Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mad Max 2015








Mad Max: Fury Road brings writer-director George Miller back to his 1980s franchise with Tom Hardy (as the new Max), Charlize Theron (as a character named Imperator Furiosa), and former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones (as Rictus Erectus) in the reboot, which looks pretty damn impressive in the recently released trailer. For those unacquainted with the Mel Gibson starmaker, the Max trilogy takes place in a near future of environmental disaster, energy shortage, and (let's say) severely limited government. But mostly it's an entertainingly garish celebration of ejaculatory explosions and biker/s&m style with (in 1981's Road Warrior, anyway) an undercurrent of homoeroticism (e.g., the villainous Wez and Golden Youth). The new film is scheduled for a 15 May 2015 release.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Haste Makes Waste (of Mohammed Yone)









This is a December 2013 match, but since it was only this month I discovered I have an erogenous zone with Shane Haste's name on it, I thought I'd post some screen grabs and notes, just for kicks.  Thanks, yet again, to Gary for introducing me to this performer's impressive body of work (6'1", 220#, the way I like em). In this Pro Wrestling NOAH rematch, the Perth muscle heel seeks retribution for a humiliating loss to Mohammed Yone (6'1", 240#) in October, a week after Shane's similarly embarrassing loss to KENTA

Notes:
  1. The match starts at the 3:33 spot on the YouTube video. The Osaka crowd has plenty of love for Yone, not so much for the cocky red-haired Aussie. (He and Mikey Nicholls have since become hugely popular with Japanese fans, as you can see in their tag matches on YouTube.)
  2. The fans urge Haste to offer his hand to Mohammed in a gentlemanly show of respect and he does, getting a hand slap and high kick to the shoulder in return, followed by a clothesline and a quick near pin. Haste powers out and staggers to his feet, only to receive three kicks to the side of his head and another near pin. Yone is the aggressor, but nobody shows Shane any sympathy. They know what this foreigner is capable of, so perhaps they see Yone's strategy as "preemptive."
  3. It takes Haste three tries, using the full weight of his body, but he finally knocks Yone off his feet. Yone rolls out of the ring, and Haste makes a flying leap over the ropes (4:44) landing both of them on the floor. Shane shows his true colors as he proceeds to inflict trauma to Mohammed's bandaged back. (Rule #764: a bandage is just a red flag for any heel worth his salt.)
  4. The ref orders Haste back into the ring or else risk being counted out. Haste obliges, but rolls right back out to further his sadistic assault on Yone (5:33). I love it when heels use the rules (the letter of the law) to sidestep justice and order (the spirit of the law). This is so close to the way that real-world evil works it chills the heart. Boos from the fans, but a smattering of applause too. Shane hurls Mohammed back into the ring (on his back, of course). Then he climbs on top of him but can hold the pin for only two counts.
  5. In the ring Haste continues to wreak havoc on Yone's bandaged back, eventually turning brutal assault into a legit wrestling hold when he flips Yone over and applies a crab hold (6:19, see the second photo above). As Yone crawls to the ropes to force Shane to break the hold, the villain turns the full crab into a single-leg crab and grinds the heel of his white boot to the small of Mohammed's back. After 33 seconds of pure agony, Yone loops his arm over the bottom rope, and the ref orders Haste to release him.
  6. At the 7:03 spot, we get a nice closeup of Shane's boot nudging Mohammed's hand away so Haste can stomp the grimacing hero's chest unimpeded. I'm struck by the gentleness of the gesture even though the objective is brutal.
  7. A center of the ring slugfest breaks out (7:15), proof that Yone is far from being conquered by the sadistic hiru (heel).
  8. After succeeding at inflicting even more damage to Yone's lower vertebrae, Haste strikes a pose at the ring ropes, foot propped up, shoulders slouched, stroking his wisp of a chin patch contemplatively, which I would argue is an homage to Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai (7:35--watch the movie and tell me I'm wrong).
  9. At 7:46 (fourth photo) Haste yanks and rips at Yone's bandage, digging his knuckles and elbow deep into Yone's back muscle. (A deep-tissue massage I wish he would repeat for me at my house this very minute, please.) Then Shane heaves his victim up in the air and slams him to the mat, and tries again for a pinfall, unsuccessfully.
  10. With a thumb slice across his throat, Haste signals that he is about to finish Yone off (8:28). Or so he thinks. It actually signals a turn in the tide as Yone impressively resists Haste's attempt to lift him, instead reversing the move and tossing the arrogant foreigner over his shoulder (8:44).
  11. Haste backs up into the turnbuckle, practically inviting a corner beatdown from Yone, and he gets one (8:55), followed by a center-of-the-ring stompdown that Haste's very audible panting, half in panic and half in agony, puts totally over. It looks like good may prevail over evil after all. 
  12. But hold your horses. Haste foils Yone's attempt to dive on him off the corner ropes (9:46) and turns it into a corner demolition, capped with a somersault senton splash (9:57), one of Shane's thrillingest signature attacks.
  13. Yone comes flying back at Haste, but too late ... Haste has the momentum and the mojo now. At this point, resistance may be futile. Haste tries to submit Yone with an excruciating 45-second Benoit-style crossface (10:30, fifth photo). Once again Yone stretches his arm for the ring ropes for relief, but Haste stops him by stepping on his hand! Ouch! But then Yone pushes his foot over the bottom rope, and the ref forces the break. 
  14. Yone gets a "hope spot" now, short-lived but rousing. Then Haste delivers a forceful body slam, again targeting Yone's injured back. Still he fails to get a full three count.
  15. Yone lands some desperate chops that would fell a lesser man, but Haste once again heaves big Yone into the air and, with the full force of his magnificent upper body, splats Mohammed to the mat, this time getting a definite pin fall for the win (12:11). An exhausted Shane Haste summons enough energy to perform a brief bump-and-grind for the appreciative crowd.
Postscript: Don't feel too sorry for Mohammed Yone. In 2014, Yone has so far defeated Haste two more times in singles competition.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All Hell Breaks Loose 2








