Timothy Thatcher vs Donovan Dijak
Number One Contender’s Match
Elmcor Center, New York City, New York, United States
(reviewed 10/04/2017) Even though I love both these guys, I’ll be the first to tell you that this is a weird matchup. Thatcher can speed things up when he needs to and does quite well in that role, I think, but most of this pace is worked at a slower pace than Dijak is really suited for. With Dijak almost certainly being the largest person Thatcher’s faced in a good long while, he has to approach his usual grappling strategy in a more aggressive way here, struggling against the Bostonian’s size. Dijak, though, doesn’t have much of an answer for Thatcher’s mat game and quickly finds himself on the wrong end of a good deal of arm work. I like Dijak’s big man selling and find it to be one of his greatest strengths, but it’s a shame that it’s mostly his only real contribution to this match. Still, little touches (like Dijak punching away at Thatcher’s thigh when Thatcher’s got him in a gutwrench only to wince and start shaking out his hand because it’s his bad arm) make it enjoyable and a highlight of this awkward affair. Thankfully as things speed up down the bend, Dijak’s able to operate within his usual pace, though some combination of the heat, unfamiliarity, the size of these two men, or outright sloppiness means that these signature spots from Dijak look more than a little off. By the end, Dijak, who has struggled to get any substantial momentum going throughout most of this match due to Thatcher’s literal and figurative slipperiness, grows increasingly desperate and just starts flinging his body all over the place, first with a wild corkscrew moonsault and then moments later by barreling into the corner when Thatcher’s got a sleeper hold applied. Despite his desperation, he’s simply got no recourse, and Thatcher’s able to trap him in a Fujiwara armbar for the win. A fun match, to be sure, as these two are great, great wrestlers, but a match that was an odd booking to begin with and wasn’t helped much by the circumstances or the approach.