It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, it’s Voices of Wrestling Secret Santa time again, everyone. The brainchild of JR Goldberg (@wrestlingbubble), VOW Secret Santa sees all participating website contributors give their fellow contributors, the greatest gift of all: wrestling matches!

VOW Secret Santa Archives:

AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels vs Latin American Xchange
September 24, 2006

Reviewed by Neil David (@chubby_cthulhu)

Gifted by Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno)

It’s strange how the ‘spot fest’ has become such a derogatory term, because putting together a good one is really hard.  There’s usually a whirlwind of extraneous nonsense to deal with – extra bodies, ladders, a massive X across the ring – and building a crescendo of cool shit is a real challenge.  I watched this match twice, and I can’t decide if they achieved that coveted cool spot fest.

If anyone could rise to the challenge, it was AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.  They’re two wrestlers that come with an ambiance to them.  If their names are in a match, there’s an immediate level of interest.  That interest is consolidated by the brilliant badassery of LAX.  There’s a difficult reality to them that overcomes a lot of boring workrate shortfalls; a meanness that is impossible to manufacture.

Pedigree and badass walks do not make a good spot fest alone, however, and this was a mixed bag. For every cool spot, there was a devastating trope.  While AJ’s Styles Clash through a table was brutal, Hernandez slowly waiting his turn to challenge Daniels was a plod.  Daniels leaping from the corner to the X was cool, but the revolving fourth man inexplicably incapacitated on the outside was all too obvious.

To be fair, there was a recognition of the bizarre structure that these matches create and all wrestlers infused it into their work.  Daniels would play defense while Styles went for the belts, and Homicide made an early dart for the win.

In an ironic twist, however, my favorite moment of this match was perhaps an example from the bad column.  Hernadez leapt up to grab the cable, but didn’t move.  He just dangled from the X like he was considering the perfect verbiage for a devastating haiku.  Time stood still while he waited for AJ Styles to deliver the forearm that brought him crashing down.  His face was a brilliant mix of deep thought and physical discomfort and it was impossible not to be drawn in.

This wasn’t a bad match, and I know it’s well-considered, but it just isn’t my style.  At twenty minutes, it’s worth a punt.