Featured image by Earl Gardner Photography
Jon Moxley is probably the most important wrestler in the world right now. Before the pandemic reared its hideous head, Mox was easily the best positioned wrestler working today. He found himself with the easiest path to 2020 greatness simply by virtue of his incredibly flexible contract. He can show up in the Dome to win a title in New Japan, have a dream match with Minoru Suzuki, and then win the top championship in the second largest North American company within the span of two short months. His potential schedule pre-COVID tells the story of a top star racking up an inventory of dream matches that would be the envy of most any worker: a major main event in OTT (before his opponent got exposed as a rapist), a major New Japan title defense against online darling Zack Sabre Jr, and a Mania weekend appointment with Josh Barnett.
COVID-19 of course put a stop to all that. What originally seemed to be an incredibly refreshing tour of the wrestling landscape got pared back to a very good top run on national television which in many ways is its own breath of fresh air for Mox. So despite this not being the originally scheduled match for Mania and being part of a weekend that just feels like the kind of foolish health hazard that niche historians will uncover in decades to come, Mox’s presence at Bloodsport still felt like a big deal.
As soon as he comes through the curtain, this match instantly feels like a major deal. The actual indie dream match is an increasing rarity these days as the concept of the “home promotion” continues to fade into obscurity. The American independent wrestling scene, despite its growing volume, has succumbed to a certain sense of sameness. Very few people find themselves directly associated with just one promotion as every wrestler works every promotion they can to continue building a larger and more prominent profile. As with most things, it’s a question of practicality. The more places a wrestler can work, the more money they can make, the better the reputation they build to provide greater opportunity. No one ever sticks around.
That’s why someone like Mox makes a real tangible difference when a match like this is booked. Mox absolutely has a home promotion, it’s one backed by a billionaire and runs weekly national television. Chris Dickinson embodies that sense of modern independent wrestling, being a mainstay for the two most popular indie companies in the country: BEYOND and GCW. Having those two worlds collide still feels major even though we’re long gone from the days of something like Joe vs. Kobashi or even Joe vs. Necro.
All that being said, the match is pretty great too. It’s easier to approach it as separate from that incredibly intimidating label of “shoot style” and just see it as match. When you strip away those expectations, what you’re looking at here is something that’s snugly contested and very well structured.
The grappling isn’t particularly intricate but it does look very competitive for the most part. Every now and then, they’ll surprise you with a small detail like Dickinson laying on his own hand to block a submission but otherwise it’s about what you’d expect: a lot of armbar and leg lock attempts. They never lay in anything for too long though and it’s constantly mixed in with some really great strikes once they’re on their feet.
There’s big moments like Mox sending Dickinson flying into the ringpost. That leads into some arm work but it’s not a narrative that maintains any real steam. Much more tangible was Dickinson making a big explosive comeback by going for Mox’s leg. Mox looks genuinely bothered by the big kicks Dickinson throws and it adds a real sense of progression to the match and escalation to the match.
Perhaps this match’s greatest achievement is convincing me that Dickinson might actually pull away with the win here. Mox sells some of the late offense so well that it got me thinking that the referee might just call it. That peak moment of vulnerability perfectly sets up Mox’s big final comeback, rushing to put away his opponent. It’s great stuff, timed well to end this right at the peak of the heat.
This isn’t an earth shattering classic or anything. But it’s a little make-good for the year that we lost from Mox, and even a little bit of a promise for what could be down the line. For Dickinson, it’s another feather in his cap as he continues racking up success in the most high profile indie companies in the world. It’s good stuff and it feels major, all things which are rarities in wrestling these days. Seek it out when it’s there.