A is for Armbar--The sexiest hold in pro wrestling, a stiff throbbing forearm squeezed into another man's hairy armpit--read some fucking Freud, why don't ya?

B is for Body slam--The sexiest move in pro wrestling--sexy because of the body contact, sexy because of one man lifting another man in a show of total control and superior strength, sexy because of the boom! as the slammee hits the mat, and sexy because of the bounce of the slammee's body and the convulsive arching of his back, thrusting his crotch as high as it will go.

C is for Cradle--The sexiest hold in amateur wrestling.  First, there's total control of one's opponent.  Second, there's the forcible spreading of the opponent's legs.  Then there's the inner thigh rubbing up against the opponent's crotch.  If I had to make up a sexy wrestling hold, I couldn't do better.

D is for Deathlock--Of course, pro wrestling takes the basic premise of the cradle--incapacitation and symbolic castration--and makes it bigger, showier.  In the inverted Indian deathlock, you get your guy on his back on the mat.  You make a flying leap and land your knee high up on his inner thigh.  Then you lock his legs around one of yours, his one calf latched onto the other, and stand, stretching yourself backwards in an arch, your own crotch at the high point of the arch.  For added pressure, you thrust your cock up and down into the air, like you're trying to fuck a rainbow.  (Greg Gagne does it nice and sexy to Tito Santana here.)

E is for Elbow--The elbow (on occasion, the knee and most definitely the fist) is a proxy for the head of a huge erect penis.  Thus, an elbow smash carries a certain erotic charge, inexplicable to people who fail to look beyond the obvious.  Idiots.

F is for Figure-four leglock--Okay, maybe I'm changing my mind now, and this is the sexiest hold in wrestling--any entanglement of legs (or of legs and other body parts--headscissors, etc.), no matter how potentially painful, gets me hard as a bowling pin.  (No, wait, I just checked here--it's the armbar again, definitely the armbar.)

G is for Gut-punching--A great way to polish a set of glistening, ripped abs or, for some of us (me, anyway), the reason nature made firm round beer bellies.  In general, the gut is anatomically designed to take fists, claws, knees, foreheads, and boots.  Plus, the navel is there--and a taut, almond-shaped innie is the sine qua non of a beautiful belly.

H is for Heel--The only man worth his salt in the ring.

I is for Illegal--The pro wrestler's translation of "de rigueur."  (But note "J' below.)  Illegality in the carefully choreographed world of kayfabe, though, means that every illegal move is planned and practiced in advance.  It is then like boys playing girls disguised as boys in Shakespearean comedies.  You're seeing what you're seeing for exactly what it is, but pretending it's something else.

J is for Justice--As much as I do like heels, I can't shake a desire for comeuppance, payback, retribution, or whatever you want to call it.  Auric Goldfinger is only half a villain till his fat ass flies out the window of a rapidly depressurizing jet.  Till then, he's just a businessman with a nose for investment and a cutthroat approach to competition.  Justice is, in pro wrestling, the thrilling climax of the heel's story arc--it's when after minutes, days, weeks, months, of having it all his way, he finally gets a taste of his own medicine--it's the cum shot, if you will, and without it, the entire gimmick is nothing but a cocktease as far as I'm concerned.  I should add that referees offer only the illusion of justice.  In the end, payback has to come at the prow of a fist.  A whistle and a tap on the back won't cut it.  And in the meting out of justice--the crowd (the only real law there is in pro wrestling) permits the hero to give full rein to his dark side and vent his fury upon the unjust with all the sadism of a dungeon master, with no loss to his squeaky clean reputation.  (On a personal note, it's my firm conviction that justice is strictly a literary device, employed in drama, i.e. "poetic justice," and has no counterpart in the real world.)

K is for Knockout--Not strictly the expected outcome of a wrestling match, but unconsciousness belongs right up there with the pin and the submission as erotically satisfying falls in pro wrestling.  Why else would there be sleeperholds and folding chairs?  (Needless to say, DQs and draws have as little to do with what I talk about in these pages as no-shows.)   The word "knockout" has sexual connotations that are no doubt felt each time the word is spoken--or even thought--and the final zoom-in on a prostrate, sweating, nearly naked, and barely moving hunk is not just a BG East cliche, it is a sacrament.

L is for Low blow--An attack on a man's genitalia.  An outrage and a huge turn-on.

