Wrestling Is Respect
Elks Lodge (Boonton, New Jersey)
30-Minute Iron Man Match
I think one of the several inherent problems with Iron Man matches is that it the layout of the falls tends to take focus off of the actual wrestling that is going on. Have there been too many falls? Should they have done a fall so early? Have there not been enough falls? Did that fall make sense in that position? Even if the wrestling is all perfectly acceptable how the falls are structured almost always overshadows that.
Less than two minutes in to this match Gulak forces the Colony member to the mat and starts wrenching on the elbow. It looked like Gulak was going to transition into something else, but Green Ant taps immediately. The announcers used the established reasoning for early Iron Man match submissions in pointing out that it was likely strategy on Ant’s part to give up early and not risk further damage. Not more than two minutes later, Green Ant applied his special version of the Chikara Special to get Gulak to submit. I generally don’t have a huge problem with early submissions in an Iron Man match, especially with two guys who wrestle a submission style usually. Nonetheless, here I was three minutes into the match and was already focusing debating internally whether those early falls hurt (or would hurt) the pacing of the match, rather than concentrating on the decent chain wrestling going on.
The first ten minutes is all holds and submissions. In fact, there is very little separation during this time and just a lot of decent hold and counter-hold wrestling. Green Ant is a very solid technical wrestler and Gulak is completely tolerable when he is wrestling this style. I thought the first ten minutes might have been the strongest portion of the entire 30-minutes. Right at the announced 10-minute mark – as if the wrestlers were waiting for the announcement – they hit the ropes for the first time.
There was a spot shortly after this where Gulak picked up Green Ant for a scoop slam and threw him leg first onto the ropes. It is a standard Gulak spot, but one he should do away with. It sort of worked in this position, however. They had gone about ten minutes between falls, during which Green Ant had targeted Gulak’s leg. It felt in-line with the progression of the match that he would do a sort of emotion-drive, reckless move there to steal a quick pin but it is still a move that bothers me. It follows the same logic as turnbuckle or apron moves – if the turnbuckle, ropes, or apron hurt more than landing on the mat then why would you ever throw your opponent onto the mat rather than one of those other places?
Gulak later gets a 2-fall advantage with the Gu-lock. Up by two falls and with the match 2/3’s of the way over, Gulak bails to the floor where he takes an entire 20-count (a minute+ of actual time) to get back in the ring. When he does, he immediately bails again. Smart. I sort of hope the remainder of the match would have been Green Ant chasing Gulak around the building Benny Hill style but it was not to be. Gulak baited Ant to the outside, got in the ring himself, and got a beat on him right away. Green Ant really favored his neck around this time but it was never paid off. Green Ant hit a dive at one point, there was a top rope suplex, and some more rope running but the match mainly stayed focus on submission attempts and pinning combos. Gulak appeared a bit blown up down the stretch as he was slow in executing a couple of things and/or getting into position, but it was no big deal.
Ant got one fall back by blocking a Gulak roll up attempt and then tied it 3-3 with less than 5-minutes to go in the match. The finish saw Gulak tap to a second Chikara Special with just seconds left on the clock. I thought the ending was well-executed with the sudden death tease. These matches tend to go to sudden death and I thought this one would end up there as well. It also put over the submission has something strong (by virtue of the fact that Gulak could not last in it for even two more seconds).
It is hard to say if the Iron Man rules hurt or helped the match. The Gulak stall section was a memorable part of the match which would have been lost under normal circumstances. Also, who is to say they wouldn’t have gone for bigger moves and near falls down the stretch if not for the Iron Man rules dictating more of a quick strike/submission/pinning combos approach? By way of comparison, I thought this was better than a lot of recent Timothy Thatcher in terms of two wrestlers a hold/counter hold match. Green Ant is good at that style and Gulak is better off doing that stuff than working the high-impact indie style.
Iron Man | Worthwhile | Quality