find more Shimmer or Shine shows. I thought Taylor was clearly the better of the two, and Matthews looked real bad at times. I liked some of Taylor's stomps and boot scrapes, but this was mostly formless as sloppy, with some shots landing hard and then a moment later the worst clothesline you remember seeing. Sometimes sloppiness can get harnessed into an overall positive, depending on the workers, but this was just aimless and bland. My favorite parts of the match were Andrea's two running kicks, and it's usually not a great sign when the best parts of a match are a couple moves done by a second.

6. Jason Cade vs. Gary Jay vs. Maxwell Chicago vs. Caleb Konley

ER: I had mixed feelings about this one. There were plenty of amusing moments in it. Maxwell Chicago is a comedy guy I haven't seen before and a lot of guys have funny schtick the first time you see it. At the same time it's a title match, so the FIP title looks a little silly getting its showcase in a match that had to completely stop multiple times for comedy. Cade is definitely a guy who seems like an Evolve undercarder: small, does flying moves, easily confused with a few other guys like this on the American indy scene. Jay was really fun and I'd like to see more of him. He seemed like a goofball but also backed that up with some stiff strikes. I'd like to see him in a short violent singles. This is probably the best I've seen Konley look, and he was smart to mostly stay out of the way of Chicago's comedy. Maxwell clearly stole the match and basically steamrolled everybody else. Even during other guys' big moments he would still be stooging and carrying on with an extended bump from a move that had happened well before. Konley played along on a couple of the spots but mostly let the other guys get steamrolled, putting himself in the position of the serious asskicker who keeps setting the match back on track. Konley down the home stretch was awesome, pretty much right from the moment he obliterates someone with a backfist. Match was fun and didn't overstay its welcome, and this is the kind of thing that definitely would play even better on a live show, especially coming out of a long intermission and a dull women's match.

PAS: I liked this less the Eric, I couldn't get passed all of Chicago's Chikarisms. It is fine to do shtick in a match, when it makes everyone stop wrestling and point out how fake everything is, I am out. His wacky "I am afraid of heights dive" made the three other guys wait for him for way too long and then sell the dive as brutal. Thought the other three guys were fine, although nothing outside of Konley's backfist made any impression on me.

7. Sami Callihan vs. Timothy Thatcher

ER: I felt bad for these two here, as at this point it had to have been a looooooong day of wrestling for fans and wrestlers alike, and it's almost like the previous match took the last bit of energy the crowd had. There were some strangely silent moments here that can only be explained by people being exhausted, considering the great reactions Evolve crowds usually have for everything. It made certain things come off a little flat in the match, things that usually sound killer, and then it made some of the legit violence come off across as in a vacuum, two sadists killing each other in silence. Things came off a little disjointed, with Thatcher doing a super convincing job selling his elbow the entire match, very much seeming like a legit injury, but with Callihan mostly staying away from the elbow. It's odd to see Callihan hit a stiff powerbomb on Thatcher, and then see Thatcher sell the elbow and none of the powerbomb, but Callihan then still going for KO blows instead of just ripping apart the elbow. That DOES come eventually, and it looked brutal, with Callihan locking on a top wristlock that I actually think should have gotten an immediate tap. Thatcher had been selling that thing before any actual lock up took place, and sold it as being in barely manageable pain the whole match, but then having that nasty wristlock locked on dead center of the ring didn't appear to make the elbow any worse. I don't think it's possible for these two to have a match I don't like, and I know I'm dumping on major parts of the match, but these guys have a much higher floor than most wrestlers. So while I think it was below what they're capable of, below average Thatcher/Callihan is still good eats.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric, these guys have this weird rhythm which I really dig but I could see how people could think was disjointed. Kind of feels like a boxing match with two power hitters pot shotting each other but not throwing combos. Loved the violence of each big shot, Callihan has some nasty stomps and kicks. I agree the arm stuff was a little weird, although that top wrist lock was a big near fall. My only real problem with the match is that the Thatcher headbutt KO didn't look great and certainly should have been way bigger to get a knockout. There were so many nasty shots in that match that you really need to kill a guy to get a KO.

8. Tommy End, Marty Scurll & Will Ospreay vs. TJP, Johnny Gargano & Kota Ibushi

ER: Man, this was not good. For a match clearly presented as "breathless weekend-closing epic" there sure was a lot of time where guys were awkwardly standing around waiting to be superkicked for the 8th time. Ospreay is a guy with a lot of kicks, and none of them look good. Scurll is a VILLAIN but doesn't do anything villainous.  Everybody here completely forgot how to naturally get into position to take moves, sometimes at several points of the match. There were many moments of guys politely waiting around to be Irish whipped. The way they all end up in the crowd at the end is absurd, all waiting around to be gently tossed one at a time over the barrier, before Ospreay does a dive that overshoots everyone. At one point all six men squared off in the ring over an embarrassingly choreographed bit of rope running and bad stomach kicks. For something so clearly choreographed, you'd think it would at least threaten to get good at some point. Everybody looked far too cautious about getting in somebody's way, and you always had guys checking to make sure somebody else was hitting their mark so they could begin their dance steps. Gargano and End probably looked the best of anybody here, but nobody was utilized very well. This was a pretty downer way to close out a very good show. The new trend in indie shows appears to be frontloading cards, as I've been on a run of really digging the first half of shows and then just waiting for the rest of the card to finish.

PAS: People really liked this match, including some people who's opinions I trust, and man I am saying no go. There were a handful of cool spots, I really liked the double military press ace crusher, and a nice dive or two, but mostly this was just a bunch of guys doing stuff. Stopping the match multiple times to watch Osprey and Ibushi lightly massage each others faces with forearms wasn't a great idea. The face off triple team stomach kicks was one of the worst spots I have seen in years. Six man indy spotfests are not my bag as a style, but come on yall you have seen MPRO, youv'e seen Nitro lucha, shit you have seen SAT's v. Divine Storm, this was not that.

ER: Overall this was a really good show, primarily for the first half. The first half stands up with some of the greatest pro wrestling of all time. THREE different matches from the show ended up landing on our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List, with Hero/Sabre and Gulak/Yehi landing the top two spots so far. Other matches weren't far off from being listworthy. This show would be well worth the time and people should go out of their way to see most of it.

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