The Four Grrr's

Maybe this is Eli Black's world right now, and the rest of us are just living in it. Having just seen Eli make a killer debut at UCW-Wrestling, fighting XanJey, and having previewed an upcoming video of him taking on sexy Jake Jenkins (again, but this time on a mat, in jockstraps, and under the auspices of the redoubtable BG East), I was eager to follow up on an anonymous commenter's vouching for the quality of his latest Rock Hard Wrestling release, in which he faces brawny Austin Cooper. Thank you, anonymous commenter, yet truthfully there was no way I would have missed this fight. I am huge on Eli right now and huge on Austin too.

There's enough of a passing resemblance between Eli and Austin to suggest (for those like me whose fantasies incline that way) a big-brother-versus-little-brother rivalry at work (I was an only child, and my earliest homoerotic fantasies involved having a tough, roughhousing older brother--these primal imprints stick hard). Austin is the skeptical, sort of contemptuous larger guy, and Eli is the scrappy smaller guy who's got a big mouth and something to prove. There are many ways to play such a scenario, and this one does not open any new territory--assuming wrestling fans even want the time-tested rituals of power and domination to be tampered with; however, it does bring to fore two formidable talents in Austin and Eli, who make this show unforgettable.

Austin and Eli are good examples of the revolution we see happening in gay underground wrestling these past few years. It used to be, long long ago, that wrestling videos featured rough trade who neither looked all that healthy nor wrestled all that well, but who, in ill-lit basements and spare rooms, gamely fought each other for money for food, booze, or drugs. These bouts were shakily photographed, with the cameraman more often than not finding the worst possible angle to shoot whatever was passing as action. For all the flaws, these videos still were pretty sexy, especially for those of us who fondly remember the old days, and the matches worked pretty well so long as fans used their imagination to touch up the track marks and picture better moves and faster pacing.

Then came a number of fit muscle men and college guys, who still weren't much as wrestlers, but at least were photogenic and benefited from better lighting. More often than not, these guys grinned sheepishly, unable or unwilling to take the matches seriously, since wrestling was pretty much just a joke for them, or they showed little to no emotion, inadequate at selling wrestling moves, even when real wrestlers were on hand to tussle with. The guys were often at their best in pose downs, and happily most of them were eager to show off their assets in skimpy gear and sometimes oil. Still, it was up to fans to imagine the drama and energy they had hoped these strapping beauties would provide, but seldom did.

Now we have got a bunch of beautiful bad boys working out of a number of different houses. These guys look good, astonishingly good in some cases, and also know their stuff. They are photogenic and aggressive. Their level of training--as martial artists and as character actors--is unprecedented. They have mastered the arts of groaning, grunting, growling, and grimacing (what I call the four Grrr's), the first generation of underground wrestlers to bring together the best of WWE and Falcon Studios. This is the closest I have seen my personal fantasies realized for the camera. Eli and Austin (and others) reflect this new wave, easily the best generation of model/actor/wrestlers we fans have seen, and Rock Hard and other companies are producing ever more polished products, with the best sets, lighting, camerawork, and editing we have seen. What's more, we have unprecedented choices in regards to wrestlers' styles, ethnicities, and builds.

To watch what Eli and Austin do with the familiar little-guy-takes-on-big-guy angle is revelatory. The drama is gripping, sexy, and athletic all at once. Austin is quickly losing his initial stiffness on camera and turning himself into the dreamiest heel of all time. Compare his work from a year ago to his work in this match, and go on and let your jaw drop. And Eli seems to have figured out what his fans like best about him--bratty attitude, MMA toughness, and one of the best fight faces ever (check out the flinty testosterone- and adrenalin-fueled look in his eyes in the sixth photo above)--and polished it to perfection.

It's a great match and well worth the cost of admission. Both men are in peak form. Especially Eli, who is riding a wave right now, and who knows where it's going to carry him?


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