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Style Battle Season 1, Episode 2 recap & review: Tracer X wins despite incredible odds

Show is live with Trevin Adams and Mister Saint Laurent in the ring. They put the tournament over and mention our change in rules from a twenty count to ten on the outside and we get right into the action.

Dan Barry vs. Sami Callihan (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket B First Round Match)

The match opens with the nastiest handshake of all time, Sami with spit on his hand, Barry with pit stink on his. Dan does a bit of his "I need to teach you how to wrestle" schtick and baits Callihan into wrestling his match for a bit, all exchanges and counters.

Inevitably Sami remembers that he's really good at hitting people and clobbers Barry with a boot to take him outside for violence. Going around the ring for the running pump kick, Barry dives off the stage onto him! Callihan traps Dan in the apron, bicycle kick, he demands referee Frankie Gastineaux start counting but Barry has gas left in the tank.

Back outside, Sami with a wicked short chokeslam into a wall but again the detective beats the count! Back and forth, Dan creating openings and getting a superplex off. But now it's Barry that's baited into wrestling Callihan's match, slugging forearm for forearm, and he gets tight nearfall off a snap DDT!

Charging blows, Sleepytime Tea connects but Barry won't stay down! Boots to the jaw, Sami catches the third, forearm, Dan with a kick combo, half nelson driver... NOT ENOUGH! Barry up top for a moonsault, misses, ducks, lands a forearm, gets caught by the powerbomb, kicks out but Callihan is ready...

Sami Callihan wins by submission with the Stretch Muffler.

Awesome opener. Really felt like a clash of styles in action, with each guy getting suckered into working the other's match at points and Barry finding it in him to keep up with Callihan but unable to actually pull ahead.

Sami yells at Trevin for trying to interview him and says he's the favorite coming in and going out, and tonight, one after another, he'll win the whole deal.

Fred Yehi vs. Tracer X (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket B First Round Match)

Fred making full use of his grappling ability early, keeping the high flyer grounded and off-balance. Tracer's smart enough to duck the first stomp but Yehi catches him with the second, so the PWX regular refocuses and starts flying to try and pull ahead.

Trading chops, X goes for a springboard and Fred nukes him with a dropkick that sends him to the floor! Yehi in full control now, tossing Tracer around and dropping him to the mat with a single chop. X back in it with a huge turning crossbody but Fred has a stomp to the chest and a dropkick to keep him down.

Tracer keeps making openings and keeping himself in the match but Yehi is just a step ahead, at one point yanking him up by the arms clean into a release German suplex! Straight pumphandle suplex, Fred plays possum to yank him off the top, fisherman buster... NO GOOD!

Another German dumps Tracer right on his dome but he's fired up and charges in, tight exchanges, countering and dodging...

Tracer X over Fred Yehi by pinfall with a victory roll pin.

Well that's a shocking finish, for starters! Good match, to be sure. Grappler vs. flyer is a formula that always works really well for me.

Trevin goes to interview Tracer but Fred comes up and grabs the mic! He tells X he deserves it and he wishes him the absolute best of luck in the rest of the tournament.

Anthony Henry vs. Caleb Konley (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket A First Round Match)

Konley seems like he thinks better of trying to grapple with Henry initially but he soon gives in. Grappling gives way to close exchanges and pinfall attempts, a dropkick sends Henry outside to recoup and Konley takes charge for a bit. Henry makes room for himself with strikes and a wicked blockbuster.

Working on the leg now, dragon screw, basement dropkick, but Konley stays in it and is able to recover after a dive and starts throwing bombs. Fireman's carry Michinoku Driver gets a nearfall once, on the second Anthony reverses to an ankle lock and a bridging German suplex but neither are sufficient.

Slugging it out, strikes on the apron, back to the leg with a dragon screw through the ropes but Caleb guts it out and hits a DVD on the apron after! Double jump moonsault connects but can't finish Henry, powerbomb chased with a buckle bomb but Anthony is ready...

Anthony Henry wins by submission with a cloverleaf.

That was a fine match on "having a match" grounds, but I was kind of missing some sort of, well, Style Battle element, if you will. Like, not every match can have clearly defined roles, and both guys are sort of stylistically diverse, but... Maybe I'm overthinking it, but these review blurbs are always intentionally immediate reactions, and there it is.

Henry is interviewed and declares his intention to win the whole thing, as you do.

AR Fox vs. Drew Galloway (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket A First Round Match)

Fox trying to chop the big man down but Galloway is just a little too big for him until he can get off a springboard wheelbarrow bulldog. Drew heads outside, angry and throwing chairs, and AR runs up the ringpost for a moonsault! Looking for a shiranui, Galloway blocks but takes a superkick.

