Trevor Lee (c) vs ACH
AAW Heritage Championship
Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, United States
(reviewed 12/18/2018) In response to ever-dwindling attention spans and the ubiquity of alternatives in entertainment, over the last few years a number of groups and individuals in professional wrestling have flipped the script of decades of convention to return to long matches and lengthy title reigns. By and large I think this is done to appeal to deeply-seeded notions of what prestige and quality look like, on top of simply offering something different from what most other folks are doing in the industry. In addition it’s a natural result of wrestling’s relentless need for escalation, to go longer and to get bigger year after year, match after match. The products of these efforts aren’t always that thrilling to me. Most of what New Japan’s been doing in this mold has left me bored in the end, especially as it grows gaudier and gaudier to fill time. The same is true for WWE. On the independent level things are a little better, but for every thrilling Trevor Lee or David Starr broadway there’s a half dozen overlong, overbearing, and often far more popular matches that are either too obvious or too lacking in self-awareness to mean that much to me.
This match is certainly obvious and it falls prey to other faults of the form of megalong matches, but it does not fail to be self-aware and self-correcting and for that reason I think it’s rather great.
One of the big complaints you’ll hear about hour-long matches, whether from me or from other folks, is how aimless they can be. Without a clear vision of what you want to do, when you’re going to do it, and how you arrive there, these matches can very easily congeal into a meaningless miasma of spots. While this match is obvious in its goal of going long and while that obviousness lends itself to a sort of aimlessness, this match succeeds because it remains full of consequence. Nasty hammerlocks leave a lasting pain in wrists and elbows that prevents either man from being as effective as he could be in the opening minutes. ACH’s lingering rib and knee injuries come into play in a big way and slow him down considerably for the back half of the match. Whenever a major blow is dealt these men carry the weight of it for a long time, both because they’re explicitly stretching this thing out to hit a time limit draw and because they’re just damn good at what they do.
In that vein this match really does belong in the top tier of what we’ve seen in 2018. I think this thing’s a little too airy to compare to the tip top best matches of the year, the tightest and most effecting matches, but it’s not for any lack of trying from these two men. ACH and Trevor are as on point here as they’ve been at any point throughout the year, showing why exactly they’re two of the finest wrestlers in the world. As this talented but oh so exploitable challenger, ACH gives one of the best babyface performances of his career, keeping an unruly Chicago crowd in the palm of his hand every step of the way. Trevor continues to control matches better than just about anybody around, shooting for takedowns and worming his way into holds to establish that he is just as talented as AAW’s beloved hero and that he’ll torture the man endlessly to prove it. Due to how expertly these two are playing their roles this match features some tremendous cutoffs, including the single best kitchen sink I’ve ever seen. Every gut punch ACH takes feels like a shot to my own ribs and it’s very directly because of snug offense and persuasive selling. This match might not have had me screaming into my hands like other standouts from this year but it left me vaguely sick to my stomach and I think that means a lot. I know it’s a long, long match and you’re probably sick of wrestling by this point in the year but don’t skip out on this one, folks.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Shawn/Taker leaves me feeling just as sick as Trevor/ACH does, only it’s bad. Think that says it all.
VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25