Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Never Die Stupidly


In the most recent episode of Vikings ("Boneless"), the series gave me what I prayed to the dark gods for: a shirtless battle between Rollo (Clive Standen) and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). The only thing I would like better is to see them wrestle (Viking-style is called Glima), the winner taking on Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), brother and father of Rollo and Bjorn, respectively. A quick one-on-one with broadswords is, however, better than nothing.

For my tastes, Vikings delivers the most wrestlable beef on primetime drama (no offense intended to you Arrow and Teen Wolf fans). It is one of four shows I'm willing to spend the $3 a week on Amazon Instant Video to keep up with the current season's episodes. (The other three are Cosmos, The Americans, and Hannibal. I watch Game of Thrones and Veep on HBO at a friend's place.) The sparring match was by no means the most dramatic event on last Thursday's show--which packed in childbirth and betrayal, along with its continuing compare-contrast of early medieval Christianity and Norse paganism.

Long-haired, hairy-chested Rollo (with the too perfect teeth, however)

Now for some nephew-uncle action

Bjorn gets his fight face ready

Okay ...  ready!

Bjorn gives the waistband an upward tug (translate as "I mean business")

I'm still rooting for Rollo

Splashing water's always a plus!

Uncle draws blood and nephew gets pissed off

Rollo triumphant

Vikings play rough

"Always remember to finish off your opponent, if you can. No man ever ran off with his entrails hanging to his knees and his head cut off."

I'm thinking about which one to finish first.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Clutch








Clutch: a device that provides for the transmission of power

I was not the first in line, but I would bet I was among the first hundred fans of UCW-Wrestling. Watching it over the years, I have watched its popularity increase and its technical quality advance. I have seen its hits and its misses, its frustrations (from website glitches to no-show wrestlers) and its triumphs (the multi-promotional popularity of its first bonafide star, Axel, and the best Easter-themed wrestling match so far known to man: Axel vs Johnny Deep, last year). So far it's been a terrific ride, bumps and all. 

The new faces (and heels) showing up on the UCW doorstep have been instrumental to the company's constant revitalization. One of the recent recruits to catch my eye has been Hiro, well built, quick to catch on, a diligent student of the UCW wrestling style. So now in video #346, it's Hiro's turn to break in a newcomer, the mohawked and intriguingly named Dakota Bravo. 

Hiro introduces himself with a very formal ojigi, a low Japanese bow. Dakota replies by slamming his palms to the mat and grunting like an orangutan. Dakota has the weight advantage, and he clearly intends to use it to his advantage, taking command as soon as the bell sounds. Hiro presses his foot to the bare concrete-block wall to propel himself against Dakota, but gravity and Dakota's body mass are irresistible forces working against Hiro, and he soon finds himself buried under the new man's bulk. But Hiro, reticent yet calculating, has more muscle and a slight edge in experience in UCW-style low blows and cheap shots. 

For all the differences, this is a very even matchup, with Dakota often gaining a slight advantage mostly because he fires up so quickly. At any given moment, though, either guy is within seconds of making his opponent his bitch. Though this match features fewer ball grabs and gut punches than usual (which is NOT to say none), it upholds the company's reputation for malicious, close to ruinous assaults. Look for headlocks, chokes, wrist locks, leg locks, arm bars, punches, kicks, stomps, stretches, gear pulling, ear pulling, hair pulling, eye gouging, and nice long stretches of body riding, arms and legs almost inextricably bound.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spiked


Two weeks ago at Impact Wrestling, Japanese sensation and newly crowned TNA X Division champ Sanada, 5'11", 225#, beat Jessie Godderz, 5'10", 220#, one half of the champion tag team the BroMans. I liked this match more than I thought I would. (See it here on YouTube.)  If I could get it in writing that 15 percent or more of cable-TV wrestling will be at least this tasty, I would get on the phone to Time-Warner Cable this second. (Except for DVDs and Internet downloads, I have been off regular television for about four years.) Both wrestlers are hot, and the action is brisk, though clearly on the white-bread side of the wrestling spectrum. There's not a lot of violent intensity or homoerotic heat to be found, but a couple of hard bodies like these can inspire the imagination.

