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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Matches from EVOLVE 110 8/11/18

JD Drake vs. WALTER

ER: Very underwhelming. You get WALTER versus a fat guy and it's going to have a higher floor than a lot of matches, but I didn't think they went anywhere particularly interesting with this. There was a lot of very lazy set up by both men on the transitions. I counted WALTER set something up by missing a short running clothesline at least 6 times (basically setting up Drake by moving a few feet away and "charging" in with a slow motion running lariat that would get ducked), and Drake was really bad a setting up WALTER offense with big slow motion right hands that would be dodged. Drake is fine, but he's just not a fat guy that's as interesting as he should be. WALTER versus a guy from the Carolinas with Dick Murdoch tribute body would have been much better if it was WALTER vs. Matt Houston. Drake has an elvish face, coming off more like Jake Milliman. It didn't feel like he really started laying it in until later in the match, a lot of the early segments felt like he was being treated as a WALTER equal without his work ever really looking the part. WALTER had some cool stuff, big boots to the guy, a nasty butterfly suplex off the top, and a heavy German suplex (which lead to some stupid fighting spirit). Drake emotes nicely but there was some ugly stuff, a weak super kick, and an enziguiri that was supposed to be caught and turned into a WALTER Boston crab, Drake threw the enziguiri barely over WALTER's waist. The Gojira clutch is the best sub in wrestling now, really comes off like a huge boa constrictor wrapping around its prey. But the set ups were so lazy that they somehow got in the way of big guy ass kicking. It's easy, you're big, just hit each other. Don't get too lost in the exchanges. Just hurl your fat at the other guy. Big guy ass kicking is a seemingly impossible match style to get a bad result from, but man did this underperform.

62. Tracy Williams vs. Jaka

ER: Nice quick grinding match that kept chugging forward and accomplished a lot more in half the time that our prior match. Neither guy let the other rest and it kept things at a nice aggressive pace. Neither guy focused his attack, and these guys don't need limb work to be able to go out and just attack each other. Williams had his eye all bandaged up but didn't let it slow him down, working really hard and mean. He had a couple great lariats that turned Jaka upside down, worked tough on the mat, had a great big splash off the top (a really underused move by "smaller" guys, even though it's still somebody's body crashing onto an opponent. It's basically the most logical move in wrestling, but mainly used by fat guys), and took a nasty bump into the guardrail that just scorches his ribs. Jaka threw out a ton of strikes, I always like his cool non-canon stuff, rarely using rehearsed strike combos and instead coming off like he's always just flinging arms and legs in tough to pick up patterns. Jaka threw some welt raising elbows at Williams' eye, cool body attacks, smacked Williams in the thighs, hammerfisted his back, pushed away at Williams' chin while chopping him in the neck, all great attacks. They did some cool fighting up on the top rope, with Jaka trying to repeatedly block a DDT, and I loved Jaka bending at Williams' arm and wrist. The flashy spots integrated nicely to the brisk ass kicking, that spot where Jaka whipped in with his spinning heel kick only to have Williams time and catch it was awesome, and I love that Jaka finally overtly went after Williams' bandaged eye to lead to the finish. This whole thing was really packed to the brim with cool stuff, no filler.

PAS: When we got the Houston TV for the 80's Mid-South set you would often see feud build up over months of arena shows. This reminded me of the nasty brawl to set up a big stips match, like this was Buzz Sawyer vs. Duggan the week before they ran a dog collar match, violent, nasty fight with a level still to go. Jaka does have a nice variety of shots, and he threw them all out here, I especially love his double chop, and all of the shots to the bandaged eye. For a guy best known for his mat work Williams is good at this kind of simple back and forth brawl, it didn't really give him a chance to fly to close to the sun. Good spirited stuff

Chris Dickinson/Dominic Garrini/Stokely Hathaway vs. The Skulk (Tommy Maserati/Leon Ruff/Adrian Alanis)

