January 10, 2015

Current Watch List:

  • Timothy Thatcher vs. Roderick Strong (EVOLVE)
  • Drew Galloway vs. Ricochet (EVOLVE)
  • AR Fox vs. Trevor Lee (EVOLVE)
  • Rich Swann, Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano vs. The Bravado Brothers & Moose (EVOLVE)
  • Mark Briscoe vs. Roderick Strong (ROH)
  • Will Ferrara vs. J. Diesel (ROH)
  • Michael Elgin vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Hanson (ROH) 
  • TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) vs. Masato Tanaka & Takahashi Sugiura (c) for the GHC Tag Team championship (NOAH)
  • Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima for the GHC Heavyweight championship
  • David & Jake Crist (c) vs. Papadon & Pepper Parks for the CZW tag team championship (CZW)
  • Joe Gacey © vs. Jonathan Gresham for the CZW Wired championship (CZW)
  • Drew Gulak vs. Alexander James (CZW)


Matches Watched:

AR Fox vs. Trevor Lee
United States & Canada
EVOLVE

The match doesn’t go very long before Fox eats a nasty running kick to the face from Lee that knocks him out cold.  Fox went down in a heap and when he came up, he was bleeding bad around the eye.  It was one of those scary shots where you can tell right away the guy is out.  It takes a little while for the referee (Jamie Tucker) and Lee to get clued in on what is happening but once they are, the match is immediately stopped.  Never know how certain people are going to bounce back from concussions so hopefully Fox’s recovery is relatively quick and painless.


Roderick Strong vs. Timothy Thatcher
United States & Canada
EVOLVE

The opening mat work portion was the best part of an overall good match.  Both wrestlers worked a realistic segment fighting over the guard.  Strong looked very good here and as good as I have thought he’s looked in recent memory.  He has a strong heel character going in EVOLVE and I have no idea why the wrestling ability and character he showed in this match does not show up more often in his ROH work.  Thatcher looked good, too.  His striking (uppercuts, headbutt, knee lifts) stood out as positives.  His slapping strikes never look that great to me.  The finish  was well executed and came at the perfect spot in the match.  Overall, an above average match where I thought both wrestlers looked equally as good.


Drew Galloway vs. Ricochet
United States & Canada
EVOLVE

There were two standout spots in this one.  The first is perhaps the best individual spot of the still very, very young year.  Outside the ring, Galloway whipped Ricochet towards the gym wall.  Ricochet’s momentum took him towards a regulation basketball hoop.  He jumped in the air, hung on the rim, spun around, and came off with a hurricanrana onto Galloway.  Galloway took a picture perfect bump for the move.  Incredible athleticism and a super fun spot.  Almost immediately after, Galloway sent Ricochet towards the wall for a second time.  This time, Ricochet climbed up the wall unassisted and through his body backwards for a wall-assisted moonsault.  Galloway caught him and threw Ricochet hard into the wall, in a take off of a spot from their first EVOLVE match last August.  Both spots – individually and taken together – were pretty ridiculous in terms of the athleticism and timing involved.

The match sort of meandered back in the ring  Ricochet targeted Galloway’s injured finger in a nice touch.  The ending was creative and has me interested in seeing where it is leading.  Galloway threw a bunch at Ricochet and the splint covering his injured finger caught Ricochet in the eye.  Galloway told the referee that it was an accident, but he didn’t show much remorse in quickly following up on the break and putting Ricochet down for the 3-count.  Ricochet wrestled as a heel early on and the ending certainly points at a possible Galloway heel turn as well.  With this series tied at one and both guys sort of straddling the fence, there seems to be a strong chance that the tie breaking match will see one of these two going heel.


