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  1. Maciej

    2018 Match of the Year

    My running list (pretty loosely ordered outside of the top few) is in the signature below, but in addition to the Gargano/Almas, Darby/WALTER, and G1 Final matches already mentioned, my top tier includes the Ladder and Baszler/Moon matches from Takeover New Orleans, and the first big Park/Volador/Flyer vs. Los Ingobernables trios match from 5/25. That trios match just delivered on the danger of Park vs. Rush so much more than I expected a trios match at Arena Mexico to be able to, and more, I think, than the subsequent singles match did.
  2. Maciej

    2018 Wrestler of the Year

    Oh totally, Fenix might be my #2. He's so consistently awe-inspiring.
  3. Maciej

    2018 Wrestler of the Year

    He might be slightly divisive but I think it's Zack Sabre Jr. for me. The quality of his matches while in a surprisingly big role in NJ has been top notch Hiis run as Evolve champ in the first part of the year was great, as he subtly transitioned character to be less sympathetic in ring without going full heel ZSJ on the mic at all. And he's had plenty of great matches in the other big indies he has worked around the world throughout the year. I've always thought working the way people have been booked in our lovely fake sport into these awards is a little silly (especially as that's already sort of baked into the kind of big matches they can have), but even with that, I think he'd be my #1.
  4. Maciej

    Triplemania XXVI Thread

    I'd say the hardcore match is the only must watch for me (very, very silly but/and I loved it). The opening match on the pre-show is sloppier than a lot of this year's really good high-flying openers have been (so I'd highly recommend you watch those if you haven't), but still pretty fun. The ladder match, while also far from perfect, has so many incredibly athletic people packed in you might as well. The title match has really fun Fenix stuff mixed in with some junk and the mask match has the drama built in but I don't think it's that special overall.
  5. It's neither the dirty, serious violence of your indie lucha handhelds nor the workrate bloodletting of the average BJW main event, both of which usually get praised more (and generally for good reason), but this kind of giddy, occasionally hilarious hardcore match can be special when done well, and I thought it was a ton of fun. It's a huge mess of course, that should go without saying, but the clowns and Lider put so much effort into making sure the level of destruction is super high at all times, whether by using their opponent's bodies or their own. Pagano is clearly the star, hitting a dive with sticks in his forehead, getting stretchered out after delivering a suplex onto a flaming table, and, in the moment that has made me laugh more than any other moment in wrestling this year, getting powerbombed from the top rope perfectly into a shopping cart. ****1/4
  6. I didn’t think it was super likely that these two would top the best of the B Block stuff in the final, but they really goddamn did. The first half of the match was a pretty compelling version of what this type of New Japan match is, with Tanahashi throwing his weight around to wind up on top on the mat fairly effectively. I guess you might complain that Ibushi knee selling didn’t continue through the whole match, but I think it worked for what it was in the short term really well, and Ibushi’s mission to destroy the old man’s torso was really fun to watch. I liked the strike exchanges a ton, which is not something I really expected out of this match. I much prefer strike exchanges where it’s not just a strike at the end or a mutual collapse that matters; there are individual slaps here that change the flow of the exchange itself, a tiny story with in a story. The end is good drama, not a ton of realistic false finishes necessarily but a a big final dramatic flourish of Kota popping up after the first high fly flow only to get put away by a cross body version and another for good measure; that makes him look sufficiently valiant and Tanahashi sufficiently triumphant and it’s all good.
  7. Maciej

