Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lucky Numbers 3 4 5


The cash-cow called Vegas Battles churns out three new challengers for Steel: newcomer White Tiger, a Filipino bodybuilder; the eponymous Scrappy; and Eagle, Steel's equal in weight, fight, beauty, and moxie. The troop explores new locations in the self-proclaimed Fight Capital of the World, bringing together classicism  and swank in some of the best wrestling pairings yet.









Steel vs White Tiger, Vegas Battles 03 (Thunder's Arena)

The video starts with an interview in which the very personable newby shares his interests in physical culture and jujitsu and explains his name, the "Tiger" part honoring his Asian heritage, the "White" part acknowledging the strands of white in his otherwise jet-black hair. "Wisdom," he explains succinctly, smiling. The Tiger also happens to be Steel's training partner from a few years ago, so the two have history. Later, Steel points out that Tiger is considerably smaller than he (5'5", 160#, to Steel's 5'9", 200#), but praises his old pal, saying, "Dynamite comes in small packages," before he suddenly remembers he should be talking smack.

Shortly before the 6:00 mark, the two get on their knees and grapple, in the time-honored warmup exercise of jujitsu fighters. For me the sexiest part of Thunder's Arena, sexier than even the all-you-can-eat muscle buffet, is the moments of bonafide grappling, which happily play a part, even though small at times, in most of the company's product. In VB03, honest-to-god submission wrestling takes center stage, with Steel and Tiger engaging in straight-up and sportsmanlike competition--no body slams, no hair-pulling, no ball-socking--just rolling and squeezing back and forth all the way to the final handshake. Tiger holds his own with the bigger guy, but Steel reigns supreme for most of the contest, showing an ease of command and a knowhow of holds that add grit to the city of glitz.









Steel vs Scrappy, Vegas Battles 04 (Thunder's Arena)

A luscious shot of Steel stretched out in an opulent Vegas penthouse opens this video. Steel asks viewers, "Ready for a tour?" He gets up and nods towards the grand piano before striking a single-biceps pose that the camera laps up like milk. With a smirk, he adds, "You guys didn't think I was talking about the room, did you?" Arms, chest, abs, iliac furrow, thighs, it's quite an impressive spread. He then carries it all outside to flaunt it in the bright Nevada sunlight.

The fight starts about seven minutes into the video. Steel chides a sunbathing Scrappy for not cleaning up his mess in the dining area. And by "his" I mean Steel's. Scrappy resents being treated like the hired help and pushes back. Maybe not the smartest of moves, but he isn't named Scrappy for nothing. The bodybuilder shoves the kid to one knee, squeezing him in a standing headscissors. Then he lifts him in a gargantuan bear hug, squeezing Scrappy dry like a tube of Crest before pinning him on one of the cushioned lounge chairs.

The duo moves swiftly to the pool, where Steel clotheslines Scrappy, launching him into an aquamarine splash. Impressively, Scrappy is able to snapmare the arrogant bully into the water too, and the two wrestle amid the churning waves. I've seen this before in the first two installments of the Vegas series, but, for me, swimming-pool wrestling has not got old for me yet. I have memories of a couple of summers working at a summer camp to give me all the sense details I need to complete the fantasy.

As usual for pool battles, the side headlock is the hold of choice. Once again, I have no complaints. I consider the side headlock--standing, kneeling, reclining, or waist-deep in wet--one of my all-time favorite wrestling holds. Bear hugs and poolside head scissors provide some variety, along with several fleeting underwater shots--fun and enticing, but Thunderball they are not.

May I add, as a side note, that while Scrappy and I may have nothing else in common, we share the habit of biting our lower lip when we wrestle. A bad habit, as my dorm mates used to warn me right before smacking my chin and making me bite myself.









Steel vs Eagle, Vegas Battles 05 (Thunder's Arena)

Posing and putt-putt golfing amid neoclassical statues of water nymphs put Steel and Eagle in the mood to issue challenges. They take the fight to a conveniently available pink (is it magenta?) wrestling mat, where Steel's pal White Tiger looks on noncommittally (apparently), and then, of course, to the pool. This is my favorite of the Vegas Battles series (so far -- please tell me there will be more) because it is a truly herculean struggle between two well-matched and easily pissed-off rivals. Up to now Steel has taken on smaller guys in Vegas. I like them too, but Eagle is as swole as Steel and has a good chance of knocking the chip off Steel's shoulder.