Jessie: pumped up, cocky, and ready to take charge of his opponent

Jessie squares off against Sanada: the two itching to get all over each other

Jessie starts off on top, bearing down on Sanada, showing him who's boss

Jessie punches Sanada in the midsection and gives his hair a savage rip

Jessie, totally cocksure of himself, ready to ride Sanada all night

Jessie roughs up Sanada in the corner, just because he can

Jessie gets a scare as Sanada nearly pins him 

AAAARGH!!!

aaargh!!!

Jessie knocked for a loop by Sanada's flying dropkick: seeing stars

Sanada hoists Jessie for a big kersplat

Sanada triumphant, Jessie's body sprawled at his feet

Thursday, April 17, 2014

NewPro 21

NewPro Wrestling may lack the homoerotic coloring of its out-and-proud sibling BG East, but what it has is the simple wrestling-centered drama I remember from 1970s TV wrestling in Florida. NewPro 21 (at this point not listed on the website, but probably to be released soon) features some of my favorite wrestlers from NewPro and BGE. Thumbnail summaries follow, but my overall verdict is that this is one of the best of the company's shows, of which I have been a fan for years. If you're not already familiar with NewPro, this number would be a great place to start.



Flyin Ryan vs Drew Haskins

The opening match features two highly watchable NewPro talents: Drew Haskins, all-American roughneck, versus skinny but mean Flyin Ryan. (I might be mistaken--I don't think I am--but I am fairly certain I saw Ryan at a Ring of Honor show in Asheville last spring. If I were more an extrovert, I might have walked up and chatted with the kid to find out for sure.) Ryan starts off pretty good (or awfully bad, I should say), cheap shots and hair pulling giving him full control of Drew. Then Drew fights back with all he's got and turns the tide ... until, that is, Ryan snags him in a figure-four choke. It looks like all is lost for true Drew, but the bad business between these guys is not over.



CB Gibson vs Shawn Banks

Shawn Banks is another NewPro favorite of mine, from way back, from back when he wasn't so flashy and still on the shy side, before he was "Shawn Banks," in fact. He takes on good guy CB Gibson, a near perfect physical match for Shawn. CB looks like he'd like to beat the golden tassels off Shawn's outlandish gear. These guys give each other tit for tat for most of the match, with Shawn staying on top more often than not. Halfway through the match, the battle becomes a question of "Who's prettier?"  I find myself asking the same question. Shawn's nastier, and that has its charms, of course, but CB's fresher, more buoyant.  It's a hard call to make. Still, any match whose outcome turns on finger-biting is right up my alley.



Jonny Firestorm vs Dick Rick

You know I love me some Jonny Firestorm. I count myself as one of the thousands knocked out by his new look and physique, too. He's in crewcut mode for this fight, in white/babyblue trunks and black boots, a babyface look that's so right for him it may be the way I think about him from now on. Jonny takes on big Dick Rick, whose recent BG East match against Jobe Zander won him a few points in my book. Jonny starts out strong, but Dick's size and strength are too much for him. Dick then goes beyond what is strictly necessary to win, just to punish Jonny--and Jonny, for a change, gets a good long taste of what it's like to be on the receiving end of a good long bruising.




Lane Hartley and Ronny Pearl vs Brute Baynard and Ivan Chekov

It's an uphill battle for Lane Hartley and Ronny Pearl against a couple of bad guys whose arms are as big as the good guys' legs. The villains, swaggering, smirking wrecking balls called Brute Baynard and Ivan Chekov, give the babyfaces h-e-l-l. I have gotten used to Lane as an unbeatable heel, but I will take him any way I can get him. Here he's one of the good guys, squaring off against a couple of wrecking balls: Brute Baynard and Ivan Chekov. It should be an even match. Interestingly, each team is unevenly paired, with one strong, aggressive member and one who's obviously the lesser half. My favorite part of this fight (perhaps of the whole show) is when, after helplessly standing by while the heels eviscerate Ronny, Lane at last leaps in to beat down Baynard and then delivers him back to Ronny to do with as he pleases. Meanies being what they are, Ivan sneak-attacks Ronny from behind, which precipitates a four-men-in-the-ring brawl. Further complicating the match is our growing realization that Brute and Ivan are liable to turn on each other at any moment. This match has a terrific story, told entirely through the visual cues and histrionics of old-school wrestling.