M is for Male model--The male model is a trope in pro wrestling by which audiences (especially US audiences) deal with their ambivalence over manly beauty.  The gimmick is a thinly veiled critique of vanity and self-importance, thus entirely in step with the Christian tradition of repudiating classical ideals of heroism, physical beauty, the male ego, and strength in the interests of obedience, spirituality, self-sacrifice, and meekness.  (Not that many modern Christians fully embrace these latter virtues either, but most retain a neo-Platonic aversion to the body--"the sins of the flesh"--or any modes of behavior not entirely governed by fear and guilt.)  It is, however, part of the paganizing role of entertainment, including wrestling entertainment, that these vain, self-absorbed characters ultimately become (almost embarrassingly) crowd favorites--take, for starters, the career paths of Gorgeous George, Ravishing Rick Rude, Stunning Steve Austin, The Rock, and (I would predict) the new incarnation of Dolph Ziggler.

N is for Noggin--Okay, "head," then, but I already used "H" for "heel," which also orphaned "hair pulling," unfortunately, as well as "high flyers."  I'm thinking head as in headscissors, of course, and headlock (getting mine caught under my best friend's arm in college taught me the joys of sometimes losing a match--hearing the basso drumming of his powerful heart, smelling pheromones rise off his skin like the morning dew, and feeling the tingle of cartilage in my ears as he tried to turn them into florets of cauliflower right there on the spot!)  But there's also the idea of wrestling being as intellectually challenging as it is physically, a "head game"--as well as the commonsense adage about taking a man down, that "where the head goes the body follows"--and, yeah, I'm thinking "giving head," too, having watched too much Naked Kombat perhaps.

O is for Ouch--Or noise in general.  It's the sound of suffering and struggle we respond to most.  Silent footage of wrestling has a hypnotic dreamlikeness, to be sure, but without the slap of skin on skin and loud miserable grunts from the guy getting pummeled--and perhaps the roar of a crowd that's 100% involved in the ring drama--wrestling loses a good half of its sex appeal, or more.  The noise I don't usually need is color commentary (with the exception of the late Gordon Solie's thrillingly purple prose).

P is for Pin--I have very strong positive feelings for knockouts (see "K" above) and submissions (see "Q" below) as wrestling outcomes.  But nothing beats a pin, as far as I'm concerned.  Perhaps it's only  a question of the word "pin" with its echoes of "penis" and "penetration."  Given the concreteness of my imagination, the idea of pinning a guy to the mat sends shudders up and down my spine.  The schoolboy pin is the missionary position of wrestling, but it still carries tremendous erotic voltage.  But the cross body pin, especially when the victor hooks one of the loser's legs, causes my heart to skip a beat every time.

Q is for Quit--The "I quit" match is one of the most primal of all wrestling matches.  Only a fight to the death would be more elemental and animal.  So submission is the limit civilization (not to mention common decency and the law) sets for mastery by force.  To make somebody submit, quit, or cry uncle puts that person's life--his whole essence or soul--under your command--at least for several moments.  In my house, that's called "sexy."  The "I quit" match in which the loser leaves town, or has to change his name, touches on the irrevocability of death without its actually being irrevocable.

R is for Rasslin--Spelled like this and pronounced with three syllables, and you know it's gonna be crazy good.

S is for Sweat--The lube of heroes.

T is for Turnbuckle--The only weapon a good ring wrestler needs--and a place where bodies come together, grind, tremble, recoil, rise to the top of the post, and then let go, crashing climactically to the mat.

U is for Unmasking--I've discussed this elsewhere--and other people (especially those who devote themselves to masked wrestling) have discussed it better than I can.  Let me say only that stripping away a man's mask is a trope that works on several levels at once--domination, humiliation, outing, discovery, denuding, intimacy, rebirth, and recognition, to name only the ones that spring to mind immediately.

V is for Victory--Victory is heady and exciting, but it is only half of the eroticism of wrestling.  As Proust pointed out, in every love affair there is a kisser and a kissee.  That is, there is no such thing as equality in love, not even in true love.  Somebody is always giving love more than receiving it.  As much as I am a fan of an evenly matched wrestling bout, I'm even a bigger fan of a definite and unquestionable victory--which means there is a definite and unquestionable loss as well.  So "V" is for "Vanquished" as well.  In wrestling, as in love, the pleasure is both in the giving and the receiving.  It's in the friction and the struggle--which is the rhythm of life itself.  Winning or losing, we know that we are alive from the struggle--and life is the fundamental quality of "eros."

W is for Wrestle--The most beautiful word in the English language (see also adluctor, birkózik, brotas, 搏斗glima, 格闘güreşmek, kushindana, lottare, luchar, lutar, lutter, makipagbuno, ringen, تصارع, worstelen, zápasit, zmagać się, and so on).

