For a long time, I wasn’t a Chris Hero fan.
My impressions of Hero were that he was always a “super” Indy guy. He had poorly designed ring gear, he had lots of different types of moves but nothing that ever gelled with my personal tastes. In 2004 and 2005 when he started getting versed in the British style of mat work, it often felt like he was incorporating these spots into his matches just because he could.
I’ve re-watched a decent amount of Chris Hero matches for the Best of the 2000’s Indies Project and while some of the criticism above remains, there are a lot of things that I really appreciate about IWA-MS weekly worker Chris Hero.
Chris Hero vs. Michael Todd Stratton
February 8, 2003
If there is one consistent theme that we have come across in revisiting the best matches of the Indies, it is match length. It’s been said way too many times by Paul or I that “this match could have been great if it had been 10 minutes shorter.” That declaration didn’t necessarily mean the match we were watching wasn’t good; it was usually an indicator that a good match could become great or an average match could become good.
When I popped this match into the DVD player last night and saw that the total segment was around 40:00, I was initially troubled. Even believing there was a good chance for one of Ian Rotten’s marathon soliloquy’s post match, that would still give the in ring work around 30 minutes.
Fear not because after all was said and done, the match went about 28 minutes and was very strong. IWA-MS lost some of there identity when they went the Indy Dream Match route starting in late 2003. This match would have been fine on one of those cards but wouldn’t have stood out.
Hero was very over with the 80+ people in attendance and that helped make what would generally be a small crowd have a bigger atmosphere. The night before, Hero had wrestled Punk in their legendary 93 minute match. Going into this match as the challenger, the commentary (when it could be heard) played up the story that Hero had to still be exhausted and Stratton’s chances of taking the belt only increased the longer the match went on.
Both wrestlers should be credited with working a match that played to their strengths. Stratton is a great bumper, bouncing around like a pinball when he needed to put over Hero’s offense. Hero brought a strong presence that resonated with the crowd, to the point that his punches and elbows in retaliation to Stratton’s fantastic looking punches popped the crowd.
The high spot of the match was Stratton being drop kicked off of the apron and taking a ridiculous bump into a structural pole, which looked tremendous. After building to a finish for the first 25 minutes, there was a barrage of run in’s, looking like overbooking would hurt an great effort by both guys. After the run in, Hero kicked out at what I thought was the finish and rallied the crowd before retaining the title via pin fall.
I’m not sure this will make the top 20 of the 2000’s. If not, it will certainly fall into the next ten best and has made me want to seek out the rest of Hero and Stratton’s runs at the weekly Clarksville show.