If you are in any way unsure about the meaning of anything in a Styles-Make-Fights Stat Block, please check out the SMF Tutorial for a full explanation of everything SMF, then please come back for this installment!
CM Punk vs Wardlow
CM Punk has been angling for a shot at Max Friedman for several weeks now, but Maxwell has been ducking him. In his go-to move, he now insists Punk has to fight his way through his imposing bodyguard first. Below are each man's stats in their matches thus far:
CM Punk has an amazingly balanced approach, using a moderately high volume of every type of offense, except fouls. Whereas Wardlow has a very focused style concentrated on grapple moves, intimidation, and knockdown striking.
When Friedman has used Wardlow as a firewall against top-level competitors he has wanted to duck in the past, the strategy has consistently failed, (for example against Cody Rhodes in AEW's first cage match, or as the last of the Labours of Jericho). Can we expect the same tomorrow night? Below, compare Wardlow's stats in winning matches against his rare losses.
The biggest difference is the match length. Wardlow's losses are over three times as long as his wins, on average. Also, against the tough competition that was able to defeat the powerful bodyguard, Wardlow uses more volume striking and gets less strikedowns. He uses far more fouls and (oddly) significantly less counters.
The really is interesting thing is that, even in his losses, Wardlow dominates on offense. Those who have beat him have either consciously rope a doped him, or possibly had no other choice but to use their tenacity to hold on under his barrage until he was in the deeper water and they were able to take advantage of their cardio advantage over their densely-muscled opponent. However, the one occasion since his return that Punk has taken on a significantly larger man, against the "Powerhouse" Will Hobbs, he notably did NOT use rope a dope, instead staying with Hobbs offense for offense:
Will Punk try to do the same with Wardlow? Will this be to his advantage or be his downfall? Or will the outcome be determined by outside interference by Wardlow's boss Friedman or "accountabili-buddy" Shawn Spears?
Dante Martin vs Will Hobbs
Speaking of Hobbs, he also has a big match tomorrow night, a rematch against the super rookie who's been a thorn in Team Taz's side with feigned alliance and betrayal: the gravity-defying Dante Martin.
Although they are extremely different competitors, other than Dante obviously flying a lot more, you might not see it in their offense style:
Hobbs uses a lot of unorthodox offense, while Dante uses very little. Hobbs's technical game is focused on submission holds, while Dante's is based on counter-wrestling. But besides that, their offense mix is surprisingly similar. Both use a lot of grapple moves such as throws, suplexes, and drivers. And both use a lot of knockdown strikes, they just achieve them in different ways: Hobbs with power, and Dante with momentum.
However, this is less true when they've faced each other in the past:
Hobbs's mix of offense was very close to his typical match, whereas Dante completely dropped grapple moves from his repertoire. JR often says it's very hard to beat the same man twice in a row. The man going into a rematch to revenge an L knows what he did wrong and is motivated to prove what could have been. The man who won the first match has a tough time not becoming complacent. On top of that, Dante's been developing as a wrestler so fast since he last faced Hobbs back in October.
Below is a comparison of Dante's mix of offense through the first encounter with Hobbs, and since:
He's changed up a lot, improving his counters and cutting back on grapple moves.
Can Hobbs power past the rematch jinx or will Dante even things up, setting them up for a rubber match? We'll find out tomorrow night!