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[2022-04-01-ROH-Supercard of Honor] FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)


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This was a pure tag team masterclass. That's the simple way to put it. No cute smarkbait stuff a la FTR vs. The Bucks 1, but a straight-up, tag team warfare. Intense, perfect, naturally flowing professional goddamned wrestling where all 4, and in particular Dax Harwood, came off as some of the very best wrestlers in the world. Bless. ****1/2

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This was great, as it should've. It's been a loooong time since I watched any Briscoes match, so looking at them, looking in their 50s, while wrestling like they were in their 20s was super satisfying. And for FTR, they had been always good, but since the NXT days I haven't seen them as good as they were here.

I missed more multiman action towards the climax, for example, having a tag partner break a count instead of forcing a clean finisher kickout by a single guy, but the last sequence of the match really captured what tag team wrestling can be at its best: an unpredictable storm where only teamwork can decide who stays on top.

I also would have loved if they worked a FTR face turn in a more clear way. Having them being assholes to the Briscoes the whole match but wanting to hug them and give them respect at the end felt a bit outta nowhere to me. I get that sometimes all you need to change your mind is a fucking fight for your money, but I would have loved more character work in that direction.

Still: fantastic action, real dream match atmosphere (I know that term is devaluated af today, but this time is legit) and strong character moments. The strikes here looked amazing, and there were a variety of them, not just generic forearms or chops. All this while working at a formidable pace and doing strong character work. Yeah, pretty good pro wrestling here.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The match felt like a battle of wills in the early going, with control weaving back and forth between the two teams. FTR played the subtle heels, which was established when Dax spit in Jay’s face. Dax lost his cool and threw a chair into the ring, but referee Paul Turner caught it. That momentary distraction was enough to allow FTR to regain control. FTR maximized their time in the corner, using the count of five to wail on Mark and stay on top.

Things broke down, and Jay hit a topé suicida on both members of FTR, followed by an elbow drop off the apron from Mark. The Briscoes tried to get Dax and Cash to wrestle their style of match, and FTR launched Jay headfirst into a table, busting him open in the process. Too often, tag team matches devolve into an unstructured mess of white noise, but I think this sort of chaos is where The Briscoes shine the most. Most importantly, the match is only tumultuous in short bursts, and they never lose the thread. Dax works the cut by punching Jay in the head hurting his hand in the process. Dax riled up the crowd by giving Jay the finger as Cash had him on the ropes. Jay made the hot tag to Mark, who came in all fired up, taking out Harwood and Wheeler.

The Briscoes turn the tables on FTR following a blind tag, and end up hitting Redneck Boogie for a nearfall. The match zigs just when you think they’re going to zag. FTR acts like they’re going to attempt the Big Rig, but Cash pops Jay up into a sit-out Powerbomb. It’s a tremendous way to subvert expectations. Mark makes the save, and The Briscoes hit a Big Rig of their own. Normally, I wouldn’t be a fan of teams stealing each other’s moves, but it added to the unpredictable nature of the contest. Dax goes for a Brainbuster, but Jay drags him over the top rope and hits a Brainbuster onto the floor. Three of the four have color, with Wheeler being the only one who hasn’t been busted open. Cash needing to hoist up Dax is a great visual, as he’s clearly rocked after the Brainbuster on the floor earlier. It all comes down to Jay and Dax trading blows in the center of the ring. The Briscoes go for a Doomsday Device, but Mark gets pushed off the ropes, and Jay eats a Big Rig.

Sublime work, a rare dream match that delivered in spades. The action is animated, thoughtful, and visceral in the best way. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already watched the match. If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for? Rectify that immediately!

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This was a perfect marriage of the old and the new, with it pairing old-school tag team psychology with the big athletic spots of today and the result is one of the best tag team matches in years. Both teams looked to be in sync with their respective partner, which isn't something you see a lot of these days. Mark's Redneck Kung-Fu schtick has the potential to be hokey and out of place here, but Mark does it with such conviction that he makes you believe that he thinks he can win a fight with his fictional martial art. After spending a few minutes letting the crowd soak in this dream match, Harwood tries to make the Briscoes pissed by spitting at Jay, with Jay keeping his cool for now. Harwood might be my favorite worker in this match, with everything from his strikes to his facials and body language looking natural, and love how he sold his own hand after using it to punch his opponent. Harwood and Jay get into a strike exchange that didn't look like it was ripped out of any big NJPW match from the last ten years, and Harwood is able to build some nice heat for himself by ending it with an illegal closed fight. FTR are fantastic at keeping the quiet moments of the match interesting, by always moving and changing things up as they work over their opponent. The finishing stretch was brilliant and had many near-falls where I thought it was over, but they never out-wore their welcome and the match ended at the right time. This match was magical, the best ROH match in well over a decade. ★★★★★

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  • 2 months later...

The pacing, structure, and storytelling seen here would look right at home in the mid 1980's, and just reinfornces the notion of FTR truly being the best tag team in the business. Everything they do feels natural and expected, even when things don't quite seem to go as planned, they're able to make them work without totally killing the flow of the match. Anyone who sees Lucha Bros vs. Young Bucks or Usos vs. New Day and thinks "That's great tag team wrestling!" needs to watch this and see what great tag team wrestling really looks like!

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