Chris Hero vs Matt Tremont
Arts at the Armory, Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
(reviewed 01/07/2017) This is a bizarre matchup and the sort of thing that could be really great. Hero does well to toy with and ridicule Tremont through a chaining sequence in the opening minutes, and it’s almost hard to watch. Tremont, never a man to take an insult laying down, takes the veteran down with some chaining of his own and a bit of uncharacteristic highflying that takes everyone by surprise. The Bulldozer continues to confound Hero, matching his strength, reversing his strikes, and bringing a few strikes of his own. He gives Hero room to breathe, though, and the Dayton native is quickly able to turn things around with in the usual fashion. Tremont won’t stay down, though, asking for more, a chunky thorn in Hero’s side, and Hero really leans into a few strikes to shut him up. This includes a pretty vicious stomp right to the face. Eventually, Tremont decides that enough is enough, firing up and FLATTENING Hero with a massive Saito suplex before they brawl out on the floor. They take a little too long on the outside, though, and when Hero quickly dives back in the ring to break the count, he nearly takes out the referee. The ref sternly admonishes him, bringing a sort of timidness we don’t usually see from Hero in the ring, and the whole situation allows Tremont to recover and whip Hero into the guardrail hard, almost toppling the whole thing over into the crowd. It seems inadvertent, but in any case, it’s a wonderful little comeback spot. Back in the ring, they reverse some signature moves back and forth until Tremont connects with a Samoan Drop and Vader Bomb for two. A bullfrog splash goes south for him, though, as Hero catches him in a cravate on the way down for a cravate driver, followed by a HUGE moonsault that acts as a great nearfall. Both men stagger up to their feet and a rolling elbow wakes Tremont up, as he takes the big man down with an exploder before hitting a bullfrog splash for two. Following a double down, he avoids another elbow from Hero and hits a DVD, repeating the process a minute later in a somewhat curious choice. Hero connects with a boot and some chops, but he gets caught for a big-ass clothesline as he comes off the ropes. Looking for the kill, Tremont goes for a powerbomb, but Hero’s size is too great, and Hero buries a series of elbows into his head before finishing things off with a rough Gotch-style piledriver. Goddamn, this was great. There were a few awkward moments (as to be expected in what I’m pretty sure is a first-time matchup), and the crowd wasn’t nearly as into this match as I’d have liked, but aside from that, this match is a barrel of fun. Tremont, unlike many of Hero’s opponents, has the size and personality to stand up to the best in the world, nearly matching him for firepower. This adds an interesting twist to the usual Hero Bully Formula, as Tremont won’t stay down and has it in him to immediately change the pace of the match whenever he wants. Additionally, it feels natural and realistic that Tremont would be able to do this, so it doesn’t come across as an obvious attempt at making Hero look like he’s met his match even though he sort of has. The legitimacy that Tremont brings, as well as how Hero reacts to it, makes all the difference. An immensely enjoyable clash of styles and clash of characters, I highly recommend this match.