Keith Lee vs Tomohiro Ishii
York Hall, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 11/10/2017) The best “John Cena takes on the stars of the indies” match I’ve seen in some time. If you get what I mean by that, you’ll know what this match is like: exploratory shoulder blocks to establish the characters here and the dynamic between them, control shifting back and forth quickly in order to hit all sorts of cool moves, feats of strength from the smaller man, a few one count kickouts, and a big ol’ finishing stretch of all the bombs in the world. I’m usually pretty iffy on those sorts of matches but really dug this one, mostly because I think Keith and Ishii are perfectly suited for this sort of match whereas I think the strengths of Cena and his usual cohorts lie in different areas. Keith’s “bask in my glory” persona, massive size, and baffling agility make for a great mountain to climb and Ishii’s no nonsense career underdog shtick, as well as his general moveset, makes for a great climber. Even if they’re not doing the craziest spots in the world here (as far as sheer spotfests go, this gets blown out of the water by the Cena matches with Owens, Styles, Cesaro, and a few others), it’s the character work that makes this thing sing, on top of York Hall’s typical exuberance. The aforementioned one counts are some of the better ones I’ve ever seen, perfectly in line with who these two men are and what this situation is. If you’ve been able to stomach “PWG Cena” or matchups like Hero vs Ishii then this will probably be right up your alley and is well worth your time.