MYSTERY VORTEX IV
December 16, 2016
Trevor Lee . . . outclasses ACH in pretty much every way possible.
The Young Bucks . . . show how good they are by stealing the show with two guys who’ve never teamed before.
Marty Scurll . . . proves that he’s a much more complete wrestler than just what he shows as “The Villain.”
CANDICE La RAE vs. TRENT BARRETA
Well, nobody can accuse Trent of holding back because he was working with a woman. That’s actually a good thing to some extent. Candice is a former tag champion and has challenged for the PWG Title, and she wouldn’t have gotten those sorts of opportunities if she couldn’t take the bumps. What holds this back is that it’s mostly a spotfest, and all the drama of who is going to pull out the win coming in the last couple of minutes, especially after Candice manages to roll over the Mrs. Garga-No Escape to stop Trent from getting the rope break, which causes him to have to outwrestle her in order to get free of the hold. But, the match mostly features Trent in control, with Candice taking some hellish bumps, and selling like she’s all but finished. But, the bumps themselves don’t seem to have any meaning or context within the match. Candice takes several big back bumps, including a Steen-style apron powerbomb, but Trent doesn’t do anything to show that he’s trying to win by working over her back, he just lets the KO aspect of the moves explain near falls. In fact, the only move that seems to be built up to is Candice’s Balls-plex, when she can’t hit it at first, but does so after stunning Trent with a surprise rana counter.
TREVOR LEE vs. ACH
When did Trevor Lee become the best wrestler that I haven’t seen enough of? He’s pretty much the only reason why this is any good. It helps that he controls the bulk of the match, so that it doesn’t turn into a spotfest, and Lee manages to stay in control by smartly countering ACH’s comeback attempts. ACH doesn’t add much outside of his usual barrage of flashy spots and his Steve Austin impersonation. Hell, the best spot from ACH was when he stole Lee’s running kick on the apron, and, it was Lee’s selling that made the moment work. Even the finish comes from Lee outsmarting ACH. ACH gets a near fall from a brainbuster, and Lee gets to his feet and stumbles around, like he’s still woozy. ACH takes the bait and when he tries a flying body press, Lee easily counters that into his moonsault slam, and then finishes him off with the small package driver. I could do without Lee’s Matt Hardy tribute, but, I’m interested to see what Lee might bring to the table with other workers. ***
PETE DUNNE vs. MATT SYDAL
This is easily the worst match up to this point. It’s fun to watch Dunne work Sydal over, but, it’s completely self-contained, without any sense that he’s working toward anything. Even spots that should be of major consequence, like his stomping Sydal’s head into the mat, don’t mean anything. They’re both wildly inconsistent, at one point Sydal seems to tweak his knee doing a Meteora, and his kicks, which had been a good weapon, don’t seem to have any effect on Dunne. But, instead of trying to build around that idea, they just toss it aside. Their selling is much the same, watch Dunne look all but dead after a kendo stick shot, but when he gets up his knees to block the SSP, he jumps his feet and looks completely re-energized. Both of them get spiked on their head a decent number of times, between DDT’s and reverse ranas, and Dunne finally stays down, which allows Sydal to get the pin with the SSP, but, unless you like seeing guys get dropped on their heads a whole bunch, there’s absolutely no reason to seek this out.
KYLE O’REILLY/BOBBY FISH vs. CHRIS HERO/J.T. DUNN
There are a few good moments here, but, these four don’t even come close to putting this match together enough to be more than watchable. I don’t know if this “Death by Elbow” moniker for Hero and Dunn is supposed to be a Misawa tribute or some kind of takeoff of the Young Bucks and their superkick love. I’m leaning toward Misawa with the way that Dunn no sold Kyle’s German suplex. But, it’s remarkable that a team predicated on having such lethal elbow strikes is able to throw so many of them and still lose in the end. It doesn’t help that Kyle and Bobby don’t do much to sell those strikes either. As bad as Dunn blowing off the German was, Kyle is no better for taking the dual elbow from both of them and then coming right back with the victory roll.
