Matt Riddle vs Tracy Williams
Style Battle 2016 Tournament Finals
Orlando Downtown Recreation Complex, Orlando, Florida, United States
(reviewed 06/01/2016) Before this match, Drew Gulak grabs a mic and introduces his two Catch Point boys in the ring, which is a neat little thing. Right from the beginning of the match, we see the differences in mentality and attitude, as well as the intricacies in their similar in-ring styles. Riddle takes a fairly nasty tumble to the outside and Williams takes control with an uncharacteristic and almost dangerous dive off the top, but back in the ring Riddle cuts him off with a mean knee to the face. They trade the advantage, showing off their typical offense in a notably aggressive way, drawing gasps from me for judo throws, shotgun dropkicks, and even simple knee drops. It’s not exactly friendly competition, but the hostility isn’t exactly personal either. It really does feel like two guys having an honest competition. Riddle here, despite his obvious green nature, comes across as a total star here; charismatic, self-aware, in total control of his body, and, most importantly, completely unique from everyone else in the business. He’s not afraid to lean into strikes, either, which could easily become a detriment to his success, but it’s certainly admirable. When Riddle, working out of his element, takes to the second rope for a double wrist lock, Williams makes him pay by just hoisting him up on his shoulder and bringing him down for a Tombstone piledriver for a good nearfall. Riddle follows it up in a real goofy manner with a Tombstone of his own (though I guess it makes sense for the very boisterous, very proud young star to want to one-up his opponent), a leaping one, for a double down. Both men fight to their feet and trade strikes, and Hot Sauce’s selling is real good here before he traps Riddle on a takedown attempt and floors him with an all-time great piledriver. Riddle somehow kicks out from it in a real shocking moment, but Williams, after a second of surprise, slaps on and cranks back on a crossface. The former UFC star refuses to tap and nearly reaches the ropes, though, so Williams changes direction and stomps down on his neck before taking a breather. He goes for the deadlift brainbuster, but Riddle, utilizing his significant size advantage, just muscles him up onto the top rope and goes for an avalanche fisherman buster. Williams fights it and looks to go for an avalanche deadlift brainbuster, something he used to win his previous two round robin matches with, but Riddle escapes it, brings Hot Sauce down to the mat with a dragon screw, and locks him in a deep heel hook. Williams, in agony, pleads with the referee for a moment before planting his boot DIRECTLY into Riddle’s face three times, and he nearly escapes from the hold. But Riddle, shaking the cobwebs, torques back on Williams’ ankle at the last moment and the veteran has no choice but to tap. Holy cow, what a bout. A thrill from start to finish, with an exceptionally hot ending stretch. Furthermore, it feels completely different from the other grapple-oriented matches in the tournament and in EVOLVE, mainly because Williams stepped out of his comfort zone in a few areas. Great, great match here, and Riddle cuts one of his signature laid-back, goofball, arrogant young star promos afterward to top it off. Seek this out, if you haven’t seen it yet.