Featured image from @ShADoWxNoBODy
As a follow up to the Thatcher match, this is probably what a lot of people wanted to see from Hero. We still get a lot of that torturous Wrestling Genius-style chain wrestling in the early goings, especially when he’s just stretching the hell out of Blackwood to start the match. But there’s a lot more focus on standing work from Hero this go around. There’s more running the ropes, and a lot more emphasis placed on those big Knockout Artist elbow strikes. What’s especially heartening is that despite returning to the striking, it doesn’t feel all that repetitive in this setting either as Hero found a lot of clever ways to incorporate it naturally into the match which leads to some great cut offs in the back half too. Even working in a limited capacity, Hero feels a lot more himself, and pretty head and shoulders above the rest of the field too.
The opposition is made up of Kevin Blackwood, who I’ve been hot and cold on in the past, and Titus Alexander who I’ve not seen too much from despite a lot of the hype he’s received. On this particular outing, Blackwood’s efforts feel praiseworthy. Nothing ever comes together as well as his Gresham matches from the year before, but there’s a lot about him here that feels improved. His kicks feel sharper than ever before, and I’m fond of his (and even Titus’) commitment to bumping and stooging in the early goings of this match. Titus didn’t leave as much of an impression, I’d describe the performance here as mostly inoffensive outside of some truly egregious worked punches.
KENTA is what he is in 2023. There’s a few good strikes in there, especially when he’s getting nudged and pushed by Blackwood and even Hero, but otherwise it’s not the same. He’s just sort of around, and he’ll hit his spots decently for the most part, but that explosive energy hasn’t really been there for years.
A little loose structurally in the back half when things start breaking down, but there’s enough solid stuff across the first half to make this work. Eagerly anticipating more Hero in 2024.