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[2017-11-26-WWR-Tournament for Tomorrow] David Starr vs Nick Gage

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This was exactly the kind of insanity you expect from Gage, only amplified by the fact that he's in there with one of the absolute best wrestlers in the world working a match well out of his comfort zone. David Starr's performance in this match is absolutely fantastic and visceral. He doesn't shy from taking bumps into tacks and wire, and takes a shitload of staples to the head too. The highspots in this aren't the craziest you'll see in a Gage match this year, but they're incredibly well positioned in the structure of the match and the violence escalates gradually at a great pace.

 

The closing minutes have some awkwardness as Starr tries to cut some barbed wire off of a board with some wire cutters that simply weren't strong enough to do the job. That said, Starr's desperation and expression in the moments where he is struggling to cut the barbed wire actually added to the match for me. It was like the hero in a horror movie trying their damnedest to concoct a weapon to overcome the maniacal killer. The finishing sequence itself is one of the sickest and most unique uses of barbed wire I've ever seen.

 

Post-match feels like a legit shoot with some super intense trash talking from both guys, and then Starr challenges Joey Janela to a fans bring the weapons match on New Year's Eve. The whole segment was approaching spectacle levels while also managing to be a well thought out deathmatch. Felt a bit like the smartest Honma or Abby Kobayashi deathmatches. Must-see for fans of either guy. Just shy of MOTYC status.

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Really good, fun match that accomplished everything it should have.

 

Starr goes ALL IN on taking a beating here. No holding back at all. It was painful to watch sometimes. He sells everything like murder and brings a level of emotion to the match that really sets it apart in a way.

 

On the other end, I feel genuinely sorry for people who don't "get" or enjoy Nick Gage. That dude makes everything feel real.... EVERYTHING. It is painful and awkward to watch their bickering after the match. He brings a level of violence and danger you can't buy or teach.

 

These two bring out the best in one another here and really compliment the each other's strengths.

 

The match was a load of fun, brought out an edge in star, showed a little bit of another layer to Gage, and - most importantly here - sets up Starr vs Janela in whatever bat-shit insanity they are planning.

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Look, wrestling is wrestling. It's all symbolic in the end. They're all tools and it's all about how they're used. You could overlay the narrative and the performances in this match over a completely different style and it'd still come out pretty much the same, simply accentuated by the trappings of whatever style it was in. What matters are the characters, the transition, the commitment, the meaning that's derived by choice and selling (action and reaction), and the ultimate execution.

 

On that note, things hit.

 

Let's just pull some moments out. The match began with Gage rope-running and chain wrestling with Starr, holding his own. Within about a minute, Starr shifted gears and tossed Gage through a barbed wire table. This is functionally the same as what you'd get in a Wahoo vs Tully match from 82 where Wahoo decides to wrestle with Tully to start and Tully goes to the punches/roughhousing first in order to get ahead of it and have a fighting chance. Just like in that match, however, Tully probably wouldn't be able to hold the advantage and as he tried to escalate things more, Wahoo would play to his obvious strength and takeover. Here, Starr went quickly to the thumbtacks and Gage reversed a suplex attempt into a urinage. He followed it up with some brutal thumbtack usage because Gage is an absolute experienced pro in filling time in interesting ways in a match like this, even if he's not doing big moves necessarily.

 

So, onto the next transition into some heat, right? Some sly capitalization of overexuberence by the babyface, something more involving chicanery or a lucky catch. Here it's Gage trying to shoulder butt Starr off the apron and Starr catching him with a front facelock through the ropes and a quick drop onto the throat. Symbolically, it's the sort of thing that could play in this sort of mismatch in any decade, in any style. Starr followed it up with a side slam and given the thumbtacks and blood and what not, pretty much anything feels like a big move at this point (he steered Gage away from the thumbtacks on the landing but the announcers covered well by emphasizing the selling). While it was devastating enough for a two count, Gage still recovered first and they went into your basic modern Japanese/super-indy chop exchange, with no selling on both sides until the babyface got the advantage. In this case, however, they were using staple guns, but it was exactly the same, down to the stupidity of the initial no selling (I always like the CMLL style where they're selling even the initial chops and it just escalates more).

 

In theory, I loved the last little transition here, with Gage winning the chop(staple) exchange but going overboard and nailing the ref with the gun, allowing Starr to hit a insanely stupid German onto a chair that no one should ever be taking. So in theory, I loved it. In execution, i liked the protected side slam more? It was certainly believable as taking Gage out for the next few minutes though.the match ended with Starr spending about three minutes trying to get barbed wire off a table with a wire-cutter (explained deftly by the announcers) and his own hands, putting the wire around Gage's neck, berating him, cutting off a comeback, choking him out, fighting off another comeback with a brainbuster onto his knee (not selling the knee that just got torn apart by barbed wire, but maybe he did that post match?), and having the ref stop it on the choke out. Here it's a little tougher to find analogues. The idea was that Starr had been driven past the point of humanity and his own heelishness, that he had to go over the top to win, that he had to put his body entirely on the line to defeat a master at his own game, etc. He had something to prove. He wanted it that much. He was willing to sacrifice for his own survival. All that. You can do it in another style, either through strikes, or submissions, or jumping off a high point, but it's easier and more visceral with blood and plunder. Here, I think by chance and not by choice, the wire just wouldn't break. It led to Starr looking more and more deranged as he hurt himself more and more to achieve his goal. There was a bit of Sabu setting up three tables because they kept breaking to this, but here it worked into the match. If the goal of this match was to use Gage's cache and credibility to increase Starr's reputation and show that he willing, able, and dangerous, and could go that extra mile ("He's Hardcore") then this helped to achieve that goal. There was a cheer when he finally got the barbed wire free. If the goal was to make him seem like a more dastardly and evil heel, that's not really what they ended up with but in 2017, when is that ever the goal?

 

Anyway, I thought this was overall effective and just another sign that effective wrestling is all about universal purpose-driven symbols and how they're used, no matter the style, no matter the era.

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