2015 wXw 16 Carat Gold – Night #1
Overall, I thought this was a much stronger first night than the 2014 version of the tournament, The two big reasons were a stronger field and better time allocation amongst the matches. Until the Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Axel Tischer match (the last tournament match of the first night), none of the other seven tournament matches went longer than 14 minutes and five were under 10 minutes. The three matches that went over ten minutes were good choices to be given more time (Sabre/Tischer, Axel Dieter Jr./Thatcher, and Tommy End/Chris Sabin). Those three matches all had at least one guy if not two or who knew how to fill a 10+ minute match appropriately. For the most part, the execution supported that idea. On the flip side, none of the sub-10 minute matches felt like they were too short at all.
Best Performance by a US based wrestler: Timothy Thatcher had the best performance out of a field that also included Andrew Everett, Chris Sabin, Uhaa Nation, and Cedric Alexander. His match versus Axel Dieter Jr. was no worse than the third best match on the card. The usual Thatcher match in the sense he was solid or better on the mat and subpar or mediocre while not working holds. I don’t think Thatcher is quite the total package (yet) and that was reflected here, but he was probably the most solid of the US indie guys. Dieter Jr. is a young and very game wrester who recently has shown the ability to hold his own in mat based exchanges. He’s had a good start to 2015 with good outings versus Tommy End & Drew Gulak in January. wXw clearly sees him as a future top guy. He and Thatcher worked well together in the submission heavy parts of the amtch. Thatcher’s strikes and other stand up offense still struck me as the weaker part of his game (and something he should try to minimize as much as possible) but this was his usual solid performance.
Biggest Surprise: Chris Sabin. I have never been a big fan of Chris Sabin and (right or wrong) had written off him off as being sub-replacement level at this point in his career. I thought he wrestled a good match against Tommy End, however. He took End’s offense reasonably well. More importantly, I thought Sabin’s own offense worked in the context of what they were going for (End getting a convincing win over a US “star”) and that surprised me. His comebacks and hope spots were engrossing and he didn’t try to do to much. The match was the 2nd or 3rd best of the night, right in line with the Thatcher/Dieter Jr. match.
Best Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Axel Tischer. There was very little separation during the first seven minutes. Basically all hold and counter holds during that time with Sabre leading the way and Tischer more than holding up his end. I think they ran the ropes once or twice in the final minutes (they also did some corner charges) but that was about it. There were a few times where I thought they took a misstep. There was a strike exchange that I thought they handled relatively well, but something that I still thought disrupted the flow just a tad. There was a no sell spot that was totally unneeded and an awkward looking top rope spot right before the finish, but overall this was very good. I want to watch it again to see how good, but definitely match of the night. I thought Sabre was very good here and Tischel kept up. Loved the opening stuff and the finish. In between was a mixed bag, but more good than bad. If you like the Thatcher/Busick/Gulak/Sabre stuff, this is worth seeing. I think Sabre is the best of that group so I was predisposed to like this match but I think it holds up on its own merits.
Everything else was “just there”. As said, the other matches were kept relatively short so no big complaints. Looking forward to the next three rounds.