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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Most of EVOLVE 83 4/23/17

1. Tracy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson

ER: This was no good, real disappointing. These two looked half asleep out there, had no plan, did some stuff, much of it poorly applied. Half nelson suplex forgotten a moment later? Check. Obligatory apron fight? Check. Having an epic war elbow exchange? Check (with bonus "forehead resting on opponent's chin because we're dead on our feet from warring"). The build was non-existent, the light behind the eyes was turned off, their focus seemed elsewhere. Perhaps, they were accomplishing something deeper. Perhaps, both realized that Catch Point was nearing a conclusion. Perhaps this was two partners, nearing the end of their relationship. The good times had been great. Later, long after both of you had moved on - willingly or unwillingly - you'd find an old archived email, with the two of you expressing written, verbal, courtship-like impossible love and devotion the likes of which you didn't ever remember happening. The desire to make small-but-necessary changes to appease the other, those changes both important to the longterm standing of your love and maybe also early unacknowledged cracks in the foundation of your at-the-time genuine love. Those words you were now reading seemed to be from another lifetime. The feelings were too much, making your body temp rise that you actually moved someone to feel this way about YOU, while a pit formed reminding you of all the bad times that came after. The fights were sometimes easier to remember than the beautiful, shields-down adoration the two of you had for each other. Both painful to think too long about. This match, these two partners, having this by the books argument, the kind of argument we've all had, the perfect microcosm of a failed relationship. Two people so beyond saving that they can't even get it up for their arguments any longer. Their words are meant, but the teeth are removed. Nothing can hurt them now, because - perhaps without even realizing it and DEFINITELY not ready to admit it out loud - there are no longer any stakes, and they've both begun the process of moving on.  These two have done this before, and they've done it better, and they both know they've done it better. But the listless, failed relationship ennui that they captured was breathtaking. This, the gorgeous sadness of still caring enough about someone to just be willing to go through the fucking motions with them. If they didn't care, they just wouldn't do it. But both have been hurt, and both are still hurt by the idea of hurting the other, even as they're hurting the other. Love is rare. It shouldn't be a surprise that true love ever dies, but it does. And we should celebrate that love, no matter how brief. We should celebrate that we've ever had someone that loved us enough to go through the motions with us. 10 stars.

2. Keith Lee vs. David Starr

ER: YES! This was what I wanted. Lee acted cocky without really acting too cocky, and Starr went right at him like Lee wasn't 120 lb. bigger than him. There were nice little things by both guys, and I really liked how they accurately sold shots: If a shot was supposed to hit the face but landed shoulder,  each guy sold neck and shoulder. It brought an honesty to things that helped things as it escalated. Starr hits Lee hard, throwing nasty chops and elbows, dodging a couple Lee punches and then surprising the big guy with a slap. The two lariats that follow are brutal, crashing into the side of Lee's neck. That neck takes a major beating as Lee eats a backdrop into the buckles (crazy bump) and then gets planted in gross fashion with an apron DDT. It looked like his head disappeared into mat. And after that DDT Starr just runs through Lee with another lariat, finally taking him down. But Lee is mammoth and he does not quit, and before long he remembers his size advantage, running through another lariat attempt as if he was trying to rip Starr's arm off his body, pulling off an awesome/silly/surprising/probably ill-advised rana, and flat out crushing Starr with a couple of impressive slams. Starr impressed the hell out of me here, tons of guts, real fearless, and Lee is just a physical freak. Great stuff all around.

PAS: This was pretty nifty stuff, I think Starr is kind of a goof, but facing a guy this big keeps him from falling into too much indy move trading. I could live with out ever seeing his elbow smash/chop combo again though. Both apron moves were huge and nasty, Lee absolutely murders Starr with a powerbomb on the apron, which led to Lee in control for a long time, and the apron DDT by Starr gave him a plausible run on top as well. If you are going to do crazy stuff like that it should matter. Lee is really good at selling for such a big guy, and he really makes me buy a little guy like Starr could hurt him, if only briefly.

3. Fred Yehi vs. Kyle O'Reilly

ER: This was a good showing from both, with O'Reilly attacking Yehi's arm and Yehi going after O'Reilly's knee. The knee stuff was the most compelling work in the match, some of those early knots Yehi was tying were pretty sick, really looked like a guy with dozens of ways to take apart a knee. I don't love O'Reilly doing the Catch Point grappling, as there are always too many cracks, too many moments where Yehi has to hold still waiting for O'Reilly to get to where he's supposed to be. O'Reilly makes up for some grappling clunkiness by throwing some really nasty shots, raining down on Yehi from mount, and starts trying to yank that arm off. They lose me once they start going into some strike exchange stuff, the exchange came off a little too silly for what they were going for, and for how hard they were hitting each other. We hit bottom once we got to a Scooby Doo spot where both men backed into each other, startling each other, and turned to slap the other. The spots seemed really contrived. O''Reilly also isn't good at selling nuance. Working an early bum knee was probably a mistake. He does overall much better than I expected, but when he does something like trying to run and just faceplanting because "his knee gave out", it just comes off too ham. But they win me back with some pretty nasty shots, really liked O'Reilly stubbornly holding an armbar while Yehi is realigning his jaw with knees, dug O'Reilly choking him to his knees with a standing front choke, liked the finish with a brainbuster into some nasty arm twisting. Overall I liked the match, just wish they had dropped a couple things.

4. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lio Rush

PAS: I really like 8/10ths of this, it was worked kind of like a 2010s version of Mysterio v. Malenko, with Sabre grounding and torturing Rush. Rush is really flexible and gets twisted into some nasty violence pretzels, he does some especially nasty things to Rush's ankles, violently wrenching them and stomping on them in weird nasty ways. Sabre was a real nasty prick in this match, which he is actually pretty good at, his contemptuous sneer is much better then his goofy babyface faces and torturing a tiny guy is a pretty mean thing to do. Finish run lost me a bit, no reason for this match to have a tough guy elbow exchange, I hate the fact that is in every indy match, and it is especially dumb here. Rush had some cool flying spots, but he could have been more explosive, I did like Sabre escaping with a roll up pin and cutting off Rush's big offensive run.

ER: I really loved Sabre in this. I didn't have a whole lot of use for Rush's offense, so I was a-ok watching Sabre bend him around in all sorts of evil ways. Rush was pretty great at getting 4 limbs pulled in different directions at once, and for that I thank him. Sabre breaks out some of his best stuff here, the octopus hold was ridiculous, the drop toe hold on left leg/ankle lock on right leg/crossface choke was sick, plenty of nasty wrist manipulation, always digging elbow points into tender muscles while locking in holds, all really great stuff. I thought the set ups for everything were really well played, a lot of stuff that could have flopped came off organic, like catching an ankle lock when Rush tried a Pele kick. I've never seen that spot (I'm sure it's happened somewhere), and it came off unexpectedly and well timed. The fighting spirit strike exchange was silly (even though I liked Sabre's shoulder shrug uppercuts) and felt just totally out of place, but the finish was killer with Sabre just locking on a tight roll up and holding the pin several seconds after the bell. Loved that.

5. I Quit: Drew Galloway vs. Matt Riddle

ER: Quite a violent spectacle, that kinda comes undone in the final few minutes. I think the match would have greatly benefitted from being a No DQ or Texas Death Match, as Drew Galloway's strategy didn't make a whole lot of sense with the I Quit stipulation. He kept going for KO offense and then making the same shocked face when Riddle would just gurgle into the mic. At one point he hits three future shock DDTs and then a 4th on a chair, and then just lies there while Riddle gurgles. You'd think with Riddle selling being barely conscious that Galloway could have just kneeled on his balls or something to get the quick "I Quit". The violence is at least big up until that point, with both guys throwing super nasty shots all match, Drew taking a suplex on the floor, Riddle getting bounced off the mat with a gorgeous snap piledriver...but then we hit a kind of goofy patch. We have a too long "Drew tying Riddle to the ropes" moment, with Riddle apparently being so beaten down that he couldn't struggle, and then Drew delivers tons of great punches to a tied up Riddle (the headlock short punches were so great they would make people forget about Nolan Ryan/Robin Venture). But then...Drew for some reason sells more than Riddle, apparently tired from beating his fists against Riddle's skull. Riddle gets untied by the ref and goes on a rampage, despite being so beaten down that he couldn't struggle against getting tied up moments earlier, and took nothing but damage since then. Drew is tired from dishing a beating, and Riddle is moving with more energy than he has all match. It all felt very dumb. Galloway ramps up the dumb by pulling out a sledgehammer (We know what that means!!!), hits Riddle in the balls with the handle, but Riddle's balls recover and he makes Drew quit with the bromission. I dunno. The violence was real and I liked the first 75% of the match (despite, again, thinking things would have been so much better with a simple No DQ stip), but they lost me pretty good by the end.

PAS: I agree that the stip hurt this match, way too much stuff with the ref holding microphones in peoples faces, it made it very hard for the match to have any pace or structure. There were some individually cool moves, I loved the snap piledriver, and the DDT's looked good, but all of it was followed by Riddle lying there while Galloway yells at the ref. The sledgehammer was too clever by half, although I really liked the final finish with the twister being so violent that it can force a submission from any point.

ER: Decent show with a couple standout matches. Lee/Starr and Sabre/Rush were good enough to land on our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List. I had higher hopes for Galloway/Riddle. The action was there, but the stip was a flop.


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