The things you’ll find on IWTV, man. I was just poking about on the new releases on IWTV earlier today when I saw this match listed for some random indie show in 2006. You can’t not watch this match after seeing the two names involved. When it got going and I realized it was a ladder match? My god, even better.
Chris Hero is, of course, one of the best wrestlers of his generation–a real strong statement given the level of talent that rose up around the same time as he did. 2006 was a big year for Hero in terms of exposure on bigger stages as his role in the ROH vs. CZW feud cemented his spot as one of the top workers on the independent scene at the time. Having already done great work in IWA:MS, CHIKARA, and CZW, adding ROH to his repertoire only served to confirm what everyone else already knew: Chris is awesome.
Dick Togo, on the other hand, is one of those talents that I enjoy when I see them but don’t see nearly enough of them to have any real connection to them. Any time Togo has appeared on my screen, however, he’s always put in a high level performance whether it’s part of the Michinoku Pro six-man tag on ECW Barely Legal or putting on a banger just this year against Daisuke Harada.
Shock of shocks, this match rules.
It’s got that real scummy 2000s indies vibe to it with the tattered ring canvas, the horrible video quality, and two actual ladders that seem on the verge of shattering any time one of these two bumps onto it. They start things off with some real slick chain wrestling before a stiff punch to the face from Togo begins to escalate things. The ladders come into play and Hero ends up crashing face first into one, busting him open.
There’s a lot of really good ladder spots here that still hold up pretty well. Just simple enough to maintain the sense of a gritty brawl but occasionally flashy enough to hold up today. Among my favorites include Hero penduluming the ladder into Togo’s face a la Joey Mercury Armageddon 2006. After bumping on the outside from the move, a fan in the front row asks, “Did that hurt?” Hero takes the time to nod in the affirmative. Delightful.
Togo on his part sells incredibly well for Hero throughout all of this. Even just something as simple as taking a punch or a forearm from Hero draws a really great physical performance from Togo.
Hero’s athleticism is on display here too. At one point, we see him run up a ladder propped up in the corner and flipping back into the ring. The finish of the match even comes with Hero springing off the top rope onto the ladder–buckling the damn thing right at the end. Somehow the referee of the match balances the ladder just long enough for Hero to toss Togo off a ladder next to him (and taking a gruesome neck first bump onto the top rope in the process) to get the chance to pull the belt down.
A remarkable little hidden gem. Fills the time well and doesn’t drag at all. Remarkably paced and definitely something that fans of both guy’s should see.