The give and take is exactly right for me. I could dispense with the prologue--except for the magnificent shot (see above) of Steel and Eagle posing side by side, which beautifully establishes a heroic tone, only to be squandered by the putt-putt silliness that follows. (I will say, however, that if I could be assured that Steel and Eagle would be there in speedos, I'd put miniature golf back on my things-to-do list.) The match is at its zenith during the bear hugs, with the collar and elbow lockups coming in at a close second. Of course, as already stated, anytime side headlocks are brought into the picture, I am one happy guy.

The ending is decisive--a chokeout in three and half feet deep water--but the match as a whole suggests there is more to come, possibly involving White Tiger. I'd be more than happy to see Steel and Eagle go at it a second, third, fourth time. In Vegas, in Florida, anywhere.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Shanghaied











KARN vs Ace Owens, Super Villain (Wrestler4Hire)

I haven't seen enough of Wrestler4Hire to have an informed opinion, but I have three hunches based on what I have seen so far:
  1. The company draws some of the best looking and most talented wrestlers from both live event promotions and internet wrestling sites,
  2. it favors squash jobs over give and take, and
  3. it strongly believes that wrestling won't sell without tacked-on storylines, which require lots of exposition delivered orally in the form of monologues.
In this 2015 release, KARN's minions have captured and beat up Ace, who has, for unknown purposes, trespassed upon the supervillain's "fortress." Perhaps the fact that Ace was in wrestling trunks and boots while poking around the place raised the underlings' suspicions. That much we do not see, but we are told about it by KARN in a spell-it-out speech to the victim, who choses at first to remain mum. His reticence is understandable. Ace has awakened in a dramatically lit wrestling ring with the rugged badman hovering over him (also attired to wrestle). Finding the intruder unwilling to provide information, KARN decides to finish what his henchmen neglected to. Ace exacerbates the situation by attempting to fight back -- if insolence can be called fighting back.

What follows is a string of wrestling holds, some of them pictured above, with few counters by Ace, leading to a fine piledriver finish that nevertheless does nothing to resolve the mysteries implied in the opening monologue. Who is this super villain? What makes him so villainous, apart from having lackeys and a fortress? Why would he be suspicious of a jock in wrestling trunks poking around his place of business? What is his business? As an avid reader and moviegoer, I am underwhelmed by the plotline, but wowed by the two factors that drew me to purchase the download in the first place:
  1. KARN, all silky-smooth, malevolent muscle, and
  2. Ace Owens, pure and fresh as SnowWhite and doomed in the way only the "preternaturally beautiful" (I quote the online description) can be.
This is one of those It Is What It Is things common in underground wrestling. What it is not is straightup wrestling or a sustained and self-contained wrestling narrative. I had a nagging sense that this is not the whole story, that more information will be provided in a second act we do not see. There's minimal coherence from one hold to the next, often just a pause as KARN deliberates over what to do to Ace next. The never explained elements of the story are no problem as far as I'm concerned. The wrestler's bodies carry the 28-minute video well enough without ring psychology or denouement.

In my fantasy version of events, the villain's hired thugs have tricked, drugged, captured, and stripped down Ace (let's say he's a hiker) and left him for their boss to use in whatsoever way he sadistically pleases. I drop the trespassing angle--or translate it into a red herring meant to further confound the still-groggy captive. In my version, Ace puts up a better fight, actually gaining some ground, however short-lived, on his sinister opponent. KARN treats Ace as an extravagant but expendable toy. Fearing for his life, Ace fights more recklessly and desperately as the match builds to the climax, inadvertently setting up the devastating piledriver by exhausting himself almost to the point of collapse.

In my opinion, the video squanders KARN's and Ace's wrestling talent and ring savvy. Both have shown elsewhere that they are capable of playing up the drama inherent in pro wrestling. I'm not saying the wrestlers have "phoned in" their performances, though perhaps the lack of a live audience zaps some of the contest's potential energy--as does, I believe, the backstory. At any rate, something doesn't click for me the way that the pairing of these two talents ought to have. But the parts here are better than the whole--the trim and beautiful physiques, Ace's grimaces and groans, KARN's cool contempt for his opponent/victim, the arm locks, the hair-pulling, the scissorholds, and the piledriver that brings the action to a halt--and, in this case*, the parts are plenty enough for me.

