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October 16, 2011 / Bill Thompson

Timothy Thatcher vs. Fit Finlay from Pro Wrestling Bushido 2011

Post Bill Thompson:

Twitter: @MOTYPod

One of the best things to happen in pro wrestling in the early 2010s was the Fit Finlay traveling independent tour. During the onset of this decade Finlay took to the independent circuit to show his wares against a variety of opponents in a lot of different indie federations. He came to Pro Wrestling Budhido to square off against Timothy Thatcher, an at the time relatively unheralded (outside of the Northern California indie scene at least) wrestler. For nearly thirty minutes Finlay and Thatcher go toe to toe on the mat, and they barely leave the mat.

A narrative I have been fighting is the idea that grappling equals boring pro wrestling. I’m not sure where it started or how much actual traction it has gained, but I do encounter quite a few pro wrestling fans who proclaim that grappling equals boring. To them, this match would be death, because it is pure grappling from start to finish. There are a few spots that aren’t mat based, but they grow as extensions of what is taking place on the mat. Finlay and Thatcher keep this match on the ground, and they keep it focused on working through mat sequences and chain wrestling.

What comes forth from the chain wrestling and mat sequences is a decided sense of focus. At first, Finlay and Thatcher are working over the body of their opponent in a nondescript manner. They are searching for holes and trying to isolate through weakness. They move from leg, to abdomen, to arm, to head, and every other place on their opponents body as they try to find that one weak spot that they can exploit. Once they do find that spot, Thatcher zeroes in on a shoulder while Finlay prioritizes a leg, their attacks become more centralized. The focus was always present, it simply went from a wide laser to a narrow laser.

The more centralized focus then lends itself to escalation. Finlay and Thatcher don’t just work a body part, they work it over in nastier and nastier ways. The stakes are continually raised, yet as that happens the match doesn’t become more grandiose. Rather, the focus becomes tighter and the wrestlers give off a more aggressive sense of immediacy. They recognize that any move could end the match and that the proceedings in the match are getting hotter and heavier. As such they work harder, but also much smarter, and deliver streamlined and pinpoint performances that extol the nuance of grappling.

Both Finlay and Thatcher are crisp as can be in this match. They work really hard, but as previously stated they work very smartly. Transitions are smooth, but they are earned and a struggle. Those three words are the most apt descriptors of the match in general. It is smoothly worked, but every moment and sequence is earned through a constant sense of struggle. If that’s boring pro wrestling to you then I simply say that we look for different elements in our pro wrestling. Finlay and Thatcher deliver a classic mat based match, dishing out the sort of grappling that makes me giddy to be a pro wrestling fan. That’s what I look for in my pro wrestling, and that’s what was gloriously presented to me on this fine day.

Bill Thompson


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