Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black Jackets

Here on YouTube is a match for everybody who likes tag partners in matching gear. It even doubles the pleasure by giving us matching gear on both sides. Les Blousons Noirs (the Hooligans, literally the "Black Jackets": Claude Gessat and Marcel Manneveau) deface Les Copains (the Buddies: Bob Plantin and Dan Aubriot, in the puffier light jackets and trunks). 

The bad guys in black don't hesitate to bend the rules, grabbing at hair and trunks, double-teaming with amazing stealth, and keeping their victim paralyzed a mere inch or two from the outstretched fingertips of his partner aching to intervene. And once it becomes clear that the ref doesn't mind turning a blind eye to their hooligan shenanigans, the clean-cut buddies don't mind responding in kind, with a little boot-heel grinding to a bad guy's forehead for good measure.

The Blousons Noirs are hot. I love their bodies, their malevolent posturing, their mustaches, their receding hairlines, and most especially their nastiness. The Copains are nothing to turn your nose up at either. Aubriot is the more animated "buddy," but Plantin knows how to work a slow-burning clench.

Admittedly not for everybody, but if this old-style French roughneckery works you up as it does me, check out the bob ALPRA channel on YouTube and the corresponding blog, in French, jean-luc/alpra/bob, a feast (!) of photos, posters, newspaper clippings, and event programs.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Golden age wrestling borrows the hyper-expressivity of the silent screen to broadcast the agony, heroism, and Sadean thrills of catch wrestling. This 1960 match from Paris illustrates the point beautifully. Spanish wrestler Quasimodo shaves his head to magnify the Gothic bumps and crags of his face and skull. His contorted body language owes something to Murnau's Nosferatu, just as Gilbert LeDuc's balletic athleticism and whimsical escapes borrow from Douglas Fairbanks's swashbuckler energy. Even the ref gesticulates and over-emotes like Richard Barthelmess on an ice floe. These guys were playing to the cheap seats, and it's ridiculously wonderful.

The match's scenario could not be better suited to my tastes. Quasimodo is relentless in his punishments of LeDuc's body. He works every tendon of the South American hero's body, playing it like a pianist pounding out Rachmaninoff. The crowd loves hating this villain's guts. When LeDuc has finally taken enough, he turns on the hunchback. At the 7:50 mark, he rocks Quasimodo with a volley of solid right hooks. At 18:25, he marks a high point in the battle by reversing a piledriver and following up with more roundhouse punches. Another piledriver and a bodyslam seal the deal with a surprise pinfall, at which point I get a chubby. With enough melodramatic intensity and maximal body contact, a fight doesn't need cover-boy models and eight-pack abs to scratch my itch. Not that great looks ever made me less interested in a really good fight either.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best Team in the World

I can't think of a hotter tag team than Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls. Nasty as they can be--known for raking their fingernails down the backs of opponents and double-teaming every chance they get (triple-teaming, given the opportunity)--they nevertheless appear to be Japanese pro wrestling's gaijin of choice for the past year. Who's sexier, Shane or Mikey? I'd say Shane, by a hair, though every time I see Mikey chop an opponent to the mat, my opinion swings over to his side. 

Mikey, 6'1", 227#, seems to share traits of U.S. wrestlers Mike Bennett, Eddie Edwards, and old-school Ole Anderson. And, as I believe I've mentioned elsewhere, Shane, 6'1", 220#, manages to smolder in spite of the white-bread wholesomeness of his good looks. Beyond the smokin' bods, Shane and Mikey have faces that barely contain the mischief bubbling out of their bent-up brains. The combination of schoolboy looks, meanness, and devil-may-care recklessness is too much for me to resist.

You can watch them in action here in a Pro Wrestling NOAH contest from last month, facing Takashi Sugiura, 5'10", 229#, and Akitoshi Saito, 5'10", 231#. Sugiura is about the toughest looking wrestler at NOAH these days. The man sweats menace from his pores and radiates the quiet deadpan menace of actor-director Takeshi Kitano. In 2011, he ranked #5 in Pro Wrestling Illustrated's list of the top 500 wrestlers. I'm half-convinced that Sugiura could trounce both Aussies singlehandedly, so as the match begins, I'm dubious about my boys' chances of landing this one.