Rich Swann, Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano vs. The Bravado Brothers & Moose
United States & Canada
EVOLVE
Losing Team Must Split Up

The reunited members of Ronin worked well as a team.  There were several neat triple teams in the vein of mid-90’s M-Pro or early Toryumon, in the sense that they were “one move after another” triples teams that were quick and well-executed, but not overly complicated.  The Bravados are fine when they stick to being cheating/bumping southern heels.  When they venture too far into indie move guys territory, they are exposed, and unfortunately there was some of that here.  Moose is rapidly improving.  He’s still inexperienced but he looks light years ahead of where he was six months ago in terms of in-ring ability.  Moose hit his big dive that looks excellent coming from someone his side.  He was less smooth on a spot the called for him to scale the turnbuckles and leap off with a missed flying cross body block, but even that was okay given his experience level.  The match on a whole was a fun, average trios that sent the crowd home happy with a victory for the face team.  Not sure what is next for the Bravados in EVOLVE as they likely don’t have much to offer as singles.


Mark Briscoe vs. Roderick Strong
United States & Canada
Ring of Honor

It is a bit odd that two longtime ROH wrestlers, both of whom still have something(s) to offer, would be booked in a random opening match on television.  Initially I assumed that the promotion was prepping Strong for a title shot and were jump starting that by putting him over the underutilized Mark Briscoe.  They still might be heading there, but that title shot isn’t coming at the Anniversary show in March where I figured it might be.  I know ROH has basically been a TV-first promotion under Sinclair but they are on PPV now so there should be a sense of building to matches rather than giving everything away on TV.  I am making a bigger deal out of this then it is, but it still struck me as odd to stick these two relatively valuable good workers in the opener on TV.

As far as the match went, it was the sort of solid TV match you would expect from these two.  The opening minutes were better than solid.  Strong and Briscoe worked the sort of fast paced, athletic, show-off style that so many in ROH try to work.  These two aren’t the most athletically gifted on the roster (though they aren’t too shabby) but have a better sense of timing than most on the roster.  The commercial break stalled the momentum a little, which is something in modern TV matches that is becoming increasingly frustrating.  Maybe it is just my attention span going, but I have trouble getting back into a lot of matches after sitting through or fast forwarding through a set of commercials.  They continued the fast pace after the break.  Strong did an apron move.  I don’t like apron moves but this wasn’t bad given the set up and Strong’s tendency to work the back.  That was the turning point in the the match which Strong eventually won cleanly.  Strong looks to be in-line for some sort of face push even though he is much better off as a heel which he proved at EVOLVE this weekend.  Fun TV bout.


J. Diesel vs. Will Ferrera
United States & Canada
Ring of Honor
2015 Top Prospect Tournament – 1st Round

Diesel’s been on ROH TV for the past six months as the bodyguard for Truth Martini and the House of Truth but hasn’t wrestled all that much. Ferrera has been give less of a concrete role but has actually been in a lot more ROH matches that his Diesel.  The announcers played up Diesel’s boxing background which – at least in this match – he only showed off by doing several body punch sequences.  They weren’t bad body punches but nothing that is going to get him over as a wrestler with this great boxing background.  Ferrera looked decent as an undersized baby face but was overall bland.  Diesel didn’t have any more going on after he stopped with the boxing.  Granted, it is early but neither wrestler looked like they have much promise.  Skippable match.


 

TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) vs. Masato Tanaka & Takahashi Sugiura (c)
Japan

NOAH
GHC Tag Team Championship

Sugiura kept his more annoying tendencies of going right into “you turn, my turn” forearm exchanges to a relative minimum in this match which was much appreciated.  The match was a bit sprinty as one would expect.  TMDK are good babyfaces.  They hit the combo moonsault/fist drop which I am a big fan of.  Tanaka was very solid as he usually is.  There was one spot where Nicolls was supposed to avoid an on-coming Tanaka by laying down flat on the mat.  Nicholls execution was a bit rough but Tanaka went flying through the air and took a well-timed bump to cover up for it nicely.  He’s the definition of a solid veteran these days which is sort of funny to think about.  Haste continues to look like the much better TMDK member.  Some of Nicholls strikes were ridiculously weak, especially since he was delivering them to Tanaka.  Its Masato Tanaka – if you aren’t hitting him hard, what are you doing?

