All Continental Classic 2023 reviews linked here.

Definitely get the vibe that they left a lot on the table here. With the raucous atmosphere in the crowd, there was a real sense of importance to this first time clash. That being said, despite the heated atmosphere, this took a real long while to really get going. 

They went for something that tried to build steadily, but I think it lacked the necessary spikes in energy to ever get anywhere near the kind of potential this demonstrated. Some of that signature Swerve offense I don’t care for finds its way in here, but that’s actually mostly out of the way early on. A much bigger problem is that I don’t think he’s quite there yet with how to put together a match that centers on him as a traditional babyface. The transitions into Swerve’s comebacks did at times feel clever (I’m think especially of trapping Mox’s legs in the turnbuckles), but never explosive enough. It’s a similar problem that Garcia had in his early tournament matches, where the energy of momentum shifts led to a match that felt more linear instead of one that violently shifted from one side to the other. 

That leads to another problem in that the match feels predicated on Mox feeling desperate enough to take an underhanded shortcut against Swerve to win, and I never really got the sense that he was in that much danger as to warrant it.

Mox himself isn’t entirely innocent in this end product either. His control leaned a little too far towards grounded arm work, and likely needed a little more violence to spice things up. It’s especially rough given how little the arm work ended up contributing overall in the finishing run of this. If Swerve was going to be the defacto babyface in this scenario–as the crowd clearly wanted him to be–Mox would have been better served with a much more aggressive approach. 

There’s reason to be hopeful though. I continue to enjoy Swerve’s much more grounded moments in matches, and his moment to moment selling really works for stuff like arm work. It’s just a little bit more consistency through the match that I’m seeking, but it didn’t really end up mattering in this case anyway. Things do also pick up in the very last few moments. Swerve’s stomp to a seated Mox on the outside was nice, and there’s good stories to be told from Mox having to cheat his way to the victory here. 

Felt like a rough pilot to a rivalry, hoping for better when they come back around to it.

Rating: ***1/4

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