No Holds Barred 19

It's just February, but I'm fairly certain that Thunder's Arena's No Holds Barred 19 is one of the best matches I will see in 2012. Not only are Z-Man and Dominic two of the hottest wrestlers on a piping hot roster, in a new year that opened with Thunder's best lineup to date, but they deliver fast, noisy, nonstop, sweaty, ball-grabbing action a notch above most of the competition. In the process, they also set new personal bests and raise the bar for Thunder's frathouse-inspired horseplay.

I can speak only for myself, of course, but I could not sit still or quiet through this 25-minute bout, and I was totally stoked three minutes into it. Z-Man has found his groove, and it's a mean, nasty groove, the kind I long hoped he'd find in himself. He's cut loose his inner cobra, a complement and intensifier to his sleek good looks. NHB19 is a strenuous back-and-forth battle for the duration, till a climactic blow knocks one of them clean out.

The match starts fairly typically, with Z-Man boasting that Dominic does not deserve to "hang with the Z-Man." I was just thinking of grabbing a beer to wait out a long, talkative prologue, but then, suddenly, somebody gets slapped across the mouth, and all hell breaks loose. I'm hooked, and the longneck in the icebox has to wait. On occasion in the past, Thunder's trademark banter and smiling self-awareness have had a dampening effect on the intensity of the fights ... for this fan anyway. But things have taken a turn in the last year. No doubt Z-Man and Dominic have a blast here roughing each other up, but this matchup brings two evenly matched men with unexpected fire in their bones, who throw their hearts and souls into this contest even though they could easily coast on their good looks and a ten-minute pose off.

I am impressed. With the dazzle of bright new faces like Lex, Pee Wee, TAK, and Impact at Thunder's, it's a happy surprise to see something this exciting and intense come out of two guys who have been with the company for a while. Both bust balls to make this one of the most raucous, balls-to-the-wall brawls of their careers. They prove that energy, fearlessness, low blows, and incessant loud grunting are about as sexy as it gets.


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