Jonathan Gresham vs David Starr
Best of the Best 15 Finals
Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States
(reviewed 01/18/2017) I remember this being fantastic when I watched it live, so hopefully it holds up. After Gresham immediately powders at the bell and jaws with the crowd for a bit, the two men take to the mat and grapple around, highlighted by some good wrist selling from Starr. Tempers flare and Starr takes advantage of it, ridiculing and toying with his smaller opponent. Gresham plays dirty to take control before transitioning into his usual armwork, but he’s quickly shut done again, frustrated by Starr’s “look at it” spot, going as far as yanking a security member’s (think it’s Wheeler Yuta, but I’m not sure) shirt off to wipe his face. Great heel work. He, Starr, and the ref get in a big argument for a while that eventually leads to the Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards superplex into suplex over the ropes spot I despise. They trade the advantage out on the floor, striking each other back and forth as they run into opposite barricades, and Starr takes control with some misdirection, a back suplex onto the barricade, and a somewhat nutty tope suicida. Gresham sends him crashing into the barricades a few times to take control, topping it off with a piledriver to the floor to tease a countout victory, dragging referee Nick Papagiorgio to the ring to start the count. After crawling his way back to the ring, Starr escapes a sleeper and takes control with a John Woo dropkick, following it up with a Dean Malenko avalanche gutbuster. The Octopus then avoids a rolling elbow, leading to a series of reversals back and forth that end with Gresham slapping on a figure four leglock. Starr can’t stand afterward, and while he’s able to get his knees up to block a 450 attempt, his own feeble comeback is foiled when Gresham up and overs him to the apron and he collapses from the shock to his knee, falling to the floor. Gresham hits a nifty moonsault off the apron and tops it off with a 450 back in the ring, but it’s not enough to put the Product away. A sleeper nearly puts Starr away, but he’s able to muscle the smaller man up for a nice Saito suplex. He eats a German and turns Gresham inside out with a lariat. Gresham counters with a desperation brainbuster that Starr kicks out of at one, responding with a brainbuster onto the knee and a wild superkick for a two count. When Starr climbs to the top rope, Gresham shoves the referee into the ropes to drop him to the mat, where he avoids a small package counter and traps Starr in another figure four. Rolling through Starr’s attempt to reverse the leverage on the hold, Gresham just begins pounding his fist into Starr’s knee, forcing him to tap. Real good stuff here, though not without faults. There’s a bit of awkwardness at one point with a rope-running spot, the Davey superplex spot is genuinely upsetting, and the finishing stretch is a little too much “David Starr playing the role of Shawn Michaels” for my liking. But, aside from that, there’s a ton of great wrestling here, mostly smart, hard-hitting stuff, a very enjoyable first match in what I hope is a long series of matches between these two.