The title switched was pulled off well and the match didn’t go into near fall over kill by an y stretch which is always appreciated.  Pretty interested in the TMDK/Killer Elite Squad feud that is coming up.  Wonder where Tanaka goes from here?  Does he hank around NOAH or head somewhere new for 2015?


 

Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima for the GHC Heavyweight championship
Japan
NOAH
GHC Tag Team Championship

Better than expected.  Kojima gave a really solid performance.  They mainly traded chops rather than forearm strikes which is usually my preference because (a) chops are easier to get right and (b) they work better in back and forth exchanges than elbows or forearms.  Kojima missed a lariat and ate the poll earlier on.  Late in the match, Maraufuji blocked the lariat a couple of times to do further damage to Kojima’s elbow.  It was a nice running thread even if it didn’t payoff in an obvious way.  Marafuji took some nice bumps.  Kojima did a lariat to his legs while on the apron, causing him to flip over and land on the floor.  The spot of the match was Kojima hitting a lariat while both were perched on the top rope.  Marafuji bum[ed all the way to the Korkauen Hall floor.  It was the Stan Hansen top rope lariat spot only with the added danger of a bump to the outside.  The lariat and bump were both rather brutal.

Marafuji teased Sliced Bread several times before finally landing it for the victory.  The match was a decent length and Kojima looked legitimately good in this.  I thought the match overall was better than the hyped Doering/Go AJPW Triple Crown title switch from earlier this month.  Post-match angle with Suzuki-gun invading felt like a legit big deal.


David & Jake Crist (c) vs. Papadon & Pepper Parks
United States
CZW
CZW Tag Team Championship

The Crists have a decent amount of tag team moves, some of which looked good.  Others missed.  Papadon and Parks were both solid as bumping heels but their offense didn’t do much for me.  The match was built around Cherry Bomb screaming the entire time (she does have an annoying scream) and getting her comeuppance when the Crists’ value pushed her off the middle turnbuckle onto Papadon and Parks on the floor.  Never a good sign when a spot like that is the high point that a match builds to.  They had a lot of big moves and near falls at the end which earned some “This is Awesome!” chants but none of the big moves and near falls were all that captivating.  The best was one of the Crist brothers doing an Undertaker-like assisted rope walk and then doing a spring board into a diamond cutter.  He got some nice heigh on the spring board.  The match was probably watchable but only barely so.  Nothing that you couldn’t see a hundred times on indie shows from the past 5+ years.


Joe Gacy © vs. Jonathan Gresham
United States
CZW
CZW Wired Championship

Really enjoyed the start.  The diminutive Gresham works cat-and-mouse style in a lot of his matches since he is usually both significantly smaller and quicker than his opponent.  What made this opening different was how Gacy would smother Gresham to counteract his quickness rather than simply chase him.  Gacy wrestled the opening Stan Hansen style in terms of not giving Gresham any space and staying right on him.

The body  and ending of the match got away from that unique opening.  They still did cat-and-mouse stuff but it was more generic.  There was some good stuff in between.  Both wrestlers are solid and I want to see more of Gacy who had both a unique and solid style in this match.  The match just never managed to build off of the unique and effective opening to reach the next level.  Slightly above average match.


Drew Gulak vs. Alexander James (CZW)
United States
CZW

This wasn’t really a match, but rather Gulak neutralizing James’ entourage and quickly winning the match with an intense, high impact offense not often seen from Gulak.  I think Gulak is ahead of guys like Thatcher and Busick into terms of being well-rounded.  I am not sure either of those could do this effective, short match based around suplexes as effectively as Gulak did.  He didn’t do anything special, but he did have enough high impact slams and suplexes to get the angle over.  A nothing match, but a glimpse into another side of Gulak’s arsenal.

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