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Monday, November 06, 2017

Matches from EVOLVE 95 10/15/17

1. Darby Allin vs. Keith Lee

ER: On paper, I wanted Keith Lee smooshing Allin and throwing him as high and far as he could, and I wanted Allin to recklessly hurl his body at Lee. And guess what we got! Lee is massive so it's always pure joy to watch him catch someone like Allin mid armdrag, and things get to a peak level of joy when Allin goes for a springboard back elbow, and Lee sends his body flying with a pounce. Allin reaches literal new heights taking backdrops from Lee and just getting thrown by him, but eventually comes back with two monster sentons (one vaulting off Lee while Lee was on all fours, another no look senton to an all fours Lee from the top rope), but it is fleeting as Lee continues to crushing. This was what I wanted.

PAS: Totally fun stuff, Allin is great at working powerhouses, he had a great match in 2016 against Brian Cage and Keith Lee is a way better version of Brian Cage. I loved Allin going for his super high springboard arm drag and Lee just stopping him mid move and staring at him with disdain. I also loved all of Allin backdrop takes, Eddie Guerrero/Pat Tanaka level height. I also dig the selling on Lee's punches and headbutts, Allin almost convulses like he is OD'ing. I am buying Allin's offense more too, those sentons and the code red looked like they could plausibly end a match. Lee has a ton of charisma and big time offense and is a great choice to hold a title for EVOLVE going forward. Lee v. Odinson and Allin v. Odinson are going to rule in completely different ways.

2. Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson/Jaka) vs. The Gymnasty Boyz (White Mike Jordan/Timmy Lou Retton) vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude/Rob Killjoy)

ER: Another match delivering what I was hoping it to on paper. It's pretty amusing that White Mike of all people is now technically working in the WWE feeder system. And if Ellsworth can make it then I see no reason why White Mike couldn't be the next Santino. Doom Patrol (ugh has there ever been a good tag team name in the last 15 years of indie tag wrestling?) keep getting better. You squint and they're now like an indy wrestling Arn/Ole, especially Dickinson who I think really resembles Arn and even moves like him (maybe moves even more like Buzz Sawyer). They were a total force in this match, just throwing stiff ugly shots the whole match. Dickinson was super explosive; it felt like the whole match was spent with him running after someone with pure hate in his eyes like Sonny Corleone going after Carlo. So you have Dickinson just stomping and clubbing guys, and Jaka throwing spin kicks, and I think Jaka's kicks actually work because they don't look pretty, so he'll bounce his shin across someone's head and then crash, but it feels more dangerous. And look no further than late in the match when Jaka gets WAY too much speed and does a hard dive all the way over Killjoy, crashing through chairs, and then Dickinson beats the absolute shit out of Killjoy. You can practically hear him shouting "This is for making my boy look bad!" Ducklings are great fun, they make offense look good and they take big risks, and we build to them hitting huge concurrent dives past the ringposts, twice! Retton misses a pretty spectacular shooting star, White Mike's swinging guillotine neckbreaker is always going to look awesome against a Duckling, and now I want more of this Dickinson/Jaka Wrecking Crew.

PAS: Gymnasties and Ducks are pretty regular dance partners (they have a great three way with High Profile on the Chapel Hill CWF show) and have a bunch of fun spots together. Most of the CWF White Mike I have seen is as a comedy wrestler, it is pretty shocking to see him break out such athletic moves here. I would have liked to see a little more White Mikeishness here, let him do some talking or some sleazing. Really loved Catch Point here, I am a Dickinson fan and have been back when it was less popular, but he was at another level in this match. His vicious beating of Killjoy felt like something Tenryu might do, and indy Tenryu is an exciting idea.

3. Fred Yehi vs. Matt Riddle

ER: This had all the elements of a match I would like, and I like the two men involved, but nothing here really grabbed me; the whole thing felt a little hollow. Am I burned out on the Catch Point style? Possibly, though probably not considering we have several Catch Point style matches in the top portion of our MOTY List. This was not a bad match at all, not in the least. Most of the time it felt like a very good match, it just never reached out and grabbed me. It may even be a better match than the two matches reviewed above, but I was fully along for the ride on those. My main gripe on this one was that some of the comebacks didn't feel natural, and it felt like we built to maybe too many peaks. Early grappling was good, especially liked Yehi kneeling on Riddle's thigh and the struggle over a knucklelock. Once we get to our standing chop exchange I liked the twist Yehi added by stomping on Riddle's bare foot, holding him somewhat in place while he both hurts the foot and blisters Riddle's chest. Riddle pays nice salesman service to both the foot and his chest throughout the rest of the match. You never really see a guy sell his chest. The other week I had this random tender spot on my upper chest, below my collarbone. It wasn't a muscle ache, it was clearly some painful to the touch spot on my skin, and I have no clue why it was there, no clue where it went later that day, but I know for a couple hours I made several "I got stung by a bee!!" faces whenever my sweater happened to rub that spot. So I know skin can get weirdly painful, especially when a compact man is throwing nasty chops at it. So I liked that Riddle was manly enough to show that he was not enjoying these chest based attacks. Riddle eventually pays him back with some heavy kicks to the chest, after planting Yehi on the apron. I didn't love the use of suplexes in the match. It never felt like suplex trading, but they also didn't feel very important, especially for how great their suplexes can look. Often we would get a big suplex and it would just lead to one of those moments where both guys stay down. Or they would be too telegraphed, like when Riddle threw a lazy missed clothesline for the intention of getting suplexed into the buckles. I also thought Yehi's Koji clutch applications were a little too spotty, though I liked the finish of Riddle passing out in the clutch. There was plenty to like about the match, both guys clearly worked hard, and there were tons of cool moments (especially loved how high Riddle commits to sentons, so he either misses big or hits big), it just left me a little cold.

