Saturday, January 9, 2010

XS Violence (DVD Review)

The words "our team" have a sudden new resonance for me.  If Pride Pro Wrestling is not the first LGBT-centered live pro-wrestling show, then it's got to be one of very very few in the world.  And what a neat way to act out the pro-gay side of the American culture wars!  Fighters posing as self-righteous religious-right types duke it out in the ring with an array of just-for-laughs gay stereotypes, ranging from the fey to the furry, from the fabulous to the furious.

Pride sells access to several of its matches for online download (here), but so far the one dvd product I've seen is XS Violence, containing only two full matches, along with tightly edited excerpts from other matches, from 29 March 2009 at Club XS in York, Pennsylvania.  (DVD extras include footage of a "biggest package" contest, a slide show of posed shots of PPW's roster, and a music video.)

In the first match, representatives of the so-called Kingdom of Heaven double-team and illegally choke a regular working-class grappler named Eddie Valentine.  The ring announcers are clearly outraged by the overbearing antics of the professed Christians.  Bounding into the ring to save the day, though, is a provocatively named masked wrestler, The Penetrator, who alone more than evens the score with the two bigots.  But the forces of self-justifying hate don't play fair.  A third KoH figher, blandly handsome Scottie Sinclair, interferes, using a bible as an illegal foreign object.  The ref disqualifies the (literal!) bible-thumpers, and the victory goes by default to Valentine and Penetrator.

The drama continues in the final match, with the very first PPW championship title at stake.  Sinclair reenters with his "wife" carrying the uplifted bible ahead of him.  His opponent is sexy "gay-for-pay" Jordan Winters, a go-go boy with long slick hair and dollar bills sticking out of his waistband, clearly the crowd favorite.

Watch the soft-spoken Winters in the clip below, and you get a sense of the sly way the people at PPW use wrestling as code for sex (as if they were the first, of course).  This interview parodies the notorious Calvin Klein ad campaign of the 1990s, itself a watershed in the culture wars, in which reticent and very young models were coaxed into talking and stripping by a smarmy off-camera interviewer, a setup clearly suggestive of kiddie porn.  In the ring, though, Winters is anything but shy and retiring.  He's cocky and itching to get his hands on the holier-than-thou Sinclair.

This singles competition is as good as you get with most independent wrestling organizations in the US.  Sinclair and Winters know their moves and generate a lot of heat and pop with the predominantly gay crowd.

Winters establishes control at the outset with a well-executed Japanese arm drag, followed by a dropkick that spins Sinclair clear out of the ring.  Sinclair hesitates to come back and face the rest of his licking, so Winters bounds out after him, chasing him back into the ropes.  In the ring, though, Sinclair evens the score with a vicious clothesline that nearly knocks Winters out cold.  Making matters worse for Winters, Sinclair's "wife" interferes in the match, bible in hand, but Winters grabs hold of Sinclair's pants and strips them down to his knees, impeding Scottie's mobility and exposing an apparent hard-on he's got from wrestling the hot, oiled-up boytoy.

I won't spoil the outcome for you guys, since the first ever PPW championship is the prize.  But I will be very interested in seeing what comes of this new promotion in the new year and the years to follow.

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