Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli vs.Cheech & Cloudy (Chikara – 06/24/2007)

Forget all this noise about ROH missing the boat on Cedric Alexander or Tommaso Ciampa. The guys they really missed the boat on are Cheech & Cloudy. I’m not being facetious. Alexander is a good wrestler but what does he really offer that is unique and that you cannot get elsewhere? Now, which U.S. based wrestlers could replicate the handful of unique lucha arm drags Cloudy pulled off rather flawlessly in this match? It is not an exaggeration that Cloudy – and to a lesser extent, Cheech – performed moves in this match that others simply weren’t doing in 2007. Heck, I am not sure many guys are doing these great lucha arm drags in the U.S. now! Beyond that, they incorporated their awesome offense into a standard baby face southern tag routine almost seamlessly. That ability to simultaneously innovate and utilize valuable time tested tag team concepts in this match made Cloudy and Cheech really stand out. I’ll take the guys that bring something truly unique to the table over the guys that are very solid but who do not add anything significant of value that cannot be gotten elsewhere

Obviously, they are in the ring with some pretty good opponents. Not just any pretty good opponents, but a pair of opponents uniquely suited to complement their strengths. Both Hero and Claudio are fine bases and they put that skill to work here. I thought Claudio was clearly the better of the two but this match made me realize that I much prefer the ring work of goofy/stooging Hero of the mid-2000’s to the verbose Hero of present day. The early match comedy spot that involves crisscross spots, covers, and a confused/exhausted Hero continuing to the do the spots after Cheech had stopped was broad but effective comedy. The only subpar portion of the match I felt was the opening couple of minutes. In particular, Cheech was very mechanical to the point of being slow while running through basic chain wrestling sequences. I usually value the opening minutes of a match as much or more than any other portion but in this case the match definitely improved as it went along. Claudio’s power spots and his ability to base for anything Cloudy or Cheech tried were equally impressive. The faces spread their high spots out throughout the match, but kept enough for a big ending which included an unexpected although very well executed Dragonrana by Cheech.

This is probably one of those matches that seems better than it might otherwise in a different context. I am not sure this would have hit me the same way if it happened in Mexico in 2007. At the same time, I am not ready to say that it definitely would not have. The high spots are generally high quality – for 2007 and for now – and all hit cleanly. The match is also structured well and doesn’t run too long. Those are sort of “context free” positive attributes. A really fun 15-minute match and a definite watch if you subscribe to Chikaratopia. [*** ½]

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