Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mikey Nicholls










Jago left this comment yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning:
Just wanted to come back and point out--since Haste was getting all the love--that the Nicholls guy is pretty danged hot too. He has that sort of bully build I like in my jobbers--like Roderick Strong!
Damn right, Jago. Nicholls' combination of power gut and iron thighs epitomizes the "bully build," though I think Mikey is pretty far past being a jobber here. So to reward Jago for saying something I like, I pass this February 2014 match on to you. This is Mikey (6'1", 227#) versus Chilean grappler Xtra Large (6'1", 231#) at Pro Wrestling NOAH in Tokyo. It's not Mikey's toughest fight, but it does demonstrate the guy's winsome ring presence: bold, cocky, bullish, rough, droll.

Nicholls and XL are similar in height and weight, but proportioned very differently, creating a sense (to my eyes) that Mikey is the much bigger man, though four pounds lighter. (Of course, pro-wrestling stats are always iffy.) I'm not sure why a round, firm belly stacked between steel-belted shoulders and tree-trunk thighs works for me, but it does. I like the way XL bounces off of it with his suicide corkscrew shooting star press at the 4:47 mark.

For me the best moments are Nicholls in full-on gorilla mode: the nostril stretch at 6:33 and the drop-em-dead midair punch at 8:53, just two examples. The match offers some satisfying corner beatdowns too, though I would like to see them three or four times longer. In sum, Nicholls' hotness owes in equal parts to his golden-era-catch physique and his easy way with the crowd (and the camera). That said, I can't see the Shane Haste love dying out at my house anytime soon either.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Notes on a Classic: Z-Man versus Big Sexy in Thunders Arena's Mat Rats 14




I have seen only about half of Big Sexy's videos at Thunders Arena. That's partly my fault for (1) not pursuing a career that pays better and (2) having other interests that also tap my billfold. But I have seen his 2008 Arena debut, Mat Rats 14, in a match against Zman (whose name I persist in spelling Z-Man for no reason that I know of). It's the first of six major run-ins these two have had with each other over the years. I acquired the DVD some time ago and watched it new maybe two or three times. Having not watched it in over two years, I watched it again after blogging about Sexy's most recent battle last Wednesday.

Against a black backdrop, Z-Man opens with a tirade against the upstart, with that perpetual grin on his face that used to bother me. (It still does, but I now accept it as part of the bargain of loving the man and, besides, he doesn't do it so much anymore.) Mocking the newcomer's name, Z says, "Come on. I am the guru, the epitome of sexy." He makes the usual claims of territoriality ("This is Z-man's house!"), accompanied by some very pretty muscle flexing. Then, the image of Z-Man on the screen is replaced by that of a shaggy maned youngster with a Klingon beard and a sunburst-yellow singlet, his eyes twinkling like Christmas.* Sexy flings back the insults, already full of the arrogance and easygoing self-assurance that still defines his character, and touts his considerable assets with appropriate hyperbole ("the best looking thing that ever walked the earth").

Then, the match. Well, almost. Not quite. Not yet. Z-Man again talks to the camera, informing us that he has been waiting all day for his opponent to show up. (This underground wrestling cliche is delivered with such glib simplicity that it brings a smile to my face.) Big Sexy ends the long wait and literally grabs the camera as he makes his entrance, filling the screen with his mug. He complains that Z-Man looks like a little girl. Outraged (but still smiling, of course), Z-Man rails against the punk's tattoos, earrings, and facial hair. Sexy affects a stagey yawn in response, saying, in a flat voice, "Shut up." The big talk continues, however, Z-Man promising to tattoo his own name on Sexy's body after he's done beating him up ("Personal Property of the Zman"). When Sexy tells him to do what he likes only not to touch his face, Z slaps him across the mouth.

