Matt Riddle vs Timothy Thatcher
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 10/30/2017) Another great little match from what is honestly one of the most reliably good feuds in wrestling today. They flip the script a little here and have Riddle take charge right out of the gate and control a good 80% of the match or more. Because it’s mostly grappling and literally none of the dumb highspots that I hate from him, it’s a great Riddle performance and it allows Thatcher to sell and struggle from underneath, which is one of my favorite things to see in wrestling right now. Slowly, through virtue of his skill as well as a vicious streak, Thatcher’s able to find his footing but remains in a firm second place throughout this match. It’s not until he’s able to slap a tight sleeper on Riddle, one of the best I’ve ever seen from him, that it looks like he’s got a serious chance of winning. As he desperately rolls around and tries to elbow his way free and muscle his way out of Thatcher’s sleeper, Riddle comes across as this quasi-Superman figure, this unreal athlete who is able to survive this lengthy hold that would put so many other people away in half the time, and not only survive but eventually free himself. It’s the sort of thing you see a lot in wrestling and the sort of thing you see some people praised for heavily (Riddle himself being one, AJ Styles being a good example, Brock Lesnar being another), but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it from Riddle and bought into it as opposed to balking at it. What’s more, he strings that right into the finish where he looks for his signature Bromission, can’t find it, and instead just WRENCHES THE FUCK out of Thatcher’s knee and ankle, tearing them both sideways until the big Californian taps. Awesome finish here, one of the best I’ve seen in 2017, and it caps off what was already a very good grapplefuck match. It “only” clocks in at around 11 minutes and if it was closer to 15 or 20 it would easily find its way into my top 50 matches of the year, but as it stands it’s still a delightful fun-sized standout that everyone should see.