Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Select Matches from EVOLVE 66 8/19/16

Phil went to this show with his 8.5 months pregnant wife and has been (rightly) on my case for me to watch Thatcher/Riddle ever since. There were a couple other matches on the card that interested me, so I figured I'd skip around and you know, not bother writing up Ethan Page/DUSTIN.

Tracy Williams/Fred Yehi vs. Jigsaw/Peter Kaasa

ER: I really dug this one. Phil had told me Jigsaw looked really bad live, but I thought he looked quite good in this. There was one moment that was too 2000 indy (Yehi having to be draped over the middle rope while Jigsaw went up to hit a dropkick), but he matched up especially well with Williams and liked the way he took offense. He was kind of the guy overmatched by Catch Point, and I thought he got that over nicely. I liked their grappling, Jigsaw had a fun little wristlock counter, some fun leg stuff. Jigsaw was also fun with Yehi, dug him tossing some stiff kicks before one got caught, leading to Yehi straight up punching him in the foot bones! But this match was really the Tracy Williams show, one of his best outings, and he was in it a lot. A lot of this was Williams/Jigsaw, which was cool. Yehi hung back more than usual, coming in occasionally to stomp some limbs and drop Jigsaw with a couple of big germans. Kaasa didn't make it in a lot either but hit his big space flying tiger drop and some fast power moves. He has an impressive high bridge on his northern lights, and I loved his flying shoulderblock in the corner. But this worked as a super fun Jigsaw/Williams show. Really wouldn't mind a singles match between them, or more Jigsaw in Evolve.

No Holds Barred: Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle

PAS: I was at this match live, loved it, and I may have loved it even more on video. Both live and tape had advantages. Live I could really feel the thud of all of the strikes. These shots didn't have the snap of a Low-Ki kick, they thumped, the sound when they landed wasn't sharp it had a real bass to it. On tape you can really see the close up of the mat work, I could tell that Thatcher was mauling Riddle's foot, but on video you can really see him try to separate the toes and turn the ankle. Thatcher has been hit and miss lately, but having this kind of harrowing violence in his grappling is where he is at his best. There is no test of skills, this is a mean guy trying to use grappling to maim the guy across from him. The no holds barred stipulation came in to play mostly with a lack of rope breaks, there was a bunch of innovative cool looking spots around no rope breaks, including both guys locking in kneebars and rolling off the apron to the floor, and Thatcher using the ropes to choke Riddle out and break a triangle. Finish was also an awesome use of the ropes, as Thatcher hung Riddle by the arm into a hangmans crossarmbreaker. Great stuff, right up there with my favorite Thatcher matches ever, and the best Riddle match of his young career.

ER: My god what a match. Phil has been on me for 3+ months to watch this, it has been the subject of at least two arguments, maybe three, and I get it. This match was ridiculously awesome, Phil was a lucky enough son of a gun to see it live, and he was just trying to share some wonderful wrestling with a friend. I was the bad friend. When I heard "No Holds Barred" I was thinking it was going to devolve into cheapshots and chair shots or something, and I'm so happy that wasn't the case. The stip took away rope breaks and you don't realize how important rope breaks are to these type of matches until the don't exist. So you're left to cringe at the twisting and screaming for extended periods of time, until one of them gets desperate caged animal eyes and starts lashing out at the other to save a limb. This is just a hyperviolent war with no weapons necessary to enhance the violence. This is a match that would translate across all eras of pro wrestling. As we learned through the 80s projects, violence and brawling are what most consistently transcend any particular style. And this whole thing is just awesome. Riddle jumps Thatcher during his entrance and the whole thing is go go go but with no big moves or rope running or anything like that. I was honestly hooked right from Thatcher's early match heel hook. It was one of the nastiest things I've ever seen. I fully bought into Riddle's screams, and Thatcher kept ratcheting that ankle further and further out of position and you could hear the crowd swelling each time. And from there they just tear into joints the entire time. The whole match looked like a constant struggle. Arms bent at awful angles, suplexes fought over, necks cranked, ankles twisted; everything in this looks career shortening. You hear about all those PWFG guys had wrecked joints into their 30s and you wonder if the same is going to happen to some of these Catch Point guys. But I will not think about that now because these men are fighting for my enjoyment!!! Phil covered how great all the rope based spots were, so I'll mention how much I loved how much sweat played a factor in things. "Slipperiness" as a match goes on is a favorite Joe Rogan talking point and I love how that proved true here. The longer things went the tougher it was to keep on a hold. You see Thatcher lock in what could have been a match ending ankle lock but Riddle slipped out. Riddle locks on a Bro lock in the middle and Thatcher is able to slide right through into a vicious calf crusher. The violence never stopped in this, and the whole thing really felt like a high water mark for this style. Love.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Cody Rhodes

ER: I was really curious about this one, as I've somehow become one of the bigger Sabre supporters (despite my opinion on him remaining relatively consistent), and I was also a pretty early fan of Cody. Cody would go through peaks and valleys in WWE, but every year or two he would go on a TV run that would reconfirm his quality. He had a nice 09/10 syndicated run and as recently as 2014 I thought he and his brother were the best tag team (and it wasn't just Dustin doing the heavy lifting, Cody was more than holding his own in those tags). So I was excited to see his first non-WWE affiliated match of his career. And I really liked this match, although admittedly it was mostly Sabre that I liked, and the ending was far too sudden. But I thought this match was a nice feather for Sabre, who has gone from internet favorite to "overrated". I thought he was pretty vicious here working over Cody's wrist. He kept on that wrist and plenty of stuff he did made me cringe. I injured my wrist 15 years ago working at FedEx and I'll go months without feeling any pain, then out of nowhere be hit with a stabbing pain on my top right wrist. Seeing Sabre bending and wrapping and twisting Cody's wrist made the pain palpable to me. Sabre locked on some really cool stuff, especially loved his short arm scissor. He locked it on real tight and clasped Cody's hand to wrench it in even more, and it even lead to some nice pinfall counters by Cody. Also loved the moments of him stomping the wrist, stomping the elbow, really everything Sabre did looked really good. Now any problems with the match mostly lied on Cody. He had a bunch of weird dated Edge offense that landed completely flat with me and the live crowd, several of those lame power plant moves that look like the giver is bumping just as hard as the taker. He even rolled the dice! His springboard kicks both looked weak, and it's not like I was expecting him to come in and wrestle all "indy", but his style also seemed somehow more dated than it ever looked in WWE, so that's weird. And the finish, as I mentioned, just came too suddenly and didn't really work for me. Maybe the match structure is to blame, and maybe that's on Sabre, but Sabre took 80% of this match, and it ended with Cody basically dropping him with a slam, and then locking on a (nice looking) knee crank to get the tap. The sub looked great, and the ring positioning was good, but we had just seen Sabre work Cody's wrist for 15 minutes while none of Sabre's limbs got worked over, so it came off really hollow for Cody's wrist to suddenly be strong enough to tap a guy who hadn't been weakened. The finish just didn't feel earned, which is a shame as I really dug the match overall. It stinks when the weakest part of the match is the last visual.


Overall a fun show (from what I watched), and Thatcher/Riddle is one of the easiest locks for our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List as there ever was. Every wrestling fan owes it to themselves and the wrestlers to go out of their way to watch that match. It is near wrestling perfection.  Find it, watch it, love it.

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