Now, at last, we're cooking! Big Sexy lifts Z-Man off the mat by his neck and then casts him down to the mat. "Don't you ever touch my face again, you miscreant!" Then, as if he hasn't sounded Shakespearean enough, Sexy delivers an aside to the audience: "That's what happens when you touch my face. You wake up the beast, you'll get punished." Sexy then takes Z down with a body slam, locks the little girl's head under one arm while pummeling the small of his back with his free hand. He then lifts him off the mat in an inside cradle hold, for yet another slam, thus establishing that Sexy knows his way around some wrestling holds. And, forsooth, that's not all! Sexy makes up for all the time wasted on banter and puts Z-Man through the ringer, collegiate wrestling style.

Big Sexy's introduction is as solid as they come. He can do the big talk, all right, with wit, charm, and a touch of menace, but the biggest thing about Sexy is his wrestling chops. I like a pretty poser as much as the next guy. If a guy looks like he wrestles (or just says he does), he has found a key to my heart (or some other, more readily available body part). But what really knocks my socks off, gents, is a guy who demonstrates his knowledge of grappling--catch, college, Greco-Roman, hard style, whatever--a guy who's more than a bodybuilder looking to make some quick coin for the weekend by striking poses, wriggling, and blowing smoke for a horde of salivating gay guys like me.

At last, Big Sexy works up a sweat and peels down the top of his singlet, giving us all an eye full**. "This guy can't even do shit," he confides to the camera after turning Z-Man all but inside out. "He's my little toy, my little puppet. Put him on my hand, make him do what I want." Having been beat up once, Z-Man tempts fate by slapping Sexy across the face again. It's like he's practically begging for another drubbing. And he gets it. Every time Z gets the upper hand, it's obvious that Sexy is letting him, probably for no other reason than to give the pretty boy enough rope to hang himself. Finally, in an act of desperation, Z-Man attacks him from behind, using Sexy's discarded singlet as a garrote. It's a cowardly act, using a foreign object as a weapon, but it may succeed in turning the match around into the one-sided rookie beatdown we expect in a debut match.

By now both wrestlers are shiny with sweat, and the action intensifies as fatigue and tempers equalize the two wrestlers. For the last half of the match, it looks like either one could walk away victorious. Has Z-Man succeeded in turning the tide against the hot-to-trot new guy? Will he succeed at putting the new guy in his place? Or is Big Sexy, the avowed puppet-master, setting Z up for a big and painful surprise? All I'm saying here is that the fight ends hard, with one man knocked clean the fuck out and the other one wiping his sweat off on the loser. It doesn't get more decisive than that.

* Sexy is adorable here, but I much prefer his latest look (crewcut and full beard and miles of cut muscle). Back then he looked like a fetching combination of Shaggy, Fred, and Scooby-Doo. Today he looks like a Tom of Finland cum shot.

** Let me reiterate how comfortable Big Sexy is with his gay and bi fans. He may be straight, but, unlike many others in the underground wrestling scene, he has never pretended ignorance about (or, worse, been repulsed by) our eroticized fantasies about him and his matches. Over the years he has become a long-distance friend, sharing key life events from time to time, thanks to the Internet and email. When I told him that an online buddy and I use him in some of our fantasy matches, he said he was flattered, only hoping that we let him win sometimes. On video, he avoids using homophobic slurs against his opponents or fans. With no sign of discomfort, he often praises the physiques of fellow wrestlers as "attractive." (See my 2011 postings "Phone Sex" and "Good Times" for more on this subject.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink Trunks










Mikey Hanlon banks on the magic of the pink trunks for this 26-minute rematch with Kevin Harris. It's hard not to miss the translucent white trunks he filled to bursting in the first match, a certifiable NHB-Battle classic that's available now, like this sequel, at Movimus. For the larger part of their first showdown, Kevin surprisingly dominated the more experienced Hanlon. The question is whether Mikey, who packed on two or three extra pounds of muscle in the interim, can get the job done right this time. 

Well matched in ability and determination, Harris and Hanlon differ starkly in combat style and physique. Six-foot-one Kevin has the face of a Byzantine saint, and five-foot-nine Kevin looks like a Roman satyr. Of the two, Kevin is the more focused and centered, Mikey, the more freewheeling and reckless. As in their first matchup Mikey relies on his speed and well-stocked arsenal of collegiate wrestling holds and muay Thai moves, and Kevin, on his strength and viselike clutch. But as binding as Kevin's holds are, in the time between the two matches (taped in 2010 and 2011) Mikey has apparently acquired escape skills worthy of a Houdini.

