If you can get past the sheer crystalline perfection of Rock Hard Wrestling's videography (these washed-out screen caps do not do it justice) and the company's knack for attracting the world's hottest fitness models to the wrestling ring, the magic of a good 90% of the videos in the catalogs, especially in the past year, is primal and elemental: the drama of vaulting ego giving in to sweaty, reptile-mind aggression. In the company's early years, one might rightly complain that the product was too polished perhaps, but now the company is tapping into its (and its wrestlers') inner savage. And it may still not have reached its potential, still not as raw as it can be, still a tiny bit stiff and self-aware at times; nevertheless, what it's doing right now is well worth paying close attention to.
The work of Austin Cooper continues to amaze. Admittedly, he would be impressive even if he did a fraction of what he's doing. But in the last year at Rock Hard, he has honed himself into an audacious and formidable heel. This impresses me all the more because of his white-bread, all-American good looks. His overall affect and physique would suggest a babyface, in particular one who jobs for tougher, more ruthless fighters, and it was thus that he was first introduced to us fans. But he must have realized at some point early on that heels have more fun ... and more fans ... and, therefore, he developed this winning persona as the arrogant narcissist who gets his kicks from maiming other athletes. It works, and it's a joy to watch the man in the ring. He gives his opponents hell, and when they eventually rise up and turn on him, he suffers eloquently.
Will Stanley is new to me. Though experienced as a wrestler, he debuts here at RHW, against, lucky for him, the intimidating Coop. It's a great start for Stanley. As expected, Austin makes the rite of passage as grueling as possible. Impressively, Will takes what's offered and, in time, divvies it right back up to his tormenter. He's a strong enough performer that, past the midpoint of Round 2, his doom is by no means assured. Stanley holds great promise, and I look forward to seeing him lift himself to new levels at Rock Hard. But this is Austin Cooper's show, as far as I'm concerned. Cooper puts the rookie over, and in the process achieves his own personal best, at least to date.
As satisfying and invigorating as this match is, it raises the possibility of even better things to come from Cooper, from Stanley, and from Rock Hard. It's one of the top fights in the company's short history, and it ranks high among the matches of the past twelve months from any promotion out there. Entertaining, sexy, and highly recommended.