Segunda Caida

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wrestlemania Weekend Cherry Picking: EVOLVE 103

Dominic Garrini vs. Timothy Thatcher

PAS: Really nifty grappling match, this wasn't slick like the stuff that Riddle and Sabre were doing the night before, this was gritty, lots of jockeying for position and advantage, rather then putting on of cool submissions. Felt more shootstyle, especially in the beginning, then anything on Bloodsport. Felt like this could have used a bit more time as, right when it got pushed into the next gear, including a bloody Thatcher nose, Thatcher basically finished it. Not normally a complaint I have about indy wrestling, but I needed a couple more near falls.

ER: This was fun, like if these two fought back in the day on Velocity, but it did feel like we were watching a clipped match. I liked everything in it (though Garrini can come up short on strikes, and Thatcher can sometimes freeze waiting for an opponent to act), but the end was pretty sudden. The ground work was fun and Garrini was getting all funky Sakuraba on him, loved him almost crossbodying into side control, and really I could have watched 5-10 more minutes of them on the mat. Thatcher gets a busted lip and we go to finish shortly after, but it didn't feel like that Regal/Storm moment where Storm busted Regal open with a dropkick so Regal wrecked him for 30 seconds, just felt like the actual finish. Fun, but needed more.

Chris Dickinson vs. Mark Haskins

ER: This was a very good sociopath vs. wounded babyface match, as Haskins gets some early flash, so Dickinson decides to take out his arm and his leg. Haskins sees it through, as by the time he's back on offense he's shaking out his arm and hopping all over on his leg, mixing up offense thanks to the damage done by Dickinson. Dickinson will dish some nasty kicks and was twisting Haskins' ankle in gross ways, but I thought Haskins built nicely to his comebacks. My favorite moments was him kicking at Dickinson repeatedly in the corner, pausing...and then punching Dickinson in the jaw with a left hand (his bum wing). Dickinson was like the emotionless Terminator at points, which not everyone can pull off, you just need to have his specific "dead eyes guy who stocked up on tiki torches" charisma. At one point Haskins has him in a dangerous sub and Dickinson panics at first, then collects himself, controls his breath, and calmly shifts his hips to get to the ropes. It looked like a home invasion serial killer who encountered someone fighting back more than usual, so he just calmly dealt with the predicament before murdering them. It probably went a bit too long (sheesh they run all these 5-8 minute matches and expect me to hang on through 16!?) but I linked Haskins dropkick to Dickinson as he was lying on the mat, and Dickinson rolling through a prawn hold into a nasty deathlock was a fine finish. Haskins has been around for a decade, this felt like a good match for him to make his Segunda Caida print debut.

PAS: I am glad to see Dickinson worked straight heel like this. Most of the time in EVOLVE he works as a workrate kicker, he is fine at that, but he has such a great sleazy hateable charisma (sort of a more muscular Christopher Cantwell) , which is muted in EVOLVE. He is really punking Haskins here, laying in nasty kicks, thick stomps, twisting joints. I really liked the finish with Dickinson really working over that deathlock. No reason for this to be so long though, if they had cut five minutes I could easily see it on a list.

Tracy Williams vs. WALTER

PAS: WALTER is one of those guys who is going to deliver a baseline entertaining match. You know he is going to chop unnecessarily hard, get popped back, throw a couple of deadlift german suplexes and put on some chokes. He pretty much comes with a package, and it is often up to the opponent to add some seasoning. Williams does some pretty cool stuff in this match, he is willing to let WALTER break a bunch of blood vessels, but he lands some pretty sharp neck chops, he also does some very cool spider monkeyish chokes, climbing all around WALTER and locking in either a crossface or a rear naked choke. Williams has a pretty high variance as a worker, but this was high end hot sauce.

ER: Phil makes some great points about WALTER. I've watched a lot of WALTER matches the last 6 months, and he is a guy who does not change up his style depending on opponent, and I've gone out of my way to watch WALTER matches, but always because I'm excited about his opponent. Now, this makes it sound like I hate WALTER, which is not true at all. I'd have him very high on a 2018 list, but it's just weird to me that it's what his opponent brings to the table that always interests me. It's never "I can't wait to see WALTER cave in this guy's lungs" it's always "I can't wait to see this guy get his lungs caved in by WALTER". It feels like an important difference, that I don't know what to do with. But anyway, I dug this match. I loved how Williams hung in there and almost tested himself by knowingly working WALTER's match, as if he wanted to see how long he could last. WALTER has the best chops in wrestling right now, and Williams took them and threw cool stiff arm standing lariats and cutting chops to the neck right back at him. He even tries to throw WALTER at one point which is just not going to end well for most guys. I love when guys climb on WALTER to try and catch him in a sub, reminds me of Bugs Bunny cartoons where he takes down a hulking brute with a series of fast scrambly attacks (tying shoelaces together into flower pot on head into tied to lampost with rope). The finish is some prime WALTER as he towers over a seated Sauce and starts yanking that arm up to start the Gojira Clutch, and Williams panics and tries to scramble free, so WALTER just starts raining down clubbing blows to the chest until Sauce can't defend, then  easily locks in the Clutch for a quick pass out. The Gojira Clutch is hands down the best sub in wrestling today (Phil will argue to Twist Ending which is its best contender), it's just so smothering, a dude choked out against his own arm. Cool stuff.

