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September 10, 2014 / Bill Thompson

Drew Gulak vs. Joe Gacy from CZW’s Dojo Wars 2014

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Thoughts from Bill Thompson: 

Oh, for the love of a finish!

When this was over I just about threw my controller at my TV screen. Seriously, they couldn’t find a way to finish this match? A match that had been great and was of such a level that it was trending towards being the best match of 2014, and they couldn’t bother with a finish? All kinds of logical leg work and a guy in Joe Gacy who keeps using his injured leg to build to a finish where the injured leg finally gives out on him, and yet no finish? I was quite pissed off when this match didn’t have a finish, because this was one finish away from being the best match of 2014.

As it stands this is a great match, one of the best of 2014, but it is missing a logical endpoint to the work being done in the ring. Drew Gulak and Gacy work really, really hard, and their hard work pays off. They start with a long feeling out period, and this serves a couple of purposes. One, it allows for the viewer to settle into the rhythm of the match. This is more a Gulak match than a Combat Zone Wrestling match, if that makes any sense? The fans are in for a methodical and slowly paced match that is about the exchanging of holds, and not the exchanging of light bulb shots. The other thing the long feeling out process does is allow Gacy the time to show that he belongs. Gacy carries a reputation, though it may be unwarranted, of being preeminently a hardcore guy. By having him spend so much time engaging in lock ups and Headlocks with Gulak the audience is clearly told, “There’s nothing hardcore going on here, so be prepared to see Gacy in a different light.”

What follows the feeling out process is a long game of smothering. Gulak is all over Gacy, controlling him throughout the rest of the match. Gacy has his moments on offense, but for the most part Gulak is in charge and he dictates where the match goes and what is taking place. He attempts to overwhelm and suffocate Gacy. Pretzel tying takes place, Gacy struggles to keep up, but when the dust settles he is still standing. That’s important because it turns the match from a Gulak grappling exhibition into a legitimate back and forth contest.

Once Gacy starts to open up more it becomes clear as day that he has a gameplan. He’s targeting Gulak’s back, really working it over with a Boston Crab, Rolling Pendulum Backbreaker, and hard Forearm shots to Gulak’s back. Gulak recognizes this and he changes the match yet again with a well timed Dropkick to the left knee of Gacy. What’s most impressive is that this doesn’t change the match for Gacy. He continues to target Gulak’s back and to use his now injured leg as a means of attack.

At first Gacy using his injured leg bugged me. But then the story of the match started to come together in my head. Gacy was falling victim to hubris. He was so intent on proving he could hang with Gulak that he was ignoring the damage to his leg and thus he would bring about his own downfall. He showed more pain to his leg following every Suplex or Backbreaker. Gulak took on a strategy of weathering the storm. He peppered Gacy’s leg here and there, but for the most part he played it safe and gave Gacy every opportunity to wreck his own leg and lose the match through his growing hubris.

Then the bell rang, and the match was declared a draw. Five more minutes were awarded, and that’s when I thought the match was going to come together into near perfection. Earlier in the contest Gacy had based out of a couple of Gulak Scoop Bodyslam attempts. In overtime Gacy tried to base out of a Gulak Fireman’s Carry attempt, but his leg wouldn’t allow him to. That’s when I thought the match was about to be brought home with the leg of Gacy leading to his downfall. Unfortunately the bell rang again, and the match was officially declared a draw. That moment sucked, because it stopped this match from being all that it could have been.

I didn’t have many expectations going into this match, but what little I did have were surpassed. I can’t emphasize how badly I wanted this match to have a finish. It really is hurt by its lack of a finish, but yet it’s still an excellent match. That should speak volumes about the overall quality of this match. Despite the non-ending Gacy and Gulak used terrific selling, transitions, and long from storytelling to deliver what was almost the best match of 2014. I guess I’ll just have to settle for having seen one of the best matches of 2014, and all things considered that’s not a bad settlement.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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