The Night Trashy Tim Tapped

OH! THAT-CHERRR IS GARRRRBAGE!
OH! THAT-CHERRR IS GARRRRBAGE!

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As the Evolve Champion, Timothy Thatcher was the purest villain in professional wrestling. And because of what pro wrestling has become, the crowd gave him the exact reaction that a heel should want: abject and sincere hatred. And it freaks some people out.

Some have told me they’re surprised about how much the Evolve crowd hated Thatcher. Getting boos is one thing, but the unanimous lack of respect inspired by this muscular Californian demonstrates that he works on another level. Sure, he got elevated to the title soon after he joined Evolve and held the title for longer than some might like, but there’s more happening here.

We live in a time of mixed heat, where fans appreciate Brock Lesnar’s freak physique, abiding mystery and overall singularity. Kevin Owens gets applause for his time spent on the independent circuit, his cool moveset and mastery of the microphone. Even when Seth Rollins is a heel, fans are in awe over his flippy shit.

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Even the independent scene is filled with Cool Bad Guys. On paper, the Young Bucks, Adam Cole, and Cody (all members of The We’re So Cool Bullet Club) are baddies. Yet none of them get treated as the villains by anyone, even in Japan, the land of fans supposedly rooting and booing by the numbers. They get the chants of “Too Sweet!” Fans want to do the Wolfpac Salute (also called the “Too Sweet!”) with them. Their superkicks cause riots. And unless they’re booked to be the good guys, it makes for really messy stories, or a lack thereof.

In a way, Thatcher works above all of those prominent wrestlers because he does nothing exciting. He only provides a convincingly brutal but incredibly dry in-ring style, to a point where I can’t say more than that.

Thatcher doesn’t do social media or meet & greet merch sales either. His character, if you could call it that, is in absentia.


Thatcher gives the Evolve audience so little (beyond his straightforward, no-frills, no-fun, almost San Antonio Spurs-ian style of wrestling), that I can’t help but over-analyze what he does offer.

His only accoutrement, until recently at least, was the phrase Ring Kampf on his gear. Kampf loosely translates to Fight, but since Ring Fight doesn’t really say much, the gear provides more obfuscation of his character.

Someone looking to make conclusions where they are not might remember that Kampf is one of the two words in the title of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, so that might mean something. It doesn’t, or at least not like that. Ring Kampf is a faction of a bunch of German wrestlers plus Thatcher, and they all have a look reminiscent of … yeah.

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So because Thatcher’s style is so minimalist, in an era where fans are used to heels with more characteristics, Evolve turned up the heat by pairing him with Stokely Hathaway. Hathaway, who needed a new client after he managed the now-reviled TJ Perkins until TJP made it to the WWE main roster.

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Perkins, by the way, is a clear example of how a character will fail if they straddle the line between hero and villain sloppily. Sure, he does flippy moves, loves video games, and fights bullies, but he’s smug and egotistic. Further, some hate him for his history of tweeting Men’s Rights Activist ideologies.

Hathaway, though, adds delusions of grandeur to the screen when Thatcher appears. We know to boo the daylights out of Stokely, but we also respect his facial expressions and his ability on the microphone. During his time with Thatcher, he kept bringing up his client’s epic reign, which was 596 days-long when Evolve 79 began. It didn’t see day 597.


Thatcher went into the weekend of Evolve 78 & 79 (Feb. 24 & 25) with two scheduled title defenses: Fred Yehi at 78 at Joppa, MD, and Zack Sabre Jr. at 79 at Queens, NY. But unfortunately, the former was already doomed.

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Evolve pre-announced that Evolve 79 would feature a match where the loser of Thatcher / Yehi would fight in a Four-Way Freestyle match featuring Chris Dickinson, Anthony Henry, and Austin Theory.

While he’s one half of the Evolve Tag Team Champions, Yehi made so much sense for this match, especially with his experience fighting some of those guys in other promotions. Further, Thatcher just sounded wrong for a match comprised of guys so farther down on the card than he, the Evolve champion.

Yehi’s loss didn’t suggest Sabre Jr. would win, but it was frustrating. Yehi, who is introduced as “angry, pissed off, and short” is amazing in the ring, mixing submissions, unexpected strikes and a manic energy together. Watching his match and being sure he had no chance was unengaging. Dude could also benefit more from a title win than Zack Sabre Jr., as the Brit is one of the most-well-known independent wrestlers today.

Not only is Zack Sabre Jr. the Pro Wrestling Guerilla champ, but his notoriety rose with the WWE Cruiserweight Classic last summer. He went in as an established name, and one of the few at that, and left with more fame than before.


But while Thatcher / Zack Sabre Jr. is a big match because of ZSJ’s star power, I went in expecting him to lose. Death, Taxes and Tim Thatcher’s reign, I thought, were sacrosanct. Wouldn’t you want Thatcher’s reign to end at an Evolve event during the big, upcoming WrestleMania weekend series of shows?