* I always make exceptions for the sexy.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Last Chance for Pretty Boy Roan





Roan versus Kid Lightning, Magi, and Kevin Peterson (Savage Wrestling Federation)

He either beats three opponents in 8 minutes or he's out on his pretty ass. It sounds like seven years ago somebody made himself unwelcome in North Carolina.  Swan song or not, it's an impressive show for "Pretty Boy" Roan, who subsequently made a name (correction: "made names") for himself at Movimus, NHB-Battle, and No Rules Wrestling. The limited POV camerawork gives us all the action but unfortunately few of the details of the brawl. These out-of-ring shots, however, indicate why Roan was called "Pretty Boy" and why he became a superstar of internet wrestling.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I'm Going to Kill You




Austin Cooper vs Kirk Donahue, Demolition 20 (BG East)

Coop tells Kirk, "I'm going to kill you," at the moment the photographer took the photo above. This is the fourth match (my favorite) in BGE's recently released Demolition 20. For me, the moment is important because it is what separates Cooper vs Donahue from 90% of punishment matches, including the other three matches on this disk. Two things, really: a modicum of intense struggle preceding the total domination of one wrestler by the other and a motive for the punishment to come.

Before I say more, let me say that squash matches are not my thing, though I'm gradually developing a taste for them. I can enjoy one wrestler, big or small, raking another wrestler over the coals ... nonstop. Done right, it can be as invigorating and sexy as a long-haul give-and-take match, which I prefer as a rule. What I enjoy less is not knowing why the demolisher thinks the demolishee is deserving of his fate. I like the squash even better when I too think the victim deserves exactly what he's getting. I call it my "justice fetish." It's what makes my balls scrunch up in movies when King Kong cracks a pesky T Rex's jaw or Dirty Harry rubs out a lowlife pusher.

I will, however, admit to tingles in the disk's first match: Big Barry Burke vs Kip Sorell, about as uneven and unjustified a battle as one can possibly imagine. Burke's series of bone-crunching bodyscissors with tiny Kip writhing in his even tinier trunks got to me. It hit me right where it needed to, mostly, I suspect, because I find Big Barry and Kip inherently hot, though they are physically opposites.

I like struggle for the body contact, but I also like pro wrestling struggle, aesthetically, for the way it reveals character and for the way it clarifies each character's ring style and ethics. I've written about this factor at length elsewhere. Kirk's surprise opening edge over Coop is brief, but it serves to explain why Coop might want to kill the guy. I don't think Kirk deserves punishment just for being lithe, fetching in a club-kid sort of way, and skillful as a fighter. But dramatically the upset explains Austin's motive for the damage to come.

Also, Kirk's opening (what turns out to be) "hope spot" makes Kirk hotter in my eyes. I am not implying that Kip in Match 1 is not hot, but he would be exponentially hotter to me if he demonstrated some facility for wrestling holds--though admittedly Big Barry Burke is a presence that might overrule this possibility. Coop is bigger than Kirk, but not to the same extent that Burke is bigger than Sorell (whose ring moniker I'm sure is a contraction for "sore as hell"). Kirk's exhibition of savvy and prowess at the beginning of the match elevates him in my estimation far beyond what I would think of him if he were only modeling swimwear or doing sit-ups in the center of the ring.











Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lollapoolooza











Tyson the Hammer vs Nero Angelo, #485 Outdoor Pool Brawl  (UCW)

More summer frolic from the boys at UCW. Frot-meister Nero Angelo introduces himself to Tyson in the customary fight space with a knee-blast to the balls. He then runs the usual paces ("usual" at UCW, if nowhere else) of navel-biting, groping, face-sitting, and armpit-plucking (with the teeth). Having given the Hammer a fresh coat of Nero-sweat, the chatty and boundaries-blind heel hauls the man outside to the pool to cool off.

The final 22 minutes of the video highlights splash-wrestling that quickly digresses to splash-punching and splash-strangulation, especially as the leanly muscled Tyson (not called the Hammer for nothing) turns the tables and gives Nero a taste of his own medicine--with a water chaser. Nero feels the full weight of Tyson's payback, but he seems unrepentant, at times looking positively delighted to get beaten up by his strapping opponent.