I'm glad I wasn't the only one fooled by the ending of UCW-Wrestling's tag-team video earlier this month [#358], in which it appeared that wet-behind-the-ears newcomer Jax had become the new UCW champion barely a month after his debut. UCW's championship rules look so wide open--anyone who pins, submits, or knocks out the existing belt-holder, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is the new champ--that I believed that anything could happen, including a sweet, hopeful rookie like Jax getting a full three-count on the devious and blackhearted Eli Black. 

Like others, I was both shocked and pleased by the unexpected turn of events. Shocked because Eli Black, for all his sidewinder ways, seemed all but unbeatable and, more important, exemplative of the rowdy, headstrong competitor UCW draws. Pleased, though, because Jax is one of the best-looking and hardest-working UCW recruits of the past year, whose auspicious start (against his trainer and mentor Axel) promised big things ahead for the kid. And of course also for the sheer beauty of a dewy young hero deposing a jaded and cynical villain.

But there appears to be a catch, a smidgen of bureaucratic order in the company's usual chaos: the pin, submission, or knockout must occur under the oversight of a bonafide referee. UCW even went to the trouble of reenacting an interview (the original lost due to computer failure) that tried to explain the state of the championship belt in the wake of #358. The company offered Jax a title shot, one on one, challenger Jax versus champion Eli.

Last week UCW released this title match [#361], and having now watched it, I'm sitting here, staring at my laptop, my jaw sagging. Just what the hell did I just see? Eli is in prime heel mode. Jax is optimistic about his chances of survival winning the belt. The event's bonafide ref is Quinn Harper, who has, we all know, his own designs on the title. This mix of personalities is volatile, to say the least, and from the start I had presentiments of doom. The presentiments were correct, but the windup was not what I had braced myself for. Even BodySlam says he's never seen an ending like this one. But to say more would spoil everything for those of you who haven't seen the match already, so let me just say that Eli, Jax, and Quinn are true to type and the mix is truly explosive, with a finisher that's for the history books!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Alex the First








On Wednesday Jose at La Sustancia P carbon-dated the shooting of Rock Hard Wrestling's latest release (Austin Cooper versus Alex Waters) as occurring sometime around January of 2013. The company is labeling the release a "throwback match." It is reportedly Alex's first match at RHW, but the eleventh to be released. It is common practice for wrestling video companies to shoot a number of matches at the same time and stockpile them for future release, spreading a week's worth of matches over years. So the match released today might have been shot two or three years ago, perhaps even longer. Jose gives Rock Hard credit for usually releasing its videos shortly after filming and in the order they were shot. 

