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Monday, July 2, 2018

Jonathan Gresham vs. Martin Stone 1/28/2018

If you are at all familiar with Jonathan Gresham and Martin Stone/Danny Burch, you probably have a good idea of what style of match these two are going to wrestle. And if you don't watch a lot of these two, like me, you should know that you are underestimating just how good they are at this style. Gresham and Stone both wrestle a style that translates well to any situation. They make every move matter and there is always a follow-up move unless it ends in a pin or submission. It's a style that appreciates the basics - headlocks, roll-ups, wrist control, etc. - and because the wrestlers take these "simple" moves seriously it gets them over with the crowd. From what I have seen of Stone and Gresham, Stone tends to use more strikes and Gresham more submissions & pin attempts, which are sort of the two ends of the spectrum of this style of wrestling. So, again, going in to this match I had an idea of what style of match they would have, but they are given the time to let their match build and develop into a classic.

I have not seen any of Jonathan Gresham's matches in Beyond Wrestling. I did not even know he was champ nor that he was aligned with Stokley Hathaway. Hell, I put those two facts in that order by choice but I really don't even know which came first or which was a bigger surprise to the fans. All of this is just a long way of saying that I don't watch Beyond and don't know what Gresham's character is going in to this match, but Gresham is able to explain that character to me within minutes of the match starting. Having Hathaway with him helps, but Gresham is great a playing a sort of Ric Flair champ - the great wrestler that knows how and when to take a cheap shot. The exact mix of skill and cockiness that gets me riled enough to yell at both.

Stone's character is pretty consistent from federation to federation ("bald") but it fits well in to both heel and face roles, and he knows how to work to whatever role he is playing. In this match he is more of a face. He comes in as a threat to Gresham's ability to outwork opponents on the mat, as they show during the first 3rd of the match. Once Stone's ability to keep up with Gresham forces Gresham to use a trick, Stone breaks out of the back-and-forth wrestling work of the beginning of the match and gets mad, hurting Gresham and making the match much more personal. While he is beating Gresham around, this really gets over how serious a threat Gresham's wrestling is as Stone has to use some brutal moves to stay on the advantage. He was not trying to out-wrestle Gresham any more, as he knew that was not going to work, and instead he was trying to hurt Gresham.

The match continues with bigger and bigger moves, the impact getting over by Gresham and Stone selling the struggle of hitting them and the exhaustion after doing so, whether real or staged. The finish is very creative and works excellently with Gresham's character work throughout the match. It's the type of finish that could come across as VERY unsatisfying in a lot of situations but, because Gresham and Stone have been so good at conveying how much every move matters, they are able to come across as desperate and struggling for any little advantage over each other. This style of match does not seem real because it looks like a shoot fight but it seems real because the performers treat it as such.

Postcript: Cagematch.de says this is not a Beyond Wrestling match but is instead a WWR match and is for the Powerbomb.tv title, so adjust the sentences above as needed, making sure to amplify the parts about how I do not watch [appropriate promotion].

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