Kevin Harris opens with a side headlock that basically is a policeman's wheel clamp attached to Mikey's skull. Kevin is justifiably proud of his perfection of this classic hold, more paralyzing under his biceps than for most wrestlers. Nevertheless, Hanlon succeeds in tripping and toppling his assailant and worming his way loose, bringing the two back to a standing faceoff. The wrenching headlock that submitted Mikey in their first match is not quite as productive in the second. Not only that, but Mikey has developed quite a clutch of his own, climbing his statuesque opponent and clamping his full body weight to the man's shoulder. When Kevin casts him off, Mikey lands catlike on his feet, and the fight continues uninterrupted.  Fourteen minutes into the bout, Mikey submits Kevin in ... you guessed it ... a headlock, a surprising reversal.

But ...

Three minutes later Kevin evens the score with an inescapable headscissors hold, with an added wrenching motion that forces Mikey to tap out. With a 1-1 tie, the last five minutes of this battle packs as much intensity as all the previous minutes combined. As I have noted before, I typically favor the ends of matches anyway, the exhausted bodies, the desperate sallies, the spent, impassive faces, the frictionless sweat. For 300 stretched seconds, both these guys are in full go mode, and they give each other as rigorous and pain-streaked workout as I could possibly hope for. Both of the Hanlon-vs-Harris matches are unmissable, as dramatic and spectacular as just about any ring wrestling contest I have seen.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Brazen Ares








It isn't every day that a man with meat on his bones and hair on his thighs steps foot on the UCW-Wrestling mat. Fan expectations might well soar to Olympian heights. So the man can be forgiven if, unnerved by the video recorder in his face, he mixes up his mythology a little. Ares is the god of war, not the son of the god of war, as Marcus "The Spartan" Ares misstated in a recent interview on the UCW website. It's an easy enough mistake since the ancients themselves were a bit kooky about the genealogy of their gods, sometimes naming Zeus as a goddess's father, sometimes swearing the goddess emerged parentless from the ocean-tossed balls of Zeus's castrated grandfather. According to Pausanias, the Spartans loved Ares so much that they erected a statue of him in chains to keep the mighty war god always on their side in battle, but in the Trojan War (the big one, the war against which all other wars are still measured) Ares sided with his main squeeze Aphrodite against Sparta. Or so the story goes. Homer's story.

I'm happy to report that Marcus* Ares the mortal wrestler hits like gangbusters in his UCW debut [#360], a 32-minute hair-raiser against Axel, a legend too in his own right. Anyone who can put this much color in Axel's sweetly impassive face has got to be something special, though he (like anybody else) is not getting past Axel without accruing a host of mat burns, bruises, sprains, and dented ego along the way. The new guy is not lacking in ambition. First day on the job and he's already talking about walking away with the UCW belt around his waist. It's Axel's job then to give the rookie a much-needed reality check ... if he can. At first, I'm not so sure he can, much as I like and respect the guy. But when he opens with an all-out assault on Marcus, aiming a trio of knee-jabs to the newcomer's midsection and squeezing the Spartan's head like an overripe grapefruit under his arm, I think maybe he can. But the first sign that Marcus is exactly where he belongs at UCW is a shameless nard-grabbing counterattack worthy of a company man like Quinn Harper or Eli Black. That's how this match lets us know it's going to be interesting. All the other usual injurious hijinks follow like clockwork: hair-pulling, arm bars, fireman's carries, high kicks, body slams, crotch-sniffing headscissors, the whole shebang. Both wrestlers put up an Olympian effort, making this not just a notable debut but a continuation of the fine stream of winners UCW has produced in 2014.

* "Marcus" derives from the Roman name for Ares: Mars.




