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November 22, 2014 / Bill Thompson

Joe Graves vs. Timothy Thatcher from PREMIER Wrestling 2014

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Thoughts from Bill Thompson:

Watching this match I thought of charisma. It’s not something I talk about in my reviews much, if at all. There are many types of charisma, but most of them are focused on things that wrestlers do that have little to do with their in-ring work. That’s why I don’t write about charisma all that much, because this is a blog that is centered around what happens in the ring versus entrances, promos, etc. However, that’s not to say that there’s no such thing as in-ring charisma. There most definitely is, and there are different types of that as well. The one most people tend to identify with and talk about is the more flamboyant sort. The type of charisma where the wrestler pushes their personality out at the audience and in a way dares them to look away. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of charisma, but that’s not what I was thinking of while watching this match.

What charisma was I thinking about? The charisma that comes about from in-ring work. Guys like Joe Graves and Timothy Thatcher aren’t pushing their personalities out at the crowd, but they are daring the crowd to look away. What they are pushing is their in-ring work, that’s where their charisma can be found. The way that one transition to the next elicits a response from the audience, or how the crowd pops for a locked in Cross Armbreaker. Their personality is what they are presenting in the ring through their hold for hold wrestling. The crowd reacts to what they are doing because they are charismatic, their ability to engage a crowd and make them care through in-ring wrestling is perhaps the highest form of charisma.

Most of the above was spurred on by some previous discussions on charisma and my belief that lots of wrestling fans have lost sight of what can constitute in-ring charisma. I have no qualms saying that would have been me ten or so years ago, because I liked what I thought everyone else liked and I placed more value on a flamboyant personality than I did working from one hold to the next. In that context a guy like Joe Graves would never had had a chance with 2005 me. I would have watched the guy for maybe three or so minutes, decided he was as dry as could be and have moved on. I’m glad I’m no longer that sort of fan, because Graves has a lot to offer to a wrestling fan. Sure, he is facing the best wrestler in the word in Timothy Thatcher, so I don’t want to completely jump the gun on Graves. That being said, he comes across as very talented and very much so I guy whose future work I look forward to checking out.

There’s not much to say about Thatcher in isolation. He’s his usual great self in this match. He grinds in his holds, he transitions in a way that is both smooth and ruggedly difficult. There’s a level of believability to what Thatcher does in the ring that I don’t find in a lot of other modern wrestling. He traps Graves in a Rocking Chair Surfboard, which is a move that is very unbelievable. Yet, it’s very believable in this match because of the way that Thatcher works to get into position for the hold and makes said hold come across like it’s earned and should be taking place. There’s much to be said for taking that approach and how easily it serves to enrich a match.

For fifteen minutes Thatcher and Graves engage in back and forth wrestling of the highest order. Graves impresses very early on, and he gets better as the match progresses. There’s an immediate sense of urgency behind the actions of both men. A Graves Single-Leg Takedown comes across as very important, just as does the Thatcher counter into a Kneebar. At no point did I feel the match was building to a draw, which made the eventual draw finish fine in my eyes. I’m hoping this builds to another encounter down the line. However, if this is all I get from these two gentlemen for the time being then I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that because I appreciate great wrestling, and Joe Graves versus Timothy Thatcher is one piece of great wrestling.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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