Match of the Week Club: Matt Riddle vs. Chris Hero (EVOLVE 10-16-16)

Every week on Place to Be Nation, a combination of correspondents review one match from the world of wrestling that YOU as the viewer should seek out!

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The Storyline:

Matt Riddle has become the face of EVOLVE ever since he denied Drew Galloway of joining his group. Chris Hero is associated with that group and is also in general one of the biggest bullies in EVOLVE. They had an excellent match in March previously.

Lawrence O’Brien:

Matt Riddle is an amazing human being. Chris Hero is the greatest of all time. Put them together and you have the greatest human being(s) of all time. In a war of the top tier graps. My god. Their first encounter was a star making performance for Matt Riddle and definitely started his ascension up the ranks of rookie AND wrestler of the year lists. This second one had a pissed off Hero looking for revenge, aka the best kind of Chris Hero.

I love how there was a half hearted attempt at the beginning to make you think like this wasn’t going to be some all out shoot fight and instead be a friendly wrestling match. That all changed when Hero retreated out of the ring, came back in and chopped Riddle instead of letting the clean break happen, resulting in an explosion of back and forth strikes.

Hero mocking Riddle while Riddle masterfully sold Hero’s striking power was brilliant. Riddle’s selling has developed tremendously, and does it better than some veterans of the business do already. It’s like he’s a wounded animal you want to see get away from the dangerous predator in this match.

Hero is a god damn mastermind. The little things like the smug grin on his face when a weakened Riddle attempted to deadlift German suplex him and his hefty frame make his matches so much better, the man is a master of ring psychology. Which all led to Riddle’s fiery comeback cheered even more over dickhead bully Hero. Hero telling Riddle to stay down after repeated boots and sentons and Riddle pulling his body up to scream BRO at the top of his lungs yet another amazing moment of this match adding to the drama.

The callbacks and counter wrestling relating to their first match were great. They did the Gotch piledriver into the triangle choke spot again that felled Hero the first time around, but this time Hero was ready for it and deadlifted him into another piledriver and then an elbow to the back of the head that gave Hero his sweet revenge over the Bro. Riddle looked strong in defeat, taking 3 piledrivers and an elbow just to put him down for good. He played sympathetic babyface so well during this as did Hero the bully heel. A must watch match from the WWN family from two of the best in the world.

Peter Saladino:

I…don’t know what to say with this one.  I am admittedly not a fan of American indies and pay less attention to them than I do to Japan, Mexico or WWE.  I came into the larger world of wrestling relatively late and have tried to work hard to not lose my “casual eye” for evaluation.  I think it’s a real thing where if you dive too deep into the outer world you can completely lose touch with what resonates with a mainstream audience.  I didn’t want to end up being like a record store clerk that’s glaring angrily at someone perusing the Aerosmith records while I’m playing some obscure East German band from the late 80s.  Still, everything I’ve seen from Riddle has been amazing and everything I’d heard about Hero seemed to signal that he was great.  But, I just didn’t like this.

I admire how hard Hero hits with his elbows and that they are presented as a very damaging maneuver.  But it felt like that was all he did in this match and each elbow diluted the overall perceived impact of the move.  Riddle did an amazing job of selling the elbows and how bad they rattle their victim, but it feels like there needs to be more variety with what was happening.  Elbow, kick to head, rolling elbow with Riddle on the defensive the whole time.  Watching this, I kept thinking the match would build into another level but it just kept repeating that same pattern.  The fighting over and building towards the piledriver were supposed to be the official gear changing where this was finally going to leave the feeling out and heat segments, but instead it just ended up being the end.  The match felt like it really let me down.

Ioan Morris:

Before I get started, I’d suggest that if you’re going to watch this match then it’s worth going back to their first encounter at EVOLVE 57 to get the full effect. Handily, WWN have also put that one on their Youtube channel. What you’ll get from doing that is a sense of how far Riddle’s come even since March. In every respect he’s improved, and at an incredible rate.

