Roderick Strong vs Timothy Thatcher
Number One Contender’s Two out of Three Falls Match
The Orpheum, Ybor City, Florida, United States
As is seemingly often the case with Roddy in EVOLVE, I’m worried about the clash of styles here, but still, these are two of the better wrestlers in the US indy scene today, so I doubt they’ll have anything less than a good match. Roddy comes out to Killswitch Engage’s “The End of Heartache”, which is far and away my favorite theme of his, and I wish I could A.) see him come out to it in PWG, and B.) see him use it in ROH instead of the licensed shit they have there (although his ROH theme is one of the better ones in that promotion). Roddy jaws with the crowd to start things off, which frustrates Thatcher, who wants to get right down to business. Roddy continues to make him wait a bit and stays in the corner, making the big man come to him, and he flees to the outside to get in his head. Finally both men meet in the middle and Thatcher easily pushes Roddy into the ropes, and Roddy tries to shoot a leg when the ref backs Thatcher off. Thatcher is easily able to outwrestle him, but Roddy is faster and more slippery, and is able to wriggle his way free before giving up the advantage. Some chaining in the middle sees both men trade the upper hand, and Thatcher uses his size to his advantage here before Roddy again powders to the outside, selling his arm after Thatcher went after it in the ring. Back in the ring, Roddy boots Thatcher in the gut and goes to the ground, where they aggressively grapple around. Thatcher nearly locks in a cross armbreaker before Roddy works his way into a headlock, but Thatcher muscles his way back into it and Roddy has to lock his hands and get a foot on the ropes to save his arm. He sells well on the outside, sitting on a fan in the front row (well, only row) as he flexes his arm. Roddy tries to boot Thatcher again back inside, but the fake Brit catches it and stomps on Roddy’s arm and continues to go after it with a Jim Breaks armbar, another stomp, and a finger breaker spot. Roddy tries to club his way free of another cross armbreaker attempt, but Thatcher puts a hard knee in his head to force his way into the hold. Roddy again keeps his hands clasped together and is able to muscle his way into a Strong Hold, but Thatcher grabs an ankle pick to try and block it so Roddy simple kneedrops him hard in the chest to stay on top. He tries to chop at Thatcher in the corner, who blocks it, hits a Euro to send him in the middle, and then a Euro to the arm before Roddy puts a boot in his throat. The Messiah of the Backbreaker stomps away at Thatcher, frustrating the big man, and Roddy chops him as he gets to his feet. Thatcher fires back with a Euro, blocks a chop from Roddy, and hits a series of Euros that send Roddy into the corner, following it up with a suplex for one. He again goes for a cross armbreaker and has to really work his way into it, transitioning into a hammerlock when Roddy fights it, and Roddy gets to the ropes to break it up. Thatcher follows him and they trade forearms as Roddy stands on the apron, and the smaller man kicks at Thatcher’s leg, really bending the knee in a gross way that could well have been a shoot hyperextension, to cause some separation. Roddy gets almost a two count from it and double stomps Thatcher repeatedly before hitting a short dropkick for another nearfall. He brings Thatcher to his feet, who fights free with a Euro and eats a dropkick for his troubles when he comes off the ropes. Roddy slaps on a bit of a chinlock and puts his body weight down on Thatcher, who muscles his way up and elbows his way out before Roddy rushes him back into the corner and connects with a chop. Roddy comes charging in and eats a sloppy Euro and then a nifty butterfly suplex for two. Thatcher tries to transition into a Fujiwara armbar from the kickout, but Roddy turns it right back into a pinning predicament for the first fall. Thatcher’s facials as he pleads with the referee are quality, first a shocked, imploring look before he angrily accepts it and steels himself for the next fall. Roddy, who powdered to the outside after he picked up the pinfall, drags Thatcher out of the ring by his boots as he kneels in the corner, and he beats down the big man on the outside. He picks him up on his shoulders in a fireman’s carry, rushing at one of the steel posts holding the ceiling up here, but Thatcher wriggles fre and sends Roddy’s shoulder into the post instead. Thatcher sends Roddy around the room with a series of Euros, and when he slides in and out of the ring to break up the count, Roddy takes the opportunity to drive Thatcher face-first into the support post at ringside and chops away at him. Thatcher ducks out of the way of one of the chops, just sliding down it in almost a cartoonish fashion, allowing