Jack Gallagher vs Timothy Thatcher
The Ritz, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 01/11/2017) I might lose my faith in humanity if this doesn’t deliver. Shockingly, they start off with some grappling, with Thatcher targeting his opponent’s arm and wrist. When Gallagher begins to go after Thatcher’s knees, the big Californian seeks revenge and tries to do the same, but his anger costs him, and Gallagher takes control. Both men do well to constantly struggle when being worked over, doing what they can to fight back, and this is best evidenced by Thatchman picking at Gallagher’s ankle while Gallagher was going for an STF, and it gives him the leverage he needs to drag the smaller man to the apron and smash his chest against the hard wood and steel. Staring at the crowd for a moment costs Thatcher, though, as Gallagher hits a dragon screw legwhip in the ropes before taking control again. Thatcher’s facials and selling here are a little more lively than usual (which, accompanied by his blue tights here, indicates to me that he’s turning it up a little for this new crowd, acting more like a human being and less like the grizzled grapplebot that he is), and while they probably ride the line between goofy and brilliant, I love them. Fighting from underneath, Thatcher throws a kick at Gallagher’s back that just catches the bottom of his neck and head in a great shootstyle moment that helps him recover. Laying in a few strikes, Thatcher makes sure to only use his right knee for kneelifts, and as soon as he uses the left, Gallagher catches him and brings him right down into a hold. Gallagher, fired up, lays in a few strikes of his own, and Thatcher responds with a trio of wonderful gutwrench suplexes. A pair of Fujiwara armbars end with rope breaks and Thatcher becomes increasingly frustrated by the Manchester faithful. Gallagher gets the best of a strike exchange and connects with a BEAUTIFUL German suplex, but he can’t capitalize immediately afterward. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a better German suplex in my life. A pair of headbutts from either man knocks them both loopy. Recovering first, Thatcher charges in at his smaller opponent, but Gallagher ducks underneath and uses the big man’s size as leverage, trapping him in a Boston crab. When he puts his knee in the man’s back, cranking his legs higher, Thatcher has no choice but to tap. Fantastic, fantastic grapplefuck match here. Everything matters, everything looks like it hurts, everything functions to progress the story and captivate the audience. Even in front of a crowd who have been thrilled by sex toys and 630s already in the night, these men were able to keep the crowd (and myself) in the palm of their hands. Thatcher, realizing the opportunity he has here, gives a more spirited performance than usual, and it pays off in spades. Terrific stuff here. Everything I wanted and more.