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August 1, 2014 / Case Lowe

Matt Sydal vs. Jaysin Strife from Magnum Pro 2014

Recap from Case Lowe:

This is my first time seeing Jaysin Strife, though I feel like I’ve heard his name before. After scanning through his Twitter, he seems to be a big fan of @CuteEmergency and who could blame him? Matt Sydal has become one of my favorite wrestlers in recent months. After sitting on the sidelines for nearly two years with the WWE, he showed just how good of a pro wrestler he could be with a tremendous second-half of 2014. He’s so crisp, so clean, and so much fun to watch. This is only Sydal’s second match away from the WWE, with his first being his triumphant return to Dragon Gate to team with CIMA vs. Ricochet & Masato Yoshino.

Strife comes out first. He’s wearing so much oil that Randy Orton would be grossed out. I learn very quickly that his nickname is “The Bulletproof Tiger”. And yes, if you’re wondering, he has a Bullet Club parody shirt on PWTees. The two shake hands and we’re underway. Basic matwork starts things off with Strife gaining the early advantage before Sydal works out of the hold and the two begin to stare each other down. It’s noticeable early in the match that Sydal has some great facial expressions. He always looks determined and like he’s ready to fight, but is still able to win the crowd over with his peace signs and smile, which nine out of ten dentists would approve of. Sydal sends Strife out of the ring with a dropkick which leads to Strife stalling on the outside. Oddly enough, when he gets back in, the crowd seems to be fully behind him. Maybe this crowd is full of podcasters with brash opinions that loves to cheer for the bad guy. Probably not, though, as Strife seems to be their ace. So there goes that theory…

Sydal loves this as he fires himself up before the two lock horns again. Sydal takes Strife down with a shoulder tackle, then goes off the ropes and leaps over Strife. Strife leapfrogs Sydal, which leads to an odd looking spot where Sydal jumps up for a leapfrog while Strife is running the opposite way to hit the ropes. The two cover it up quite well, though, as Strife quickly goes back on offense and lands a dropkick to Sydal. Sydal quickly recovers, though, and takes control of the match. Sydal lands a sharp middle kick to the ribs as Strife is seated in the corner, which looked pretty great. The crowd is split by the nine minute mark when Strife takes Sydal down and begins to target the knees of the high-flyer. Eventually, both guys begin to target their opponents knees, which would make sense. Sydal, obviously, has made a living in the high rent district. Strife is quite agile and took to the air during the match. That said, the selling wasn’t very consistent from either guy, which is a small gripe, but still a gripe.

Really interesting finishing stretch. Strife works 95% of this match like the babyface and the crowd responds to him with cheers for the most part. Sydal, just coming off of his WWE run, is obviously a massive babyface. It’s a battle of the good guys. Strife, at one point, begins to hype up the crowd by slapping his knee, which for whatever reason, I thought was hilarious. He follows that up with a vicious Brainbuster to Sydal, who sold it like a million bucks. That wouldn’t put Sydal down, but maybe Strife’s Rubix Cube (of Tyler Black/Chris Hero fame) would? Nope! Sydal was able to counter out with strikes to the head and an Inverted Frankensteiner. That, of course, set Sydal up for the move of all moves – the Shooting Star Press! Sydal hit it and covered for the 3 count!

Overall, I liked this match. I liked the dynamic with neither guy really playing a heel, but rather reacting and then adapting to the situation. I think wrestling needs more of that. If you’re a stickler when it comes to selling of the limbs, this might not be the match for you. Both guys used the knee work as more of a transition spot and none of it played a part in the finish. That might bother some, it really doesn’t bother me. Strife clearly has some talent, so I like forward to seeing more of him down the road. Matt Sydal is something else. He’s such a tremendous talent. Excellent babyface, excellent offense, and he took a few great bumps in this match. Right now, Sydal isn’t doing a whole lot wrong.

Rating: ***1/2

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