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cheeky








I owe Gary big this week. First SexRock. Then Shane Haste. Now this! This is Progress Wrestling, bringing "strong style" wrestling to UK fans, with a FREE 2+ hour show on YouTube, shot this past May in London. (You can find other DVDs, downloads, and merchandise for sale on the company's website.) As Gary promised, the cinematography and editing are first rate (even though we get this show for free because of some technical difficulties), the crowd is stoked, and then the high point of the show (for Gary and me) is the match between the archly malevolent Prince Devitt ("his usual -10% body fat" and "in Joker makeup mode") and the brilliant Zach Sabre Jr--"tanned and lean (and gorgeous)." The UK and Australia seem to be vying for top spot as the smartest, sexiest, most jaw-dropping wrestling show on video. The Prince can't be heel enough to get this crowd to boo him. They love him. On his back is scrawled the statement "We stop looking for monsters under the bed when we realize they're inside of us." That's certainly a good summary of the appeal of pro-style heels for most fans. (Admittedly, the "face" in this instance finds sadistic enjoyment in busting the ligaments of Devitt's fingers, so it might be a tossup as to who's the bigger heel and the bigger monster.)

An addendum:

I don't like ladder matches, so I'm going to cede the floor to Gary, who does, to tell you about his latest find, a tag-team championship match featuring our new favorite Aussie wrestler, Shane Haste. Having watched the match, I will say it is just as fast paced and extreme as Gary describes it, and the 16:24 spot belongs with the header "Cheeky." Ladder fans, feast your eyes!

I guess I'll save the best for last: 
This is an EPW Tag Title Championship Ladder Match from ReAwakening 8 (4 years ago). The commentator, Marcus Pitt, says this was the the first time Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls came together as TMDK. They're up against the current champs, Slex and Carlo Cannon. Not many views, so I'm guessing this was just posted. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8qo6OfLLg8 
You will need a trip to the chiropractor, just from watching this match. 
Two guys do a colorful commentary and I'm putting some of their comments in quotes. 
They keep describing the match as "brutal," and that it is. Almost 23 minutes of mayhem (no blood). The match takes place before an ecstatic, sold out crowd. 
Four men and some "unforgiving steel ladders." At some point after the ladders arrive in the ring, Shane is spread-eagled in the corner and Slex viciously slams the top of the ladder into his crotch. There's no way this didn't hurt. Shane spins his head around and spits onto the ring apron. Then Carlo arrives in the ring, after trashing Mikey outside the ring. They immediately open the ladder and do a "double drop kick, sending the ladder into the manhood of Shane Haste." Shane and Mikey are scoop slammed and sandwiched every which way into the ladders, but the bad guys also get their share of contact with the metal. Trying to outdo Slex, I guess, Carlo comes up and gives Shane a "vicious boot to the groin." 
The best scene comes at 16:24. Shane is struggling up the ladder. Carlo's hand appears, grabs the back of his trunks, and exposes Shane's bare butt. It looks like he has some sort of tattoo on his right cheek. Beautiful stuff. The commentator's remark, "Shane Haste, who gives his full moon to the crowd there." 
Immediately following this, Shane goes up top to make a leap and Carlo "crotches him on that top rope. Shane Haste is going to need a lot of ice when this match is done." Mikey brings the ladder into the corner and Slex ends up on top of Carlo in "a compromising position." Basically 69ing each other. The commentators joke, "They seem to have been obsessed with Shane Haste's crotch all nightso it seems only fitting that they end up in that position." 
All participants should get some award for this match. A real work of art. The only downside is, I think everything I watch from now on will pale in comparison.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Shane Haste in Japan









After turning me on to SexRock, Gary sent me a couple of YouTube video links, demonstrating the collective comic genius of the Australian heel stable TMDK ("The Mighty Don't Kneel"). Led by 6'5" muscle boss Elliot Sexton, the rest of the team consists of Jonah Rock, Marcius Pitt, Mikey Nicholls, and hottie Shane Haste, who in the videos operate a fictitious fitness center called The Dick Punch Academy. The guys are hilarious and obviously enjoying themselves in the skits, and Shane stands out as a dimwitted parody of himself in one called "TMDK 2012 Press Conference (Highlights)" (the other is called "The Rise and Fall of The Dick Punch Academy Trailer"). Gary said, "Shane Haste has the looks to be a movie star." And about twice the acting chops of some movie stars, I might add.

