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[2019-03-09-wXw-AMBITION 10] Yuki Ishikawa vs Timothy Thatcher

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Well shocker, this was good. I've been a wXw sceptic forever, but gotta give it up for them flying in an old japanese guy almost no one has heard of and let him completely outwork their boy and everyone else on the show. I've never been blown away by Thatchers grappling and he didn't do anything great here either, but that may have been the story of the match. Basically Ishikawa outclasses Thatcher the whole way through, making up great counters and doing cool shit I've never seen him do before. Thatcher has to resort to potatoeing Ishikawa and he doesn't hold back. Some BattlARTS worthy smacks here. This doesn't reach the higher pantheon of Ishikawa singles match but that is a pretty high bar and for Ishikawa taking on an unfamiliar guy who looks so much bigger that it's seemingly not the best matchup and have a match this good is really impressive.

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Always been a fan of this sort of wrestling since I first discovered it a few years back. Now AMBITION isn't fully shoot style in the mould of the likes of UWF, UWFi, RINGS or PWFG but it's got that certain atmosphere. When Yuki Ishikawa was announced for AMBITION and was taking on Timothy Thatcher, I was instantly pumped. Ishikawa did some training with Thatcher back when he was EVOLVE champion so not only was it great that he was taking on one of the best grapplers today, it was also a student/mentor story that gives this match that little more depth. I watched Ishikawa in the Inner Circle match a few days before this so I knew what to expect from this from that match and his single encounters with Thatcher. But this...now this blew me away even more than that match did. Started off slow, but both were alert. Constantly wriggling and adjusting for the advantage, a few slaps and kicks for extra measure here and there. Then Ishikawa began getting more of a foothold in the match and began suckering in Thatcher into different holds which looked great. Everything Ishikawa did had a certain awkwardness to it, which I don't consider a bad thing. None of the holds looked comfortable to be in, and I sure they weren't, and that's the point. Thatcher equally as great at the grappling but mostly sold the holds superbly with his little grunts and gasps for air. Another thing I enjoyed about this match was the moments of pure instincts. For example, Ishikawa had a hold on Thatcher and Thatcher looked to reach for the ropes with his legs and Ishikawa latched onto the leg and adapted the hold along with it. Moments like that are what made this match for me. Sensational match. ****1/4

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After putting on a tag team classic a few nights prior, Ishikawa once again proves hes the man by taking on Thatcher one on one. This was beautiful technical wrestling with a shoot flavor, which is where Thatcher really excels in. Ishikawa completely owned him though in every respect from strikes to grappling, and it was awesome. The best non-tournament singles match of 16 Carat weekend, ****1/2.

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Yuki still has it, he puts on a clinic here. Thatcher did not held back with his strikes, dude was nailing Ishikawa with forearms, palm strikes and some nice body shots. He held his on own on the mat for the first 7 or so minutes, but as the match went along, Yuki just kept finding new ways to put him in really painful move, specially his legs. This went 14 minutes and it felt longer - in a good way - because they did so much. Loved the struggle for holds too. Must watch if you are into the style, specially because old man Yuki does not disappoint.

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This was absolutely fantastic. There's a fun "dad vs. son" dynamic to the thing, with Thatcher taking on the man he idolizes & someone who he has trained under a bit. The matwork is fantastic as expected, and they tell the story of Ishikawa pretty much owning Thatcher there, which then lead to Thatcher having to resort to some brutal strikes to try and get the advantage. Much like in the Inner Circle tag, Thatchman puts all of Ishikawa's work over big time by selling every hold like they're killing him. It of course helps that all of Ishikawa's holds look uncomfortable & brutal as hell. ****1/4

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This was something and these two did not hold back one bit. Everything was intense, stiff, and was a struggle making it seem that both men was really trying to inflict the most pain on each other as possible. This is making my list.

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Loved this. Re-watched it tonight and it still very much holds up near the top of my list. Ishikawa is so fucking good, and he looked like he was right there in his primal element, having fun torturing Thatcher on the mat. Obviously Thatcher takes a lot of inspiration from Ishikawa and while Thatcher is very good at preparing to grab a hold or building up a submission attempt, his execution is nowhere near as snug as Ishikawa's. Thatcher's selling adds extra spice but the way Ishikawa cranks on an ankle, digs into a headlock, or wrenches on an armbar looks like hell on earth. Each time you think Thatcher's got something going on the mat, Ishikawa one-ups him and catches him in a hold. And I loved Ishikawa's do-si-do of limbwork to keep Thatcher from breaking the hold. Thatcher getting outclassed on the mat and resorting to strikes is great stuff and leads to some very snug shots from both men, a couple throws, and then the finish, which sees Ishikawa best him like a true big boss. 

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