Ian Rotten vs Samoa Joe
Park District Recreation Center, Midlothian, Illinois, United States
(reviewed 05/15/2019) If you’ve never watched much of Ian Rotten’s work, especially after his ECW run, you might be surprised to learn that he’s a decent matworker. As far as I’m aware it’s not due to any sort of amateur experience, so it’s all just practical knowledge picked up from working all over the place in the 90s. That’s obvious in the grappling itself, which is sloppy and scummy as hell. Shoot style fans might turn their noses up at it but I appreciate the earthy grittiness of Ian’s efforts, which my pal Simon has taken to calling “Meth BattlARTS”. [EDIT: I have been made aware of the term’s origins among the DVDVR crowd, please disregard anything I say for I am a child that knows nothing.] It’s not trying to project itself as something it’s not and is, instead, just what a slimy veteran does to get by against a variety of younger, faster, stronger, and more skilled opponents.
Of course all that goes out the window against a guy like Samoa Joe, who’s as real as it gets. At first he’s taken aback by Ian’s rough abilities but once he catches wind of what’s happening he takes to the mat and muscles his way into all sorts of torturous holds. Joe pops him with a few short strikes to facilitate said holds but all this is does is light a fire under Ian, who can trade shots with the best of them. A big kick or forearm might send him down but Ian holds his own with a series of headbutts, taking it to Joe in a way almost no one else can. Really, this is just a great lead-in to Joe/Necro, establishing that trashy white dudes can take the fight to the greatest wrestler in the world just as much as Meltzer-appointed smark favorites can, if not more so.
Said fight spills out to the floor before long. Both men continue to swing wildly, each preventing the other from reentering the ring. Neither’s happy about the subsequent double countout but post-match promos indicate that respect has been earned.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: If you wanna take it as Ian bafflingly protecting himself against THE guy, then that finish sucks. Outside of that, though, this match is real fun. It’s a wild clash of characters who are more stylistically linked than you might think, neither of whom are willing to back down an inch. There’s always an appeal in something like that, even if it’s real rough around the edges. Shawn/Taker likewise delivers on some awesome bombs but it gets too hung up on escalation to be all that enjoyable in the end. In that way it’s very much an IWA Mid-South match a la the Punk/Hero series, with a bunch of senseless dramatics thrown in to boot. If I’m gonna watch some trashy Midwest wrasslin’, I’ll take the kind where two dudes hit each other real hard.
VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25