So, you know the quoted chant that I led this piece with? That chant, which might have been made by the fans on the spot, was sung in the key of “Oh, Zack Sabre Juuuuunior!” And of course, that’s sung in the style of The White Stripes song “Seven Nation Army,” an insanely popular song in sports arenas across the world and in ZSJ’s home country.

That chant spun out of the standard “That! cher’s! Garbage!” chant that follows Tim everywhere. Is the chant what spawned the nickname name Trashy Tim, or was it the other way around? Is calling Thatcher garbage a derision of his plainness, or a sign of respect for how pure his villainy is? I like to hope it’s the latter. That in a time where too many blur the lines, Thatcher is the one true evil.


That might not be it, though. Thatcher as the dry, dominant champ doesn’t always work, though. When I saw him in person for the first time, defending his title against Drew Gulak at Evolve 67, the crowd sort of died around him.

Maybe the gymnasium they were performing in was too muggy, as we were all drenched with our own salty sweat. Knife-edge chops against chests resulted in mid-air splashes.

Maybe the crowd was too wiped from one hell of a show, which included a great matches such as Tommy End vs Matt Riddle, Chris Hero vs Cody, and Cedric Alexander vs Zack Sabre Jr..

No matter why that match fell apart (maybe Gulak and Thatcher are too similar in their grappling style) maybe experiences like it created the hate from the fans. Creating the sense that Thatcher is bland and that bland isn’t worth it.


Fortunately, Sabre Jr. and Thatcher built and delivered a solid match for the crowd at Evolve 79 in La Boom and those watching at home. The match blended speedy and powerful strikes with signature submissions just right, and the crowd took to it. The tension of Thatcher retaining sparked the fire of that chant, which the crowd volleyed back and forth with its inspirer:

OH! THAT-CHERRR IS GARRRRBAGE!
OH! ZACK-SABERR JUUUU-NNNIOR!
OH! THAT-CHERRR IS GARRRRBAGE!
OH! ZACK-SABERR JUUUU-NNNIOR!
OH! THAT-CHERRR IS GARRRRBAGE!
OH! ZACK-SABERR JUUUU-NNNIOR!

The chants filled the room and took the moment to another level. Almost to that point of John Cena vs CM Punk at Money in the Bank 2011. Not that high up, but close.

And then when Thatcher eventually tapped out to Sabre Jr.’s laboriously-long-titled submission (Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness), I didn’t buy it.

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I kept asking the people around me how it would be reversed. But Thatcher tapped, his time was over.

The crowd was apoplectic when Thatcher tapped out. Not just because this was something they wanted and may not have expected, but because Stokely Hathaway was having a nervous breakdown in the aftermath. Stokely clutched the title tight, and tried to refuse Thatcher taking it from him, to give to Sabre Jr.

The moment was pure delirium for more than just the crowd and the end of Tim’s reign. I was over-the-moon happy for ZSJ on a personal level. Repeated encounters I’d had with the guy left a very positive impression upon me, but he grew even higher in my opinion by taking a humane political stance.

In the aftermath of Shitbird President Trump’s xenophobic executive order against immigrants, Sabre Jr. released a shirt for sale that reads “This Wrestler Armbars Facists”) and gave all of his proceeds ($2,400 as of March 1) to the ACLU. I bought one immediately, and felt an even stronger bond with the Brit.

After winning the title, Sabre Jr. took the mic and declared (somewhat randomly) that pro wrestling should be a place for everyone. It was of course a good thing to say and a nice high-note to end the night on, but it took our focus away from the title change from Thatcher to ZSJ. Also, the placement of that line, between the finish and the setup for future matches with other wrestlers, took away.

As trashy as Timothy Thatcher may be, he’s no bigot, and neither is anyone in Evolve, so it rang a little oddly, ricocheting off the walls at zany angles, not raising the room to a higher plateau. The fervor of the room stayed at this level, though. That was the boiling energy of the end of Thatcher as champ. That the people would no longer be cursed by his plainness.


What Evolve does next with Thatcher is unclear, but it certainly ended on a fantastic moment. The title change also sets up a big-time main event for WrestleMania weekend, with ZSJ going up against fellow fan-favorite ACH. It’s also an interesting friend vs. friend match, as the end of Evolve 77 showed the bond between them and Chris Hero, who addressed ACH as “Albert.”

ZSJ also plans to fight in New Japan this year, which makes him an even more valuable champ for Evolve. He can bring the title to the east and give Evolve that prestige by successfully defending it there.

And as much as I will gripe that it shoulda been Yehi, he didn’t leave La Boom empty handed, but with a feud against the white-hot Matthew Riddle. A feud that could lead to Yehi being back in contention for the Evolve title.

A Yehi win would have also been explosive, but that’s the great thing about a truly detestable villain: you don’t always need the right hero to topple them.

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