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Saturday, September 18, 2021

2021 Ongoing MOTY List: Corino Family Feud

12. Steve Corino vs. Colby Corino PWF 8/27

PAS:  This is Corino's return the the ring after five years, to fight his son on Colby's 25th birthday. There have been a handful of father vs. son matches over the years and it is a really great way to insert real emotion into a match. This wasn't an overblown NXT emotional tour de force, the acting was relatively subdued but you could feel the history. It started mostly on the mat, but got much more personal with Steve throwing some really nasty overhand slaps and Colby getting more desperate, focusing on his father's bad neck (after agreeing not to attack it). Steve had some really great looking punches, including some of the nastier mounted corner punches I can remember. He really looked like he was going to knock divots off of his son's forehead. I really dug Steve barely being able to stand at the end and egging his son on to hit him more, and the brainbuster Colby hit was really beautiful (and really should have ended the match instead of whatever Nova looking thing Colby actually used to pin him). I did think some of Colby's offense was a little indy wrestling for this kind of generational war, but when he kept it simple it was great. This was a hell of an old man last stand from Steve Corino, who adds one last classic to his pretty impressive resume.

MD: This told a unique story in a unique way with a ton of emotion and a narrative throughline, without seeming rote or stereotypical in any way. If anything, it reminded me of the last few big Regal matches against Cesaro and Hero, except for the emotional connective tissue in those were symbolic and this was thoroughly and deeply real. Instead of developmental polish it had earnest indy grime. I enjoyed Colby's cocky enjoyment early on and I appreciated the wirey sea of hair that ran down Steve's face, a mask of age and seasoning even if not of blood, shielding us from his wrought emotion and forcing us to imagine the feelings that lay underneath. They worked this match with the crowd but never quite for it. When working from underneath, Steve would hear clapping but never lean into it. When firing back on Colby later in the match, Steve would keep his mounted top rope punches slow and measured, uneven so that the fans couldn't count along, though you could feel the sheer effort in each shot. 

Maybe Colby's offense got a little too cutesy at times, but Steve leaned hard into each leg lariat or what not and made it all look far better than it ought to have. They didn't turn up the speed often, but every time they did, it absolutely worked. And then they brought it back down to the grinding, groaning elemental battle between father and son. As the match went on and Colby survived Steve's second and third winds, it seemed somehow more inevitable than it should have (this helped along by Steve's own words that he only had a good fifteen minutes of wind in him), but even that inevitability felt satisfying because of the sheer heights of oppressive and yet still somehow triumphant emotion that they were channeling. Steve said it himself after the match: the chance to do this in this way and with this freedom was so unique and so unlikely, and they took advantage of the opportunity for all it was worth.

ER: I think I liked the build, the fact that the match happened, and the narratives they built from within the match a lot more than the actual match proper. And I thought this match had some of the same problems as the NXT main event 30+ minute epics. But it had a lot more hard and unique story than those matches had, so some of the melodramatic moments were going to come off better here, where you can more easily buy into the emotional stress of the match. A father physically fighting his own son is a weird thing, even within pro wrestling, and for me that gave it more of a freakshow appeal than an emotional family drama typically has. I played catch with my dad, but we've never worked a collar and elbow, I've never ground my boot across his face, and I've never been potatoed by him. The whole thing is strange and fascinating to me, working a violent interpretative dance with your father. 

Part of me thinks this could have better as a babyface/babyface Bryan/Cesaro structured match, as the opening matwork was snug enough that they could have kept things professional that a straight 20 minute match with less emotional drama would have worked. I knew it wasn't staying in that realm but I think they had the skill to do it. Colby's twisting headscissors on his dad's hurt neck was way more interesting to me than a lot of Colby's actual "moves" offense down the stretch, and Colby was at his best when he went with more of a Finlay-type approach of being active in negative space. I liked the guise of keeping this professional (knowing it wouldn't stay that way) and how Colby edged into that with double stomps to his downed dad and later scraping his boot in his dad's face and holding his boot on his dad's neck. Steve was in awesome shape for a guy who hadn't worked a match in 5 years, and I appreciated Brad Stutts on commentary pointing out details such as Steve losing 28 pounds in the six weeks since the match was signed. Stutts got over strong points of strategy, like how Colby was leaving for St. Louis right after this show, but Steve has been training ONLY for this one match. Those things elevate a big family feud. 

I thought the match was a tremendous Steve performance, one of his great singles matches. Colby is a guy I thought got really really good during his Evolve run, but I thought most of his Evolve performances were better than this one. None of those matches had as much personally at stake, and he was more of an interesting New Jimmy Jacobs in Evolve. Steve is really great at working Jacobs-types, and I wish Colby had leaned more into that style. I bought into Steve's dramatic heft, and loved whenever the 48 year old would fire back at his progeny. Steve's corner punches were excellent, and he saved a light Colby boxing exchange down the stretch by fighting back off rhythm with some thud. I thought a few of the transitions were weak, as they kept leaning on Steve doing things he wouldn't have otherwise done (including twice going up top for the sole purpose of getting knocked off by his son), and the match seemed to blow past several different good endings before landing on the weakest of the bunch. I would have liked this more had Colby gone into kill mode when the ref was giving Steve recovery time and Steve begged his son to keep going. The brainbuster would have been ideal as the final coffin nail, but at minimum I loved how Steve sold during all the kickouts. Still, some melodrama is expected and encouraged in a once in a lifetime match like this, and what they did was a net positive. I'll always get excited for unique pairings like this, even though most won't have the same kind of built-in quality story as they pulled off here. 

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