For me, a sense of chronology (or "linearity," to cite Jose)--knowing where a match fits into the production timeline--gives me the kind of context I like when watching wrestling--give me dates, ideally give me match locations and athletes' hometowns as well. This information helps me immerse myself in the match, putting it in the context of my own experiences and life history. Companies hesitate to provide particular dates, thinking that the average customer wants to believe every video in the catalog is brand new at the time of purchase. They may be right, but that's not how I see it. For me, a company's history is a story, and I want to read the chapters in order.

What amazes me is how a match as tasty as Austin versus Alex could have stayed hidden for so long? On Day 1, Alex shows his propensity for well-coifed sadism. My guess is he was born with a styling comb in hand and ice in his veins. "Where's this little bitch at?"--baby's first words. Austin doesn't keep him waiting. He leaps over the ropes into the ring and immediately questions the (other) pretty boy's masculinity ("Is it Alex or Alexis?"). The two need no coaxing to lock horns. Pure testosterone drives them to fight. As expected, the more experienced Coop gains an early lead, slamming Alex to the mat and grinding his shoulders into the blue vinyl. Through moans, Alex defiantly taunts him, "You're weak, bitch!"

Alex doesn't sell his opponent's moves, perhaps not wanting to give Austin the satisfaction. His forte is punishment, giving rather than receiving. I wouldn't want to give the impression that there's no pleasure at all in watching little Alex suffer, but the real kicks come in watching him ruthlessly dominate, and we get our first look at his destructive tendencies near the six-minute mark, when arrogant Coop overplays his advantage and starts posturing for the camera and fans, giving Alex a window of opportunity, which of course the handsome young heel takes. The new boy's eyes light up as he traumatizes Austin's back and makes the man yelp like a snared animal. But Round 1 is not Alex's to take as he pleases. He's the rookie, after all. He too is tempted to preen and pose for the camera, allowing Austin to heave him up and bust his butt over one knee. Austin twists a submission out of Alex against the ropes, forcing the kid to say "I give" three times before slamming his smart upstart mouth to the mat.

The next round determines whether this match lasts two or three rounds. Austin feigns surprise that Alex has even bothered to come back for a second round. Starting off with a test of strength, Austin pushes Alex back to the turnbuckle for some knuckle and boot work. He wants to do two or three more things to the rookie's body that he forgot to do at the end of Round 1. Some pec clawing, for one. Full-nelson stretch, another. He flubs an attempt to whip Alex into the opposite corner, allowing us another, more sustained view of Waters' brute power and implacable viciousness. Watching him go after an increasingly incapacitated Austin is like watching a wolf track down an exhausted and bewildered stag. In these moments we see the soulless and opportunistic side of Alex, his best side as it turns out, driven by instinct to hurt and dominate his opponent.

The match might be neither wrestler's absolute best, but they are damn good here, and how stunning is it to watch these buff and golden tan gym gods take each other down! Had I thought the match was more recent, perhaps I would have noted an apparent slippage in energy level or knowledge of holds, I can't say for sure what I would have thought, but knowing that this is his first time in the RHW ring, I'm gobsmacked by Alex's confidence and poise. Austin's ring performance is polished, whether suffering all the indignities Alex heaps upon him or wearing the handsome heel down to a nub. As for taking a year and a half to get to my screen, I believe "better late than never" is the appropriate phrase. I have no doubt this match goes into my "Replay Often" file.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Roach









I ask you, "Could an opponent of Krush have a better name than Roach?" According to Krush, the "scrappy 22 year old" has been begging for a fight for a few years. Krush has put him off all this time, thinking the kid was too lightweight for him and maybe too soft as well. The kid, however, never stopped dogging him for a match. So when Krush trimmed down to 175 pounds, he decided to give Roach (at 165#) a shot.

The results are in a new downloadable video (Krushco's first brand new release in months), coinciding with Krush's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Krush!) The new video runs for 27 minutes, with not one minute wasted. This is mat grappling with a few slaps and punches thrown in for good measure, and it's shot with high-definition clarity so there's no chance of missing a thing. (Having reached its goal for a state-of-the-art camera, right now Krushco is fundraising for a new and better wrestling mat too. Want to contribute? Go to the GoFundMe page here.)

