Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Matches from EVOLVE 106 6/23/18

ER: This show opens with a potentially unintentionally hilarious vignette with Jarek 1:20 outside of the Los Angeles Wahlburgers restaurant, saying he "first discovered" Wahlburgers in Philadelphia, and has since eaten at locations in Detroit, New York, and now LA. This motherfucker DISCOVERED this mom and pop burger joint, I assume in much the same way that I discovered Planet Hollywood in my teens, and then discovered Claim Jumper in my 20s. Keep that information under your hats though, I don't want my discoveries to get too well known. Inside the restaurant he barters with a waiter to give him a free chocolate shake if he successfully pulls off a magic trick and guesses the guy's card. The waiter commits to nothing whatsoever, repeating several times that he'll "see what he can do". Jarek does the trick, the waiter responds with the greatest possible reaction a card trick can get (which is nodding and going "Oh, yeah, that's it."), and then walks off.

Then, in a moment of pure brilliance, Jarek turns to the camera and says "I'm a man who gets what I want."

Holy shit.

Imagine Ric Flair, a man who cut dozens of promos celebrating his wealth and lifestyle, clearly a man getting exactly what he wants. Picture Flair, instead of boasting about bagging ladies on his jet, picture him smugly bragging about boosting a guy out of a $7 chain restaurant milkshake with a completely dead eyed straight face. It's fucking brilliant.

I have seen hardly any Jarek. I don't know if he's a goof or if the wink was implied. I really, really hope the wink here was implied.

Darby Allin vs. WALTER

PAS: This is everything that people were saying the Draganov and David Starr matches were. The pinnacle of WALTER laying in an asskicking to a spunky underdog. Darby is tremendous in this, he takes some uncalled for bumps and gets his chest turned into hamburger, but he also has a real sense of when to mix in comebacks and has really credible offense for such a little guy. The hand work was class stuff Darby hurling WALTER's hand into the ringpost violently was great, as was the ground and pound punches right to the knuckles. I loved how he used it as a last gasp counter and attack, if nothing else was working he could bang at the hand. I thought WALTER's selling was really good here too, his hand was fucked, but he wasn't going to let it stop him from chopping Allin's chest into gazpacho or slapping his eardrum into ribbons. There are some really awesome individual spots here, Darby going for an in ring tope and WALTER shotgun head-butting him out of the air was an awesome King Kong vs. Airplanes spot, I also loved WALTER countering the coffin drop with the Kojira clutch. These are two of my favorite guys to watch, and this felt like both guys apex performances.

ER: What a breathless fight, with Allin taking far more damage that you think would be possible, and WALTER practically getting bored by dishing out a beating. There are only so many ways you can violently throw and strike a body, and around the 10 minute mark WALTER has appeared to have used up all of the ways he knows how to violently throw and strike a body, so just keeps doing the same thing. He chops Allin to the mat a dozen or two times, throws him insanely far with a beal, basically just picks him up a bunch and drops him. Allin's body should crumble, but I love the way he hangs in there and the way he spends the whole match essentially being chased down a hallway and gets his licks by knocking over bookcases and trashcans. WALTER is great at showing all the little ways Allin is a pest to him, all the little moments that leave him briefly unguarded. The stuff on the floor was so great, and Allin exploits every opportunity WALTER leaves him, knowing he'll only be able to attack for a second or two before he's thrown again. Allin attacks him from the apron and pounces on him like Westley jumping on Fezzik, gets splatted on the ground, but then catches a WALTER kick and throws his knee into the post, then with zero hesitation throws WALTER's hand off the post. Allin's zero hesitation was just at its apex here, watch him get rolled out on a kickout and spring immediately into a tornillo crossbody (bouncing off the bottom rope). It was done so fluidly and without missing a single beat, yet looked totally natural. WALTER is fun in how he both takes and blocks Allin's offense, like when he just stays in place for a big Allin crossbody, and Allin just bounces off like he hit the ringpost again. WALTER takes a couple Allin roll-ups really nicely, whips himself over fast on the Santito special, and Allin attacking WALTER's hand was really exciting, just punching away at it and clonking his head off it while WALTER screamed. Something tells me WALTER could get his hand lopped off and he'd probably insist on finishing the match, probably by smacking someone a bunch with his stump. But seeing Allin work that hand gives him a possible finish, and I like how he keeps on it and keeps at EVERYTHING, going with a hanging guillotine and working an armbar, and you get the sense that WALTER just ran out of things to do, got his hand run over, and Allin's tenacity lead to him stealing one. WALTER's big Gojira Clutch always looks like he's really cutting off air, and the Coffin Drop is both a fun move AND a great way for WALTER to reverse, and the roll up from there was a nice payoff. These two absolutely killed it, and there were a dozen cool moments that neither of us mentioned. I keep saying that Allin is one of my absolute favorite guys to watch, and I'm going to enjoy him for as long as I can, which just doesn't seem like it's going to be many more matches. But, I've been thinking that for awhile and somehow, Darby endures.