Roddy to chop at the post and injure his hand, and Thatcher’s facials afterward, with a knowing, malicious smile creeping across his face, are just perfect. He slams Roddy’s hand and arm down on the apron before stomping away at it back in the ring, getting a two count. With Roddy still on the mat, he cranks away at a wristlock before Roddy hits a grounded enzuigiri to try and escape, and Thatcher, maybe on accident, maybe in a fit of genius, grabs a hold of Roddy’s leg as he tries to escape, and Roddy has to stomp and elbow his way free. Roddy backs Thatcher into the corner and beats him down before putting him up top and joining him there. Thatcher elbows him off repeatedly, sending him across the ring before stomping a mudhole in him in the opposite corner before playing to the crowd in a way I’ve not seen him do before. Roddy takes a pair of Euros and fires back with a high knee and a boot to the face that puts Thatcher down, and Roddy keeps him there with a series of elbows. Thatcher flips him over, mounts him, and hits a flurry of strikes before going for the cross armbreaker, but Roddy wriggles free and stomps him directly in the face to keep the advantage. Gibson Driver attempt from Roddy is blocked and Thatcher tries to muscle the man down with a Fujiwara armbar and turns it into a cross armbreaker when Roddy tries to roll free, and it wins him the second fall. The commentary team praises Roddy for smartly tapping out quickly to avoid damaging his arm any further, and Roddy puts a shoulder in Thatcher’s get when Thatcher stalks over to him as he stands on the apron. Roddy brings him over to the corner and Thatcher fights his way free with some Euros and goes for the Tower of London off the ropes, but Roddy wriggles free and brings Thatcher over onto the apron, dumping the large man down with a backbreaker on the edge of the ring in a lowkey really gross spot. Roddy rolls him back in the ring for a very, very close nearfall that the crowd sadly doesn’t pop huge for as there’s only like 12 of them there. Some chops in the corner from Roddy really show off Thatcher’s incredible selling, and they trade forearms in the middle. Roddy hits a flurry of forearms and Thatcher hits a flash headbutt for a double down that the crowd does pop big for, which is good. Boot and enzuigiri in the corner from Roddy, and he puts the big man up on the top, fights through Thatcher’s comeback attempt, and brings him down with a big-ass superplex that they both sell really well before another two count. More chops in the corner from Roddy, and Thatcher fires out with a few Euros. Roddy goes to chop him in the middle of the ring and Thatcher telegraphs a block, so Roddy just chops him in the face instead in a pretty crazy moment, before hitting a high knee for two. Roddy goes for a suplex and Thatcher knees his way free, bringing Roddy down with a Tower of London for two, transitioning into a Fujiwara armbar when Roddy kicks out. The smaller man fights his way free and eats a Euro that sends him into the ropes, and he comes flying back out with a Sick Kick, and the Gibson Driver gets Roddy the third fall and the win. Quite a subdued finish compared to other big EVOLVE matches involving either man, but still quality stuff. While this match didn’t quite light me on fire like other matches both men had in 2015, this was very well put together and really enjoyable all the way through, more so than I thought it would be going into it. Give this a go to see a great match between the second and probably fourth best US indy wrestlers in 2015. After the match, Roddy grabs the mic and says he’s coming to embarrass Drew Galloway, and Thatcher grabs the mic, which really surprises me, as I’ve never heard him speak aside from a real shitty fifteen second promo on YouTube. He says he’s a big enough man to say that tonight Roddy was the better man, and that regardless of who comes out on top between him and Galloway, that he’ll work his way back up the rankings to face them. Biff Busick storms into the ring and takes the mic from Thatcher, saying that he was screwed by the referee in a match against TJ Perkins earlier that I didn’t see but know ended via stoppage. Roddy takes the mic back and said the only people who’ve been screwed here are the people who would be celebrating his win if Biff wasn’t out here, and he states that with all his crying, Biff sounds more like Baby Busick than anything else. He goes on to state that he’ll become the champ on May 31st and tells both Thatcher and Biff that they’ll have to deal with the fact that they’re losers and he’s a winner. Roddy turns to leave as his music plays but whirls around to make a run at both men, who turn and intimidate him out of the ring in a great, funny heel moment. God bless Roddy. Both Thatcher and Biff stare off, face to face, to send us home.