Oliver John vs. Timothy Thatcher from Sacramento Wrestling Federation 2012
Post Bill Thompson:
A major part of my exploration of Timothy Thatcher’s career has been his emphasis on limb work. It’s his forte really, he isolates an arm and goes to town on it. Occasionally he will mix things up and target the neck, back, or maybe a leg, but that’s very occasionally. For the most part Thatcher keeps his attack focused on an arm, and the various ways he can attack said arm. Those ways are in fact various, and I always get a kick out of Thatcher going after someone’s arm. That being said, I do sometimes wish that Thatcher would let loose a bit and go toe to toe with someone. That’s something that really doesn’t happen anywhere near enough.
That’s where Oliver John comes into the picture. He’s every bit as good as Thatcher on the mat, and that means it’s hard for Thatcher to single out an arm for destruction. He tries, there are a few moments where it’s clear that Thatcher is attempting to attack the arm. But, each time his attack is cut short by the ability of John to counter Thatcher and put him on the defensive. That’s the crux of this match, not focused limb work, but back and forth counter wrestling from two chaps who can counter all day long. In that respect this reminded me more of a classic catch-as-catch can style bout than the typical World of Sport style that is associated with Thatcher.
Aside from an out of the blue finish, everything in this match is built to nicely. The early moments see an exchange on the ground that consists mainly of mixed martial arts based reversals. Right off the bat this establishes that John and Thatcher are not your typical pro wrestlers, but they are on the same level. The MMA style matwork leads into exchanges where each man is flustered by having their plan of attack countered. This is where the build really starts to come into play. The first ten minutes are about establishing the capability either man has of controlling the match through their mat prowess. Simple reversals in the final ten minutes come across as much more important because a simple turning of the tide in regards to who is in control could signal the end of the match.
The best spot in terms of build is when John takes a tumble off the mat and to the hardwood gymnasium floor. The match has established that John is the riskier of the two, and he’s willing to leave his feet more. When he’s put in a precarious position on the apron it doesn’t come across as being dangerous because we’ve seen John leave his feet previously. Then comes Thatcher and his stiff Elbow shots; he bludgeons John down to the floor. We thought John could fly if need be, but now the match has subverted that and made John leaving his feet into a terrible moment for him.
I really loved the final ten minutes of this match. The back and forth counter wrestling bled into harder hitting attempts to end the match. I’m always a fan of when Thatcher busts out impact moves. He doesn’t disappoint in this match as he hits a nasty Saito Suplex and a Lariat that sends John flying inside out (of course John deserves lots of credit for the quality bumping). Part of Thatcher hitting his harder impact moves is that he begins to think he has John right where he wants him. He takes his time in trying to put him away. John makes some mistakes and Thatcher appears to be in the perfect position to capitalize. But, as the match laid out from the onset both men are pretty equal on the mat and a counter can come out of nowhere. That’s why John getting the pinfall with a Backslide is sudden, but keeping in line with the tone of the match.
I believe John and Thatcher wrestled a couple more time at least. Hopefully those matches surface at some point, because these guys have special chemistry. They are similar in skill, yet they take uniquely different approaches to applying said skill. The result is two mat technicians who can be on the same page while trying to do different things. A hot crowd added to this match, but in the end it’s all about the catch-as-catch can style of Oliver John and Timothy Thatcher. In a day and age of homogenized professional wrestling, they present something wholly unique, and uniquely great.