Leave it to the 2019 Wrestler of the Year to have Jeff Cobb’s best match in a very long while. Ever since his run in the G1, Cobb has been a hit or miss performer for me as it’s become clear that the best Jeff Cobb matches live and die by how they are structured around his best assets. When left to his own devices in a pool of talent like the G1, it became clear that Cobb doesn’t quite yet have the diversity to structure individually great matches against a wide variety of opponents. Given his position in the G1, it’s fair to see that he wasn’t given that opportunity either but just watching his performances through that tournament do expose some of the weaker aspects of Cobb’s game.
No such problems here tonight.
While I definitely enjoyed Starr’s performance much more in this match, it is of course worth noting Cobb’s positive contributions. The dead air that comes from Cobb’s difficulty forming connective tissue between big spots is wonderfully absent in this match. The match makes the great call of not allowing Cobb to work any extended control segments, instead working as more of an overwhelming force that Starr constantly finds himself bouncing off of throughout the match.
Secondly, I thought that Cobb actually got to show off a bit of his amateur background in the opening moments of this match. It’s unfortunate that Olympic wrestler Jeff Cobb is more popularly known these days for his big power spots instead of anything he does on the mat but with someone who also has an amateur background in Starr, both men are able to show off a bit here. It’s nothing mind blowing in terms of mat work but it looks good and gets us through the first act well.
But the match truly takes off because of Starr’s performance here. Starr always finds himself to be most expressive and in his element when working in OTT and that continues here. Where at times, he tends to cross the threshold into the melodramatic, here his expressiveness works even better when contrasted to the mostly blank slate that is Jeff Cobb. For better or worse, Cobb enters without any real character or personality for the OTT audience. He is the “good wrestler” obstacle for Starr to struggle against.
Cobb’s power is built up well. In particular, Starr’s repeated attempts to knock Cobb down with a shoulder block and failing come to mind. Starr changing gears to kick out his knee instead made for a good payoff to that moment.
We see Starr’s fingerprints on this match in the first major transition into the heat segment on Cobb. With Cobb in control on the outside, he laps the ring for a big chop only to accidentally knock down a member of the ring crew who wandered into his path. The ring crew, who have since shown their devotion to Starr, confront Cobb allowing Starr just enough time to recover and regain control. Much like the LJ Cleary match, a subtle enough use of OTT’s signature storytelling tropes that it doesn’t take away from the match and adds to it instead.
From the heat segment into the finishing stretch, we just get a great escalation of tension and offense. Cobb busts out his trademark power spots including the F5000 (Quatro did it better, sorry Starr). Somehow in the heat of things, Cobb’s nose gets busted open and the blood running down his face makes for a good visual to add some literal color to the rest of the match.
From there, it’s just a fun finishing stretch filled with great offense that never veers too far into overkill or bloat. By the time, the match ends I found myself neither exhausted nor craving more–a good sign that things wrapped up just when they needed to.
As great as the match was, however, the angle afterwards might have been even better. As has become his standard post-match ritual, Starr asks the crowd whether he should lay in more of a beating on Jeff Cobb. When he goes for his Han Stansen, however, Cobb catches him only for longtime Starr tag partner and friend of the blog Eddie Kingston to lay in the beating for him. Starr gets on the mic and calls out Jon Moxley for Scrappermania while refusing to put the title on the line against the import. Note this, Starr got a standing ovation for refusing to put his title on the line against one of the most popular wrestlers in the world today. That’s another level of mic work there and one of the reasons that Starr is one of my favorite workers in the world today.
Give this one a watch, it’s a great showcase of everything that there is to enjoy about David Starr without the need to invest in a longterm storyline–a great mix of ring skill, character work, and promo ability.