I shouldn't worry. Not only don't the mighty kneel, TMDK vindicates its claim to being "best team in the world" again and again. A double reversal at 18:00 - 18:30, as Haste and Nicholls double-team the seemingly impervious Sugiura, is classic squared-circle showmanship on the part of all three wrestlers in the ring.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Atom versus Gunner

I picked up the Battlespace 73 DVD as part of a recent sale at Thunders Arena and just now got around to watching it. I haven't seen much yet of Atom, 5'8", 175#, but I like what I've seen so far. This is a couple of matches before his ThunderTV showdown against Viggo, 5'11", 180#, mentioned here last week. Viggo interferes at the end of this match against newcomer Gunner, a perfect 6'0", 190#, thus setting up Battlespace 74, which I have not yet seen, and his ultimate showdown with Atom. Atom's got the wrestling chops all over his two opponents, who nevertheless have plenty to offer viewers with tastes similar to mine.

If I had more time, I'd sound the depths of various aspects of this match, but to economize let me briefly focus instead on the freckles on Gunner's shoulders and chest. I like them. They're sexy, clinging like drops of rain to the new hire's slim but keenly muscled physique. Gunner offers to give Atom some workout tips, but the interruption only stirs Atom up for a little wrestling action with the former model turned wrestler. Gunner gets in some good holds, but it's Atom's show most of the way ... that is, until Viggo sticks his nose into it.

Thunders Arena's camerawork and the bright Florida sun make art of Gunner's and Atom's bodies. Lots of posing and gut punching for fans of those sorts of things. But Atom is the man who keeps Battlespace 73 firmly grounded in wrestling, with his arsenal of holds and roughneck attitude. I'd boil down what I like about this DVD to two basic things: the previously mentioned freckles and the armbar by which Atom pinions Gunner in the eighth and last screen cap above. That's my money shot, right there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We Card Hard

Of course BG East's Catch-Weight 6 would grab my attention for its pitting together of strongly contrasting wrestlers: the street punk (Billy Lodi) versus the big strong daddy (Mitch Colby), the reckless brawler (Eli Black) versus the doe-eyed Adonis (Rio Garza), the hungry new guy (Ty Alexander) versus the veteran (Shane McCall). Steady fans of BGE product will recognize all six of these guys, each by now so loaded with the fans' collective yearning as to be a gay archetype in his own right. 

As emphasized on the cover of the DVD case, the video also deliberately mismatches the opponents in weight and size, with a minimum differential of 50 pounds, combos that interest me less since I usually like my fighters matched as closely pound for pound as possible. Now and then there's the David-and-Goliath match that intrigues me, but it's a rarity. That said, I find something to like in all three of these fights.

In a prologue shot on location at The Depot in Fort Lauderdale, the contestants in the first match arrange to meet later at Mitch's place to let Billy prove his manliness after the handsome bartender refuses him service for being underage. The details once understood--that Mitch carries 74 pounds over Billy (Mitch tells him that his pecs are bigger than the kid's ass), that Billy won't hesitate to go for a low blow, that the two want to fuck at least as much as they want to wrestle--the match is pretty much what you'd expect--and hope for. When I was seventeen, the prospect of a Mitch Colby type inviting me to his pad to wrestle would have filled me with shivers and lead. (No different than now, come to think of it.)

I was hoping all three matches would open at The Depot, as a narrative frame linking them together. But the second match shifts us to the pro ring. Rio, the bigger wrestler, enters the squared circle almost as an underdog against the tightly wound mad dog Eli, but opens strong. Rio capitalizes on his weight and height advantage, yet any fool knows that Eli not only has five moves to everybody else's one, but also has the fighting ferocity of a piranha with an MBA. It's no surprise then that Rio breaks into a full sweat while Eli is still dry as talcum powder, and the male model's fate seems to be sealed when Eli figures out a way to reframe the contest (in typical Eli-logic) as a grudge match.