AR on the stage... GUILLOTINE LEG DROP ACROSS THE GAP TO THE APRON! Swanton gets a nearfall but Drew is back in it with a series of strikes including a pop-up Alarm Clock out of the corner. Just throwing AR around the ring now, belly-to-belly suplexes into a stump puller pin with a foot on the chest.

Galloway on the back foot as Fox strings together some offense, keeping him disoriented and sending him outside for the obligatory AR Fox over-the-ringpost tope con giro! Springboard neckbreaker drop gets two, he tries for Lo Mein Pain, Galloway catches him... BLACK HOLE SLAM OFF THE SECOND!

Looking for Future Shock, Fox blocks, tries for a DDT, gets thrown across the ring, Drew shrugs and climbs the ropes but AR crotches him in unfamiliar territory, Lo Mein Pain... NOT ENOUGH! Fox springboards, caught with a Tombstone...

Drew Galloway wins by pinfall with a SPINNING Future Shock DDT.

Really good David and Goliath matchup, and one that played completely into what I want out of a Style Battle match, in contrast to the last one. Like, Galloway could go full-speed against Fox any day, but what's the fun in that when he can play up the size advantage and really play with the nature of the tournament? Awesome stuff.

Trevin interviews Galloway about the sort of shape he's in, and he was just in the UK for 14 days and should have taken a few days off because he goes back tomorrow, but he had to be here. Who do you challenge when there's nobody on your level? Only one man knows, and that's him, and you need to challenge yourself.

He asks if anybody watches Evolve and discusses his crusade to erase Matt Riddle. To challenge himself, he decided he needed to branch out from Evolve, and he's gonna be everywhere in WWN, to set an example and be a leader. He also declares that he's coming for the WWN Championship.

Sami Callihan vs. Tracer X (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket B Semifinal Match)

Callihan just wiping X out with running boots, a release powerbomb, then when that doesn't kill him, he goes outide and throws Tracer into anything he can find, support beams and chairs alike. Trying for a powerbomb outside, X dodges one and counters the second into a Frankensteiner!

Kicks on kicks, dives on dives, we're implored to throw our X up and Tracer dives right into a powerbomb counter! Punishing crossface blows, he rides Tracer, traps his arms and comes down HARD on the back of his head with a forearm! Sami doubling down on the head, turning a side headlock takeover into a neck crank and just going to town.

X counters a chinlock into a sleeper to get some room, desperate forearms, kicks, diving lariat, but his comeback is stopped short when Callihan traps his leg in the ropes and knees his face off. Thumbs down, Tracer counters into the pumphandle suplex but it's no good.

Tracer laying chest kicks in but Sami hauls him up into an electric chair and dumps him face first across the top turnbuckle. German suplex, lands on his feet, boots on boots, superkick but all it takes is one lariat for Sami to come ahead, sitout powerbomb into the Stretch Muffler... X GETS THE ROPES!

Callihan going for it again, Tracer hangs onto the apron, uses it to trip Sami up...

Tracer X wins by pinfall with the slingshot reverse STO!

Another really good match. That apron spot at the end was particularly inspired.

Again, his defeated opponent interrupts the interview, but Sami is a dick and blindsides him, chokeslamming him into the wall and shoving referee DA Brewer to the floor! He leaves... and comes back for another chokeslam! And a fourth! Sami's mad and throwing chairs around, another chokeslam hits and he leaves after giving the thumbs down once again.

Anthony Henry vs. Drew Galloway (Style Battle S1E2 Bracket A Semifinal Match)

Henry strong out the gate, knowing his best chance is to end it early but you can't count Drew out that quickly. Indeed, after some leg kicks Galloway starts doing work, chopping and throwing and soon just chucking Anthony around like a sack of potatoes on the outside.

Anthony manages to kick Drew's head into the ringpost on the outside as Brewer counts...

Anthony Henry wins by countout.

Well, not much to talk about there, but with the change in count-out rules you knew it was coming sometime tonight. Would certainly have much rather had more match before we got there, though.

Drew spikes Henry with a short piledriver, a Future Shock DDT, another short piledriver, and he gets on the mic to ask what the hell is wrong with them, if it's a conspiracy against him and they're allergic to success? Nobody appreciates him, do they hope one day he'll snap and walk out? Do what you want, he'll be your martyr, but he's not going to break.

We then take a short intermission.

Style Battle FRAY!

Alan Angels and Tommy Maserati of WWA4 in first, Angels has an AWESOME Rainmaker-style cutter almost immediately. Connor Braxton, one of Seth Rollins' Black & Brave kids out third, he eliminates Tommy Maserati and declares himself to have the most eliminations. Eddie Machete fourth and he takes care of Alan.

