Scattered, Smothered, Chunked, Peppered, and Topped
I would like to have you believe that I'm in my Microtel room in Charlotte, using my queen-size mattress as a makeshift wrestling mat with my new best friends Ricochet, Jigsaw, Mike Cruz, and Johnny Gargano, practicing holds. Even if it were true (and "I'm in my Microtel room in Charlotte" is, indeed, a true statement), I could not expect you to believe me. What I've done, instead, is rush right back to the room, denying myself even the comfort of the hash browns at Waffle House next door ("scattered, smothered, chunked, peppered, and topped," the way I like them), with only a Welch's grape soda from the vending machine for nourishment, in order to pick out my favorites of the photos I shot this evening at my fourth live wrestling show in five months (some shot surreptitiously--thus blurry and dark without the use of a flash--some boldly in violation of Dragon Gate/Evolve's expressed policies).
If you ever watch the video of Evolve 12, you may spot me on the front row in C section (the bald guy with the splotchy beard and white shirt), futzing with my Nikon (I shot about 400 pictures, only 100 recognizably pictures of human beings) and licking my lips at the greatest wrestling I have yet seen live and the best array of shirtless men I have seen outside of a go-go boy bar or Pensacola Beach on Memorial Day. It was a small crowd--I estimate somewhere between 40 and 50--but rowdy and enthusiastic.
The show opened with a three-man match which I did not photograph because it included a young wrestler who once requested that I delete all the pictures and postings on him (there were quite a few, but don't look for them now). For the record, he was polite, pleading that, since he was a new teacher, their appearance on my salacious blog (not his words) was causing problems for him with his students and, presumably, their parents. I did however take a picture of him later at the merch table, with his permission (he is well-mannered ... and extraordinarily hot), and he personalized an 8x10 glossy to me for a mere three dollars. No, I did not tell him I was the blogger he had once emailed.
The matches I expected to stand out did stand out. Generico versus Ricochet was predictably my favorite. I did not expect to enjoy Jigsaw versus Low Ki as much as I did. I expected to love it; I did not expect to salivate as uncontrollably as I did. I got a personalized photo of Jigsaw, too, at a considerably higher price ($10), but I also got a handshake and my name repeated about eight times as he appeared to be committing it to memory (perhaps assuming, from the way I was staring at his pecs and abs, that he might be asked to testify to the FBI someday). There is also the perk that Jigsaw has not (yet) asked me to remove all references to him from my flamingly gay blog (not the teacher guy's words, really--now I'm just being mean, I suppose).
Dave "Fit" Finlay versus Jon Davis was an exception to the high-flying-ness of most of the other bouts. It was an old-school grunt-n-groan wrestling match, in which the two men actually did grapple, punctuating the long, deliciously agonizing holds with some theatrical flourishes. But all in all it was way more real than I expected it to be, and it ended with Finlay, the winner, paying tribute to the abilities of his younger opponent and eulogizing the slowly vanishing art of catch wrestling. Gargano was in a tag-team match, but all I could see was Gargano, far more beautiful and charismatic in person than he seemed to me on the videos I've watched. I was similarly starstruck by Mike Cruz, in his debut at DG/Evolve, and clearly destined for great things. The final event, AR Fox versus Sami Callihan, was a "no rules" match in which the contestants used weapons (chairs, ladders, barbed wire, a table). Fox and Callihan were amazing in the messiest, most chaotic match of the night. It's not the kind of match I can appreciate fully, since past a certain point I can't tell what's going on--as the wrestlers exit the ring and the crowd follows, in search of more stuff to use as weapons.
I've forced myself to pick only my 25 favorite pictures. They are not necessarily the clearest pictures. I actually like some of the blurred shots, since they capture the matches' frenetic energy and circus colors. (Ricochet proves that the true test of peak physical condition is to look chiseled even in blurry photographs.) My new year's resolution (to see more live shows) has proved to be the easiest to keep in the history of my new year's resolutions--and the one that's brought me the most giddy joy. Got to go now. It's after midnight, and the boys want to show me what a spladle feels like.
|El Generico and Sami Callihan at the merch table before the show|
|Jigsaw and Low Ki getting set to go up against each other|
|Jigsaw and Low Ki tangle|
|Circling each other warily|
|Jon Davis helped from the ring after a classically "well-fought fight"|
|Fit Finlay praises his young, vanquished adversary and the art and sport of wrestling|
|Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano slug it out right in front of me|
|The bad guys: Silas Young, Swamp Monster, Taylor, and the "Man Scout" Jake Manning|
|Samuray Del Sol|
|Generico works Ricochet's arm|
|Ricochet works Generico's spinal cord|
|Assets in the ring|
|AR Fox attempts a clean pin on Sami Callihan|
|Things go a little crazy|
|Gargano makes me a muscle|