The Orpheum (Ybor City, Florida)
CZW World Heavyweight Championship
Gulak and Thatcher have the reputation as two of the better mat wrestlers on the US Indies so it was only a matter of time before they locked up. Of course when you think mat wrestling you think CZW, so natrually this is for the CZW Championship, currently held by Gulak.
If I had to pick a horse in this race, it would be Gulak. I have seen him have some very strong mat-based matches including a pair of surprisingly strong matches from the first two months of 2014. The 2 out of 3 falls bout versus Colt Cabana at National Pro Wrestling Day was a an easily digestible opener while his 30-minute iron man match versus Green Ant for Wrestling is Respect was strong even within the inherent confines of iron man rules. To be fair, I’ve also been really turned off by some of his matches including his hyped match against Biff Busick in last year’s EVOLVE styles tournament. Thatcher has been far more consistent in my experience, but I’ll take the guy with the higher highs as long as they come around more often than the low lows.
Keeping with that, I enjoyed Gulak more than Thatcher here. Gulak’s mat work is superior as he us just as smooth and detailed-oriented as Thatcher (the latter of which is a praise of Thatcher I find to be overrated) while pulling out higher-end reversals and submissions. The opening mat work was generally excellent. They certainly laid the groundwork for a tremendous match.
When they stand up for the first time, the match swerves off course a bit. The standup isn’t as good. Thatcher does not have good strikes and Gulak’s strikes only truly looked good on a few slaps. The flow and momentum that was built in the opening mat work was lost once on their feet. Both guys seem far more comfortable on the mat. Gulak particularly looks like a completely different quality wrestler working holds than he does when moving on his feet.
They never fully grabbed the crowd and it was largely failed opportunities. The match meandered in the middle after coming off the mat, even if they recovered a bit for the stretch run. There were a couple of spots – particularly one where Gulak landed some nice open hand slaps – where they could have gone in a different direction to keep the crowd, but didn’t. There was a lot of good stuff in the match with the start and ending both being very good but the body didn’t have much going on. Overall, it’s still a match worth watching. There was enough there to believe that these two have a better match in them.
US Indies | Watch It | Quality & Hype