Saturday, February 6, 2016

Seriously







Aron Stokes vs Julio Vargas (Movimus)

Elsewhere I have noted Aron's narrow range of expression. Probably more than once I have referred to his unreadable deadpan face. On the few brief occasions I have seen him in the flesh, I can count the number of emotions I have detected. That number is one. And I can't really call it an emotion so much as a manner: Standoffish.

All of that changes when Aron is on the mat wrestling. There he is the man of a thousand faces and a thousand different grunts, moans, exclamations, whimpers, come-ons, and mumbled curses. He is a good example of a man who comes to life only while wrestling.

Movimus's latest release gives us Aron (6'1", 179#) taking on Julio (5'9", 172#) one more time. Their first run-in was a year ago this month. The new match is better than the first, more suspenseful, more intense, no doubt because now the two wrestlers have some history. And both have killer headscissors, strong and tight enough to squeeze out a panicked submission in seconds.

The challenge is to steer clear of those legs. Julio and Aron form a near-constant tangle of arms and legs, with the camera gracefully weaving in and out and around. The first tap-out occurs early, a mere minute or two into the contest. It takes another 17 minutes or so for the second submission to tie up the count. The last four minutes decides the victor.

The pace of this match cannot be improved upon. Both men give it their all, no monkey business, no face-saving wisecracks. They hunker down for the long haul, all business, determined to win, respectful of the other man's abilities, but confident too in their own. It is a close to perfect fight, which may mean that 2016 is shaping up into a great year for Movimus and its fans.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tarzan Boy 2002



Somewhere between 27:00 and 28:00 here on YouTube you'll find this CMLL match, censored from the original broadcast in 2002. It's announced as a hair match between Tarzan Boy (28 at the time, 5'10", 205#) and seasoned veteran Negro Casas (42, 5'7", 174#). The main event starts with a bang as Tarzan struts to the ring with armloads of babes, generating all kinds of heat with the fans, and ends, 11 or 12 minutes later, with an upset fan with a sleeveless T and boundary issues storming the squared circle to manhandle the sexy heel mano a mano. Tarzan ably defends himself, and security escorts the worked-up fan from the building. (Kudos to the ref, too. I mean it.) Segunda Caida drew my attention to this interrupted event earlier this week. So which is hotter? The swaggering entrance? Or the real fight?



Here is an excerpt from Matt D's take on Tarzan Boy in Monday's post on Segunda Caida. The entrance defines suavo excess, while the impromptu fight lets everybody know you don't mess with Tarzan Boy.
I have a soft spot for Tarzan Boy [...] He's like the world's best, smarmiest Paul Roma, but you know, in a good way. He's absolutely insufferable here, coming out to Simply Irresistible with four girls, tights with 69 on them, and lipstick kisses all over his body. There's a great camera shot early on of Casas entering the ring with Tarzan Boy in the foreground, standing on the second rope posing, partially obscuring the entrance. Later on, he wouldn't stop posing and grinding even as the ref was trying to give him instructions.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wrestling Videos I Watch Over and Over and Over (Part 9)



Paul Perris vs Roman Stone, Kick-Ass Bodybuilder Feud (Can-Am)

Undoubtedly one of the videos I would take with me on a year-long voyage to Mars, Kick-Ass Bodybuilder Feud (the first) stands out not only for the hotness of its two adversaries but also for its incorporation of both ring wrestling and oil pit wrestling, two distinct styles of the sport I have made my lifelong fetish. The Polish émigré cousins are so exquisitely matched in physique and experience that the contest hangs on their personalities: Paul being the hothead, Roman being the clutch performer with ice water in his veins.  Perris handily assumes control in the squared circle with his high kicks and dramatic hair, but Stone takes over in the pit where he concentrates on showing off and destroying Paul's physique. I have owned the three Perris-Stone videos since the VHS days, since their first issue, when Roman was named Jaime Cutler (or in the catalog description Jamie). While lacking the credibility of real pro wrestlers and freestyle wrestlers, Perris and Stone nevertheless give good body contact, both devotees of the limber combat stylings of Jean-Claude Van Damme.





