Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It's All Fun and Games Till Somebody Turns Heel

Steve Simpson vs Jerry Allen, 18 April 1986, Dallas (WCCW)

I have more than one theory about when, exactly the moment, Jerry Allen turns heel in this match. Every one involves reading way too much into individual gestures. Really the beauty of this match is the slow accretion of small gestures that eventually reveal the jobber as a bad guy. He seems like a good enough guy at the start. He looks good. The crowd, most of it, gives him an enthusiastic welcome, though nothing compared to the squeals of delight as Simpson is introduced. He shakes Simpson's proffered hand in a show of good sportsmanship. When he backs Simpson to the ropes, he makes a clear show of making a clean break. Then something goes sour.

I have said this before, more than once, but I love a match that starts with two good-looking babyfaces, but sometime between the introductions and the finish, one of them turns bad and has to be put down for stepping over the line. This is exactly the storyline that gets my juices flowing. After a sunshine-and-butterflies opening, Allen gets a taste of how rough Simpson plays, and he looks shocked, grimacing in a tight hammerlock, but also looking dismayed that the match isn't going as easily for him as he had hoped for. He gets a "nice takedown" on Simpson, but Simpson springs back up to his feet in less than a second. Allen seems to take this personally.

Frustration builds on frustration, with Simpson repeatedly proving himself the better technical wrestler. Every successful tactic Allen employs gets immediately reversed by Simpson. When Simpson takes him down with an arm drag, Allen reacts angrily. He kicks, an unworthy and unmanly response, aiming for Simpson's crotch. Simpson catches the foot and (accidentally) hurls Allen out of the ring. So right about halfway through this eight-minute crowd-pleaser, the line between good sport and bad sport gets drawn, and Allen appears to declare all-out war. Ultimately, his envy and hotheadedness are Jerry Allen's undoing, with Simpson, golden and decent (but no pushover by a long shot), playing the avenging angel--to everybody's delight and with a considerable tug on my libido (for whatever reason, my libido works this way).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two the Hard Way

Axel vs Coleman Free, Match 522 (UCW)

After surviving his bout with Austin Tyler in February, Coleman moves forward in the UCW initiation process. Some might call it a hazing. Unscathed, Coleman has taken to the company's roughhouse atmosphere like he was born for it. This young dude likes a fight, and he's come to the right place for one. Most newcomers to UCW undergo a series of all-out humiliating squashes in the most literal sense of the word squash. Free has been thrust into tough competition all right, but he's held his own every second of the way. He's come prepared, with a strong sense of the heart and skillset it takes to succeed here.

Match 522 is not easy for either Coleman or Axel, yet this is a friendly match. It ends with the winner helping the loser back to his feet and congratulating him on a good fight. And rather than lashing back with a low blow, the loser shakes the guy's hand and returns the compliment. They are unsteady on their feet and shaking the cobwebs from their heads. They will be feeling the previous 28 minutes in their joints for another couple of weeks. But these guys live to fight, and they seem genuinely to appreciate the hard competition each has brought to the mat. If anything, the fight has sealed a bond between them.

It's good to see a new fighter with long hair at UCW. In most cases I prefer short, even severe cuts, but I also like variety. There's something dramatic about long hair that works well in wrestling entertainment. It adds another layer of expressiveness to the struggle, the way it whips around, the way it seems to invite abuse. It takes a brave soul to step on the UCW mat with shoulder-length hair, and it's clear that Coleman is certain enough of his survival skills to flaunt his fearlessness in this way.


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