Anyway, these videos sparked a search for more video on Haste--by both of us, apparently at the same time, without knowing it--and both of us, separately, landed at Pro-Wrestling NOAH in Japan. I gravitated to a match featuring one of my favorite puroresu stars Kenta Kobayashi, in a match from last September. (The match is here on YouTube.) KENTA was then GHC (Global Honored Crown) heavyweight champion, and this was his sixth title defense in his eight-month reign. At 5'8", 181#, KENTA looks dwarfed next to 6'1", 220# Shane. Like the recently retired Petey Williams, though, KENTA has never failed to convince me that he can take on and beat wrestlers twice his size, such are his toughness, speed, ingenuity, and boldness. Last Saturday, it was officially announced that KENTA has signed on with WWE, which I hope means WWE is getting a lot better than I remember it.

Typical of the recent Japanese pro matches I have seen, this one follows a story arc from scientific wrestling, with prolonged armlocks and arm-bar takedowns, through aerial acrobatics and dizzying leaps and twists of fate to, ultimately, a long, enervating climax in which two sweaty and desperately fatigued fighters slug it out, each running on instinct, barely aware of his surroundings. This is exactly the scenario I think works best. And KENTA is an artist at it. But as much as I love and admire KENTA, in this match my eye is on the tall, muscular gaijin (i.e. "foreigner").

Obviously, Shane Haste, being the villain he is, will target KENTA's bandaged left arm, and he does, with steady and composed violence, again and again, in the match's Act One (the slow movement, with old-school pro-wrestling's attention to tight holds and body slams). Later, in Act Two (high-flying assaults), Shane makes use of his brawn in combination with surprising agility and speed. Note especially his cannonball assault on a cornered KENTA at the 25:25 mark. It's mass and momentum merged, and it looks devastating. It's also doubly repaid at 31:10 and 31:13, following a fantastic corner leap executed by KENTA at the 29:40 mark. The bout's long climax (Act Three, in which the exhausted warriors face what looks like mutual assured destruction) does not disappoint. The opponents' sweaty bodies simultaneously prop each other up and relentlessly wail on each other. This is the sort of theater of cruelty I can eat up with a spoon.

In his online research, Gary located two other fights, which he describes as "not for the faint of heart." The first (available here) features 
Shane on full display and suffering. He gets his leg worked over for the entire match. And something about his opponent wearing a mask, which seems to give him the liberty to do anything he wants to destroy his opponent. Then there was this [available here]. Probably one of the most brutal matches I've ever seen in my life. The match just gets started and Shane and Mikey are already opened up. The scene at 13:35, where the goon is choking Shane with a rope while hanging him over the top rope, while he's chewing on his bloodied forehead, is almost too much for one sitting. The brutality goes on for almost 28 minutes. A day after watching these, I'm still not over them. I react to this stuff the same way I did when I was a youngster. I've never seen anyone so handsome get worked over like this. Shane is a stud!
As of this writing, I have not watched either of the two matches Gary found, but I intend to. At least I'll watch as much as I can stand. With me it's not so much faintness of heart. I can handle gallons of fake gore in horror movies and incidental bloodletting in pro wrestling or any sporting contest, but I've never been a fan of deliberate razoring and the like in wrestling, partly because it obscures the glamor of male bodies (whereas sweat amplifies it) and mostly because, more often than not, the gruesomeness becomes an end to itself--detracting from the holds and body contact, which are what mainly draw me to wrestling.

But Shane Haste is most certainly a find ("a stud!"), and his 30-minute battle against KENTA showcases his talent, power, and majestic beauty.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SexRock versus The Armstrongs








"The energy level is off the charts," says Gary in a Tuesday email linking me to this 2012 match in Perth. It is indeed one hell of a show. The Armstrongs, Nick and Jett, are a blond brother team, known for their heroic moonsaults, hurricanranas, and speed. SexRock, the heel team of muscular Elliot Sexton (in purple trunks) and unbreakable J-Rock (Jonah Rock, in singlet), crank up the heat with a jeer-inducing cocktail of churlish arrogance and psychotic menace. All four wrestlers are visiting Perth from Adelaide and regularly appear in shows for Melbourne City Wrestling.

