Every now and then, a random old show from the past pops up on IWTV with a match that makes me go “huh?”. This is one of them.
Now, that’s not because this match is odd – it’s more because this didn’t seem to be listed anywhere until IWTV dropped it. So… let’s take a look.
We’re coming from the Buffalo Riverworks – one of Empire States Wrestling’s regular haunts. The best way to describe the aesthetic is that it looks a little like “wrestling in a shopping centre”, with fans watching from above on a balcony, with the venue generally having a light, airy feel to it. It’s a “co-promotion” of sorts with Every Time I Die – hence the punny name – and yes, that’s the band that features The Butcher, presently of AEW.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Josh Barnett
As the title of this post says, we’re going back to December 2017 – back when Thatcher was appearing more in Germany for wXw as part of RINGKAMPF.
We start with a tie-up as Barnett and Thatcher looked for an advantage. The match isn’t even 30 seconds old before someone yells “boring” from the crowd, quickly getting shouted down in the process as Thatcher and Barnett grapple on the mat. A leg lock from Barnett’s quickly broken in the ropes, before Thatcher responded by looking for a Kimura… but it’s right in the ropes… which Barnett eventually uses.
Staying on the mat, Thatcher went for a cross armbar, pulling Barnett away from the ropes… but Barnett spins out and takes the back, only for Thatcher to grab the arm as he ended up rolling through to the mat, but this time Barnett grabs a leg lock, before they headed into the ropes as Thatcher went for one of his own.
An underhook suplex from Barnett takes Thatcher down, ahead of a wristlock that gets changed into a cross armbar… Thatcher switches out and clubs on Barnett’s back before he went for a side Salto suplex, muscling Barnett to the mat for a near-fall. Another leglock’s masked as the hard camera shows us the backs of everyone’s heads as Thatcher broke in the ropes ahead of another reset.
Strikes take Thatcher to his knees, but he’s back with a rebound belly-to-belly off the ropes for a one-count… and it’s back to the mat for another crack at the Kimura. Thatcher’s caught with a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, before Thatcher returned with a grounded Octopus stretch, forcing Barnett to move towards the ropes for another break.
Thatcher followed up after the break with some knees to the ribs, before strikes from above looked to set up for a cross armbreaker, but Barnett counters and moves into the guard before a head kick knocked Thatcher down. Thatcher gets up… and is right back down with a spinning heel kick.
He beats the standing ten count, but Barnett knocks the opening, and after a few kicks throws down Thatcher with a kneeling powerbomb for a near-fall. Thatcher returns with an armbar, but it’s rolled out of as Barnett got to the ropes, so Thatcher pulls him up and tried to go for a butterfly suplex.
Barnett again gets to the ropes, but he’s met with European uppercuts and elbows. He eventually responds, but a boot from Thatcher takes Barnett into the corner as they continue to trade the upper hand, before Barnett ends it out of nowhere with a T-bone suplex for the win. This was a fine exhibition of both men’s styles – but as the first thirty seconds’ worth of crowd reactions showed, this wasn’t too far removed from Thatcher being seen as “boring”, thanks to the way he was presented in EVOLVE… and that kinda hurt the match as well.
Result: Josh Barnett pinned Timothy Thatcher in 11:54 (***½)