Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beat the Ex!


UCW and its boss BodySlam may have launched Axel to underground wrestling stardom, but right now Axel is all jammed about the way he was treated on UCW's latest release [166] and is beseeching his legions of fans to let their irate voices be heard through UCW's fanmail address. (And, by the way, and beside the point, even pissed off up to his eyebrows, Axel can't lose that cute porpoise grin of his.)

Axel's panties have not been twisted in such a tight knot since Santos sheared his shaggy locks in a hair-vs-hair match back in June. You'll have to watch the match to get the full dope. This was supposed to be James the Never Give Up Kid's long-awaited title defense against Black Dragon. But Dragon's supermodel girlfriend had to be rushed to the hospital--acute split ends or something of the sort--and so the challenger is running late this evening. 

BodySlam promises James a fill-in, since cameras are ready to roll, and James thinks he's going to be tossed some jobber or wet-behind-the-ears rookie he can mop the floor with, but then out trots Axel, the previous UCW champion! This is big news since these two highly skilled and fiercely competitive technicians haven't faced off since James wrested the belt away from the hands of a foul-tempered Axel in release #137. Now Axel is here to fill in for Black Dragon, and he aims to take the opportunity to prove, once and for all, that he's the only real champion UCW has ever had.

You can expect the usual UCW mayhem--fast and furious action, cheap shots, holds that make you scratch your head and go "Can a body really bend like that?" James is determined to cut the ex-champ down to size, shutting up the speculation that's spred among some fans that Axel is the only UCW talent with the charisma and fight skills of a true champion. Things get pretty harsh between the two men, once friends, tag partners, and mutual admirers of the other's talent--but the battle, which goes nonstop for more than 30 minutes, is a sheer joy to watch.

There's a clear and decisive victory, which may come as a shock to some fans, given the impromtu setup, but there are shady undercurrents at work that rise to the surface at the end of the match--and, in the end, it looks like Axel might indeed have a legitimate beef about his handling here. You have to decide for yourself, of course, but, afterwards, don't forget to email BodySlam your two cents.








Monday, November 28, 2011

Bruisers








It was not until my teen years that wrestling won my heart. The stage had been set for it early on--Mighty Mouse to Tarzan to sword-and-sandal heroes to James Bond to Jim West on The Wild Wild West. The wrestling my uncle watched on TV when we visited over the holidays repulsed me--overweight slobs slugging each other in a decidedly seedy setting, no Greco-Roman columns, no loin cloths, no depilated bronze torsos, no Hollywood polish. What happened to change my mind, I can't really say. In high school I started wrestling some of my buddies. We'd strip down to our BVDs and grapple on the bedroom floor. Perhaps that did it. That actual physical contact might have led me to start looking at wrestling differently and perhaps to change my ideals of male beauty, beginning to start thinking of the beauty of bodies in motion and collision, rather than strictly of square jaws, high cheekbones, symmetrical pecs, and big biceps--though, honestly, what first drew me in high school to befriend athletes was their stature, their noble faces, and their well-developed muscles.

Jack Brisco was the first wrestler to make an imprint on my fantasy life, and I can see traces of Brisco in most of my opinions about pro wrestling and wrestlers today. From him I got my ideal of a perfect fight scenario--the straight-up scientific wrestler beaten down by the hair-pulling, dirty-fighting heel only to rise up, when the situation looks darkest, and defeat the bad guy with a sudden, honest pinfall. After decades, this is still my favorite angle. From Brisco, too, I got my appreciation for sweat and that bit of loose flesh over muscle that makes a man look vulnerable, that provides a handle for managing him, and that splats rather nicely against other loose flesh and muscle. 

Brisco's best battles were against the Funk brothers. Here we see Jack up against Terry Funk in a NWA match in Fort Lauderdale in 1973. The commentator Gordon Solie is another reason I love pro wrestling today. Probably without meaning to, Solie introduced me to the power of words to make a fight seem sexy. The YouTube video is courtesy of t72fins's channel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flyin Brian







Sandy-haired mullet versus sandy-haired mullet, matching orange trunks, sunlamp bronze, and a thousand screaming fans. This twenty-year-old match still packs some heat: Flyin' Brian Pillman (at age 28, reaching the height of his pro-wrestling career) versus underrated jobber Joe Cruz, NWA World Championship Wrestling, March 30, 1991. Video via wrestlaz channel on YouTube.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Note to Santa: Three Posters I Want Framed and Hanging on my Living-Room Wall ... Pronto!

Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (1963, dir. Pietro Francisci, starring Kirk Morris, Richard Lloyd, and Enzo Cerusico--of the three this is the only one I remember seeing in a movie theater on its first release)

The Magnificent Beast (1953, dir. Chano Urueta, starring Miroslava, Croz Alvaredo, and Wolf Ruvinskis--this is the one I'd most like looking at every day for the rest of my life, and if it means anything to you, Santa, it was released the year I was born, and IMDb rates it 8.8, higher than Citizen Kane--though with only 11 votes, not so impressive.)

Samson (1961, Fr. title: Samson contre Hercule, dir. Gianfranco Parolini, starring Brad Harris, Walter Reeves, and ... Serge Gainsbourg!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yoshino vs Fox









I like feuds, but I prefer them to be personal and to be an exception rather than the rule. As a rule, I prefer a contest whose drama is contained within the parameters of a single bout. I like the roles of hero and heel to emerge in the action of the match itself--not set up in previous shows and most definitely not in promos or pre-match monologues on the microphone. And in most cases I want the matter resolved at the final fall or submission. I have never much liked the open-ended match (disqualification, tie, etc.), though I certainly don't mind when a particularly exciting match calls for a rematch. (I realize I am in the minority here, since I'm told that many wrestling fans prefer the para-wrestling theatrics to the wrestling itself, hence the enormous popularity of WWE--but I have long contended that WWE's success is due no less to its flagrant pandering to audiences who don't actually like wrestling than to the McMahon family's business wiles.) 

This preference is one reason I also generally prefer underground wrestling to most stadium-filling events. Typically the underground scene and smaller wrestling venues cannot finance the narrative peaks and valleys of a long-running soap opera. They have to win their audiences with each and every match individually. The wrestlers have to define their characters through costuming, the flourish of their entrances, and the pushing of the audience's buttons (pro and con) throughout the match, but mostly through their actions in the heat of the contest. Heels reveal themselves through their underhanded and illegal tactics, heroes, through their long-suffering adherence to scientific wrestling, till, pushed to the breaking point, they sometimes give the heels a taste of their own medicine (occurrences which, as many of you know, are my definition of "heaven").

Case in point: Masato Yoshino, 5'8", 160#, defeated AR Fox, 5'10", 185#, at Dragon Gate USA on November 12th, with a straightjacket triangle choke, as pictured above. During the match, Fox generated a good bit of heat with the crowd, first by his brutal acts of aggression on fan-favorite Yoshino and then by his big-mouth asides throughout the bout. At the end of a hard-fought match, however, the two men can honor each other's achievement. (Once Fox exited the ring, however, Yoshino was attacked by his sworn enemies CIMA and Ricochet, till PAC came to the rescue, all part of a serial storyline involving leagues called Blood Warriors, bad guys, and Junction Three, bad guys. I tend to dislike leagues, mostly for the same reasons given above, but I'll save that rant for another day perhaps.)

Photos: Scott Finkelstein.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Like a Fox







AR Fox, 5'10", 185#, defeats Ryan McBride, 6'0", 195#, Combat Zone Wrestling, 12 November 2011. Photos: Scott Finkelstein.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Santiago vs Spencer









One of Canada's toughest (thus one of my favorite) pro wrestlers, lean, relentless Artemis Spencer, 6'0", 185#, seen here last Saturday in a DOA Pure Wrestling title match up against the champ, Mike Santiago, 5'8", 200#.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Baby Jesus of Professional Wrestling



Five-foot-three, 130-pounder Rockstar Spud has been around for ten years, beginning as a teenage high-flying crowd favorite and now, splendidly, a swaggering big-mouthed heel--the self-proclaimed "Baby Jesus of Professional Wrestling." Come let us adore him in these photos by Tony Knox, capturing the divine enfant in this Frontier Wrestling Alliance match against Jonny Storm, 5'7", 172#, who beat Spud to become the FSA's first ever fly-weight champion this past Saturday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rhymes with Bruce (and Noose)







Daniel Pruehs made his Ohio Valley Wrestling debut on Wednesday in a dark match against Christopher Silvio (formerly Sucio, now channeling Handsome Jimmy Valiant). Silvio won with (as pictured) a crossface submission.

Photos credit: Charles Parrish

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