Six-foot-five Sexton starts things off with a bump-n-grind routine on the ring apron, "giving the ladies and some of the men a little bit of a show," according to an unusually inclusive ringside commentator. Sexton's face is world-weary and perpetually contemptuous, and J-Rock makes crazy eyes at the crowd and his opponents. The phrase "blond brother team" (and from Australia too) says everything I need to know about Nick and Jett. They're athletic, wholesome, and extraordinarily well choreographed. The more experienced Nick takes care of most of the ring work, saving Jett for the occasional spot of explosive comeuppance. (We get virtually no wrestling, catch or folkstyle, mostly acrobatic stunts, high-flying action, and muscle-popping body chops. Five-foot-six Jett, though, is somebody I'd like to see perform some real wrestling holds.)

It's a battle between speed and mass, between rah-rah attitude and surliness. Sexton works overtime in providing us with good views of his brawn. He is the true focus of the Armstrongs' and the audience's rage. It's impossible for me not to get wrapped up in this lively EPW-Perth show, and the ten-minute fight flies by. There's no time to get bored, but there's also no time for a leisurely armlock either. In the end, the stoked crowd pleads, "Please come back," and who could possibly blame them for wanting more of these guys? All four wrestlers are consummate ring performers, and the tender commiseration between the blond brothers at the end gives the match a true-to-life touch of emotion.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pistol-Toting King of My Heart











Now I have a brand new fantasy. Two fantasies, in fact. The first (see the first photo) is to be held up with a Nerf Gun by Big Sexy wearing specfically this blue bikini. The second (see the seventh photo) is the climax to a series of quips in which a beleaguered Angel says something that Sexy misinterprets as "I want your abs," so he gets on top of Angel's face ("You're the pancake, and I'm syrup") and smothers him against his midsection. 

Ask anybody who has visited this blog more than five times, and he can tell you, "Joe at Skull Island is one crazy old horndog for Big Sexy!" I am sold on Sexy to the extent that, if I did believe in heaven, it would consist entirely of Big Sexy. I can't imagine another kind of afterlife that would be worth giving up my sins for. Sexy, as he points out in Thunders Arena's Battlespace 71, covers both bases of "Big" AND "Sexy." 

Big Sexy does things in a big way, and big things happen around him, never more so than right now. The guy is in peak physical condition, and he crackles and pops with confidence and personality. In this new video, both he and Angel have it so together that it has practically become one thing. Just horsing around with each other--which is pretty much what BS71 consists of: a video that lies somewhere between the bloopers at the end of an old Burt Reynolds movie and two brothers tussling in the back of Mom and Dad's station wagon--but even just goofing off, Angel and Sexy put on a kick-ass-ier show than other wrestlers do when they're trying their hardest, glowering menacingly at the camera, striking hackneyed "tough guy" poses, and calling each other names. 

Of course, Sexy knows how to call names, too. Halfway through this bout, he dubs Angel "King Twinky," claiming to be the only MAN on the mat (he's mistaken, of course, but I do love to hear the guy talk this way) and dubbing himself, "King of Thunders Arena, King of Your Hearts, and King of the Mat." (As far as I'm concerned, he is 100% percent right on all three counts!)

The other good news is, of course, that Angel is back in front of the cameras at the Arena. Angel has never been this dynamic and loose. It's as if we have a different Angel than the one we were used to. He's clearly having one hell of a good time, at least in those moments when he isn't getting squashed beneath the juggernaut that's Big Sexy. One of the most self-assured of the wrestlers on the Thunders roster, Angel comes close to stealing the show from Sexy a few times, and that is unheard of.

Sexy is bent on revenge against Angel for busting a large candy cane across his back in Christmas Chaos 2012. He says he's going to "clip Angel's wings," no easy doings, but Sexy can do it if anyone can, as he has proved in the past. (And, for the record, Angel has knocked Sexy down a peg or two in past matches, as well.) The easy chemistry between these two and their combined knowledge of thousands of wrestling moves kept me smiling like a dope for the full 26 minutes.


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