Jenkins and Cooper push their way into the ring ("our ring," they say). Right off the bat, Jenkins lets it be known he does not like the fresh looks Andrews is throwing his way. The setup to the match summarizes as much exposition as we need in less than a minute. Without a lot of fanfare, we know that the bad guys in matching black are hungry for a fight and easily incensed. We know that Andrews and Kane are the innocent parties, two regular dudes in the wrong place at the wrong time: in short, goners. I wish all matches started this fast and sweet.
No time is wasted getting the party started either. Jake and Ethan lock up first, the two guys having immediately zeroed in on each other. Jake escalates the situation fast. It's going to be a beating. Austin stands at his corner and leers at Jason, taunting him over the heads of the two men in the ring, with "Hey, tough guy." Kane acts cool, but you have to figure he's a little rattled, the new kid and all. Cooper has the biggest smile in the world on his face, as he reminds the slim newcomer his turn is coming faster than he may like.
The economy of all this is remarkable. It has never occurred to me that the two untagged men should banter while their partners are busy beating shit out of each other. But seeing it here, it really seems like this is the only way to do these things. Jake is beating Ethan Andrews like a dusty blanket. Austin calls out the shots for Jake, and Jake obliges, like a short-order cook, "scattering," "smothering," "covering," "chunking," and "topping."
At first Cooper refuses to tag in, saving himself for his date with Kane. But Jenkins wants him to share in the fun of squashing Ethan like bubblewrap. Cooper flies in off the top rope, smashing Andrews across the chest. He adds a few bruises to the ones Jenkins made, and then, bored with his limp and panting prey, contemptuously boots him over to the corner to let Kane tag in. He works up a nice sweat over Kane, and it's looking like a replay of the first half of the round until Jason pulls a neat reversal in the midst of an Irish whip. Then things start getting even more interesting.
"Teen Sensation" Jason Kane debuted not long ago in a match against Ethan Andrews, here his partner. Kane proves to be surprisingly tough, with a short fuse and a mean streak of his own. (I can't wait to see what happens when he and Eli Black hop into the ring.) Andrews has come up with one hell of a fight face, fiercely displayed in the opening credits. He suffers a lot in this match, at the hands of both heels, but especially at the hands of Jake Jenkins, who appears to take pleasure in grinding the Midwestern hotshot to pulp.
What makes the team of Cooper and Jenkins so formidable? I wish I knew. It's chemistry. Both have the symmetrical faces of Botticelli angels, slightly buckled by their love of brawling, and hard, volcanic physiques, evenly tanned. Although they have got attitude to spare and genuinely relish breaking a man apart, it all mostly boils down (for me) to the combination of beauty and evil. The mix is lethal, for me it is anyway, who grew up on a steady diet of film noir, where dark and brutal killers in nattily cut suits skulk behind shadows, with gaunt cheeks and hungry eyes. I always had a hard-on for the villains, and when, on top of their wickedness, they're beautiful too, the impact is irresistible. I'm just perverted, I guess.
This is the third time Jake Jenkins and Austin Cooper have teamed up. These two are never better than when they are together in the ring, the very definition of synergy, and Rock Hard must recognize a winning formula when it sees one. Although this match does not reach the heights of their first (against Trent Novak and Cliff Johnson), it rises pretty damn close to it. Give me more. I can take it.