Timothy Thatcher/Tracy Williams/Anthony Henry vs. Chris Dickinson/Jaka/Dominic Garrini

ER: A good match with good performances from a bunch of guys I obviously really like, that doesn't quite gel into a list worthy match. It's probably better than a few things on our 2018 list, but didn't quite feel list considering who was involved. But it's still well worth seeing if you like these guys anywhere near as much as I do. I love how Catch Point started as a group of fit mat grapplers and has now evolved into a stable of thuggish brutes. They're all meaty guys who complement each other nicely without having the same style, with Dickinson working as a modern crazy-eyed Buzz Sawyer, Jaka as tae-kwon-do Kimala, and Garrini with his growing collection of strikes. This whole thing was a great scrap that went by quick, a lot of quick tags and fast action. We got a great babyface performance from Henry, tons of energy and ran into a lot of nasty shots from Catch Point. Thatcher was a great simmering badass, throwing hard shots and muscling guys down to the mat. I think Garrini is behind Jaka and Dickinson as he still shows moments of hesitation in the ring, but he has a couple of absolutely nasty pinfall breaks here that are awesome, landing a spine altering double stomp on Thatcher's back and coming in with an axe kick later, also love his double handed chop to the neck (feels like a Jaka strike, and I like the idea of teammates lifting from each other). Jaka has a bunch of offense and strike combos, and I like his simple attacks like slapping guys in the back with both hands or big throat thrusts. He doesn't necessarily have KO strikes, but his strikes are pesky and constant. Dickinson has really turned into one of my favorites in the world, just a completely hateable charisma and explosive ringwork; every time he charges into the ring he looks like someone charging out the front door of a douchey club to fight someone on the sidewalk. It's a specific charisma that nobody else has and he's awesome. Love him using a vicious powerbomb to break up a hold, love that heavy enziguiri finisher, just a real great bully. If you like these guys, you will definitely want to watch this match.

Joey Janela vs. Austin Theory

ER: Evolve doesn't run as many shows as they used to, and really the only on paper matches that interested me on the show were the two up above there. But I figure I should at least check out a couple title matches, and I don't remember Janela working Evolve before so that's kinda fun. I don't think the match was great, but the crowd was really hot for it and that made it come off really well. Janela is a fun worker but a little sloppy, and Theory works like a lesser Matt Sydal from 2005. There's a lot of that split second hesitation before Theory does offense, and other stuff that basically requires his opponent to leap at him before doing something. It's like when HHH couldn't do a move without reversing an Irish whip. There were some big things I liked, like Janela's big tope and that nasty Death Valley driver on the apron, but Theory isn't too interesting in the ways he transitions back to offense, as he just takes big moves, kicks out, and then does some improbable offense back. Janela hits a package piledriver for a big nearfall, moments later Theory is giving him a TKO off the top rope that requires Janela to climb up onto his shoulders all by himself. I thought Penelope's involvement was kind of clunky, and Theory going for the belt to have Penelope grab it from him felt like a hack Smackdown finish and not something that should change a title on a guy's debut show. But the crowd was amped and Janela clearly has charisma. I don't have a ton of use for Theory and Priscilla's act, though.

No Rope Breaks: Shane Strickland vs. Matt Riddle

ER: A match where both guys really killed each other with some spots, and were rewarded with a finish that nobody could really like. Strickland has definitely improved over the last year. Just a few years ago I thought he was one of the worst guys getting regular work on the indy scene. His striking has tightened up a bit (there was an honest to god really good punch in this match, popping Riddle's jaw on the floor). But a lot of his big offense really only works against a hyper athlete like Riddle, who is really great at getting into position for complicated stuff. Riddle can move like liquid, and I don't think Strickland could pull off some of the suplexes or transitions without someone like Riddle to pull the weight. There's a Saito suplex that Strickland hits that appears to be almost all Riddle, though Riddle does a great job of making it look plausible. I didn't think Strickland's arm work looked good, but he impressed me in ways that he never has before: he had a nice lariat, a sly catch of Riddle's Pele kick (which I think is a Riddle spot that doesn't always look great, so Strickland catching it was a nice play on that), and most importantly I was impressed with Strickland's snarling intensity. He carries himself very confidently and jawed with fans in a way I haven't seen from him before, and it made him come off far more interesting as a character. The finish set up was too obvious by a mile, as both men clearly adjust positions 90 degrees on a suplex so that Strickland gets tossed towards the ref, who Riddle then accidentally KOs. Eventually they brawl to the back, no cameras though. Strickland gets into it with guys backstage, they all come out, Strickland hits a big dive on everyone that doesn't feel like it fits into this match, and Riddle locks in the Bromission but apparently that KO'd ref was the only ref Evolve has. Nobody is satisfied with this finish, and the overstuffed aspect of all of it took away from the parts of the match where these guys were stiffing the hell out of each other. The No Rope Breaks stip didn't really lead anywhere interesting. There was a lot of good here, and it was harmed by some things that weren't really their fault, which is a shame.

ER: Well, WALTER/Allin is a slam dunk choice for our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List, with Phil and I going back and forth on just how high we should place it. What a front to back excellent match that was a real testament to how good those two are right now. It could have easily looked ridiculous, as WALTER is such a Terminator that having him lose to Darby could have easily looked foolish. They crafted an excellent match though, one of the best of the year.

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