Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Bulge









Because Jimmy's win record has been low, I felt shivers of excitement in watching him take a commanding lead over Dave, whose win record has thus far been stellar. He keeps up the momentum past the midpoint of the contest, but the last ten minutes are touch-and-go the whole way, as the lean fighting machine Dave Markus mounts a stronger defense.

Both wrestlers are in top condition for this battle (the Movimus flyer refers to it as "The Battle of the Bulge," indicating the fighters' muscularity in general, only hinting about the bulges that threaten to pop their tee-tiny trunks). This match has all the vigor of good sex. I love both these wrestlers for opposite reasons, Markus for his cool-headed technique, Reilly for his exuberant heart.

Dave Markus caught my eye with his first match, earlier this year. His streamlined physique suits him for combat against other slim competitors. But his chiseled muscle equips him also for heavier, thicker competition like Mikey Hanlon and Reilly. In August I referred to his "raw force," a somewhat misleading phrase since Dave's true strength is his resilience and equilibrium under stress. On the mat he can strike like a shark.

Jimmy Reilly has been a favorite of mine since his first match, too. Jimmy's pro-wrestling background ensures a high level of drama in what is basically a scientific sport. The guy is naturally expressive. His body is an ideogram for c-o-c-k. His long, now-blond hair, along with his Stay Puft complexion, both contrasts with and enhances the butch muscularity of his thighs, back, torso, and arms. His Van Dyke beard adds a touch of aristocratic panache.

The complexity of Reilly's on-camera character and the singularity of focus in Markus make for an interesting contrast. This is a full seven-fall contest, and it may be my favorite Movimus release of 2014. Congratulations to Movimus for its progress this past year. In January the company resolved to release thirty new matches in 2014. It hit thirty and one!

Pull the Pin











I have to agree with Jago's comment to one of my posts some months ago that, while Shane Haste gets a lot of love on this blog, his beefier partner Mikey Nicholls is "danged hot" too. Jago compares him to Roderick Strong. So do I, and I'd throw Mike Bennett and Eddie Edwards into the mix as well. Right now Mikey is lead contender for the starring role in my minotaur fantasy (a minor fixation since I first saw Fellini Satyricon in the 1970s).

Here is Nicholls in combat with Yuji Nagata in an October 21 match for Pro Wrestling NOAH. Mikey has enough heft to pass as a sumo wrestler, a beginner anyway, and I can easily imagine Nicholls stripped down to a traditional mawashi. A lot of the physical stuff early on in the match is sumo style, hands clasped and chest butting up to chest, not to mention the yelling.

Mikey has one of the best "fight faces" in the business, blunt forehead, piercing eyes, and slack jaw. From time to time he pushes it into the camera lens, filling the video frame with his crazy rage. His reptilian tongue-flicking at the 11:30 mark deserves attention too. The entrance T-shirt says "Pull the Pin," a phrase that suggests both a wrestling finish and a hand grenade. There's something grenade-like about Mikey, a volatile temper, an eagerness to lob himself into an opponent and explode.


His main job here is to sell Nagata's moves, which he does magnificently. Note Nagata's merciless work on Mikey's left arm. Mikey uses his torso not only to express the intensity of his suffering but also to emphasize Nagata's great achievement in repeatedly causing such a big and solid body to suffer. We never lose sight of Mikey's brawn even at his most vulnerable. Even minutes later, his body movement and gestures suggest the ghost pains of Nagata's earlier attacks.

I don't want to neglect the force of Nicholls' defense, which is key to this match's success. The struggle atop the corner ropes that starts at the 13:37 mark is exemplary of Mikey's toughness and resilience--and it very nearly marks the end of Nagata. The extreme low angle adds to the effect, but the two wrestlers' body language at this moment suggests a faceoff between Godzilla and a MUTO, especially as they square their shoulders and glare into each other's eyes.

Win or lose, this would be a star turn for Mikey, taking on a wrestler of Nagata's eminence and putting up this big of a fight. Sure, his partner Shane hovers at ringside (never interfering, by the way), but this is 100% Mikey's show even if at times it looks like Nagata is the one running it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cheat










I don't need to know why Justin "The Hammer" Sysum climbs all over Dick Riley* before the bell sounds in this April 26 match from Pro Evolution Wrestling. The raw quicksilver energy sells itself. And, besides, I find out why soon enough. Riley, in the jaguar-print trunks and shinguards, is a "cheat." The crowd knows it and chants it. "Dirty" Dick (5'11", 202#) proves it in his actions every step of the way.