In the early minutes here it looked like Hero was demonstrating a wariness in his approach because he knew Riddle could catch him with a submission at any moment. However, what might’ve been an interesting story disappeared when Riddle got knocked to the floor and from there it largely became about him surviving Hero’s beating. That did at least give the former UFC fighter plenty of opportunity to demonstrate his selling and fire, and while Hero seemed to move through the match at one pace, Riddle’s ability to shift gears and exhibit bursts of intensity was striking. There were some rough patches here and there and a couple of moments where Hero chose to no-sell for no apparent reason, but all told this was a fun match and it’s certainly worth your time to see why there’s been so much hype around Riddle.


Timothy Buechner:

Chris Hero is the best wrestler on the planet or is it Matt Riddle? Chris Hero has a way of being a calculated tactician while never feeling predictable. Hero teases a senton only to throw an unexpected boot to the face. Matt Riddle is able to sell for amazing sympathy without ever feeling like he being out bullied like most of Hero’s opponents do. Riddle counters seamlessly from being down and out to throwing the much larger Hero across the ring with a deadlift salto suplex. The ability that both workers here have to straddle these lines translates to what makes this match work. It’s a story to two fierce strikers trying to knock each other out while still a gentlemanly duel.

Hero throws some of the just most devastating elbows and kicks in a worked environment hell, there rarely are strikes that look this good in shoot fights. Riddle gives so much of himself pain and struggle he shows. Riddle proves that if you make your opponent’s offense look as good as possible you can’t lose any strength in a defeat. Riddle has some of the most amazing hope spots including his patented springboard twisting knee strike. Matt Riddle brings a logical approach to Evolve with his MMA pedigree that helps guys like Hero come across like a true elite level competitor.  

As they enter into the closing stretch there is a feeling the desperation from both men. Losing is a set back neither seem to be willing to accept. Hero has to throw everything he has and then some just to keep Riddle down for the count. I love these finishes from Hero as he can feel this mix of respect and disdain coming off of him. How dare you take up so much time in Hero’s ring.f

Post match Tracy Williams comes out to stand over his fallen comrade and rival so he can forcefully demand a chance to show he can do what no man seems to be able to do right now in defeating Chris Hero. An attack from Galloway & Taylor throws everything asunder as Hero refuses to show any true loyalty to their cause.

Reflecting on this match it felt real from beginning to end. Hero and Riddle worked to fit who they are as fighters and men. Riddle is the natural rookie with a background that has translated to what is already seen as a legendary career in the making. Hero is the self-professed greatest of all time I man who has seen and done it all he is unflappable but knows that he has to channel some rage into extreme violence to dispatch his victims. Matt Riddle is the best wrestler on the planet or is it or is it Chris Hero?

Chad Campbell:

I loved their match from March so I was eagerly anticipating this encounter. Hero has debuted the Hawks NBA gear in the past month or so and I think it looks great. In addition, Matt Riddle has new gear tonight to amplify the stakes that this is a big time match. The chain wrestling to start really engaged me with Hero showing some cocky dominance and teasing going for the toe manipulation of the bare footed Riddle. Around two minutes in, the match opens up tremendously with Riddle giving a great barrage of strikes that makes Hero cower down into the corner. Hero quickly gets a second wind and sends Riddle down to the floor with a huge boot. Hero gives Riddle a thunderous forearm on the outside. Hero keeps looking for the piledriver and showing off his bully persona that works so well given his stature over most other indy wrestlers. This match seemed to be built around making Riddle the #1 babyface in the company. He sustains a brutal beating and keeps firing back with littler flurries until Hero pounds him down again. I really liked the reverse by Riddle from the senton into the Bro-Mission. This makes Hero scramble to the ropes and gives Riddle a few seconds to recover. Riddle is then able to bust out the Bro 2 Sleep which gets a really close nearfall. We are now into the desperation point for both guys and Riddle looks for a tombstone but that is reversed and delivered by Hero. He then delivers another piledriver for a nearfall. Hero then delivers the ganso bomb death shot version and Riddle is only marginally able to get the shoulder up. One more back elbow shot from Hero finally puts Riddle away. I thought this did have more strong style elements down the stretch which puts it slightly behind the match from March between these two, but this was another tremendous match in my mind and went a long way in making Riddle the man in EVOLVE. ****1/4