Krush and Roach go for six falls. Early on, Krush grumbles, appreciatively, "You're not bad." Krush wins the first fall four minutes into the video, but he has to fight for it. Later he tells me Roach "was tougher than [he'd] originally anticipated." From the start, the rookie looks plenty sure of himself, and he's eager to show off what he can do (and take), which is quite a lot, as it turns out. He's persistent, too. Even when he's stuck in a worryingly precarious situation, he continues to slap, punch, and taunt Krush to egg him on even further. This guy won't skitter off when the lights come on. He sticks to Krush like Saran Wrap.

After the first fall, Roach wastes no time climbing up Krush's body and winding his legs tight around the big guy's head. I'm not sure exactly what Roach's wrestling background is, but he's got some, along with a heavy dose of pugnacity, game for just about anything, fight-wise. He goes after the bigger, more experienced wrestler without the slightest hint of shyness or reservation. Within two minutes he squeezes a pissed-off submission out of Krush. 

The next fall won't come for six more minutes, and it's a strenuous battle to the end. But it's nothing compared to the final seven minutes, with both wrestlers at their extreme, exhausted, sweating, and determined to win. If you're the type to challenge Krush to hit the mat with you, you're looking to wrestle, not just get on TV. Roach gets what he's been after these past few years, and Krush has both hands full with him. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Backbone







This is pretty damn exciting for a sport (submission wrestling) that many pro wrestling fans call boring. Aron Stokes, 6', 178#, is called in to break in the new recruit Dave Markus, 5'9", 169#, in Movimus's latest release. It's a battle between wrestlers built like swimmers, with a slight height and weight advantage going to Stokes, not to mention a couple of impressive Movimus matches already under his belt. Though shorter and lighter, Markus is built more powerfully ... I mean like a fucking Lamborghini

Dave and Aron almost immediately hit the mat and lock themselves together in the tightest knot imaginable. Dave has Aron securely by the head, but Aron is giving up nothing. Getting nowhere, Dave swiftly repositions, but Aron won't budge. Their bodies together form a single solid fist, so evenly matched that they seem to hit a standstill within seconds, though neither is what you could possibly call "standing still." The moves are quick and sometimes audacious, though severely constrained by the opponent's strength and near-psychic anticipation of each next move. The two are amazingly in sync. I would have to double-check to be sure, but I'm fairly certain Movimus has never presented us with two competitors so evenly paired.

All this makes for good drama: two strong antagonists with their wits about them for 100 percent of the match, each one intent on doing whatever it takes to gain the advantage. It takes Markus about six exacting minutes to choke a submission out of Stokes, who then takes just a minute more to return the favor. Dave's shadow can't be more in step with him than Aron is (and vice versa). More than once Stokes pulls out a surprise move that reverses the battle's trajectory. Then Markus responds with a spin of his own. The struggle has got to be wearing these men down, but the intensity and heat never ebb but rather build and build almost impossibly to the end. 

The end? There's almost definitely got to be a rematch for these two. Please, Movimus, please! Look at Aron's face all lit up as he gives Dave a sportsmanlike hug after the last submission: This is a wrestler who knows he's been in the fight of his life. Now look at Dave's face: "Grim determination" is the only phrase that fits.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Coming to Blows




Make a fist. Make two. Hold those nose-busters up about a foot in front of your chest. Crouch slightly as if preparing for a collision against your left shoulder (or right shoulder). Bend your knees slightly. Look your opponent in the eye. Force your gaze into and through the hole of his left eye (or right eye), and put on your best fight face. Even collegiate wrestlers take this stance for yearbook photos, even though regular mat wrestling does not involve punching. It is the universal pose of manliness--and I find it more irresistible than biceps poses or pec pops. Truth be told, a big broad fist is more of a turn-on for me than a big cock. (Of course, the argument goes that the one may be a symbol of the other.)

Still, as a sport boxing has seldom interested me. (Boxers do, but I imagine them wrestling or brawling.) Jujitsu and karate do not keep my attention for long. I like gutpunching all right, but a gutpunching video that features gutpunching and nothing but doesn't go far with me. It's like a dinner of nothing but garnishes: microgreens, maraschino cherries, and carrot curls. But as garnish for a stiff, well-constructed battle between two catch wrestlers, punching, forearm thrusts, and flat-handed chops heighten the emotion and ring drama. I like that. Even the word "heightening" is suggestive of ... something bigger.

