Segunda Caida

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Thursday, June 23, 2022

I Spent All Those Nights Just Trying to Take Gulak Home

Drew Gulak vs. Lince Dorado WWE Main Event 5/5/17 - GREAT

ER: "It's great to be here in the wonderful capital of California: San Francisco!" Gulak says to the Sacramento crowd, and that's the kind of stupid heel work I can always get behind. It's even better when you flip flop interchangeable Bay Area cities like San Leandro and San Lorenzo, but this is some good base level annoying stuff. This match played out like WWE was giving a tryout to some Chikara regulars, a 5 minute showcase for a contract. Gulak is an excellent base for Dorado, takes all of his armdrags and headscissors effortlessly, including a flawless knucklelock that ended with Dorado kneeling on Gulak's shoulders into a slick sunset flip. It looked as good as the first time I saw Rey do that same sunset flip, and Gulak is a great levelheaded Psicosis. 

One of the best things about Gulak's basing are his facials as he's clearly about to take an armdrag. As he's getting Dorado onto his shoulders, his face is the face of a man 100% confident that he's about to pull off his fireman's carry slam, then a face of utter shock as Dorado spins out of it. You never see the far off look of a man who is preparing to take a spot, and it's a layer that makes Gulak one of the best. Gulak's control is simple, hardly even throwing a strike, mostly just knocking him down and keeping him there with stomps. Dorado goes for a moonsault and Gulak catches him with a perfectly timed pair of boots, and for a spot you've now seen in nearly every Mistico or Volador match it sure looked great here. Gulak timed the thrust on his kick right as Dorado's chin was nearing his boots, and Dorado pinballed diagonally across the ring. But the very best thing in the match was Gulak setting up his match winning dragon sleeper. When Bill Dundee would lock on his sleeper, he'd use a nasty clothesline and just wrap his arm around the neck; Gulak does the inverse, running at Dorado with a back elbow that then hooks his arm snugly around Dorado's neck, then dropping to his back in the sleeper and sinking in the hooks. This might be the best set-up/execution of that dragon sleeper, sick stuff.

Drew Gulak vs. Akira Tozawa WWE Main Event 10/21/21 - FUN

ER: Drew Gulak piles up Ls against nearly every single person on the roster, but every few months he gets to have a fun 5 minute match and beat Akira Tozawa. I've written about at least four Gulak/Tozawa matches, and they haven't had a true banger yet, but they've settled nicely into doing 5 minutes of cool shit and I always like seeing them do cool shit against each other. Gulak always starts these matches off nice and smug, grinning as he locks in a tight headlock and throws a couple stiff elbow smashes, and getting brought back down to earth a bit when he lands a thudding chop and Tozawa hits him back with one just as hard. Gulak is always good at getting knocked down a peg, and I love how he angrily held his mouth and jaw after running into a high kick. Gulak sweeps Tozawa's legs off the top rope and locks in a sick crossface chickenwing (a really underused submission these days, and I'm sure there aren't many who can lock one in as well as Gulak does here). Gulak is good at taking all of Tozawa's offense, and I especially loved how pretzeled he got on Tozawa's extremely sunk in octopus. Tozawa is at his most fun when he's allowed to dig a little deeper into his offense bag, and I dug him hitting a Koshinaka-esque hip attack off the top and a front spin kick, two things he typically doesn't have room to use. Since Gulak is often on the losing end of things, I fully bit on a nearfall when Tozawa rolled through a bodyslam attempt. It would be very Gulak to get angry, try to throw a bodyslam in disgust, and get rolled up. But he obliterates Tozawa with a hard clothesline after Tozawa builds momentum off the ropes, and finishes him off with the old Kanyon Cutter. I'll still hold out hope for them getting a fully gelled classic, but I'll always be entertained by them finding new ways to fill 5 minutes. 

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