January 12, 2018

Zack Sabre Jr. . . . tries to turn Keith Lee into the world’s biggest one-legged wrestler.

Matthew Riddle . . . throws knees and elbows into Timothy Thatcher like he’s trying to collect an overdue debt.

Chuck Taylor . . . gives his longtime a rival a proper sendoff in PWG’s staple match.


Aside from Starr doing his best Ric Flair impersonation, there isn’t much to see here. They both do plenty of things, but very little of what they do actually seems to matter. Starr chopping the post doesn’t lead to anything other than Yehi bending his hand to escape a single hold. Yehi takes the two biggest bumps of the match, the backdrop into the corner and the DDT on the apron, but neither leads to anything special. Starr doesn’t do anything to focus on Yehi’s back other than whip him into the corner, and after the DDT Starr hits a lariat with Yehi taking an inside out bump, which Yehi kicks out of and does a dropkick to regain control. Hell, with all the suplexes and diving stomps that he does, it would have made more sense for Yehi to work over Starr’s back. David outwrestling Yehi and getting the flash pin by countering the Koji Clutch is a fine finish, but, would have worked better if they had done something to show that Starr could outwrestle Yehi, or if Starr had done something underhanded to get there, like use the tights or the ropes, since he’d tried that earlier.


They start out with a nice counter-and-dodge sequence, and they’ve got a brutal finish. But, other than that, there isn’t anything special here. It’s just like the previous match, they do plenty of stuff, but none of it matters. Janela reels off one or two spots, and then it’s Flash’s turn to do something. Webster dives onto Joey on the floor and rolls him into the ring, and then Joey does his own dive to the floor. Flash hits a spikey reverse rana and Joey kicks out and tries for a package piledriver. It seems like they’re getting somewhere when Janela hits the rolling DVD on the apron and keeps Flash down, and then follows with the previously countered package piledriver for a near fall. But, after that Joey does a DVD into the corner and misses a moonsault to let Flash take over again.

Joey tapping out Flash to a crossface would have made a great finish, if they gave even the slightest inkling that they were going in that direction. But, Flash sold the DVDs, piledriver, and brainbuster like KO bumps rather than his neck being worn down, and Joey doesn’t work any other holds. It’s as if they realized that they couldn’t do anything to top the brainbuster off the top that Flash just kicked out of, so they went with the first thing that came to mind just to end the match and get out of there.


So, this the third spotfest in a row, but, this one does deserve some praise. Between the frantic pace and the boatloads of dives and flips, it’s easy to see why this would be enjoyable to watch, but when it’s examined closely, there’s also some smart touches to be found. One of the early examples is when Rey feints diving on the floor onto Sammy, after fooling him three times in a row, Sammy grabs a chair and takes a seat. Now that Sammy isn’t prepared for it, Rey does a huge tope onto him. A bit later on, they do an extended sequence where they dodge and avoid each other’s big spots, leaving them both on the mat catching their breath. Rey sends Sammy to the corner and does a cannonball, but he hesitates at first, wanting to make sure that Sammy isn’t going to move. As nice as Rey’s backflip into German suplex spot looked, it was even better to see Sammy selling his neck afterwards. While Sammy didn’t need to do the 630 senton three minutes into the match, for a meaningless near fall, the second one onto Rey’s knees is another smart touch, especially after Rey clipped one of the lights doing a dive. It doesn’t win the match for him directly, but, it keeps Rey grounded, and it prevents him from pulling off a second Spanish Fly. The opening is what lets Sammy eventually keep him down. This isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but, it’s an improvement over the first two matches.


Sabre’s performance here is similar to his performance in his match with WALTER from October. He takes the opening to target a limb, in this case he targets the big man’s leg, and works it over using his usual array of flashy (but completely credible) holds, and also finds ways to bait the big man into doing things that will put a strain on the leg. One of the best moments was when Zack played possum after a bodyslam. Lee went up for his moonsault and Zack jumped back up and kicked the back of his leg to knock him off the ropes. Zack’s movements are very deliberate, so as to show off his prowess and illustrate exactly how much he’s trying to hurt Lee with his holds.

Where this goes wrong is that Lee isn’t even close to being the wrestler that WALTER is, so they’re missing the smooth transitions that allowed WALTER to take control. Lee doesn’t have much to do other than stiffing Zack with chops and elbows, although the announcers point out that Lee’s isn’t stepping into the strikes in order to protect his leg. Zack basically has to charge himself into Lee’s spinebuster, and the powerbomb counter to the hanging Triangle armbar would have been nice, if Lee didn’t have to no-sell the hold, and also ignore his leg being worked over. Aside from the finish, where he counters the Octopus into the Ground Zero, Lee doesn’t outwrestle Sabre at all, or escape any holds unless Sabre lets him up or he gets a rope break. Despite his faults in the wrestling department, Lee’s selling is usually very good. His reactions to Sabre’s holds are almost perfect (aside from the hanging Triangle) and he does a good job showing that he’s trying to protect his bad leg when he’s in control. Overall, it’s still a good match. It’s just too bad that they tried to replicate the Sabre/WALTER match, rather than playing to more of Lee’s strengths. ***


