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Austin Tyler vs Max Ryder, Match 596 (UCW)

In his first singles ring match, Max shows unexpected drive and resourcefulness in combating the more experienced Austin. For most of the match, Tyler, the usually cool indy pro, finds himself having to hustle more than expected just to come up for air, much less maintain a lead - and then by only a hair. The pairing of the two UCW favorites results in more give and take than I and probably Austin anticipated. The meanness of the battle - by no means a rarity at UCW - is still something of a surprise, given that Max and Austin are considerably less maniacal than other standouts on the company's roster. The spleen here is cooler, thus crueler than what we usually get from fierier heels.

Right off the bat, Max escapes and reverses Austin's holds with impressive speed and self-assurance. Ryder's competitiveness and combat instincts have been unmistakably strong in his last two or three videos. (The same is true of Erik the Viking, who has been around longer but only as of late has he wowed me with his kickassability.) Tyler realizes he's going to have to hunker down to beat Ryder, and that's when things get interesting. When Austin retaliates, he does it with speed and style. Max is a more physical presence, and he often relies on his weight and body mass in a fight. By contrast, Austin is a high-level technician, but technique proves insufficient to finish Ryder the way Tyler would like to finish him - and only as the battle gets nastier does one man nudge into a noticeable lead.

Beginning around the 07:00 mark, Ryder shows an affinity for working the ropes. That's unexpected of somebody I usually associate with the mat room. For reasons of his own, Tyler chooses to keep the fight in the center of the ring as much as possible. However, as frustration sets in - especially after a line of merciless assaults Ryder stages - Tyler demonstrates the murderous potential of weaponized ropes. Max responds quickly and in kind, a quick learner and a bold one. The last half of the 29-minute ordeal is desperate, exhausting, and wicked as hell - most of it transpiring back away from the ropes. But wait for the climax, when the ropes are used with dazzling effectiveness as one guy wipes the other guy clean out.


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