Bulldozer vs Mister E

Here's another big guy versus little guy battle with the well-named Bulldozer going up against the mysterious Mister E. Bulldozer opens the bout with a hefty drop kick to E's midsection. The blow slams E to the turnbuckle, and I half expect to see his stomach fly out his lower back. The crippling continues, and it all gets pretty gruesome pretty fast. E's capacity for punishment--taking it and selling the hell out of every lick--is nothing short of astounding. Squash lovers will want to see more of both these guys, but this matchup, as ludicrously lopsided as it is, is as spellbinding as it is stomach-churning (like a tractor-trailer/moped pileup) .


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Only the Strong Survive













In a more just world, I would have seen this April 4th no-disqualification match live. Photographer Tony Knox gives me the best look I can get of it in these vivid and dramatic shots. After a precipitous rough start outside the ring, masked and horned "Mexican Sensation" El Ligero ultimately pins smart-ass champ Zack Gibson to become Grand Pro Wrestling's new British Champion. I hope that soon good clear video of this fight shows up someplace where I can see it. 

These fighters are not only well matched in weight and fight, but also mismatched in gear. Ligero wears jeans. Gibson wears black and blue trunks. Dressed versus undressed wrestling was best analyzed in a Wrestling Arsenal article a couple of years ago called "Clothed Wrestler, Naked Wrestler." WA associates the appeal of this fight with a CMNM fetish, an erotic encounter between a fully clothed man and a naked (or near naked) man, with the clothed man dominating*. This fetish (not exclusively gay) is related to the James Bond phenomenon of a tuxedoed Agent 007 surrounded by a bevy of beauties in bikinis, the male spy invariably holding an erect weapon in hand.

Wrestling Arsenal associates the appeal of this kink for men as nostalgia:
Many young men play around with nudity as a way to bond homosocially with one another.  They may go skinny dipping or hot tubbing (just with the boys), or “de-pants” each other, or walk around naked in the locker room or hotel room, or play Strip Poker, or go streaking or mooning. 
Part of the appeal of CMNM pornography (and of pro wrestling) is the desire to return to those playful days of youthful male bonding, when a party wasn’t a party until one of the guys was partially or totally nude.  Grown men are now holding “CMNM parties”, where a few of the guests just walk around naked, without sex taking place.
I too associate the homoerotic appeal of wrestling with nostalgia, a desire to perpetuate "those playful days of youthful male bonding" (and jockeying for alpha status) into manhood. Just as the types of people we're erotically attracted to are imprinted in our consciousness in childhood, so too, I believe, are the kinds of actions, behaviors, and performances that turn us on.

At GPW's "Only the Strong Survive," the more clothed wrestler does triumph in the end in Ligero-vs-Gibson. I can't explain it psychologically, but that seems "right" to me, too. The guy in jeans ought to be the one pinning the guy in trunks to the mat. It's just how it's meant to be.

*I was in my thirties before I discovered this kink, consciously anyway. My boyfriend at the time was a photographer whose work now appears in galleries and several popular books on gay male erotica. He wanted to take some nude photos of me. I consented, mostly to be supportive of his burgeoning career in art. I didn't realize how hot the encounter would be. He, in T-shirt and jeans, studied me, buck naked, through the viewfinder, occasionally repositioned my body to get the pose he wanted, and all this time I was growing a stiffy, partly because of his acute but atypically cold attention to me physically, partly because of my vulnerability, him clothed, me naked. 

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