Like all cheaters in the fight world, Dick has a cowardly streak. He relies on his manager Big Daddy Bainesy to distract, prop up, and interfere. When Justin (6', 228#), the hugely popular champ in babyface blue-and-white singlet, gains the upper hand, Dick runs away (as in the beginning when Justin chases him around the ring) or he stretches out his hands and pleads for mercy, though we know full well he's incapable of mercy himself.

Pretty much everything Dick does primes me for the moment that The Hammer peels down his singlet top to signal that he's greased to kick some self-proclaimed pornstar butt. Retribution is furious and painful, and it becomes inevitable when Dick relies on Big Daddy's ring-apron support to stretch (and grind and scratch ... at sadistic length) the hero's massive muscles seemingly to the snapping point.





Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vengeance











Ten years ago Magnus and Krush brought out the aggressor in each other in three solid matches that are now classics. They fought like they meant it, making the rest of underground wrestling, including some of Krush's other early matches, look like judo exhibitions at the mall. 

In Krushco's latest release, they hit the mat again in 2014 with heaving, grunting action that outpaces their previous collisions for intensity and destruction. If these guys don't have a grudge to settle, they sure know how to make me believe they do.
Krush starts it all off with a sneak attack from behind, slamming Magnus's back with a steel folding chair; I'd say that puts us somewhere between WWF in the 1990s and a brawl in the prison weight room. It happens so fast--a choking submission on Magnus in less than a minute, maybe less than 30 seconds--that it's not even a spoiler to share this information. These guys are just getting started.

So evenly matched are these two that for four falls the fight seesaws back and forth, a submission every two or three minutes, with the fifth and final fall being the tiebreaker. It could go either way. The battle flies off the mat and against the wall for rib-crunching punches and kicks as the two steamroller each other from standing positions. At last one guy heaves the other up off the floor and slams him back down on the mat, where they finish their business like titans. The final two minutes are steely tough and unpredictable. The collision is bigger than life, one decisive exchange getting a groaning slo-mo replay at the end, macho grandiosity on the order of Mad Max or Gladiator or just about anything with Jason Statham in it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Screw the Rules














Nicholls and Sugiura start slugging it out immediately. Then the two partners jump in for an obviously choreographed but still thrilling interference, Haste clotheslining Sugiura, and Tanaka clotheslining Nicholls. That squares Haste off against Tanaka while the two legal wrestlers are on their backs. The action flies out of the ring before a semblance of order can be reestablished.

Each of these wrestlers is, if not a heel exactly, a bit of a thug. The rules don't mean shit to any of them. The ref clearly warns Shane Haste (6', 220#) to stop jerking at Takashi Sugiura's hair, but Shane pretends not even to be aware of what his left hand is clutching. Then he basically bludgeons Sugiura (5'8", 196#) against the corner ropes, taunting him for not staying up on his feet and fighting back. He doesn't stop when Takashi is on the mat, semi-conscious at best. The ref has to physically pry Shane off.

But don't pity Sugiura and Tanaka. Given the opportunity, Masato Tanaka (5'9", 187#) subjects Haste to abuse that's equally merciless, stretching his nostrils, clawing his eyes. Sugiura reaches in and pulls Shane to the turnbuckle by his hair. He tags in, and Tanaka pins the Aussie to the corner with the bottom of his boot to the face. Once in the ring, Sugiura repays the corner bludgeoning, blow by brutal blow, till Haste is on his butt, face gone slack from the rapid-fire punches.

Try as he might, the ref is powerless to enforce fair play and sportsmanlike conduct. These guys don't mind getting their hands dirty and relish the thought of hurting their opponents in the worst ways imaginable. This is "theatre of cruelty" in its literal, raw essence.  By the 14-minute mark both wrestlers in the ring have knees of jelly, but they keep blasting at each other with their fists.

Sugiura and Tanaka both have faces chiseled out of leather and sandpaper. I can't recall a tougher looking tag team, not since 1980 anyway. Tanaka takes on both of his opponents at once--but then so do all four wrestlers at one point or other. Nicholls and Haste have prettier faces, though they are hardly inferior in brutality. At times Mikey Nicholls (6', 227#) reminds me of Roderick Strong in his meticulous grooming and unabashed barbarity. When the crazy lights up his eyes, his sexiness quadruples. 

As intensely as the match begins, the mayhem escalates as the match grimly wears on. The violence becomes more inventive, more spectacularly high-risk, and even weirdly balletic. Flagrant double-teaming, simultaneous brawls in and out of the ring, tight two-counts, and a vigorous bit of housecleaning at the end that's pure screaming excitement. I only wish I could have been on the front row for this one.


(Watch the full 22-minute armageddon here on YouTube.)

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