Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY Round Up

Recently we reviewed a full Evolve and PWG show, as well as the two Evolve representatives for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. We felt 4 matches from the shows deserved placement on our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List, so thought it might be a good idea to present them below with a link to our list (starting to get fleshed out at 25 matches). Enjoy!

3. Drew Gulak vs. Timothy Thatcher PWG 1/2

ER: How weird, these two guys having a match I enjoyed! This was all built around each guy trying to rip the other's arm off, with some painful and convincing selling from both. Both break out cool arm stuff I haven't seen much, with Thatcher Irish whipping Gulak a few times but then yanking him down by the arm. Thatcher's curb stomp to the wrist is always a gross spot, and here he ups the ante by grabbing a kimura on Gulak and then lifting him up in the air by his damn arm! Gulak punishes Thatcher with annoying painful stuff like yanking on his thumb while grabbing a wrist, throwing open palm strikes to Thatcher's ear, throwing fast and low dropkicks to Thatcher's shoulder, snapping off a quick piledriver, wanting to compress Thatcher's neck in the same way Thatcher tried to do with his earlier north/south knees. I loved the ebb and flow of the arm stuff as each guy would push the other a little further, but there was an undercurrent of respect where neither wanted to go too far over the line...but then they'd keep pushing. Both guys sell the arm really nicely, doing some nice dead arms, not wanting to bend them, rubbing them out. There was one point where both were on the mat recovering, and both were independently holding their arms kind of straight off the mat, not putting weight on it. They still manage to snap off some throws and immediately regret them, with Thatcher pulling off a big gut wrench, and there's cool moments like Thatcher bridging out of a pin with his neck while keeping his arm motionless. The finish was so damn good with Gulak finally lacing in with slaps to Thatcher's ear and side and then starts with nasty elbows, and Thatcher just DROPPING him with his thrust headbutt as Gulak is whirling around with a rolling elbow. Gulak crumples better than maybe anybody, and that headbutt sent him into a nasty fold. It gets a surprise kickout but Thatcher locks on the kimura right after for the win. Awesome stuff. Not a shock.

PAS: This was a really great version of this match. They sped it up a bit for a PWG audience and I enjoyed the sprinty style of this a ton, it was almost like the Wrestlemania 3 version of Steamboat and Savage, all of the hits in less the time. That Kimura lift by Thatcher was honestly one of my spots of the year, just an unbelievably violent piece of business. Awesome performance by Gulak who maybe my 2016 Wrestler of the year, I loved his wide hip counter into this weird regal-plex where he through Thatcher by his chin, he also made Thatcher short headbutt look devestating, that is a really hit and miss spot, and Gulak sold it like he had been hit by Gennady Golovkin.

10. Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. EVOLVE 4/1

ER: I went into this one expecting to not like it much, assuming that each man would bring out the worst in the other. BUT it actually turned out to be an awesome match (that went on a couple minutes too long). To me this felt like a cool modern twist on classic World of Sport, with both guys (especially Sabre) pulling from a bottomless bag of tricks with fast exchanges and updated WoS transitions. I loved all the slippery headlocks, with one going for a headlock and it seamlessly getting reversed into a wristlock and back into a headlock. We also had reversals based out of snapmares which is something directly lifted from WoS. They would often do a snapmare with a guy handspringing forward onto his feet, here we get Ospreay turning a snapmare into his own handspring elbow, and it was done quick enough that it looked great. Sabre was killer here, dropping Ospreay with a couple of rough suplexes, including a wheelbarrow roll through turned into a tiger suplex. Then he would come up with all sorts of ways to work over Ospreay's neck, legs, arms, whatever. Ospreay worked a lot of flying moves to counter and Sabre was often there to catch him with something. This was incredibly fun, incredibly quick counter based wrestling. It's something that doesn't work but damn did they make it work here. Where I wish it would have ended was when Sabre caught a triangle choke while Ospreay was going for a standing shooting star. Right before that Ospreay had kipped out of a tornado DDT which I think is an exceptionally stupid spot that athletic wrestlers do. All it does is show how a DDT is just rolling through at the right time. "See? My neck wasn't impacted at all! I was able to just hop out of it!" It's needless. But it would have been great if he had done that, tried his SSP and immediately met his doom in a triangle. Buuuuut we get a 80s WWF hulk up as his arm doesn't drop (since when does Evolve even do that spot? Don't they just call submissions as if they were MMA?), and we have to see some Ospreay tropes like trapping Sabre's head against the turnbuckle. The finishing sub by Sabre is absolutely vicious and almost made the match continuing worth it, as Sabre ends up sitting down on Ospreay's head and neck while yanking both of his arms up and behind his back. It's something Negro Navarro would be jealous of. Even with the extra pointless final two minutes, match was still awesome and a great representation of this style.

