Roderick Strong vs Timothy Thatcher
Dickinson Activity Center, Winter Park, Florida, United States
Love Roddy to pieces, especially this year. Quite enjoy Thatcher. This should be great. Hooray, heel Roddy yelling at the crowd! After a moment of feeling his opponent out, Roddy powders to the outside for some heat. The two men grapple on the ground, and Roddy has to use the ropes to ensure that Thatcher doesn’t get an advantage. He shoots a leg and locks in an Indian deathlock, but Thatcher muscles his way out and they continue to grapple around. After an extended sequence, Thatcher gets a standing Fujiwara armbar, and Roddy rolls out of it and to the outside, visibly frustrated. Roddy goes for a dropkick, but Thatcher avoids it and hits a series of Euros for a two count, and Roddy has to elbow and knee his way out of the pin and hit a sliding dropkick to get the advantage, and he keeps it with some mean knees. Thatcher muscles his way over from a neck crank into a cross armbreaker, but Roddy wriggles free and stomps right on his face. Mean, snug match here already. Thatcher again is able to lock in an armbreaker, and Roddy has to turn him over into a pinfall attempt and then later get to the ropes to survive. As Thatcher lets go, Roddy keeps a hold on Thatcher’s leg and drags the big man to the outside and up onto his shoulders, tossing him rib-first into the ringpost. It takes some time for Thatcher to make his way back into the ring, and Roddy meets him with a sliding dropkick for two. Thatcher fights back with some big Euros, but Roddy cuts him right back down with a dropkick for two, and he goes for the Strong Hold. Thatcher blocks it with the ankle pick, and Roddy gives it up and puts him in the corner. Roddy gets a high knee and running forearm in the corner and pulls Thatcher out with a scary Angle Slam for two. He shoves Thatcher’s throat into the middle rope for a few moments, and Thatcher gets a headbutt to the sternum when the ref makes Roddy back off, and Thatcher mounts a comeback with a big snap suplex that backs Roddy into the corner. Thatcher follows up with a Euro and goes for a Tower of London off the corner, but Roddy wriggles free and hits a whopper German, impressive considering Thatcher’s size. Roddy taunts the big man and receives a flurry of slaps and strikes, but Roddy fires back with an enzuigiri for a two count. Roddy chops down Thatcher and puts him on the top rope, putting another enzuigiri into Thatcher’s skull when he fights back with some forearms. A big superplex sends both men down, and Roddy gets a two from it. Thatcher’s selling might be a tad too over the top here, but I quite like it, and it feels huge, like a superplex should. Roddy lays in a bunch of rights as Thatcher keeps a hold of his left wrist, and Thatcher shoots a wristlock but Roddy rolls out and slides under Thatcher, sweeping his legs into the Strong Hold in a hell of a spot. Thatcher, not quite able to drag himself closer to the ropes, is able to flip the hold over and boot Roddy into the ropes and bring him down for literally the smoothest small package I’ve ever seen for a nearfall. Roddy meets him on the way up with a jumping knee, and Thatcher recovers and goes for a wristlock and eats a rolling elbow for his troubles. He fires back with a hell of a headbutt to the chest and a series of Euros, and shoot a butterfly suplex for two, turning it into a Fujiwara armbar when Roddy kicks out and gets the submission win. Weird match, in that it’s far from Roddy’s normal purview and so he doesn’t exactly shine here, and I’m not quite sure that I could call it great, but it’s definitely in the realm of good. There’s no great ebb and flow to the match, no great changing tide of control, but the mean, back and forth nature of the match is still pretty good. Both men are capable of having matches head and shoulders above this, and each had quite a few of those in 2015, but it doesn’t prevent this one from being rather pleasant on its own. The finish sequence in particular is some real enjoyable stuff. Watch this if you’re a fan of either man.