The nice aspect of this is that Kyle and Bobby don’t try to trade strikes with them. They get ahead, and eventually win, by outwrestling Hero and Dunn. The first sign that outwrestling them will be their key to winning is when Bobby reverses a suplex on Hero and tries to tag out, but Hero tags first and Dunn cuts him off, only for Bobby to outwrestle him a minute later and tag Kyle in. Considering that they’d spent quite a bit of time using Bobby for target practice, it was a smart way for him to get out of trouble. The size disparity between Kyle and Hero sometimes allows for his submissions to look better, like the hanging guillotine, but there’s also an exposing moment when Kyle takes Hero over in his Juji-gatame a little too easily. The finish would have come off great, if only they hadn’t essentially wasted Hero’s piledriver, and the one time that Hero got to outwrestle Kyle for a change. Hero gets the near fall from the piledriver and Kyle does a flashy counter of the cradle piledriver into the guillotine choke. Bobby takes care Dunn, and they hit Chasing the Dragon and Kyle goes back to the Juji-gatame for the submission. It gels perfectly with the story of the match, but, Kyle’s quick comeback to do the counter into the choke leaves a bad taste.
ADAM COLE vs. CHUCK TAYLOR (#1 Contender’s Match for the PWG World Heavyweight Title)
This isn’t perfect by any means, but, it’s a huge improvement over the previous tag match. Once they get the comedy bullshit out of the way, this turn into quite the good, and intense, back and fourth match, with both of them finding ways to work their personality into the mix without overshadowing the actual work. On the surface, Taylor’s DDT frenzy seems a little goofy, but, when he gets that great near fall in the inverted Awful Waffle, it makes complete sense for him to have done it. Again, this does have its issues, like Cole’s unnecessary no-sell of the Sole Food, and Cole’s comeback after he escapes the first attempt at the regular Awful Waffle coming a little too easily considering that he’d been spiked on his head. There was a much smarter moment a few minutes before that when Taylor leveled Cole with a knee strike, and it stunned Cole enough that he telegraphed the superkick so that Taylor could avoid it. They even have a somewhat smart finish, if one is able to look past Taylor’s clowning around. Cole had already escaped the Awful Waffle, so Taylor finds a way to distract him so that he’s not prepared, and this time he hits the move and gets the win. The match is rushed and there are a fair amount of bigger spots that really don’t mean anything, the glaring one being Cole fouling Taylor to hit the Panama Sunrise, but, for all their comedy and goofiness, they manage to try to keep a thread of logic in the match, so that it can’t be written off as comedy garbage.
MATT JACKSON/NICK JACKSON vs. JEFF COBB/MATTHEW RIDDLE
Here is yet another example of how good the Young Bucks have really gotten. Instead of a mindless spotfest with the Young Bucks doing their usual stuff, just because that’s what they’ve always done, they actually tell a story and make their spots meaningful to further it. The story in this case is that the Bucks may have the edge in experience and teamwork, but neither of them can touch Cobb or Riddle as far as actual wrestling goes. They find that out in the first minute with Riddle on the mat and Cobb throwing them around. It’s not until Nick gets a cheap shot on Riddle, and then they double team Cobb, that they get a chance to control. Their control segment, when working over Riddle’s foot, is one of the highlights. It’s a unique situation, since Riddle wrestles barefoot, and Matt’s superkick to the ankle is a great spot. It also makes Matt’s sharpshooter look more like a credible hold, than simply a familiar spot. It certainly helps that Riddle does a fabulous sell job, and takes Nick’s slingshot facebuster like a champ. The Bucks are as fun as ever when working over Riddle, with their usual array of double teams, and a great moment when Matt pulls Cobb off the apron to cut off the tag.
