Thursday, October 20, 2016
Hans Schmidt vs Verne Gagne, 10 October 1952 (Chicago Wrestling)
Schmidt and Gagne are two gods of golden-era wrestling on opposite sides of the villain / hero divide. This is but one of many battles these two fought against each other over the years, and in this 33-minute fight, not one minute goes by that these two tough nuts don't make me believe I'm watching something real. Between the two of them, they accrued almost sixty years of in-ring experience: 27 years for Schmidt, 32 for Gagne. Those were the days when giants walked the earth.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Damien Rush vs Ty Alexander and Drake Marcos, Three-way Thrash 4 (BG East)
Classic BGE-style two-on-one matches here. In the main event, boy-toys Ty and Drake take on hairy-chested muscle lout Damien, and the results are predictable, but never dull. The boys, especially Drake, look plum miserable throughout. In recent matches, Damien has enhanced his tough-daddy gimmick, building muscle and doubling the punishing holds for crushing, stretching, and wringing out his easily quashed opponents. The spotted trunks and bare feet add a layer of jungle-lord machismo that I particularly approve of.
The video begins in the middle of a match between Drake and Ty. We see just enough of the match to see both wrestlers taking a turn tormenting the other guy. Then Damien barges in claiming the ring as his own. Ty verbally resists and gets his throat smashed to the top rope for his trouble. Drake scuttles away on all fours, or tries to, but Damien heaves him up in a spine-popping bear hug.
It's not enough, though, for Damien to vanquish the pair. At this point they are flat on the mat, moaning in pain, but Damien pulls Ty back up, only to slam him back down, harder than before. "You think you make the rules?" Damien barks out. "I make the rules!" Next, he goes to work on Drake's leg, pulling it up and back to as close to a right angle as he can and twisting the ankle. Then he pulls Ty in, punishing both guys at once.
Damien's rampage escalates, and the heel assaults them in tandem, positioning them in sexually suggestive postures as pantomimed mockery. Resistance is futile, of course. It's a total, absolute squash. Ty and Drake are barely conscious of anything but their unrelieved agony. They are in no shape to mount a defense. The muscular bully makes mincemeat of them.
Except for the brief prologue, there is no wrestling. I prefer wrestling (and most variations), with two sides (or more), particularly with closely matched opponents. Punishment for its own sake is not my thing. It can definitely be a factor in wrestling, like salt in food, but I don't care for a meal of only salt. I wish Ty and Drake had joined forces against Damien for even, let's say, a third of the match, even if ultimately unsuccessful, but I bet there's a huge audience for this product exactly as it is.
(Here's Alex's take on the match at The Cave. It came out yesterday.)
Jonny Firestorm vs Guido Genatto vs Brute Baynard, Three-way Thrash 4 (BG East)
The opening match of TwT4 is more what I think of as a three-way. I realize the three-way can also be imagined as two-on-one or (as in the match described above) one-on-two, but the one-against-all configuration, with temporary alliances as needed, is what springs to my mind. If not equal in size, Jonny, Guido, and Brute are equivalently tough, resourceful, and brutal, and the combination of talents is as combustible as it should be.
In the beginning, all three men are in the ring. Jonny mouths off about being able to kick both his opponents' asses. Brute and Guido (the names alone should convince Jonny to back off a little) don't like the tone of his voice and say so in no uncertain terms. Jonny responds by grabbing Brute's arm and twisting it behind his back, a sneak attack that registers as a zero on Brute's untroubled face. Guido chuckles. "What do you say you and me have some fun?" Brute suggests, and an alliance is formed.
It's fun seeing Jonny as the innocent here. Guido and Brute give him a class-A drubbing, tossing him back and forth, so each gets a crack at him. But when Jonny dropkicks the two of them, the momentum is reversed. Guido tumbles out of the ring, leaving Jonny and Brute to battle one on one, with Jonny more than capable in manhandling the muscle-head mano a mano. This is all good till Guido reenters the ring. Jonny has Brute in a headscissors when Guido snaps his head into a scissorhold too, creating, in Guido's words a "three-way fuck centipede." Released, Brute works Jonny's leg while Guido continues crushing the head.
Next, Brute and Guido all but draw and quarter poor Jonny, but once again the resilient Firestorm gains an upper hand, this time paying both heels back in turn. As expected, this turnabout cannot last indefinitely, but then neither can the alliance between the two strongmen, which ends when Brute sneak-attacks Guido. By this point, the match is already a fine sweaty display of raw aggression and fluctuating strategy, with more yet to come. After a while, I gave up trying to predict which wrestler would be left standing at the end. All three wrestlers are capable, and not until the final seconds is victory assured for any one of them. Strength, size, resilience, knowhow, luck, duplicity, and timing are all determining factors in the outcome.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Cedric Alexander vs Chet Sterling, Episode 70, 14 September 2016 (CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Wrestling)
I'm aware that Cedric turned heel last year, but until this match, I had not seen the new brutal and arrogant Cedric. His opponent Chet is no stranger to the ways of heelery, so the fight is as sweaty and dirty as I could hope for, with Cedric carrying most of the show. His 5'10", 200# body is more tautly muscled than ever. His summer job at WWE obviously did him a world of good. Now that he's on board with WWE's venture into cruiserweight wrestling, he's not above returning to his home turf to bust up Sterling's 6'1", 195# body ... practicing the raw mega-drama we North Carolina folk expect to see in the squared circle. True to form, the contest delivers multiple rock-em-sock-em toe-to-toe clashes leading to a true Southern favorite: a climactic (if sometimes sloppy) showdown between strong-willed fighters, exhausted and working on instinct alone, hanging on to each other just to stay on their feet, taking the battle to the limit.