X, Y, and Z are for "X," "Y," and "Z"--The anonymity of the masked villain, the "parts unknown" from which everyone worth knowing ever came, and the gnawing sense of mystery and the approaching end that the last three letters of the English alphabet symbolize ... and their invaluable usefulness in turning garden-variety first names into exotic and ominous monikers befitting a cyberpunk badass--"Andy" to "Andy-X," "Brent" to "Brynt," and "Christopher" to "Kryztofur."  To triumph over adversaries with names like these is to triumph over death itself.

(All of these pictures are uncredited, as far as I could tell.  Most of them I stole from Wrestling Arsenal, which is and has long been a source of inspiration.  All my critical methods I borrowed from Herbert Marcuse and his excellent 1955 book Eros and Civilization, also an inspiration to this blog.)


  1. I know my comments aren't appreciated these days among the gay wrestling set, but one of your ABCs touched upon one of the topics I've thought about a lot over the years. So maybe this'll get posted based on some degree of provocative insight if nothing else. Here goes...

    On the "Male Model" as pro wrestling trope, I wholly agree that it's all about the audience's potential ambivalence over "male beauty." The traditional take is in line with yours, as in the wrestler with the arguably better looking face and obviously the more muscular and ripped physique is vain and arrogant and obnoxious. Rick Rude is and remains the paragon of that, what with the elaborate ring entrances where he literally ordered the men in the audience to look away lest their egos be devastated as their woman gaze upon the sort of "real man" they wish their men, with their comparatively flabby and saggy bods, really were.

    Shift the scene to a gay-oriented wrestling ring, and everything changes. In the straight world of WWE and, especially, WCW, the Rick Rude types are direct, blatant threats to the audience on the most primal level, precisely because he represents the sort of man the "average" man fears as more than capable of stealing "his" woman. He's a metaphysical barrier to sexual possibility. But in gay wrestling, that pumped up stud or that fitness magazine cover worthy prettyboy isn't a threat, he's actually the object of desire himself.

    It all goes back to the audience defining the action and who the wrestlers are from their perspective. In straight world, the hunk who flaunts and flexes his obviously impressive physique is a cad, a dick, a guy who deserves that proverbial comeuppance. But in gay wrestling land, that same guy--no an even better looking guy--is often actually the good guy in the drama. As, in, yes, even among gay guys who like muscle and male beauty, there's a possibility that stud who fits the bill can be an arrogant ass. More likely, however, he's actually nice. Flexing his physique and donning barely-there gear isn't arrogance, it's often humility, a whole, "I've worked hard and I'm appreciative you guys watching enjoy it, so I'm happy to give you what you want" thing. And the guy who sneaks into the ring and levels him behind his back is the asshole, precisely because he's "disrupting" that enjoyment. I think that's why so many of the biggest names on the hunk tip in gay wrestling are so often developed as naive and trusting. Your Brad Rochelles and Beau Hopkins and even Troy Baker types didn't sneer and deride and dismiss so much as smile and jog in place and inevitably "fall" for the whole handshake that turns into a slap (i.e. Brad in Demolition 3) or a pearl harbor (Troy in Demolition 4) from which there's almost no chance for that guy to turn the tables and use his muscles dishing it out. In fact, the more vulnerable that guy is portrayed, for example, Brad in The Contract 4, where the "match" begins with Brad KO'ed from the prior match, tied in the ropes with his trunks pulled down in the back, only to groggily stumble free and into the path of a "monster" in a mask who tears into him with brutal abandon, the more enticing that stud is. Sympathy, I think, is a wholly underplayed gimmick these days.

    That then leads into the whole titillating "display" thing that's such a core component of gay wrestling where that stud is subsequently twisted in positions that show him off, even as the "heel" rants and raves about his psychotic resentment of that guy. Anyway, such is my take. Deuces!

  2. Thanks, Josh. For the record I have posted all your comments. I encourage you and everyone to express your opinions, even contrary ones. The only comments I would not post are flagrant advertisements--and I would never knowingly publish a comment likely to cause harm to somebody. Comments need not be respectful--to me or anyone else--though, yeah, respect and civility are things I request and expect.

  3. "P" is for PILEDRIVER...nothing else.

    Martha Stewart

  4. Is a complete dictionary in the works? I'd buy that! :-)

  5. "O is for Ouch" The sound of a body hitting canvas covered plywood is so damn erotic.

  6. you had me at ‘A’ ... great essay. Thanks for posting and sharing it


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