Timothy Thatcher vs Daniel Makabe
Battle Palace, Seattle, Washington, United States
(reviewed 08/01/2017) Man, where do I begin? I suppose I should begin with saying that it’s hard for me to objective here. Dan is a close personal friend and someone I’ve looked up to for years. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers ever. Thatcher, likewise, is someone I love, and he’s someone I’ve wanted to see Dan wrestle for years now. Just seeing it happen in the first place is moving and mindblowing and surreal. Even if this match somehow stunk it up and was total shit, I’m sure I’d dig it. But it’s not total shit! It’s actually real good! Thatcher is this invading force, this world caliber wrestler who is unimpressed by the 3-2-1 Battalion antics. He’s here, as the commentary repeatedly points out, to hurt people. Makabe, then, the top face of 3-2-1 as I understand it, opposes him as the only person on the roster who has any chance of standing toe to toe with the best technical wrestler in the world. He does well to hold his own early on, nearly scoring an upset in mere seconds with the baseball punch, but quickly Thatcher is able to recover and take to the mat. Despite Makabe’s acumen, Thatcher is simply a little bigger, a little nastier, a little more experienced, a little more chiseled, a little more conditioned, just a little bit better. Even as Makabe targets the veteran’s arm, Thatcher remains in control. He’s fantastic here, per usual, but in an interesting way that you don’t see too often on the international stage. Here he’s explicitly a heel, sort of playing the traveling champion despite his lack of gold, and is putting a lot of effort into playing to the crowd facially, emoting a little bit more, being outright goofy at times. And through it all, he’s still this incredible, unstoppable machine of a man. Makabe, in turn, does all that he can to survive. He takes potshots when he can, bunkering down to avoid the worst of Thatcher’s attacks, trying to weather the storm of a superior wrestler.
The crowd should certainly be mentioned here. They can be a little much sometimes, but I really do love the 3-2-1 crowd and atmosphere. From what I gather, most of them are non-wrestling fans, though chants here would indicate that perhaps that has changed recently. Regardless, they’re loud and responsive and hooked on everything going on in the ring. They buy in. When Thatcher cranks back on a cross armbreaker and people scream “OH NO”, it’s magical to hear. It’s magical to hear people believe.
Late in the match, as Thatcher becomes increasingly frustrated by Makabe’s efforts, the local hero strikes. He goes back to the arm. He floors the Californian with a dropkick in the corner. He applies signature holds for brief moments before Thatcher slips free. By the end, both men are reeling, dizzy on their feet, teetering, struggling to stay upright as they trade shots. A butterfly suplex kickout baffles Thatcher, his eyes wide as he implores with the referee, as he searches the cheering faces in the crowd. Makabe finds success with the baseball punch and a German suplex, but ever the wily vet, Thatcher slinks into a keylock. A few more reversals between these technicians lead to a Fujiwara armbar, and it looks as if Makabe can’t escape, that this is the end. He rolls Thatcher over for a pin, but the big man kicks out right back into the Fujiwara. He tries it again, but this time Makabe frees himself. He grabs Thatcher by the arms, bending them back, applying a headbutt to the shoulder blade for good measure. Makabe flips over top the seated Thatcher, trapping him in a gruesome high angle Cattle Mutilation, and as the crowd swells, sensing the end, Thatcher has no choice but to tap.
After the match, amid the celebration, amid The Undertones crooning about needing excitement and needing it bad, a frustrated Thatcher slaps the mat with his bad arm. He grabs his scarf and turns to leave before pausing. He urges the crowd to quiet, the music to end, before speaking. “This scarf says ‘die matte ist hellig’, which in German means ‘this mat is sacred’. And if there is someone here in 3-2-1 BATTLE! that believes this mat is sacred, it is Daniel Makabe.” He hands Makabe the scarf as the crowd roars and my friend breaks down into tears. I can’t help but do the same.