Punching should be used sparingly but strategically in ring wrestling. Of course, I speak as an outsider who is not in the "business." I'm a teacher, littérateur, and grammarian. For me, jabs and hooks are the punctuation that clarifies the action in the ring. It used to be that the first wrestler to take a swing at the other was the one who was the badass--or at least the one with less self-control. That rule doesn't seem to hold anymore. What blows still do, however, is add rhythm and pace to the story the wrestlers are telling.

The Japanese style is my preferred model: first scientific mat grappling, followed by some pulse-racing aerial acrobatics (moonsaults and hurricanranas and the like), climaxing with a series of sweaty slugfests, both in the center of the ring and against the turnbuckles, ending with a sudden (can't-hold-it-any-longer) pinfall or submission. (I like both, but I still prefer pinfalls over submissions, though I do understand and enjoy the theatrics of the latter. And with the pinfall you get the ref drumming on the canvas with the palm of his hand, while the loser squirms under the victor's body.) You can probably see through my metaphors here: foreplay to determine dominance, leading to thrusting and ultimately orgasm. Yeah, that's the drift of my thinking.

In my mind, the thrusting motion of punches and kicks suggests humping--or the attempt to penetrate the opponent. Too much punching without a jockeying for position before or a decisive payoff after just looks like rote exercise to me. I wouldn't even call it dry-humping, because dry-humping at least builds to a sticky finish. Intuitively, if not consciously and deliberately, my favorite ring wrestlers--doesn't matter if they're gay or straight or somewhere in between--know how to follow a good bump with a hard jab--and make it mean something I can feel, you know, in places.

Here are some photographs from the treasure trove of The Arena @BGEAST of slobber-knockers (Wrestling Arsenal used the term on Tuesday and I have needed to use it ever since) that capture the fine art of using one's fists (and sometimes boots) to raise a fight's innate eroticism to the surface.

Joshua Goodman pounding Marco Guerra in Wrestler Spotlight: Joshua Goodman

Jonny Firestorm tearing Marco a new one while Anthony Wayne holds him down in Wrestler Spotlight: Jonny Firestorm

Tristan giving it to Kieran Dunne in Fantasymen 29

Eli Black shows Z-Man who's the boss in Undagear 21

Archer (yes, THAT Archer) will come to blows with Jakeno Enzi in Undagear 22 (coming soon)

Kid Karisma takes the starch out of Ray Naylor also in the up and coming Undagear 22


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mikey Nicholls










Jago left this comment yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning:
Just wanted to come back and point out--since Haste was getting all the love--that the Nicholls guy is pretty danged hot too. He has that sort of bully build I like in my jobbers--like Roderick Strong!
Damn right, Jago. Nicholls' combination of power gut and iron thighs epitomizes the "bully build," though I think Mikey is pretty far past being a jobber here. So to reward Jago for saying something I like, I pass this February 2014 match on to you. This is Mikey (6'1", 227#) versus Chilean grappler Xtra Large (6'1", 231#) at Pro Wrestling NOAH in Tokyo. It's not Mikey's toughest fight, but it does demonstrate the guy's winsome ring presence: bold, cocky, bullish, rough, droll.

Nicholls and XL are similar in height and weight, but proportioned very differently, creating a sense (to my eyes) that Mikey is the much bigger man, though four pounds lighter. (Of course, pro-wrestling stats are always iffy.) I'm not sure why a round, firm belly stacked between steel-belted shoulders and tree-trunk thighs works for me, but it does. I like the way XL bounces off of it with his suicide corkscrew shooting star press at the 4:47 mark.

For me the best moments are Nicholls in full-on gorilla mode: the nostril stretch at 6:33 and the drop-em-dead midair punch at 8:53, just two examples. The match offers some satisfying corner beatdowns too, though I would like to see them three or four times longer. In sum, Nicholls' hotness owes in equal parts to his golden-era-catch physique and his easy way with the crowd (and the camera). That said, I can't see the Shane Haste love dying out at my house anytime soon either.


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