Tyson's backyard advantage soon turns to give and take, which both wrestlers (but Angelo especially) delight in. Nero uses every hold to steal a kiss and a feel. In this case (image 6 above) a side-headlock does the trick. Moments later, Tyson proves he is nobody's second-stringer for deviant combat tactics when he escapes and takes control of Angelo and the match by chomping down (yep, with the teeth) on Nero's crotch.

The action drifts in and out of the pool, as a clothesline support and a wet towel are weaponized to near-murderous effect. The ultimate submission is gained by filling the opponent's lungs with pool water ... or almost. Even after the winning tap-out, the victor feels compelled to dunk his gasping adversary's head one last time.

Nero and Tyson may not possess the fluency for smack talk or the natural touch for brutality we find in top-shelf heels like Eli, Quinn, and Derrick. Still, the sometimes stagey assaults keep coming, each one more energetic than the last. And Nero and Tyson "go there" with loads of sexy innuendo which the others won't touch (well, Quinn maybe, who fears nothing). These two treat each other like last week's trash, going the distance for another notch up on the UCW scoreboard.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Mullet Monday

Thanks to Rassle Reel, I watched this 1992 GWF event featuring not one, not two, but four events that celebrate the beauty and utility of the mullet. We get not only long-in-back-short-on-sides hair on men who were not at that time lesbians but also soft mounds of tummy, luggage-size butts, and a title-vs-hair main event, which, taken together, are my pornography of choice.

Bill Irwin vs Brian Henning, GWF TV Block for April, 20 March 1992, Dallas (Global Wrestling Federation)

Irwin tears at Henning's mullet just because the guy thinks for a split second about pulling his rockstar shag. It's an absolute beating: Shag 1, Mullet 0. Two matches later, Team Mullet strikes again.



Todd Overbow vs Barry Horowitz, GWF TV Block for April, 20 March 1992, Dallas (Global Wrestling Federation)

Rookie jobber Overbow makes the mullet work, no doubt about it, but internet evidence suggests that his wrestling career can be measured in weeks. Horowitz literally walks all over the guy, but when Overbow pays him back, the light heavyweight champ flees the ring. Barry resorts to trunks- and mullet-pulling to escape Todd's welcome-back-to-the-match headlock. Every time Barry pulls free, Todd locks him up again--this string of standing but transfixed struggles is the high point of the match for me. When Horowitz does break free, he is merciless to Overbow's haircut and spine. The new kid isn't finished yet, but he's about to be.




Billy Joe Travis vs Chaz, GWF TV Block for April, 20 March 1992, Dallas (Global Wrestling Federation)

When Chaz Taylor was 21, his mullet was legendary. The way he removes his jacket one shoulder at a time proves his time as a Chippendale was not wasted. In this match, actually shot a couple of months before the other four matches. he takes on peroxide blond bad-boy Travis. Long before the present days of plenty, pretty boy versus pretty boy was like a lotto win for my dick. And this one is an all-out catfight. The crowd pisses itself as the fan favorite takes chunks out of the heel right off the bat, but Travis can't wait to sink his fingers into that do. (He scratches too!) It doesn't work out the way Billy Joe planned because, a minute or two later, Team Mullet takes its first win of the night.




Terry Simms and Scott Putski vs John Tatum and Rod Price, GWF TV Block for April, 20 March 1992, Dallas (Global Wrestling Federation)

Tatum and Price, flaunting sporty mullets, put their belts up against the hair of challengers (and spur-of-the-moment teammates) Simms and Putski. Price attacks Simms before the bell sounds. On top of no previous experience as teammates, bad reffing may be the babyfaces' biggest obstacle tonight. Simms and Putski appear to have free rein to do whatever they please. Anticipating shaving off Simms' locks, Tatum and Price take every opportunity to grab fistfuls as they relentlessly attack him from both sides. Adding insult to injury, the ref is gabbing with Price when Simms executes a clean pin on Tatum. Talk about heartache! Putski is left to watch helplessly from the ring apron ... for eight minutes! When at last he tags in, he cleans house ... I mean, totally vacuums the scum off the mat ...






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