PAS: This felt a little like pimped Chris Hero PWG main events of the mid 2000s. There was a lot to like in individual parts of the match, but it felt like it needed the wrestling version of Thelma Schoonmaker to edit it together to a great match, just a bit too long and a bit too shaggy. I really liked a lot of the chops and kicks, loved the finish with the Koji clutch, but they kind of felt like they had a tight 15 stretched into 25. Just too many suplexes which went nowhere and running elbows for no reason. I need to watch their other match this year to see if it came together better.

4. Tracy Williams vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

ER: Killer scrap that mostly played to both guys' strengths, meaning I'm happy they stuck to mostly mat twisting and great reversals and limited the strikes. The two (brief) strike portions were clearly the weakest of the match, with a floppy seated slap fight and a standing exchange that even had a "Shades of Frye/Takayama!" commentary cherry on top. but the ankle twisting and shoulder bending was legit, and they even broke out some tricks I hadn't seen. It's good to keep adding tricks as they've had so many of these matches already the last couple years that it's easy to start feeling "same-y". So when Williams grabs Sabre in a fireman's carry and plants him knee first into the mat, or Sabre brains himself doing a northern lights but feels it worthwhile because it created an opening on Williams' arm, or Sabre going for a trademark seated hammerlock and Williams just yanks his arm out of reach and looks at Sabre like "bitch I've seen you wrestle before", or Williams adding a fun twist to the standing strikes by perfectly timing and swiping Sabre's attacks out of the air; blocking strikes like that can look like the worst kind of pre-planning dancing, but I thought they handled it great. The leg twisting and wrist bending was all really good, and I have no clue how they aren't going to all end up with stiff immobile joints by the time they're 36. I thought things built real nicely, and I liked the almost flash pin ending. Williams had been too slippery to lock anything too convincing on, and Williams was easily beating him almost any time they stood, so Sabre went to one of his underrated strengths: tight cradles on pinfall attempts. Sabre did an immaculate rolling clutch, locking Williams' wrists and adjusting his hips to make Williams' kick out leverage weak, and stole the pin. Very satisfying.

PAS: I am surprised I liked this so much more then Yehi v. Riddle, as I am normally much higher on those two guys. It feels like ZSJ may have absorbed some of Negro Navarro's mat stuff, as I don't remember his twisting looking this damaging. Williams has delivered some of the more cringeworthy moments I have seen in wrestling in the last couple of years, but if you stick him on the mat he can hang, and I liked how his more basic Billy Robinson style mat wrestling meshed with Sabre's flourishes. Eric is forgetting the part where they exchanged pump kicks, which looked awful, I really wish Gabe's memo also forbid strike exchanges. Liked the finish a lot too, and it was a good bit of commentary to treat the pin as almost a cop out, Sabre wanted to tap him, and when he couldn't he had to escape.

ER: We also get a super fun locker room-clearing brawl that peaks with Darby Freaking Allin doing his no look coffin drop not just off a basketball hoop, but off a basketball backboard. I will love watching Allin until his inevitable wrestling-related death at age 28. I'm happy I went out of my way to watch a bunch of this card. All these matches except for Riddle/Yehi are going on our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List.

PAS: This was dope, I love Garinni as shoot style Big Bubba, and I liked how he just waded in and attacked, both of the wrestlers in The End are convincing scary white nationalist looking dudes. Allin is a complete nutter, honestly the closest thing we have in indy wrestling to mid 90s Sabu

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1 Comments:

Blogger Discotortoise said...

Dickinson/Jaka look like a young version of the cool old-man team from '90 NJPW of Kurisu & Animal Hamaguchi, down to throwing reckless chair shots and elbows. Even Dickinson's red kneepads are Kurisu-style.

4:43 PM  

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