Mat wrestling raises a challenge to my love of pro-style wrestling. There's no ring, so there are no reinforced ropes, no padded turnbuckles, and no raised platform to contain the action. The only boundaries are painted on the mat. Further, there is no drum effect when bodies slam. The suggestion of a stage in pro wrestling summons its theatricality, a double-edged sword with which, admittedly, I have some issues, especially with the extremes of spectacle in giant arena wrestling. That's because fundamentally I see wrestling as an intimate thing, best suited to privacy or at least closeness; that's at the very balls of my wrestling kink. Mat wrestling manifests this intimacy. But pro-style wrestling, which I do still love, tends to minimize and even denigrate the long, hard, tight, sweaty holds at the heart of wrestling's intimacy and eroticism.
To its credit, pro wrestling has its compensations. For one, the suggestion of a stage in the squared circle brings us drama. The long and strenuous embraces of even the best mat wrestling can get monotonous, so its critics complain. For the most part, it is the kind of monotony I don't mind--the same monotony that comes of fucking, and I don't have to watch an entire Mark Lander match, for instance, from beginning to end, to get the effect I want--no more than I need the full 85-minute scenario of Jeff Stryker's Powertool to get what I need and want from it. Still, I do like drama. In particular, simple good-guy-versus-bad-guy melodrama suits me just fine.
The stage in pro wrestling, bounded and upraised, also suggests the presence of a live audience--loudmouthed plebeians paying hard-earned cash to see strapping good guys outsize, out-muscle, outsmart, and out-pace bad guys who pointedly resemble the unfair bosses, the strict taskmasters, the neighborhood bullies, the self-absorbed in-crowds, and the contemptuous fat cats regular folks have to deal with day to day. Needless to say, this energy, this rage, brings with it, too, an unfortunate amount of jingoism, homophobia, infantile humor, and vulgarity, which make live events a bit scary for sensitive me. The homophobia, in particular, affronts my perception of wrestling as intimate, so, yeah, the prospect of watching two hot, barely dressed hunks battling, while I sit between two overweight drunk yahoos yelling "Faggot!" keeps me from going to shows that would otherwise draw me in with my own hard-earned cash in hand. (By the way, even live events staged specifically for gays have this problem for me--since, given our culture, even gay heckling can turn homophobic--and, somewhat worse, for me, the prospect of watching two hot, barely dressed hunks battling, while I sit between two drunk and anorexic queens trying to be "ironic about it all," with their razor-sharp "wit," is only marginally preferable to the scene just described.)
Besides the drama, pro wrestling offsets its lack of intimacy with other qualities of erotic interest--the ten-punch corner mount I recently lauded, for one. Chippendales-quality salon tans and skimpy gear for another. There are also loads of sexual innuendo, albeit often undercut with an air of homosexual panic. The ring ropes encourage repeated bondage and discipline scenarios that raise the kink quotient. The banging and chanting and cursing create a kind of rhythm, too, which replicates the pulse of sex. And pro wrestling in small venues does not have to sacrifice long, hard, tight, sweaty holds either, since the fans are close enough to the action to see and appreciate the smaller and subtler moves of mat wrestling.
Gay underground wrestling attempts to create the ideal compromise--ring matches with no noisy rabble to potentially break the sexual spell of the contest. This works to a certain extent--but it's hard to deny that there is also a nagging sense that something fundamental is missing. The same goes for mat wrestling that tries to "liven things up" with character and drama and a few tried-and-true kayfabe catch moves thrown in--but a body slam and a drop kick on a vinyl mat painted with a circle simply do not carry the necessary weight. Ditto for masks, capes, and foreign objects outside of a regulation ring: a little creepy, in my opinion--whether "nice" creepy or "ugh" creepy depends on other factors.
The old Lets Wrestle series, especially the ones with Mark Lander, are my ideal of mat-wrestling video. It had the patience to let the match draw out without a lot of trick editing or artificial "breaks" for choreographed action. As I already said, though, I never have to watch the entire thing to get the desired effect. The old Old Reliable tapes worked, too, with added layers of seediness, ineptitude, and drug-induced cold sweats--not entirely as bad as they may sound, by the way. More recently, I have liked what Thunder's Arena is doing--sure, it's clownish and adolescent, but intentionally so, modeled, as it is, upon the antics of drunk frat boys stripping down and exploring each other froternally. I'm also a fan of Naked Kombat. BG East turns out excellent stuff, too, needless to say. I especially like its Backyard Brawls and Gazebo Grapplers series. The Matmen and Mat Hunks series are newer to me--and lately Adam Killion has been a particular draw for me.
Eight years ago, Killion, 5'8", 170#, fought three matches at BG East: Mat Hunks 2, 3, and 4, versus Nick Archer, Josh Avery, and Justin Pierce. My favorite of the three is the last, his sweaty bout with Pierce, 6'0", 190#. In it, Killion is the meaty, red-faced roughneck--calling to mind Ted DiBiase Jr and, even more, Jason Hades--squared off against the tall and pretty Pierce. His dishwater-blond hair, fashionably cut, chin patch and shimmery black trunks offset Pierce's Hollywood good looks, perpetually erect nipples, and regulation gear in basic white. The visual contrast suggests classic pro-wrestling heel-versus-babyface melodrama, but the action starts innocently enough with a respectful handshake, and for the most part the contest is civil and sportsmanlike. But Killion's and Pierce's attractiveness and contrasting physiques and temperaments are what give the basically straight-edge match a certain level of erotic energy. I wish Killion had stuck around longer at BGE. I would love to have seen Jonny Firestorm go after Killion. And perhaps there are, as there so often are, some unreleased matches that will see the light of day in the near future. One can only hope.