    [2018-08-11-EVOLVE 110] Darby Allin vs Matt Riddle

    Darby's bumping is so absolutely my shit, and not even just his huge bumps like the missed Coffin drop on the apron, but just falling at weird angles from the big Riddle throws in really distinct ways. Riddle maybe takes a cue from flying over the guardrail after missing an attack in a really fun way. What really elevates this from what I already expected though is that at a certain point Riddle really decides to get angry at Allin in a way that actually gets people to cheer for Darby, which, even when he goes into ultra aggressive mode as he often does, is pretty unusual for him. It works, and this is one of the better Evolve matches of the year for it.
  8. I'm gonna go ahead and say: bad. Very bad. This idea that fairness somehow means we have to let every racist asshole back on TV is wild.
  9. So I don't disagree that this is a really good match, but can we talk about this ending? I know you're a babyface but just go in and kick O'Reilly in the face, right? Since when is this a thing that a babyface would rather throw in the towel than break up a finish? That part didn't really work for me.
  10. So I just noticed that +Lucha put up a complete version of this a few weeks ago, and god damn, it is so good. Marvin decides that he's going to make the caveman work for every little thing in this match, spending a lot of time and effort destroying his arm and cutting him off in ways that seem really legit. For a second it looks like a nasty foot stomp might be enough to stop the match (that one looks even more nasty in the Estrellas del Ring version that went up in April and, it turns out, is only a little bit short), but Cavernario eventually recovers and, to the delight of the fans, finally makes a real comeback. Cavernario is one of my favs, and while I love watching him swing skinnier luchadors into barriers in Arena Mexico, seeing him have to really scrap to get one over on a pissed off veteran is a great different side. Marvin continues his great run this year, and I think this is even better than the Cerebro matches and the great Keyra match. If you like wrestling that has holds and moves, but still at times resembles a real fight (and I'd wager if you're reading this you do), this is definitely one to seek out.
  11. This was very fun, pretty gruesome (the bed of bird spikes mostly), and oddly beautiful with all the shards of glass in the ring. This quality of execution and pace combined with the blood really flowing and the ring full of glass is cinematic in a special way - a way that probably only really death matches can be. On first watch I don't think I have this quite as high as most people (not quite as amazing to me as, like, last December's Takeda/Takahashi match), but it is really damn good.
  12. That was especially frustrating because it directly followed something I really liked because it was so unusual for pro wrestling: they squared up and instead of just exchanging blows, Dunne actually gained the advantage by getting a good punch in.
  13. Maciej

    [2018-06-23-EVOLVE 106] Darby Allin vs WALTER

    Darby Allin is one of the best babyfaces around, a bump maniac who is smaller than everyone else and is actually super smooth and athletic when he gets going. This match is less about that last part and more about him taking a beating from arguably the best giver out of beatings in indie wrestling today, and WALTER beating up Darby Allin was such an easy great idea that they could have phoned this in and still had a very good match. Happily they did no such thing. The strikes and bumps are big as hell, and WALTER should get credit for making simple bodyslams actually look overpowering, not just like a regular bodyslam that happens to be performed by a bigger guy. Darby's creativity in finding angles to attack WALTER's hand and throw him off balance are great here, and the finish is outstanding. It's really hard to make an unexpected finish really work in wrestling, there's always the danger that the fans are so not primed for it that it takes them too long to react and it kills the energy completely. They made it work here 100%. I was there live, so that bias is there, but I'd recommend this match to anyone who likes any kind of wrestling at all. I've been saying this for a long time, but if Evolve doesn't eventually build to a Darby title win (or at least do a steady build to a title shot, not just throwing him a relatively random one here and there), they'll be wasting a big opportunity.
  14. Maciej

    [2018-06-20-BJW] Hideki Suzuki vs Takuya Nomura

    As is expected if you've ever seen these two interact, Suzuki wrestles from on top here, and looks unstoppable for long stretches, but this really works because he sells the hell out the bursts of offense that Nomura does get, and makes it feel like a real fight in that way. By the second time Nomura gets some big hits in, you might start to thing, shit, maybe he can actually do this? That's pretty quickly dispelled and Suzuki looks strong as hell again by the end, but this is incredibly exciting in bursts.
  15. Maciej

    RIP Vader

    Vader was one of my favorite wrestlers ever, for sure. The way he was able to look extremely dangerous at all times while selling in a way that made his potential defeat by the hero actually convincing was unparalleled, and honestly sort of inspiring as far as performances of masculinity go. I'm starting off with the Mutoh G1 handheld (one of the first matches I have a memory of downloading (or maybe like trying to watch on Real Player?) from the internet; I don't think I ever had it on video tape) and I'm sure I'll be revisiting a bunch of favs and trying to find stuff I've never seen tonite.