Time to complete the trilogy. Shelley-Moriarty 3 – this time, someone’s gotta give (up)!
We’re back at the Odeon in Cleveland, Ohio for this one – and of course, the match is available on IWTV…
Lee Moriarty submitted Alex Shelley in 19:40 (****½)
Submission Rules: Lee Moriarty vs. Alex Shelley
The first time around, Shelley made Moriarty tap… second time around, Alex tried to do it again, but got suckered into a roll-up. For the finish of the trilogy, we’re under submission-only rules, which should make it interesting given that Shelley’s gone for the Border City Stretch in both matches.
We open with Shelley again offering a handshake, but Moriarty accepts it – feeling he’d earned it after the last win – and we start with a knuckle lock that Moriarty quickly spun out of, only for Shelley to work the arm. Counters take us into an arm wringer and a wristlock from Moriarty, which is held onto despite Shelley’s bid to roll free, turning it into a hammerlock as Shelley’s bid to go to ground came to nought. Shelley stands up and manages to free himself as he dizzied Moriarty briefly… but the litany of holds just took Shelley back into a hammerlock, which is countered as Shelley stepped through the ropes, then back in to tie Lee’s arm around the middle rope. Some snot rockets continue the disgusting thread between the matches, and sparks a battle of elbow shots that Shelley breaks up with a simple rake of the eyes.
Moriarty’s swinging at thin air as he can’t see, but regains his sight as he gets slapped and taken down as Shelley stomps away on the elbow. Payback for last time out. Wringing the bad left arm puts Shelley ahead, despite Moriarty’s elbowing, before Moriarty caught some swings from Shelley and tried to turn it into the Joint Custody armbar. It’s escaped, as Moriarty goes to the sky for a lucha armdrag before he ran in with a punt to the arm… and he’s going back to his game plan from match two, targeting the same arm with a dropkick.
Moriarty ties up Shelley for a cross-legged butterfly lock, before he picked him up for a Gory special… then an Anaconda Vise, which forced Shelley to strain as he reached for the bottom rope for a break. Chops keep Shelley at bay, as Moriarty just served to wind him up… which is shown as Shelley goozles him into the corner for chops of his own. They don’t faze Moriarty much either, at least until he’s punched out in the corner, that is. After composing himself amid a handful of kicks, Moriarty’s back to his feet… and then gets chopped in the ding ding. Yep, there’s no DQs in a submissions match! It’s back to the corner for some Machine Gun chops, straight out of the Motor City, before Shelley pulled Moriarty into the ropes ahead of a kick to the back of the head. Of course, we need a submission, so Shelley goes the long way around into a chicken wing, which is broken up in the corner.
Another forearm cracks Moriarty, as does a clothesline, before Shelley picked him up for a back suplex… only to flip him over and dump him on his head and neck. Christ.
Shelley keeps going, setting up Moriarty for a Romero special, dropping him into a Dragon sleeper for good measure before Moriarty got himself free. Shelley stalks his prey on the mat, but runs into an enziguiri as Moriarty found a second wind, cracking him with kicks and a leaping stomp before a dive to the outside got caught, with Shelley turning it into an abdominal stretch. Just to troll. Moriarty breaks it, shoving Shelley into the railings before he booted him into the crowd… Shelley avoids a double sledge by spraying a drink in his eyes, as it’s back to the abdominal stretches in the crowd, then an armbar, before Shelley just threw Moriarty into a chair. The tour around the venue continues as Shelley attempts a Shiranui off a wall, only for Moriarty to block it before he got Shellshocked into the sound booth.
Shelley walks on chairs to get back towards the ring… but Moriarty crawls back too, even though it’s submissions only. He’s fighting from his knees as Shelley slaps him silly, only for a Capoeira-style kick to catch out Shelley ahead of a corkscrew enziguiri that seemed to set him off. A tornado DDT spikes Shelley, as Moriarty rolls through into a cross armbreaker, but Shelley scoots into the ropes again to save the match. Clinging onto the top rope saves Shelley some more, but elbows and kicks force him to give up the grip before he snuck in with a German suplex. Except Moriarty held on and grabbed the arm, and ties up Shelley in an Octopus after getting back to his feet. Those baying for a submission were disappointed when Shelley freed himself and drilled Moriarty with an air raid crash!
Shelley keeps going with kicks, superkicking out Moriarty’s knee before he set up for a Dragon suplex… but Moriarty powers out, only to get hauled up as a Gory special turned into a Kudo driver (or a Vertebreaker, a Cop/Gringo Killer, whatever you wanna call it)! From there, Shelley looked to ease to victory with a Border City Stretch, but Moriarty slides to the ropes for the break… and to the outside as Shelley refused to break the hold. Moriarty crawls onto the stage next, where Shelley gives chase… only for a scuffle to end with a single-arm DDT off the walkway as Moriarty again targeted Shelley’s arm. Back inside, a Mistica takes Moriarty into the Joint Custody again, but there’s a rope break… which Moriarty honours.
Shelley flips off Moriarty, then Gazza’s him by grabbing the balls… some right hands follow from Moriarty, before another Mistica led to Shelley popping up with a clothesline! A second one has the same effect, before Shelley rolled out of a third Mistica for an instinctive roll-up… carrying on through into a Border City Stretch, which Moriarty reverses! Shelley gets to the ropes, but Moriarty pushes off the ropes to roll them back into the middle of the ring, and with no other option, Shelley taps out! An absolutely sublime – yet pacey – finishing stretch, as both men realised that their usual arsenal of moves wasn’t going to get it done. Moriarty realising that when spamming Misticas backfired was the ultimate “penny dropping” moment – and eventually making Alex Shelley tap to the move that made Moriarty tap in match one was the ultimate cherry on the top of the graps cake here. A magnificent end to the quick-fire trilogy – and perhaps the best match of the series as well. Get this one watched! ****½
After the match, Moriarty offers a handshake to an enraged Shelley – and it’s accepted – as Shelley proceeded to put over the victor on the mic, saying he’ll be “the man in pro wrestling in five years.” Hopefully sooner. Shelley offered him his help if he wanted to get to Japan, before he asked for a best-of-three falls match before Moriarty went anywhere. Oh, and a run as a tag team. Hell yes. I mean, it’s a shame coronavirus wrecked whatever short-term plans were there, but it’s heartening to see that that enforced break didn’t derail things for Moriarty. Get in on the ground floor with this guy – he’s going to be a star somewhere!