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[2009-09-04-PWG-Guerre Sans Frontieres] Bryan Danielson vs Chris Hero

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The first ten minutes are really enjoyable. Hero and Danielson were arguably the two best US mat workers of the 2000's and the opening minutes demonstrate why. Hero could sometimes be a little "showy" with his mat work, but not here. The mat work is high end as always but it is also logical and progresses. They get to the body of the match in a really enjoyable and effective fashion.

 

The body of the match is the usual stuff one would expect from 2009-era ("Young Knockout Kid") Chris Hero - lots of strikes to the point they lose their effectiveness/credibility as major moves. Bryan takes far more punishment that you'd expect for a guy WWE-bound. He gets cut open when Hero blocks a top rope dive to the floor with a chair. I hate writing this because I feel like I write it all the time (particularly with 2000's-era indie matches) but this went on about ten minutes too long. The last five minutes are very strong but by that point I didn't care as much as I could have because of what preceded it.

 

I've seen this praised as one of the better PWG matches of all time. I haven't seen enough PWG to feel confident weighing in one way or another, but I thought the match was just okay. It was technically sound as can be in terms of execution and the first ten minutes were a ton of fun, but the overly long body dragged it down. I am going to try to watch their Dayton ROH match from two weeks after this which I don't think I've ever seen before. It's shorter and I could see these two having a really strong, compact match in 2009 (which hopefully that one is).

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I liked their ROH match better. Also preferred their BOLA match from the year before. I agree this one was overlong and unfocused, despite some great moments.

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I was already to go over the moon for this based on how it built in the opening 10-15 minutes. That was some great matwork, and the intensity and frustration on both sides was palpable. But overall, they took a few detours that took this down a few pegs for me. I'm not a fan of yay-boo strike exchanges at all, which was a lot of the final stretch. I'm also not a fan of the adrenaline rush where wrestlers are impervious to suplexes, and there was a lot of that. It's a shame, because they were building a classic in many ways, and it was cool to see both guys in with someone at their level. This came together as a great match at the end but it was building into something a lot more special than that, and that never quite came to pass. Sometimes I think matches that hover around this level are good matches that overachieve, but this was a would-be classic that fell short. ****

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The opening matwork is the kind I like. It didn't look like synchronized swimming. It keep my attention and I was intrigued to see what hold would follow in the transitions. The story of Hero wanting to concuss Danielson led to a generous serving of stiff elbows, and boy were they stiff. He controlled Danielson by laying him out with a nasty elbow whenever he tried to fight back. This really put the crowd behind Danielson and sent a nice amount of heat in Hero's direction. They did end up a tad overused, making them feel not as dangerous as they were during the earlier portions of the match. Still Danielson being the fantastic babyface that he is, this didn't matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

 

Best PWG match ever? I could see that.

 

★★★★¾

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I agree that this was unfocused. Definitely one of Bryan's most maximalist efforts (take note I've yet to see many of his 40+ minute matches) as he and Hero really draw on their own influences and wear it on their sleeves here. Their love for European style wrestling with the opening mat work, the King's Road influences with the big suplexes, the dramatic indieriffic moments of Bryan getting busted off a dive to the outside. But the thing, is Bryan's just such a good wrestler that his performance in each disjointed section is just excellent. They feel like stitched together segments from different matches, but they're all very good segments on their own. That being said, there's so much more good than bad in this match. It's very much Bryan and Chris's take on a big epic formula and it delivers more than it doesn't. Bryan's selling in particular and his babyface body language does a lot to drive the narrative forward and give it weight. 

****1/2

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Of course, this was good. I did not feel like 40 minutes at all. Loved the matwork, the elbows, and the kicks. Best in the world indeed. ****1/2

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