Riddle falls back on his wrestling and finally does manage to tag, and the Bucks go right back to being Cobb’s throwing dummies. Cobb’s size is an obvious advantage to him, and it shows up when Nick tries his slingshot facebuster again, but Cobb doesn’t go down as easily, and counters into a suplex. Despite the Bucks attempts to superkick Cobb down to size, they only really succeed when it’s a double team, like the head scissors and dropkick off the apron, or something he doesn’t expect, like Nick’s superkick to the back of the head to prevent the powerslam. Cobb’s size also makes the prerequisite sequence of superkicks and other signature strikes a bit more tolerable, since it’s credible for Cobb to not go down so easily, and when he rebounds of the ropes with the double lariat, it perfectly sets up Riddle’s submission attempt. One could even argue that the finish came down to the Bucks being too overconfident after Matt fouling Riddle, and thinking they could finish off Cobb, considering he was the one that they were having the most trouble with. They try for the Meltzer Driver, and Riddle breaks it up. Cobb dishes out a nasty double German to both Bucks, and Matt is pinned after the BTS and Tour of the Islands.
As smart as their work usually is, there is a bit of silliness that creeps its way into things. Riddle’s foot is seemingly perfectly fine after he tags out, which is a huge disappointment with how well he’d been selling. Riddle also tags back in far too soon after getting that hot tag to Cobb. The sequence where Riddle and Cobb countered the superkick flurry into dual ankle locks was another smart use of a typical Young Bucks spot. But, the business with Matt tapping out with the ref not seeing, and then easily reversing the hold and kicking off, and then Nick doing it a second later was definitely not necessary. It’d have been just as easy to have Nick grabbing the ref and pulling him down be the means to break the hold, and then save Matt. As disheartening as those issues are, this is still easily the best match of this show, and a great case of the Young Bucks giving another team some credibility, without losing anything in the loss. ***½
ZACK SABRE Jr. © vs. MARTY SCURLL (PWG World Heavyweight Title)
As polarly opposite as these two seem to be, they seem to be able to bring out the best in each other. Marty shows that he has no problem keeping up with Zack on the mat. Zack shows that he’s just as willing to fight dirty as Marty. As fun as the matwork in this match is to watch, it’s almost a mat wrestling enthusiast’s answer to an ROH Scramble match. The work itself doesn’t have much meaning to it. They’re only really doing it to show that they can do it. Working over the arm is more or less mandatory in a match like this, with both of them having finishing submissions that focus on the arm, but, it’s the same thing, the arm work is done rather early, and doesn’t cause either of them any problems doing their holds, and has no bearing at all on the finish. Some will disklike the ref bump and use of the belt and powder, but, it had its purpose and doesn’t detract from the match. Marty suckers everyone in to thinking that maybe he does have some respect for Sabre and/or the PWG Title, but then goes back to being The Villain. Sabre considering using the belt, and then being stopped before he could decide is some nice foreshadowing to his eventual turn to the dark side the following year. The only thing that’s altogether odd is their random ode to Misawa/Kobashi with Scurll blowing off the Half-Nelson suplex and dropping Sabre with a brainbuster.
Where these two come through huge is in adding smart touches and coming up with creative counters. A good example is Scurll telegraphing the chickenwing and having Sabre counter it. He doesn’t make that mistake again, and finds other ways to get to his hold, like countering Sabre’s European clutch, and it forces Sabre to dig deeper into his bag of ticks to free himself. Scurll’s finger-snapping is usually little more than a crowd-pleasing spot, but, Scurll uses it a way to get Sabre into a Juji-gatame. Scurll getting the Tombstone as a counter to Sabre’s Octopus was another smart touch, with Scurll leaning his lesson after he got trapped in it the first time, and finding a counter where Sabre does most of the work for him. The finish feels like something of a missed opportunity by being completely clean, as oddly as that seems. Marty grabs the Umbrella to get out of the Jim Breaks Special, but Zack knocks it out of his hands and forces the submission. Zack managing to get his foot in the handle and using it add extra pressure to the hold, would have gotten the same result, with an added notion that Marty may have cost himself the match by trying to use it, and posed the question of whether or not Zack did it intentionally, after the earlier conflict involving him using the title belt. ***1/4.
Conclusion: Overall, this is another good outing from PWG, with the last two matches being the big reason to check this out.