The third and main event marks Shane McCall's return to BG East. We haven't seen Shane around since Catalog 56 (we're up to Catalog 105 now). He tells his opponent, Ty Alexander, who doesn't even know who the old-timer is, that he's been hired to beat some of his experience and talent into the spruce, wet-behind-the-ears youngster--"and apparently I've got my work cut out," he adds dismissively. Ty looks all bitch-you-did-not, which is the cherry on top of the spanking he's about to receive at the hands of the grappling legend. Happily, Shane has lost none of his bad-ass sass over the years and serves up chokes, scissors, piledrivers, corner beatdowns, bearhugs, and petty humiliations aplenty. Yeah, he literally spanks Ty-boy in the end.

Monday, October 13, 2014

101 Matches I Like (Sixth Anniversary Edition)

It's our anniversary, and you forgot to send flowers ... again. Another year notched up on the Skull Island ring post. Six of them now. And to think it all began with a fight between a dinosaur and a gorilla! To mark the milestone, here are 101 standout matches, all personal favorites of mine, reviewed during Ringside at Skull Island's sixth year. Some are examples of what I think good wrestling is, some are sentimental favorites, and some I can't put my finger on it, but something about them clicks with me. Please tell me about stuff I missed and stuff you liked apparently more than I did.
  1. Michel Allary versus Johnny SteinFédération Française de Catch Professionnel
  2. Guido Genatto versus Jake Jenkins, BG East
  3. Lane Hartley versus Z-Man, BG East
  4. Kevin Harris versus Mikey Hanlon, NHB-Battle
  5. Josh Steele versus Jayson Dolan, Movimus
  6. Big Sexy versus Kratos, Thunders Arena
  7. Brad Rochelle versus Patrick Donovan, BG East
  8. KENTA versus Shane Haste, Pro Wrestling NOAH
  9. Frey versus Dominic versus Big Sexy, Thunders Arena
  10. Dash Decker versus Colt Stevens, Rock Hard Wrestling
  11. Blaze versus Mike Columbo, BG East
  12. Brad Rochelle versus Jeff Phoenix, BG East
  13. Chuck Young versus Paul Perris, Can-Am
  14. Big Sexy versus Logan, Thunders Arena
  15. Dash Decker versus Josh Steel, Rock Hard Wrestling
  16. Kid Karisma versus Ray Naylor, BG East
  17. Austin Cooper and Brodie Fisher versus Josh Steel and Brian Baker, Rock Hard Wrestling
  18. Jonny Firestorm versus Austin Raines, BG East
  19. Eli Black versus Billy Gunn, UCW
  20. Jack Brisco and Jerry Brisco versus Paul Jones and Dory Funk Sr, NWA
  21. Josh Steel versus Justin Silver, Rock Hard Wrestling
  22. Kid Karisma versus Blaine Janus, BG East
  23. Bourreau de Béthune versus Gilbert LeDucFédération Française de Catch Professionnel
  24. Brian Pillman versus Lee Scott, NWA
  25. Big Sexy versus Braden Charron, Thunders Arena
  26. Fabrice versus Damien, Wrestlers and Lutteurs
  27. Eli Black versus Johnny Deep, UCW
  28. Alex Waters versus Zack Johnathan, Rock Hard Wrestling
  29. Krush versus Lucien, Krushco
  30. Prince Devitt versus Kenny Omega, New Japan Pro Wrestling
  31. Dev Michaels versus Marco Carlow, BG East
  32. Hiroshi Yamato versus KAI, All Japan Pro Wrestling
  33. Max Anderson versus Josh Steele, Movimus
  34. Paul Hudson versus Exavier, BG East
  35. Brock Hammer versus Jimmy Reilly, Movimus
  36. Lane Hartley versus Logan Vaughn, BG East
  37. Josh Daniels versus Anthony Nese, Ace Pro Wrestling