ER: This gave me some lesser vibes similar to that great AIW 10 man tag from last year, with The Skulk taking a lot of rough shots but fighting back after taking their lumps. I love the idea of the Skulk. Obviously we love Special K here and while I'm not a big AR Fox guy, I love a stable of nobody henchmen. Plus, I think Ayla Fox adds a lot to the dynamic. Special K were more interesting as a concept (and had better wrestlers), but none of them had the freaking bosses' WIFE out there doing hype. Dickinson and Garrini (and even Stoke) were boss here. Dickinson gets such a gleefully evil smile when he gets to be an asshole to someone in the ring. He looks like a guy who makes good side gig money as a red herring in purse snatching police lineups. He looks like his Halloween costume every day of the year is "Exasperated Sports Talk Radio Caller". And of course you want that guy going after Tommy Maserati. You want Garrini chopping him in the next and Dickinson powerbombing him, and you want Stokely throwing hard punches. Alanis definitely seems like the Skulk to watch. He's the biggest one, apparently has a linebacker background, leans into strikes (including a nasty leaping Garrini knee), charges hard on blocks, and eats a nice German from Garrini. Sadly, the match builds to Leon Ruff being the big hot tag, and looking terrible most of the way through it. He hits a crazy twisting flip into a corner senton that misses almost entirely, bounces on the ropes a bunch while guys pull their puds, can't crack an egg with anything in his arsenal. So naturally he gets the sneaky roll up win on Dickinson when Stokely went to the top. It feels too early to give The Skulk a win like this, but I dug their celebration after the match, and can only hope it leads to a proper destruction at the hands of Catch Point. This delivered in most of the ways I wanted, and gave us a chance to start grading The Skulk, so that's a plus.

10. Darby Allin vs. Matt Riddle

PAS: Allin's incredible 2018 run continues, and if this is Riddle's indy swan song, it's a killer one. Riddle was great in this as he came in as the fun loving bro and as the match continued and Allin refused to die, he morphed into the dark side of that character, he was Johnny Lawrence by the end of this match, brutally stomping Darby in the corner while cursing and taunting him, He was brutalizing Allin, and as usual Darby kept coming. Along with the beating he took, Darby took one of the craziest bumps I can remember him taking as he misses a coffin drop from the top right on the apron, ring corner right into his spine. I can't ever remember a small wrestler who is as good at making upsets seem credible, he may be even better at it then Rey Jr., no way he should be able to pin Riddle, but when he does, it makes perfect sense. I loved the finish run, even the one count kick out by Riddle, and then Darby being unfazed and still able to catch him with the Gibson leglock for the pin. Great stuff, Allin is actually doing what Meltzer claims Omega is doing.

ER: Chalk another one up for Darby. But really, keep chalking them up for Riddle. We both got a little burnt on Riddle and kind of backed away a bit once it seemed like he would be a Kurt Angle update, but damn am I back on board the Riddle train (Monbrorail? Brolley?) in 2018. He dished a way too mean beating out on Allin and included several excellent and believable openings. This gravy bowl of a match seems like something that should have been emptied long before now, but every time we see this Allin formula, there is still a comically delicious amount of gravy in that bowl. Riddle threw so damn many axe kicks to Darby's chest and back, each one landing harder, all of them looking like they would alter my heartbeat. Riddle is throwing full weight sentons, big knees, and Allin somehow keeps coming forward. He's a tough guy to slow down and half the damage he does to himself. Allin's missed Coffin Drop to the apron was a nutty as hell spot, but I actually loved a Riddle bump even more: When he charged at Allin on the floor and missed over the guardrail, you could see his foot wedge right through the guardrail on his way over, and it looked like a good way for a guy crazy enough to wrestle barefoot to finally break his foot. I want to know if Riddle is completely crazy and actually tried to pull off a Chris Hamrick intentional injury spot here (like Hamrick getting his knee hung up in the ropes), because it was nuts. Allin hits a great Coffin Drop to the floor, a heavy one into the ring, fights with Riddle up top to hit a crushing crucifix bomb, and somehow holds his own on strikes. There was one moment I thought went too far, with Darby kicking out of a flat out brutal short arm leaping knee -> powerbomb -> knee to the face. If Riddle is going to make all his stuff look so damn knockout-level, then it's just gonna make for some questionable kickouts. But Allin is kind of undeniable at this point, so really they could probably run Tank Abbott vs. Allin and have Tank pull a knife on him and I'd buy a kickout. This train is still rolling, no chance I'm jumping off.

2018 MOTY LIST

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE MATT RIDDLE

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