Chase Michaels vs Axel, #490 (UCW)
Chase goes rogue and Axel has to up his game to meet the challenge in UCW's latest release, a championship match and a significant character arc for both competitors. This match is everything for me because it veers from the cute and funny matches UCW has lately produced back towards the hard-edge, joint-popping mayhem that once was the company's bread and butter. This is the old working-class wrestling that first won me as a fan. I can't remember the last time Axel had this tough a fight, perhaps never--the guy has grit, resilience, and a savage core that takes even a forever fan like me by surprise. The other big news, of course, is that new fan favorite Chase has turned heel. Ambition overthrows good sense and sportsmanship as he decides that no assault is too vicious and no tactic too low so long as it gets him what he wants. What he wants now is to destroy Axel, and Axel must tough up to survive and counter the onslaught of illegal moves (or they would be illegal anywhere else but UCW) and needlessly cruel and reckless blows that Chase brings to the mat. To say more would jeopardize the many surprise turns that this mesmerizing battle takes as two physical equals, comparable in balls and determination, collide. Wow oh wow oh wow!