Rick Rude vs Jerry Allen, World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCA)

This match took place thirty years ago, in February of 1986, right as WCCW divorced NWA, became WCCA*, and proclaimed Ravishing Rick its first heavyweight champion. While not the best advertisement for either Rude's or Allen's wrestling skills (television broadcasts teased with just enough wrestling to lure audiences to the live shows), it does have the advantage of featuring the wrestlers at their physical best, hairy chests included. (The following year when Rude debuted at WWF, later WWE, he once again faced Allen, both of them then as depilated and bronzed as their new boss.) Rude is the epitome of pre-Attitude Era heelness, making the reveal of his magnificent torso as dazzling as possible, falsely accusing Allen of pulling his hair, hiding behind his doting manager Percy Pringle, and avoiding a fair and honest fight as much as possible. He is detestable and devoid of any trait, however miniscule, which might conceivably win over the crowd. Rude was often poised against dumpling-shaped jobbers or old-guard veterans. It's good to see him here against a man as strong and able as he.




Chace LaChance vs Kayden Keller vs Ty Alexander, Ring Releases 2: Triple Release (BG East)

This one would be a must-see for Chace's climactic cum shot alone. Ordinarily not a fan of X vs Y vs Z matches, I do nevertheless admire this video for pushing buttons and boundaries (reread the previous sentence). Originally slated as singles competition between LaChance and Alexander, the match switches course with Keller's arrival at ringside. Kayden thinks Chace is taking too long to kick Ty's butt. He gives the muscle god some pointers on playing the heel, and the two double up against the cherub-faced babyface and, ultimately, turn against each other too. The turns and reversals, apparently inspired by bedroom farce, bristle with comedy. The catalog description's oddly familiar prose all but predicted this release's double victory at the 2015 readers' poll awards (best liplock and sexiest match):
This hour-long guaranteed instant classic doesn't miss a single permutation, and the surprises keep coming. The last half will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief (or rubbing SOMETHING): a buck-naked, tied-up, over-the-top choke-off, jerk-off, suck-off finisher with a closing liplock that's for the record books! (We kid you not.)
Chace is gorgeous and surprisingly droll, a blank slate for my fantasies. Kayden is the thinking man's dungeon master. And Ty, the fickle one, opportunistically plays sidekick to either one against the other.


* The WCCA's weekly TV program continued to be called World Class Championship Wrestling.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Young and Bad



Will Ospreay vs James McPhail, TNA

Ospreay, b. 1993, 6'1", 175#, works McPhail in this 2014 match just the way I like it. He is a bad, bad, bad, bad lad. The match is not nearly as one-sided as the attached shots would suggest. Touted as a high flyer, Will has also mastered the little sadistic touches that make a pro match sizzle. He puts McPhail through hell. Will he receive the payback he deserves? The last five minutes of this match makes my juices flow, just thinking about it.

By the way EVOLVE Wrestling recently announced that American fans will get a closeup look at Ospreay (along with Zack Sabre Jr, Marty Scurll, Timothy Thatcher, Anthony Nese, and more) in Dallas the first weekend of April. Now that's a show I would love to see.








Monday, February 1, 2016

Powerhouse Touches the Merchandise








You don't have to ask Victor twice. When Powerhouse sticks his nose in the kid's face and asks him if he wants some, Victor replies first with a startled expression, looking the muscular new guy up and down. Then he says, somewhat casually, "Yeah, absolutely." Immediately the pushing and shoving start. It speaks to both wrestlers' pugnacity that within seconds of meeting each other and with no greater provocation than an invite, they light into each other like years of bad blood have brought them to this point.

As his moniker would suggest, Powerhouse is a juggernaut, ruddy and squarely built, in stark contrast to Victor's swimmer's build. The baldy has a bulldog's disposition, and unsurprisingly it's he who gets the first takedown, applying a headscissors and arm lock combination on Victor. He hikes up one side of the kid's trunks, exposing a pale butt cheek, and proceeds to taunt Victor by giving it a sharp smack. Victor kicks and thrashes and punches his captor's gut. He escapes but finds himself immediately trapped again, with Powerhouse pummeling his midsection.

