Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rough Translation

Czech-born Tyler Reeves, 6'1", 175#, at Rock Hard Wrestling holds a fascination for me. I think it's his accent, or just the idea that a wholly different language is running through his head like a hidden spring. (Like most Americans, I'm monolingual, I admit regretfully. I stammer through French and Spanish like a three-year-old, and that's flattering myself.) 

Elsewhere, I have confessed that I supplement my kink for wrestling with a number of auxiliary kinks--for eyeglasses, loincloths, brothers, sweat--the incongruous stuff of the unconscious: Freud would have a field day with me. To that list, I add the allure of a foreign tongue--particularly Eastern European languages (six days in Prague three years ago cinched it for me), but French as well.

Several years ago I had a number of Russian students in my English classes. For some reason the late Bush regime attracted a Russian contingency to central North Carolina--they (the little group I taught) later moved on to California. Compared to my American students, these students were highly driven: one, I remember, still relied on a Russian-English dictionary and subjected every essay to no fewer than ten drafts till it read as fluent and refined as anything by George Orwell. What attracted me was their intelligence combined with a laconic rough edge. Sexy. (Can-Am's Roman Stone, and, though with no discernible accent, Alexi Adamov at BG East have held me under a similar sway.)

So in addition to the language difference, and the silky muscularity, I'm attracted to the stony Slavic temperament (the "Ivan Drago effect," I call it). In the case of Reeves, this manifests itself as a dry but caustically derisive sense of humor (or I read it as dry humor--"You better give up, no?"), a short fuse, and a catlike cruel streak. In my most recent wrestling purchases, through which I'm catching up on what I missed in 2010 and 2011, Reeves takes on Chris Cox, Max Powers, and (partnering with Powers) Cox and Jeff Hollister.

Cox gains an early lead in his solo match with Reeves, but Reeves has more muscle and, based on first impressions, more fight in him. Cox appears irresolute and a bit too slow for Reeves, not to mention wispy. Soon enough, Tyler's grim animal instincts surface, and he slams Chris into the ropes and delivers a series of punishing stomps and chokes. It takes just two or three minutes for Reeves to break a full, glimmering sweat, deepening his allure for me. He does his best work against the turnbuckle, cutting off all avenues of escape and pounding Cox like a dusty rug. Cox gets his moment in Round 2 and Reeves sells it perfectly, but in Round 3, which Reeves says he's got to rush through because he's "got a party to get to," the Czech heel regains the upper hand. By this point, both men are so drenched in sweat that they might as well be oil wrestling, and Reeves traps Cox in a sensuous head scissors and yanks at his victim's hair while commanding him to submit. More scissors and gut-punching lead to a climactic camel-clutch finisher. (On the DVD, this match is paired with a match between Cody Nelson and Travis Storm, two other favorites of mine.)

In the next catalog (5), Reeves teams up with fellow skinhead Powers to rematch with Cox, teamed up with Hollister, blond and looking like a seventh-grader. Cox and Hollister wear singlets, no doubt to denote straight-edge cred. Slim and lightweight, they show the smirking, muscular badasses that they can scrap with the best. But there's no getting around the fact that they're giving up over fifty pounds in combined weight against Reeves and Powers, who win the first round with Powers pinning Cox. In this match, Reeves displays a weaselly smugness that makes me impatient to see him get his butt justly kicked. From the ring apron, he shouts encouragement to Powers and sharply berates the other team, acting every bit like any number of Euro-trash villains that Bruce Willis had to snuff out in the 1980s. In the ring, he (once again) gets his man in a scissors (Hollister this time) and tears at the scalp with both hands, motivating Cox to jump in and dish up some solid payback. Once Cox has beaten the juice out of Reeves, he turns the not-so-smug-now villain over to Hollister to finish off. But, even broken, Reeves is too big and mean for Hollister, and the question is whether Reeves will tear Hollister into even smaller pieces or whether Hollister will tag Cox back in to go all John McClane on Tyler's ass.

In Catalog 7, Reeves and Powers turn on each other.  Reeves comes out of his corner boxing, already bright with perspiration, pinching his lips together as he beats the bigger man down to the mat with his fists. Reeves is markedly more confident now, exhilarated by his own propensity for violence. The big American, however, is not one of the skinny punks RHW fed Reeves like goldfish to a piranha (though, it must be said that these had been some pretty flinty goldfish). This is the biggest slab of meat Tyler's been asked to handle since his debut in Catalog 2 against Cody Nelson, a true test of his wrestling strategy and resilience. Two things I love here: teammates turning on each other and badasses pitted against each other. Reese doesn't have any hair to pull this time either; still, he submits Powers at the end of a strenuous Round 1. As I hoped, this match goes for a full three rounds. In the second round, Max goes after Tyler like a jackhammer, and Tyler, dazed and whimpering from a brutal pounding, has never sold any fight better. I'll spare you spoilers on Round 3, but, despite some clumsy transitions between moves (a problem that plagues a lot of underground wrestling), it's a pleaser. Reeves seeks to even the score by trapping Powers on the ropes, in moves that a good ref would have stopped. He wears his opponent down with kidney punches and raw chokes. In the end, both men are wet as jellyfish. 

Rock Hard does not capitalize on Reeves' foreignness. I take this as a good thing. Too much pro wrestling traffics in xenophobia (happily, we see less and less of this trend everywhere over the past five years--though fans still are incited to mechanically chant "USA!" more than I feel comfortable with). As babyface or heel, Tyler Reeves' accent is a good part of his allure for me, all the same. Given his roughneck attitude and smooth build, I'm sure I'd be a fan even if he spoke with a Dallas twang or Boston nasality. But the thought that Reeves' brain struggles through "Dost?" and "Musíte být potrestán!" before it hits upon English equivalents remains a huge turn-on for me.

1 comment:

  1. I *love* Tyler Reeves! Do you know if he has done work for other studios (perhaps under another name)? I found a couple of matches over at Can-Am, but I would love to see more.

    Any info you have would be very welcome! Thanks!



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