Timothy Thatcher vs Ilja Dragunov
16 Carat Gold Tournament 2017 Quarter-Finals
Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
(reviewed 03/19/2017) I love these two boys and I hope they don’t disappoint me. They start off with some strikes, but quickly Thatcher realizes that he can win in a strike exchange with the fiery Ilja and instead takes him down to the mat repeatedly. He’s thrown off by the crowd’s love for the young Russian, which I’ll note was part of Thatcher’s downfall in his recent matches with Gallagher and ZSJ. Here it leads him to be more aggressive and focused, though eventually Ilja pisses him off enough that he goes toe-to-toe with strikes, allowing Ilja to reverse Thatcher’s lariat with a headbutt and hit a killer backdrop driver for two. Thatcher does what he can to stem the tide of Ilja, but the young man survives a murderous headbutt and responds with a Torpedo Moscow headbutt of his own for the win. Great, great stuff here. There are some points where Ilja’s not on top of his game and Thatcher clearly has to stall for him, but other than that it’s a tight, hard-hitting match that tells a delightful little story, furthering both men as characters within the context of wXw. It probably won’t make my top twenty matches of the year, but I can’t imagine it’s too far removed from that.