Years of watching UCW matches have accustomed me to the sight of slim, still wet-behind-the-ears young men knocking each other down a peg or two. Victor fits the company stereotype, pale, slender, and apple-cheeked, but Powerhouse looks like a bouncer at a North Philly strip club. Except for Cpl. Punishment, who briefly held the UCW championship three or four years ago, I can recall no other heavyweight on the roster. 

I can be forgiven then for assuming we're in for a squash job, and such would appear to be the case for the match's first third. But after eleven minutes of rough handling, Victor miraculously snaps the big brute into a Boston crab hold. Powerhouse muscles loose, but a minute later we get the first unambiguous sign that Victor may have the nuts to turn this baby around. He backs the big guy to the brick wall and gives him a taste of UCW hospitality, landing a series of stiff punches to the abs, blows that fold Powerhouse in two and signal a major turn in the action.

Caught off guard, Powerhouse aims low, securing his release with a clutch on Victor's balls. Then he drags the kid to the center of the mat by his hair. The rest of the match is give and take with Victor slowly building momentum. Pier-6 tactics destroy all semblance of sportsmanlike behavior, culminating in a knockout finish. It's an impressive debut for Powerhouse, who might well be in line for a shot at the champion's belt on the strength of his physique alone, but it's Victor, in his sophomore appearance, who most surprises, making it clear that guys like Powerhouse, whatever their ambitions, will have nothing simply handed to them at UCW ... except a fight.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Inoki vs Brisco



Not a hurricanrana, not a moonsault to be seen in this 1971 match in Japan, pitting future NJPW founder Antonio Inoki (28, 6'3", 240#) against Jack Brisco (29, 6', 234#), who was then a rising star in the NWA. It all must seem terribly plodding now to anyone under 50. Even I am struck by the slow pace, though it reminds me of why pro wrestling first caught on with me: the prolonged and grinding man-to-man body contact I could find nowhere else. It represented a form of masculine engagement that is both intimate and aggressive. It resonated with my young proto-gay self, still entrenched in fundamentalist religion and consternated self-loathing.



I would have to play hurricanrana and moonsault video in super slow motion for it to have a tenth of the sensual tug I get from these GIFs, which are themselves abbreviations of the 33-minute struggle. If you can stand the wait, the slow-burn action does build and accelerate ... in jolts and stammers ... climaxing in a panicked tapout finish. (Not even porn, no porn I know of, has such Boléro-like foreplay.) But the endpoint of each acceleration is yet another locking together of human bodies, an impossible knot of muscle and bone, accompanied by gasps and moans that the Japanese commentators and fans never drown out.

I have used the analogy before, but this, like other matches that crawl under my skin, is like raw film footage of wild animal survival. The way Brisco lunges after Inoki is predatory, like a lion determinedly tearing away at a zebra, never stopping till the victim has no more will to resist, so savage, so exhilarating and frightening at the same time it's like a hard punch to the chest. I don't get chills like these from 21st-century wrestling, some of which I enjoy immensely. The new lords of the ring are better built, better looking. There are more varied and fantastical characters. But the action is also a tiny bit studied, ironic, theatrical, and sanitized. It no longer feels like I am watching something dangerous and real (and of course I'm not, not real anyway, nor was I in the early '70s). The new, vitamin-enriched wrestling has no ... bite.





Saturday, January 30, 2016

Markus vs Karamazoff









“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” 
 Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Life is a constant struggle, and so is Movimus. In the company's latest release, Dave Markus and Ivan Karamazoff grapple for 25 minutes, with one submission at the very end. I have been a mark for Markus from his first match a year and a half ago, and though I'd like him to gain 30 or so pounds, the relatively new Karamazoff has a hipster-meets-Quaker look that makes me warm to him on first sight, not to mention the man's tenacity in combat against the somewhat heavier and more solidly packed Dave. This is Ivan's 5th match at Movimus, Dave's 19th. Both men obviously have trained. They are not just horsing around.