Xander Killen fifth, then Ashton Starr throwing flipping strikes on everybody! But Braxton takes care of him relatively quickly and regains his pole position. Alex Taylor out next, then Austin Theory, who runs wild to the delight of the crowd. Jackson Kelly at nine, he claims to have swum in from Australia and carries a modified version of the flag where a boot is about to go in a butt.

Kelly then proceeds to, quite literally, kick everyone's butt before CT Brown comes in at ten. Machete eliminates Braxton, and Matt Palmer comes in as a few other eliminations go down. Snoop Strikes is number twelve, throwing kicks on everybody and nearly eliminating Austin Theory with a shiranui!

AC Mack is number thirteen as eliminations keep coming and we're down to four, Mack, Theory, Strikes, and Palmer. They pair off and brawl. Palmer eliminates Mack with a bridging German suplex, Theory eliminates Strikes with a cross-leg brainbuster on the knee!

Straight brainbuster on the knee gives Theory a nearfall, Palmer comes back at him with a DVD into the turnbuckle chained into a running brainbuster... NO GOOD! Matt up top, Austin meets him, gets headbutted down but charges in with a forearm and hooks him...

Austin Theory wins by pinfall, last eliminating Matt Palmer with an avalanche TKO.

I mean, it's simple math, staggered entry matches are always fun, this was very fun. Austin Theory is the truth.

Trevin has some unfortunate news about the finals, and introduces Tracer X, who walks out clutching his neck in agony. Trevin says Anthony Henry's in no condition to compete and congratulates him as Style Battle winner. X doesn't want it to go down that way and demands Henry, to which Anthony comes out and says if he's game, he'll fight.

Anthony Henry vs. Tracer X (Style Battle S1E2 Final Match)

Both men are hurting here, playing it relatively nice to start, sticking to mat grappling but not afraid to go after their injured neck and head areas. Henry with an awesome butterfly lift right into a cross armbar but X has the ropes and Anthony looks to turn the intensity up with strikes.

Dragon screw neck whip from Tracer sends Henry outside and he follows it up with a dive into the front row! Diving lariat connects, TKO follows but Anthony ain't done yet for either. Forearm for forearm, each strike takes a summoning of the willpower, and Henry goes back to the arm, kicking it out from under him.

Backdrop Driver connects Dr. Death style, just dumps X right on the crown of his head! Henry goes for the cloverleaf, small package reversal, Tracer heads to the apron but gets caught before he goes over the ropes and Anthony locks a figure four on in the middle of the ring.

X rolls over and reverses it and forces it into the ropes for the break. Tracer snaps off a Frankensteiner, tornado DDT, heads to the apron, springboard into a superkick! FOLDING POWERBOMB! TRACER X LIVES! Henry calls for the end and goes for the cloverleaf but X won't let him turn it over.

Kick to the chest, back to forearms, roundhouse ducked, enzuigiri connects, Tracer off the ropes, eats one in return! Stereo roundhouse kicks lay both men out! Pumphandle suplex takes Anthony into the turnbuckles this time! Tracer up top, Henry dodges the 450, catches him with a kick, German suplex off the ropes, brainbuster... NOT ENOUGH!

X rolls to the apron and Henry paces, trying to figure out what he can do to put him away. Elbow strike, rolling elbow, Tracer wobbles but he's hanging on, a third elbow invites return fire, Henry fires up but X snaps his neck over the top rope! Springboard reverse STO... NOT ENOUGH! Tracer up top...

Tracer X wins by pinfall with a 450 splash, winning Style Battle Season 1, Episode 2.

Awesome match. I love it when it feels like dudes are digging deep and really trying hard to win, and that was on excellent display here. Anthony Henry, in particular, desperately switching body parts and tactics to try and put Tracer away really hit my sweet spot.

Trevin gives Tracer the mic and he says it's an honor and he respects the hell out of Anthony Henry. He thanks him and offers a handshake, reciprocated after a moment's hesitation.


So, not a perfect show-- the stereo beatdowns to put the finals in doubt were a bit too cute, and while I'm generally not a crowd reaction guy, it was only this Orpheum crowd's absolute ability to will themselves back into the action that kept Fred Yehi's loss from casting a shadow over the whole rest of the show.

But there was a lot of really enjoyable action on display here. In fact, all the matches besides Henry/Galloway were at least good, and Callihan/Barry, Fox/Galloway, and X/Henry were all great. Check it out when it goes up on VOD on FloSlam, if it isn't already up by the time you read this thanks to their usually excellent turnaround time.

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