This was fun to watch until they went crazy. They have a perfectly good finish, but felt the need to burn through about half a dozen other possible finishes before getting there. They start with a surprisingly good wrestling sequence, followed by some comedy with Trent’s heavyweight character (including a funny dig at Michael Elgin). Marty takes over and it’s usual boatload of fun that one can expect from him. But, once Marty takes the turnbuckle pad off, the match just falls to pieces. Trent’s bump on the exposed buckle, followed by Marty’s cradle with feet on the ropes is the first potentially good finish they trot out for no reason. Trent’s chickenwing counter makes sense, because Marty telegraphed it, but then he counters Trent into a second one that he lingers in and then escapes. There’s also the umbrella shot and brainbuster on the knee. But, Trent isn’t any better with his ideas, why should anyone care about a regular piledriver when a piledriver on the apron didn’t keep Marty down? Trent also takes the absurdity of the rebound lariat to a new level by taking a big upside down corner bump, and then rebounding to do a lariat. The finish they have, with Marty using the powder and Trent countering the small package into his finisher while he’s still blinded is perfectly fine, and could have easily been done at just about any point. The only thing that they accomplished with all the big bombs was making the match go longer and wasting a ton of potential finishers.


If Thatcher had consistently sold his midsection, especially considering that it directly led to the finish, then this would probably be the best match of 2018. At worst, Thatcher only puts in a ‘very good’ performance, and the other three are as good as I’ve seen any of them (which says a lot in WALTER’s case). Riddle’s personality shines through when working over Thatcher’s midsection, especially in his facials. You would think this was some sort of grudge match, the way that Riddle throws the knees and elbows into Thatcher’s ribs and back. When Thatcher tries rolling into the grounded sleeper after the senton, Riddle’s reaction is perfect. With the violence that Riddle unleashed, WALTER is about as perfect a hot tag as it gets, lighting up Cobb and Riddle with chops, and throwing them both with sulpexes.

WALTER tagging in also leads to the tables being turned on the champions, and they commence to working over Cobb, and show the same mean streak that the champions showed with Thatcher, Thatcher even uses the same half crab with stomps that Riddle did to him. But, Thatcher ignoring the ribs takes a bit out of it for me, there’s no reason for him to effortlessly take Cobb over in a butterfly suplex, especially when Cobb had taken a shot to the ribs a minute before that to try to turn things around. WALTER’s cheap shot to Riddle on the apron is another great moment, it’s probably the best strike of the match, and Riddle puts it over as such. Thatcher and WALTER cutting off Cobb’s tag to Riddle was a very welcome sight as well, especially WALTER recognizing that Cobb preparing to roll to the corner, and stopping him with the drop toehold.

Riddle’s hot tag isn’t that much different from WALTER’s. He doesn’t use the same sort of offense obviously, but he shows the same sort of intensity. Although the match breaks down after the tag with all four in the ring at once, they still maintain some semblance of logic. Cobb returns after ample time to sell the beating he took, and drops Thatcher with a surprise Olympic slam. The champions use their Doomsday knee to take WALTER out of the picture, and with him out of the way, one last powerbomb to Thatcher sets up their finisher to retain the titles. All four of them come out of this looking enormous, including Thatcher, taking the pin doesn’t tarnish him in the least. This is just the sort of match to remind everyone how good, and how dangerous, Cobb and Riddle are as a team, after the disappointing spotfest where they won the titles. ***3/4

RICOCHET © vs. CHUCK TAYLOR (PWG World Heavyweight Title - Guerrilla Warfare)

Their match from October, where Ricochet won the title, wasn’t anything great, but, it’s far ahead of this. Why tell a story and make the work meaningful when you can just bring out props and take turns doing big spots that don’t mean anything? Smart moments are few and far between, and when they do something smart it gets negated a minute later, like Taylor countering Ricochet into the Sole Food, only for Ricochet to no-sell it and do a jumping knee. Taylor collapsing when Ricochet was going to use the belt was a nice touch, but, they follow that up by setting up another contrived spot that predictably backfires. For all their effort to get all the props involved, none of them have any meaning. They both take back drops on the ladder, the superplex into the chair stack didn’t keep either of them down very long, and the suplex on the stage didn’t seem to phase Taylor at all, and Ricochet still has plenty of spring in his step. When Taylor brings in the tacks, it’s not surprising in the least to see how it plays out, with both of them taking a bump in them. It’s easy to sit back and admire these two for willingly putting themselves through this sort of pain, but, that doesn’t blind me to the fact that this is in no way a good wrestling match.

Conclusion: As great as the tag titles match is, this is an overall step down from the previous weekend.