Unlike pro wrestling, a match like this one can't be analyzed as drama. A breakdown of the plot, such as it is, yields only struggle-struggle-struggle-struggle-struggle-dominance. No arc, no exposition (unless warm-up shots count), no crisis beyond the fact that there are two opponents, tension building in tiny, quiet increments, a hundred minuscule turning points, and a long-delayed tap-out finish. 

Karamazoff and Markus alike maintain the equanimity of chess players from beginning to end. You get no sense of their emotions beyond determination and perseverance. What you do get is chess players' patience and strategy. Every move has a meaning--but a strategic not symbolic one. Nothing is as elemental or as engrossing as two men wrestling, really wrestling. There is no posturing. There are no cheap shots and quick pay-offs. The struggle is the thing, beautiful and hypnotizing.

This is a fine match, one of the better products of a company that has produced many fine matches. It's also the first Movimus match shot in 2016, filmed four days ago on Tuesday, so fresh from the mat you can almost feel the body heat.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gabriel vs Rhodes



Justin Gabriel vs Cody Rhodes, WWE (2012-2013)

Full Disclosure: I know nothing about what I'm sharing with you today because I don't watch WWE as a rule, but I cannot deprive myself of a fight between Cody Rhodes (6'1", 227#) and Justin Gabriel (6'1", 213#). Multiple fights, because apparently they had a feud four years ago. Everybody else knew this four years ago, I know.

I had to watch. I am weak. And what steam-presses my trousers has to go on this blog. I'm sorry.

First, we see Justin rushing to the ring to rescue 4'4" Hornswoggle, whom Rhodes is unjustifiably picking on. For the heated slugout at ringside I am literally dying. The good parts of the rest of the impromptu match follow: Justin slugging Cody in the corner (very artistic the way the camera zooms in for the punch), Justin slinging Cody over his shoulders (now if only the camera would zoom in on the crotch), and Cody pinning Justin.




By the way, and I know this isn't the best place to say this, but I just thought of it, if I seem to be overworking the GIF thing, I can explain. I'm using a fairly ancient MacBook that I will replace as soon as I can afford to. At this point in its long and eventful life, my laptop sometimes does things but not others. For instance, now I can make GIFs but cannot crop screen caps to make them presentable on my blog. Now I have to crop photos on my phone, which is a pain. For a while, I couldn't make color adjustments to photos. I can do that now, though. The machine's capacities come and go. So now, I'm making GIFs for the same reason a dog licks his balls: Because I can.

One week later, Cody kills Justin again, preceded by some high-flying shit I don't care for. (Besides, the video quality is disappointing: the detailed still up top is better: Cody's incredible back, Justin's incredible thighs--also I've always been fond of Gabriel's cheeseburger-friendly abdomen.)


Sixteen months later, the two meet again in singles competition. A struggle atop the corner ropes is one of the few instances when I tolerate wrestlers' feet being anywhere but on the mat (another instance is fisticuffs outside the ring). More high-flying shit ensues: I can deal with that since it leads to an ultra-wiggly two-count and Cody bloodies his nose in the process of hurling through space--or, to be more exact, landing. Again Cody kicks Justin's ass, this time aiming it towards the camera.





I'm old enough to be turned on by Cody Rhodes sporting the '70s clone look in the WWE Main Event rematch five days later. Justin Gabriel looks confident, following a series of wins that WWE helpfully recaps for us as the wrestlers idle in their respective corners. Cody tries to put the kibosh on Justin's strong kickoff with a tight neck lock that Gabriel ingeniously escapes. The finale is, alas for Gabriel fans, all too familiar.





Except for a few spots, all of them addressed in this posting, the wrestling itself impresses me but does not excite me. They might have just as easily juggled lit torches. So long as they were still in tight, low-hugging trunks, I would have been entertained. Whether it's nostalgia or the prolonged body contact, it's still old-school grunt-n-groan grappling that punches my particular ticket. Not even Japanese and Mexican strong styles, which never fail to wow me with their aggressiveness, get me as wet as a couple of sweaty daddies with hard prominent bellies heaving down on each other for uncountable minutes at a time, their limbs so intertwined you'd swear they won't be able to disentangle themselves.

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