Jaka vs. Munenori Sawa

PAS: Showcase for Sawa's fast hands and potatoes. Jaka is a guy who is always going to slug back. I really enjoyed the section where they were on their knees and Sawa was just straight punching Jaka in the jaw, and some of those quiet the crowd headbutts remind you that Sawa is a Yuki Ishikawa trainee. Would have rather had almost any other BattlArts guy make a comeback US tour (how sick would WALTER vs. Alexander Otsuka be) but Sawa is definitely fun.

ER: I really really like Jaka. He's has a few fun Islander tropes like a concrete block head, but also has the coolest non-canon strikes in wrestling. He throws so many cool strikes that nobody else uses, a top-of-head headbutt to the chest or stomach, palm thrust to the forehead, double palm thrusts to the chest and back, thrust kicks (the superkick has pretty much replaced the thrust kick, which is a shame. There's a looping grace to a superkick tucking in perfectly to that space joining the chin and neck, but there's something about a thrust kick right to the sternum), big flat running knee to the face, hands together chops to the neck and chest, a few spinkick variations, just tons of cool and mean strikes done differently than everyone else. This match had some things that I would really dislike in other matches, but were okay with here. I don't love indy matches where a guy takes a lot of abuse and then just comes back by merely deciding it was his time to come back, no big turn of events that lead to it. And I don't usually like these "on our knees, take turns" strike exchanges. But this one went quick and had Sawa punch Jaka about as hard as possible in the forehead, and I liked the callback as earlier Jaka went into a long series of control after Sawa foolishly tried headbutting him. I like him still trying to find other ways to pierce that armor. The finish was really great and extremely well done, every single second of the octopus hold. There was this great slow struggle from Sawa to get the move locked in, really wrenching Jaka's arm back ever so slowly, then Jaka also slowly muscling his way out, trying to get Sawa's boot off his neck but Sawa subtly tightening his leg grip, before Jaka frantically taps. So I did not totally love the layout, but thought the work within was strong and finished on a major high.

Matt Riddle vs. Daisuke Sekimoto

PAS: I thought Sekimoto was pretty bad the night before, and have been a bit of a 2018 Matt Riddle skeptic, but this was a banger. There are a lot of stocky dudes working chopper gimmicks on these Wrestlemania shows, so you are going to have to bring something more then a stiff chop, and Sekimoto surprisingly does. Loved him challenging Riddle to a Sumo showdown, loved the battle over the deadlift German suplex, with Riddle fighting for an ankle pick to keep from getting thrown. All of the no rope break stuff in this match was great, with Riddle using a hanging triangle while in the ropes to get a nearfall, and Sekimoto needing ways to brute force his way out of submissions while in the ropes. Finish was a little wonky, I don't think Riddle's knee landed hard enough for the KO and while Sekimoto kept his horseshit in check, he was doing a goof face on the sell. Still this was damn good, and Riddle was dropping bangers in New Orleans like mid 2000s Lil' Wayne.

ER: I think the key to getting good Sekimoto must be in him wrestling without boots. He's inflated goof with them and suddenly he takes off his shoes and he's Masa Saito. This had some things that didn't work, a majorly whiffed Pele kick by Riddle that got sold, some very long standing exchanges (that I did like more than most stand and trade sections), but I really did get into this battle. I loved how sometimes Sekimoto would absorb strikes without even moving, just getting kicking in the chest or chopped in the neck like nothing was happening, and the whole thing really peaked for me with Riddle grabbing that triangle in the ropes. I loved the body as jungle gym moments and thought it was awesome when Sekimoto was trying to slam Riddle and he kept gripping Sekimoto's ankle to prevent it, and Sekimoto kept powering through. I thought the finish worked, but especially because Riddle added in the hammerfist strikes after landing that knee. Those hammerfists were nasty and Sekimoto wasn't even moving, just getting a fist whipped into his jaw. The ref stop was really well done. Somebody hide Sekimoto's boots from him!

ER: Fun, shorter than normal show with nothing all time great but a super high floor, really liked all the matches that I watched. The show probably took place at 5 AM so I gotta give credit for these guys working so hard all weekend. We thought Riddle/Sekimoto, WALTER/Hot Sauce, and Jaka/Sawa were cool enough to land on our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List. And I'm pretty sure Phil and I both separately made Charlottesville jokes about Chris Dickinson. And dammit, that still means something in this world.

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