PAS: I was also not expecting to like this very much, and was looking forward to shitting on Eric for digging it, but I confess it won me over. A match like this is all about doing cool stuff and not wearing out your welcome, and they did a bunch of cool stuff and kept from dragging on. I loved Ospreys shooting star press, it a spot I haven't seen in a while and he added a cool tuck in the middle of it, I also liked a bunch of the quick counter which is something can bug me. Finishing submission was truly awesome, as was the Liger bomb that set it up. I am still not sold on Osprey, some of his stuff is still pretty stupid looking but I think I need to give up the ghost and embrace Sabre.

12. Drew Gulak v. Tracy Williams EVOLVE 5/7

PAS: Awesome match, really a showcase for the style of wrestling these guys represent. Violent mat wrestling with William using his power to get advantages, while Gulak played the role of the more skilled veteran. The match then built to some pretty great bomb throwing, with William really unloading some huge lariats and throws, and Gulak throwing some thudding chops and dropping him with his great bodyslam into the ropes. Williams gets rolling and it looks like he is going to overpower Gulak before Drew snatches him out of midair with a dragon sleeper, just an awesome flash finish and a capper to a great match. Catch Point is my favorite thing in wrestling right now.

ER: Gotta second Phil on this one, Catch Point is definitely my favorite thing in wrestling right now. I love that sometimes their matches don't necessarily have a coherent story or narrative, not necessarily follow a "work the knee, guy fights through knee pain, knee eventually gives out" type line, but more just two talented guys with a bunch of tricks, who are always prepared to catch somebody with an unexpected trick. Gulak is probably my #1 guy in wrestling right now, running a tight race with Hero,   and I just adore all the tricks he breaks out in a match. He doesn't put the blinders on and go for one way to the finish, he really blends into a match and takes opportunities as they come, while commanding an awesome control over all these little things. All of his pinfall roll-ups feel like things that could legitimately pin a man. His sunset flip is killer, his crucifix is great, they look like actual pinfalls. He does stuff every match that I'm not sure I've seen, and not in some sort of dorky innovator of offense way, but neat little wrinkles to his work. At one point he put his arms up to block a Williams forearm and caught the forearm with his forearms, but then dropped his left arm to shake it out as the strike likely hurt, which led to the left side of his face being opened up to Williams' next forearm. He easily just could have taken two forearms in the strike exchange, but he decided to make it more interesting. He's really great at fighting to the ropes, looking for openings, reversals, hits one of the greatest spinning lariats, hits one of the greatest headlock takeovers where it just looked like he locked in a super snug headlock and went right over, with Williams having to decide if he's going over too, or if his head is going to get popped off his shoulders like an action figure. But Gulak also breaks out awesome, more complicated things, like the sub where he has Williams' left leg grapevined and is grabbing his right leg and bringing it down with force over his own shoulder, like a cross between an indian deathlock and a stretch muffler. Too bad we'll likely never get to see Gulak get a lucha run as I would love to see him against guys like Virus and Blue Panther. I don't get too into fantasy dream booking but damn would 10 minutes of those matches make my year. I've spent this whole time talking up Gulak, but Williams keeps getting better too, and I liked all of his pump dropkicks and like how he represents a more traditional "pro wrestling" style within Catch Point. Who's gonna get me my Catch Point shirt!?

16. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher EVOLVE 4/1

ER: Awesome stuff from these two, which shouldn't be too surprising. There are some moments where you see a couple seams in their style with split seconds of waiting for one another, but I'm stunned that type of thing doesn't happen more with these guys. Thatcher dominated most of this and was really mean, throwing big strikes to Riddle's ribs and neck and ear, tossing him with gut wrenches, making his ankle bend at a disgusting angle with an ankle lock, locking on a brutal sub where he yanks Riddle's leg back while pushing into his knee with his boot. Damn that should be a finisher. Riddle doesn't overdo the selling, but he doesn't no sell either. Watch him lift his ankle after nailing Thatcher with a fisherman's buster. I'm sure many will hate the finish, which I get, but I liked Riddle hyperextending the arm after Thatcher thinks the ref broke the hold. It's a nice Gerard Gordeau dick move that adds another wrinkle to the Thatcher/Catch Point feud.

PAS: I really loved all of the infighting in this match, both guys laid in some vicious shot to the ribs and stomach and I am shocked that none of the shots to the ear popped an eardrum. Both guys come off as naturally tough dudes and parts of this felt like they took it a bit far. I thought the multiple arm bar reversals at the end might have been a bit much, although I did love how each guy found a different way to reverse and counter. Finish was pretty cool, although I think both the ref and Riddle needed to be a bit more demonstrative. I can totally see how it would have come off confusing to the crowd, Riddle need to wait a beat before torquing the arm, so it was obvious he wasn't breaking clean, and the ref really need to over emphasize that he needed to break the hold.


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