  38. Lane Hartley versus Austin Cooper,
  39. Alexander Hammerstone versus Dan Joseph, West Coast Wrestling Connection
  40. Jax versus Hiro, UCW
  41. Kid Karisma versus Dev Michaels, BG East
  42. Kevin Harris versus Jimmy Reilly, Movimus
  43. Axel versus Eli Black, UCW
  44. Bruce Ballard versus Tyson Matthews, Rock Hard Wrestling
  45. Big Sexy versus Z-Man, Thunders Arena
  46. Shane Haste versus Mohammed Yone, Pro Wrestling NOAH
  47. Austin Cooper versus Richie Douglas, BG East
  48. Josh Steel versus Jake Jenkins, Rock Hard Wrestling
  49. Viggo versus Kid Titan, Thunders Arena
  50. Josh Steel versus Matt Engel, Rock Hard Wrestling
  51. Chris Steeler versus Anthony Nese, Warriors of Wrestling
  52. Kevin Harris versus Connor Flynn, Movimus
  53. Alex Waters versus Justin Silver, Rock Hard Wrestling
  54. Brian Cage versus Dylan Drake, Reno Wrestle Factory
  55. Alex Waters versus Logan Matthews, Rock Hard Wrestling
  56. Davey Richards versus Prince Devitt, New Japan Pro Wrestling
  57. Joey O'Riley versus Jay Spade, Pro Wrestling Collision
  58. Z-Man versus Chasyn Rance, Cyberfights
  59. Dash Decker versus Matt Engel, Rock Hard Wrestling
  60. Caleb Brand versus Donnie Drake, BG East
  61. Oliver John versus Dave Dutra, Sacramento Wrestling Federation
  62. Kid Vicious versus Seth Seton, BG East
  63. Oliver John versus Timothy Thatcher, All Pro Wrestling
  64. Carter Alexander versus Jake Jenkins, BG East
  65. Axel versus Dakota Bravo, UCW
  66. Archer versus Jakeno Enzi, BG East
  67. JDP versus Tucker, Pro Wrestling Ulster
  68. Paul Hudson versus Denny Cartier, BG East
  69. Lance Jeffers versus Swage, NHB-Battle
  70. Jesse Champagne versus Eddy ErDogan, NCW-Quebec
  71. Cage Thunder versus Joshua Goodman, BG East
  72. Jax versus Eli Black (ref Quinn Harper), UCW
  73. Jack Hammer and UK Kid versus Warren Brady and Jay White, Wrestling Stars
  74. Lupe versus Tak, Thunders Arena
  75. Scotty Mac versus Jä Jakobe, Cyberfights
  76. Charlie Panther versus Jayden Mayne, BG East
  77. Quinn Harper versus Jax, UCW
  78. Danny Duggan versus Ricky Mandel, West Coast Wrestling Connection
  79. Jonny Firestorm versus Nicholas Rush, BG East
  80. Johnny O versus Krush, Krushco
  81. Quinn Harper versus Johnny Deep, UCW
  82. Cameron Matthews versus Jake Lowe, BG East
  83. Big Sexy versus Dominic, Thunders Arena
  84. Nick Diesel versus Johnny Deep, UCW
  85. Biff Busick and Drew Gulak versus Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong, Beyond Wrestling
  86. Nick Armstrong and Jett Armstrong versus Eliot Sexton and Jonah Rock, EPW-Perth
  87. Eli Black and Oliver Wood versus Quinn Harper and Jax (ref Ice Burg), UCW
  88. Tristan Archer versus Marc Sebire, Ouest Catch
  89. Jake Jenkins versus Alex Waters, Rock Hard Wrestling
  90. Krush versus Russ Russo, Krushco
  91. Prince Devitt versus Zack Sabre Jr, Progress Wrestling
  92. Drake Marcos versus Ty Alexander, BG East
  93. Eli Black versus Michael Hannigan (ref Johnny Deep), UCW
  94. Dick Rick versus Jobe Zander, BG East
  95. Ethan Axel Andrews versus Flash LaCash,
  96. Cameron Matthews versus Christian Taylor, BG East
  97. Marcus Ares versus Axel, UCW
  98. Krush versus Kain, Krushco
  99. Dave Markus versus Aron Stokes, Movimus
  100. Guido Genatto versus Flash LaCash, BG East
  101. Aron versus Axel, UCW


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