George Gatton vs. Drew Gulak from Combat Zone Wrestling 2015
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Thoughts from Bill Thompson:
There was a phrase that became well known to me in the early 1990s, and that was, “Ric Flair could carry a broomstick to a five star match!” Young me really bought into that concept, and I tended to parrot that phrase, or at least the general idea, all the time. The reality is that most times even in a match where one worker is demonstrably better than the other there isn’t much carrying going on. There’s guidance and a helping hand at play, but to say that a match was a carry job implies that one of the workers was not up to par in any way. I’m not one to use that phrase much anymore, for that very reason.
The reason I bring this up is because I could see someone coming away from this match declaring it a carry job by Gulak. It would be hard for anyone to deny that Gulak is far and away the superior wrestler, but to call this match a carry job does a disservice to the work that George Gatton puts in. He is exceptionally green, but he knows that and he does something very important; for the most part he works to his limitations. That means he relies mainly on positioning and in feeding off of what Gulak is willing to give him. That makes Gatton a very smart wrestler, someone who, to me at least, shows a lot of promise because he gets where he is at in the present day.
Gatton doesn’t try for anything big in the match aside from a late Avalanche Frankensteiner. That’s pretty much his lone high spot in the match, at least offensively. That is the working within his limitations that I am talking about. It’s clear that when the match speeds up Gatton struggles a bit, but that is natural for someone with only a few months experience. To that end he takes the guidance of Gulak and he does a great job of keeping it simple while always being in the right position for what Gulak wants to do next. By relying so much on his positioning and his ability to take guidance, Gatton puts in a pretty good performance himself. A carry job this match was definitely not.
That being said, this is the sort of match that makes me think Gulak has a case for being the best wrestler in the world. Presently that space is occupied by Timothy Thatcher*, but for as much as I love Thatcher’s output he’s not really working with inexperienced guys like Gatton. Or at least when he does he doesn’t get as much out of them as Gulak got out of Gatton here. Gulak knows what his student is capable of and he works to his students strengths. He structures the match in such a way that the greenness of Gatton is a part of the narrative. Ultimately the match becomes about Gulak the ace against Gatton the young boy. That only happens because Gulak is willing to guide Gatton while at the same time giving plenty to the rookie.
*Editor’s note: Bill has a weird way of spelling ‘Roderick Strong’
It would have been easy for Gulak to smother Gatton, roughen him up, and move on to the next match. There are parts of this match that are very much like the match I just described. However, those sections are surrounded by Gatton being given the chance to work in some offense, or to show how well he has already become at positioning. Gulak puts Gatton in a position to succeed and Gatton does his best to succeed and ultimately does. This isn’t a match that will be talked about for years to come or anything like that. But, Gulak shows why he may be the best wrestler presently on the planet and George Gatton shows that he’s certainly a wrestler to keep an eye on moving forward. Those are the things that make a match stand out in my mind, and that’s why Gulak versus Gatton is definitely worth a spin.