Necro Butcher vs Samoa Joe
Midlothian Park District Recreation Center, Midlothian, Illinois, United States
(reviewed 05/17/2019) Invariably I’ve seen this show described using the name listed here as well as Joe vs Necro II, so be aware of that if you’re looking for it.
Cool little rematch that is hampered by Joe’s status in TNA, interference setting up a future match, and, of course, being the follow up to maybe the greatest match of all time. This is less of a fight and more of a wrestling match than the ‘05 classic was but I think it remains interesting despite that relative lack of intensity. See, Joe is a wrestler at his heart while Necro is just a straight up fighter. Last time things were heated enough that they went at it tooth and nail, forgoing any of the trivialities of a pro wrestling match, so when Joe goes through those motions here he’s caught off guard by the most off-kilter opponent he’s ever gonna meet. He’s still a phenomenal force that can blow through just about anyone but it’s not until he plays Necro’s game and goes after his hand with a steel chair that he actually gains a distinct advantage.
The hand work is good but it, along with some other decisions, sort of undercuts some of what makes these men and this matchup enjoyable. Early on this is structured like a dramatic puroresu match, what with dueling strikes and shoulderblock sequences. It’s not terribly out of line with what these guys did last year but it’s real out of character for a guy like Necro on top of being awkwardly executed. The hand work also feels this way. It comes across as a bit too structured for an out-of-control brawler and a follow up to the least structured match ever. Thankfully it also allows Necro’s great selling to shine, which only makes him more endearing as a human underdog going head to head with a superhuman powerhouse. Joe’s great in that way too, as his selling is such that he never feels wounded so much as winded, even when Necro catches him low with a chair or cracks him with a headbutt. These guys are like a wave crashing into a tower: Necro might stand resolute to these attacks but Joe’s a relentless force that can’t be dissipated and he’s gonna wear the other guy down over time.
To that end this match falters a bit. You’d think the story would call for Necro’s victory here, especially based on how the hand work has him down for most of the match. Sadly Joe can’t drop a fall to just anyone now that he’s a big name in TNA so that’s out. To give Necro an out and not have him lose clean to this guy in two straights matches, Chris Hero, who’s been butting heads with Necro for a while, comes in and breaks up Necro’s Asiatic Spike submission. This distracts Necro long enough for Joe to blow him away with a series of big moves, including one of the grossest kicks and one of the grossest knees he’s ever hit. Muscle Buster has Necro down and the choke puts him out.
Doesn’t live up to the first match (because hey, what can?) but I appreciate what this match does given the circumstances. Its general vibe works against some aspects of how these men operate but I like that this wasn’t just another all-out brawl and instead something that spoke to their individual personalities a little more. Along with that we still get some delightful tastes of that brawl-oriented work, with a bunch of nasty chairshots and all sort of gruesome strikes. Don’t sleep on this if you loved the first match and don’t sleep on the Hero/Necro European Rounds match that stems from this either.
HOW DOES THIS MATCH COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: This is a little closer than you might guess. This rematch rules but the decisions it makes to differentiate itself and make up for its limitations don’t always work. Likewise it never hits all that hard, not just compared to its predecessor but to a lot of the other work these two were doing around this time. Shawn/Taker is bloated as hell, sure, but it’s got one or two moments of transcendent bomb-throwing that this match can’t compete with. However what matters to me is how those spots speak to those characters. Empty bomb-throwing can be fun but doesn’t usually do it for me in the long run. That’s basically all Shawn/Taker is, while this Necro/Joe rematch actually sheds some light on who these guys are. It ain’t perfect but I wager it’ll last with me longer than Shawn/Taker does.
VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25