TAKA Michinoku vs. Hiro Tonai (K-DOJO – 04/12) – TAKA has been the king of the 10 minute match so far in 2015 with matches centered on entertaining and fundamentally sound submission offense. This is a guy who once fought in Pancrase and worked BattlArts on occasion so he clearly has a proclivity to more of a mat based, submission focused style. It’s fun to see itself play it in these easy to watch matches. Most of his 10 minute match output this year as come courtesy of the K-DOJO inheritance series he is working against underneath K-DOJO guys, this match included. They focus this one around the arm work (cross arm breaker attempts) of Tonai versus the various chokes/sleeper attempts from TAKA. TAKA is almost maestro-like here in the way he combines leg scissors, sleepers, face locks, and more in an attempt to get Tonai to give up. Another fun 2015 TAKA match to add to the collection.
Preston Quinn vs. Damien Wayne (VCW – 03/07) –The DVDVR guys for have hyped up both Quinn and Wayne for years, going back to the early 2000’s. Their stuff wasn’t exactly widely distributed (that’s if taped at all) and in the limited stuff I did see from both guys sort of left me going “okay . . .”. I am sure it was a case of not seeing the right stuff (a good bit of the pre-YouTube Wayne I saw was ROH stuff and ROH didn’t use him right at all) but it was what it was. With YouTube being what it is now, there is a lot more Wayne available and I like him and see the value there (good punches, big bumper, good presence, solid all-around), but he’s never blown me away. I wouldn’t say this is a blow away great match but it is a very good television match. From the opening takedown/guard work on, all of the work is snug and tight. Quinn throws awesome punches throughout and Wayne’s bumping his spot on per usual. The cross arm breaker spots were both creative and well-executed. Perfectly timed out match. One of the better US indie matches of the year so far. In a perfect world, these guys would have wrestled this same exact match 10 years ago on a 2005 episode of Saturday Night.
Silver Ant vs. Soldier Ant (Chikara – 04/03) – This was supposed to be Eddie Kingston wrestling Soldier Ant but Kingston had to bail out of the Chikara UK tour at the last moment, so we get this battle of ants instead. Silver Ant has shown promise as a solid mat/submission based guy who can mix in some flying & fun lucha arm drags for balance. His execution is not always spot on and it was shaky at times here, but the promise is there. EVOLVE should pair him up with T.J. Perkins for a 5 match series because I think there is a lot he could learn from Perkins stylistically. Silver Ant had a strong 30-minute Iron Man match opposite of Drew Gulak last January, so I had high hopes for this one. They tried some neat stuff, which I appreciated. The opening feeling out portion of the match was solid. They worked the middle of the match around the idea that Silver Ant is fighting an uphill battle trying to put down Solider Ant, so his best bet is for a submission win which he tries to get by utilizing a cross arm breaker. They managed to tell the story of Silver Ant surviving for a while before finally running out of steam without resorting to clichéd tropes and burning through big moves. Loved the sleeper hold finish. As said, there were execution issues throughout but I liked a lot of the ideas. Only a solid match overall, but definitely some positive things to takeaway.
Virus vs. Avisman (Chilanga Mask – 04/12) – If you enjoy Virus, you should seek out this match from Black Terry Jr. The first 85% of the match is high level Virus mat work that is made even better by the great up close shots that Black Terry Jr. gets. The mat work and submissions are tightly executed and there is a snugness to it that is either not totally there or simply doesn’t come across as well (I am betting on the latter) in multi-camera CMLL television matches. I could go on about how smooth and creative Virus is on the mat, but I would just be repeating myself. Avisman was more than game and kept up with Virus just fine. This is one of those matches where the two guys not only complement one another stylistically, but are also so similar from a physical standpoint that it feels like such an obvious match up. They burn out a little at the end, as the work gets a tad slower and a tad less precise before hitting the quick finish. It’s a small complaint though as the match is easily one of the – if not the – best mat based match for 2015 to date and a MOTYC for me as well. Worth tracking down.
Roderick Strong vs. Timothy Thatcher in a Best 2 out of 3 falls match (EVOLVE – 04/17) – Strong is having a resurgent 2015 now that he is being more heavily utilized in both EVOLVE and ROH. Strong is far more well-rounded than Thatcher, I think, even if you argue that Thatcher is the better overall worker at the present. It showed throughout the match as Strong’s heel stuff, quality strikes, and different style of mat work (relative to Thatcher) complimented Thatcher’s stuff well. As always, the best stuff in a Thatcher match is on the mat but Strong did a good job making everything else hold up. In all three falls, Thatcher went for a Fujiwara arm bar with varying degrees of near success, but could never get it on in a match he eventually losses two falls to one. I am hoping that was not just a one off idea but rather a part of the bigger picture. To really get over a style where all guys are positioned as equals, all the matches are competitive, and every win/loss matters, you sort of need some overarching stories the fans can sink their teeth into. I like the Gulak/Thatcher story they have going (Gulak is something like 4-0 or 5-0 versus Thatcher on WWN shows). Something small like using this match to build up the idea that Thatcher’s best weapon for his Strong is the Fujiwara arm bar and then eventually paying it off would go a long way to. Very good match, but a bit below the “great” threshold for me. Felt like a piece in a larger puzzle, though, so I am interested in seeing where they go from here.
Timothy Thatcher vs. T.J. Perkins (EVOLVE – 04/18) – I am going to re-watch this one because several people through it was really great (MOTYC) and I was more very good/great, not quite top level on first viewing. Perkins is such a great addition to this current EVOLVE roster because he works well stylistically with your Thatchers and Gulaks while bringing more of a flashier and agile element to the match work. My one main issue with Thatcher has always been that he is the technically proficient guy who works holds well but does not always come off as this high level mat work/almost shoot style worker he is sometimes made out to be. The escapes, fluid reversals, ability to work on his feet, ect. are sometimes lacking. Perkins is a lot better at a lot of that stuff and was able to get more of that level stuff out of Thatcher than some of his other opponents. I am reversing my judgment on the match until I watch again but it was certainly good, I am just now sure to what extent at this point.
Mascarita Sagarada & Dinastia vs. Mini Psycho Clown & Mini Charley Manson (AAA – 04/01) – Good mini’s tag and better than some of the recent AAA mini trios. Dinastia sure loves his flips but broght more to the table than just that in this match. I loved the arm drag out of the gut wrench. That’s a move I am not quite sure I have ever seen before. Dinastia brought more stuff like that than usual and Sagrada through in some fun stuff as well. Mini Psycho Clown is one of the better rudo mini’s in AAA and did his job here. He was featured a little more than your usual mini rudo in that he got to pull off a nice arm drag and got the win on Dinastia, which is hopefully leading to a title match at some point.
Pentagon Jr. & Machine Rocker vs. Drago & Aerostar (AAA – 04/08) – This was a single camera shot with live announcing from a house show at a fair. It’s 2 out of 3 falls and not really anything like you would see in a television match between these four which is mainly why it is worth watching. Lots of stalling, playing to the crowd, and rudo spots. Tirantes Jr. regularly gets his licks in on the tecnicos, though draws the line at fouls. Both the second and third falls end with faked fouls. Neat seeing these guys work this kind of match in this kind of environment but not much more to it than that.