Chris Hero vs Sami Callihan
Number One Contender’s Match
115 Bourbon Street, Merrionette Park, Illinois, United States
(reviewed 01/02/2017) I remember hearing quite a bit of buzz around this match a year ago, so let’s hope it holds up. They go right to work at the bell, each man connecting with a few boots to the face before bleeding out to the floor. They beat the hell out of each other both in and out of the ring, fairly brutal stuff. Callihan, ever the pissy, petulant little shithead, really riles up Hero and forces him to go a bit faster than he usually does, and it works to Callihan’s favor when Hero’s foot and leg collides with the guardrail on a mistimed big boot. Love Hero’s selling here, as it swings back and forth between being real animated and loud to much more subtle and understated, with all of it feeling realistic. Hero, quite a large man who uses his legs in just about every facet of his offense, is handicapped by the injury but too stubborn to change it up much, further injuring himself as he makes a comeback. Through it all, Callihan is mean, gross, constantly pissed off, and putting 120% into everything he does, which creates a situation in which he stays as fiery as always while Hero slowly sows the seeds of his own undoing. After a double down, they stand and trade strikes, putting a lot into it, and the usually-goofy spot works with the personalities of these two men. A pair of simultaneous big boots lead to two more brief double downs, which is always an awkward spot and continues to be so here, but a flash Gotch piledriver from Hero afterward feels like a big nearfall. Callihan avoids a ripcord elbow and turns the big man inside out with a stalling Saito suplex, getting a pair of nearfalls from the falling forearm and a bicycle kick, the former of which is a one count. Another pair of bicycle kicks wins the match for Callihan, who looks like he was trying to go for the stretch muffler after the kickout but Hero just didn’t kick out. Loses steam following the double downs, and continues the trend of abrupt finishes on this show, but quite a good match in any case. Nestled somewhere between the well-worn territory of the Hero Bully Formula and Sami Sprint, both of which we saw plenty of in 2016, this match manages to create something a little more unique and at the very least something really fun.