Chris Hero vs Big Van Walter
16 Carat Gold 2010 Tournament Finals
Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
(reviewed 09/04/2018) More than this being a huge showing for a young Walter, as the eventual outcome most certainly is, this match really just shows me how great Hero was and is. The most notable way he improves things here is with a structure based around hand work (sort of a fun mirror of the matches WALTER’s been having these last two years), which gives the young giant something to base his efforts around. In matches against the likes of Low Ki and Takeshi Rikio in the years before this, Walter was just sort of aimlessly applying his strength and size in ways that weren’t interesting. Here, even though he still lacks the technique or experience to be actually good, he’s at least being led through a simple formula but a true great. Speaking of formulas, this era is the first stage of the strike-based Hero Bully Formula that would go on to annoy a lot of people five or six years later. I’m an apologist for the style so it’s never really annoyed me much, but even for its detractors I think it has a place here, especially with how he uses it to legitimize a budding young star in presenting them as equals instead of simply dominating him. Whether it’s how he sells his hand, the ways he forces separation, how he applies the Steamboat Rule, or the way he refuses to needlessly milk a pinfall attempt there are a dozen little things Hero does in this match that make me love him to bits, little things that stand out to me more than any second rope piledriver ever could. Come for a look at one of 2018’s best wrestlers in his younger days, stay for the all-timer’s clinic.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Part of me wants to put hundreds of Hero carryjobs on this list and there’ll probably be a fair few of them by the end. Sadly this isn’t exactly one of the better examples, as Walter’s just a few months away from really putting it all together and transitioning into a Confirmed Good Wrestler. This is far less flawed than its competition but can’t reach the same heights as Shawn/Taker.
VERDICT: Worse than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25