Roman Reigns v Samoa Joe (WWE RAW, 1/1/18)
These guys seem to have matched up a bunch over the last year and a bit and for whatever reason this is only the second singles match between them that I've watched. They recapped the match from the previous week so I at least know where the 'Roman loses the belt on a DQ' stip comes from. They teased that early on as well, with Cole drawing attention to the fact it's the same ref' who DQd Roman last week, the ref' getting in between them like a slightly less obnoxious Tommy Gilbert, and Roman making a point of stepping back and keeping his cool just to erase any doubt. He's already on a tech, can't be pushing it any further just in case. Joe looked real good in this. He threw nasty jabs and meaty shots, hit a great tope that's totally different to every other tope in WWE, worked over the arm in pretty interesting ways and spent large parts of the match shit talking Reigns. That led to a cool bit later where Roman was shouting at Joe to hit him again as Joe slapped him with a little extra mustard. I liked how they started working in all of the stuff around the ref' and Joe trying to get Roman DQd, initially with Joe daring Reigns to hit him with the steps. Loved the whole sequence with Joe throwing Reigns into the ref', Reigns pleading with him because it was an accident, then turning around and getting planted with the Uranage. It felt like a huge nearfall and from that point on the crowd were all in. I thought it lulled a bit in the body, but it had a nice start and the home stretch was great. Joe going from dominant to maybe a touch overly confident to almost desperate for the ref' to do him a solid was a really fun story as well.
Matt Riddle v Jeff Cobb (Major League Wrestling, 2/8/18)
Well dang, where did this come from? I've seen more Riddle than I have of just about all the oft-praised modern indie guys, and even if he'll do some daft eye-rolly shit now and then he's generally someone I like a lot. Cobb I'd never seen before and I don't know if this was an outlier for him or not, but I thought he was unbelievable and the match as a whole was fucking awesome. I liked the amateur stuff at the beginning, as they're partners and not about to crack each other in the face just yet, then Riddle takes Cobb over with a throw and you can tell he's satisfied with himself. He isn't a prick about it, but he got one over on his buddy and he enjoyed doing it, as we all do when we get one over on a buddy. Cobb did not enjoy it and so he responded by chucking Riddle all over the place. This was some full on Scott Steiner stuff and I was genuinely in awe at how he was manhandling Riddle. I mean Riddle isn't a bantamweight, but he was sure getting thrown around like he was. After the first one where he got thrown clean cross the ring he had this awesome "what the hell?!" reaction, like he knew Cobb was capable of it but he didn't expect to be on the end of it there. Then Cobb grabbed him again and did about four rotations with Riddle's body, like he was steering a ship in a thunderstorm and Riddle was the wheel, before launching him in whichever direction he felt like launching him. Riddle mostly stopped bothering to try and throw with Cobb after this and instead focused on kneeing him in the face and locking in chokes, but there was one moment where he couldn't help himself and hit a super impressive deadlift gutwrench. My favourite spot of the match was when he hit a big falling kick and roared like some fighting spirit foolery was afoot, but Cobb just grabbed him and popped him over with a rapid low angle German. Cobb also had a strapped up wrist coming in, and while they never played it up huge I did like how it was a subtle little plot point throughout. It never really stopped him from doing anything, but he would grab it in pain once or twice, try and readjust the strapping, then at one point Riddle went to throw on a Kimura before changing his mind as Cobb is still his guy and bros before hoes and such. Riddle's knees are kind of thigh-slappy, but that final shot was a true knockout blow and a great finish to a tremendous little match. I may have to start checking out MLW more often this year. Tony Schiavone doing commentary in 2018 is something I was completely oblivious to but he's probably already my favourite commentator going today. I'm so glad I checked this out.