Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre Jr. from Evolve 2017

thattcher

This was for Thatcher’s Evolve Championship.

This was absolutely fantastic and felt like a proper blowoff to one of the most polarizing and inconsistent world title reigns in recent memory.

In his nearly 600-day Evolve title reign, Thatcher proved time and time again that he could do solid b-defenses, the spectacle match, and the epic. He could work either role in a match in a compelling manner like working on top as he did in this one against Zack or work very underneath against “The WWN Icon.”

That is not to say that Thatcher was in any way a perfect performer. Far from it in fact. Thatcher really struggled to ever change up his game especially when he was thrown a curveball in the ring. If someone could not work his style well, he rarely adjusted what he did to account for that. That is a flaw of his that he needs to correct 100%.

At some point during his reign, you began to see (anecdotal evidence alert, of course) a lot more criticism of Thatcher’s work and Evolve’s decision to keep him as their champion sprout up. Eventually, it just became the narrative that Thatcher was not performing well in 2016 and was a poor choice to be the champion of Evolve.

While the pros and cons of Thatcher being a long term champion for Evolve are certainly worthy of discussion, the notion that Thatcher got worse (or was no good in the first place) was absurd.

Obviously, once a wrestler gets pushed to a high level on almost every show (as almost any champion would be), they become subjected to more intense scrutiny. That is of course fair in it of itself, but that does not necessarily mean the criticism itself is as well-thought out as it should be.

To get to the point, Thatcher was really good when he was put into a position to succeed. When he was put into a position to fail, as he was over and over again, he failed.

When Evolve insisted on doing two bullshit finishes with Matt Riddle, he failed. When he and Riddle were just allowed to do a match, he succeeded.

When the main long-term program that Thatcher got was with someone whom he had little chemistry with, he failed. (A program that somehow involved him not carrying around the belt for some ungodly reason.) When he got to do big matches with people he had great chemistry with, he succeeded.

When he was forced to do c-defenses with talent who were not over as challengers, he failed. When he got to do b-defenses with wrestlers who were actually over, he succeeded.

This was not all said to say that Thatcher had a great reign or that he is one of the best wrestlers in the world necessarily. It needs to be stated though that Thatcher succeeded quite a bit as champion and there were very clear reasons why he failed beyond his own stubbornness regarding working the wrong matches with the wrong wrestlers time and time again.

 

With all that out of the way, we have this match. The end of Timothy Thatcher’s Evolve Championship reign. Regardless of how you feel about The Thatch Man’s reign in general, it would be hard to claim that he did not at least go out with a bang.

Thatch and Zack had struggled in 2016 to not pick up the pace of their matches when the context clearly dictated that they needed to do so. They thankfully corrected that here.

Thatcher was actually the one to try to speed things up right away. That backfired, as Zack immediately fended him off and threatened to put Thatch away early.

Thatch managed to endure that initial onslaught and took control of the match. While the pace did slow down after the initial flurry, the intensity thankfully never let up.

The second half of the match was about Thatcher attempting to put Zack down while Zack was forced to desperately cling to life while he himself kept looking for an opening.

The drama down the stretch was off the charts. Thatcher had won so many matches where it seemed likely he would lose that you genuinely could see a scenario where he left here with the belt once again.

Zack seemingly tried every submission he knew, but Thatcher always managed to find an opening. What was Zack to do? Apply like twenty submissions simultaneously so that Thatcher had no choice but to verbally submit.

This was amazing and a clear MOTYC. Seek. It. Out. (****1/2)

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