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[2016-01-22-EVOLVE 53] Chris Hero & Tommy End vs Zack Sabre Jr & Sami Callihan

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This was whatever. Opening was pretty boring with them doing uninteresting takes on basic holds, I've seen enough arm wingers for a lifetime, nothing Chris Hero does with them makes me want to see more. Commentary compared Tommy End to a K1 kickboxer, I don't remember ever seeing Peter Aerts do sound effect kicks. The sequence with End and Sabre Jr. avoiding each other's kicks was more eye-rolling than any of the recently debated flip GIFs and the one man Magic Killer was the type of embarrassing indy nonsense I'd expect out of Davey Richards. The Sabre in peril portion wasn't particularly interesting and all the striking quickly got repetitive. They kicked it up a notch for the finish with their puro cosplay strike exchanges but then the match just went on and on and on. I'm not really familiar with how Evolve matches are structured so it is not a good sign they couldn't get me to bite on any of the nearfalls. The idea of Tommy End, this great faux kickboxer doing Moonsaults could be explained as an Otsuka-tribute but it was much closer to a very bad Koji Kanemoto tribute. I don't really have anything nice to say about this match. It wasn't very interesting to me sorry (I did pop for the D'Lo Brown namedrop on commentary). Chris Hero has a nice Piledriver I guess. **

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Pretty great US Indy approximation of an 90's All Japan tag. End and Hero are total ass kicking heels, working together great, laying in a huge creative beating on the overmatch but game pair of underdogs. Sabre is pretty great as spunky young kid who can take a hellacious asskicking, but can always pull out a submission, meanwhile Sami is flying all over the ring making saves, kicking people in the mouth, diving to the floor. He is just a whirling dirvish of energy which is really where he shines. Loved Hero and End's double teams, they did a cool version of Total Elimination with a leg sweep and straight right. Finish doesn't go into overkill which this style of match is bound to do, instead we have Sabre dying on his sword, trying desperately to grab an arm or a flash pin, while getting overwhelmed. Awesome stuff, and a real contender to stay high on this list all year.

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When I first watched this, I thought it was "just" very good, but my god, after a re-watch, my appreciation for this match went super high. Masterful storytelling + hard hitting action. Everyone was on point with their performances, but Chris Hero was on another level. What a performance by the best wrestler in the world. Just absolutely brilliant. ****3/4

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After reading through old threads and seeing this be declared one of the best matches of all time, I decided to give this a rewatch. I thought it was fine on first watch, but I actually came away with a lot more negatives on second viewing.

 

The thigh slapping was in full force here, with Sami and End being the most blatant. It actively took me out of the match.

 

The kick ducking sequence between Sabre Jr and End also wasn't great. I actually thought it was worse than the Ricochet/Ospreay flip sequence, because at least Ricochet and Ospreay are both presented as flyers, but Sabre Jr managing to keep up and avoid kicks from End (who on commentary was labelled as the best striker around) looked completely choreographed. The ZSJ in peril segment didn't really go anywhere and wasn't all that compelling.

 

I thought that Hero was the best thing about the match by about a million miles, but when Sabre had End trapped in the arm bar, for me he didn't show enough urgency to try and break the hold. I would have preferred him frantically kicking and stomping away or even just diving on him to break up the hold (especially as Sabre was defenceless). Instead we got the melodrama of Hero just staring blankly at ZSJ as he applies a submission to his partner. The match then went into the your turn/my turn finishing sequence, which while not as long as other Indy efforts, still dragged. The double foot stomp looked awful.

 

I didn't sound too convinced by the authenticity of the 'this is awesome' chants either.

 

I don't give star ratings, but this wasn't even the best tag match of the year, let alone one of the best matches of all time. Nothing that I would watch again.

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I don't know what to think of this match. Lots of pros but lots of cons. I really can't get into Sami Callihan, there is something about him which just screams inauthentic to me. Chris Hero was the best part of the match by far and the more I watch of Hero the more I get into him. The best parts of the match were Hero vs ZSJ. I watched their PWG 2015 match earlier and enjoyed it as well. Unfortunately Callihan and End took this down for me and the thigh slapping was really noticeable.

 

Lots of creative spots like the double foot stomp but the execution missed. Thinking about it, it was a fun match and worth seeing if you like the style. I can see this appealing to others more than me.

 

***1/2

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