Will Ospreay vs. Dowie James (MCW Vendetta 2020 1/11/20)

Match Reviews

Featured image by Digital Beard Photography

I love a clear face-heel divide. Some people underestimate just how much that can add to a match. It’s near guaranteed emotional investment as even without any storylines in the build, the crowd gets invested in their indignant rage against a sneaky cheat or a smug bastard. The face-heel divide is absolutely what makes this match between Will Ospreay and Dowie James work as well as it does.

Dowie James plays the cocky local worker punching way above his weight class against a man that many believe to be the best wrestler in the world. Will Ospreay is coming off of his fantastic Junior Heavyweight title match against Hiromu Takahashi and is actually a significant figure in the Australian independent scene as I mentioned in the Eagles vs. Ospreay review. He is in many ways a returning hero and his stock in the wrestling scene as a whole is through the roof after his prolific 2019.

That makes Dowie James’ smug cowardice in the face of Ospreay’s hype so wonderful. This match is at its finest when James gets to play the sneaky coward. He yanks Ospreay by the throat as Ospreay goes for his handspring pose, he sucker punches Ospreay after baiting him into a fighting spirit strike off, he kicks Ospreay right in the nuts to break up an escalating Ospreay finishing stretch.

All that is excellent subversion of the standard Ospreay epic that we typically get. Not only does it hide some of the overindulgence that Ospreay leans towards when given a bit more leeway on independent stages, it also makes his comebacks seem that much more explosive and impactful. Not that he needed any help with that anyway. As we all know, Ospreay is one of the best offensive workers going today, with a wide array of big and flashy moves to impress. Hell, he literally even stumbles his way into one in this match, accidentally nailing a backbreaker after hitting a Shooting Star Press onto a James draped over the top rope.

I do liked that both men’s history of injuries got brought up in the match. James apparently has had leg problems in the past whereas Ospreay comes in carrying the legitimate ankle injury he sustained in the Tokyo Dome. There are brief moments that each injury is acknowledged and sold but it doesn’t become a big plot point for either as the match goes along which is a shame.

The match also does drag a little bit towards the finishing stretch. It definitely missed its peak and things just got a little too faux New Japan epic for my taste, down to Ospreay (yet again) relying on stealing the Rainmaker from Okada. Sorry, guys, it’s never not lame.

Despite the occasional sags, this is a really great indie style main event. Despite some of his goofier facial expressions, Ospreay brings the goods here and James is delightfully hateable. Wish they’d committed a bit more to that face-heel divide but I enjoy what’s here regardless. Seek it out, you won’t regret it.

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