Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fight to the Death

You know, there's something bracing about a fight to the death. The simplicity of it. The last two chess pieces on the board. The plot squeezed down to one option. The do or die of it. No hope for a stopgap. No "undo" on the menu. Just Batman and Bane. Peter Pan and Captain Hook. One scorpion, one wasp. High noon. 

It's a great way to wrap up a kung-fu movie. Perhaps the only way. Outside of fiction, though, the idea of a death match is morally repulsive. Even the quasi-fictional soap-opera world of pro wrestling resorts to virtual alternatives: loser leaves town, the luchador unmasked, hair versus hair, the sleeper hold, the piledriver. There are limits to the kinds of closure we tolerate as a civilized people, even in our violent entertainments.

Still, a fatal clincher provides the ultimate payoff in a battle between good and evil. On this point, modern storytelling often bunts. It's hard for modern audiences to accept a hero who unflinchingly deals a deathblow. Many fictional fights to the finish take the outcome out of the hands of the hero: the villain miscalculates, loses his balance, or arrogantly goes for broke, or there's the crocodile with the ticking clock in its gut. In the end,  Frankenstein blows himself up. The Nazis unleash upon themselves the destructive spirits in the lost Ark of the Covenant. Batman says, "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you." The villain gets properly disposed of, yet the hero's hands stay clean.

My preference is for the good guy to deliver the deathblow, direct and unapologetic. Admittedly, such a finisher chills me to the bone, but the act has more punch than just leaving the villain to his own devices ... or to chance. I don't mind if the bad guy makes it easy for the good guy--insulting his mother, reaching for a weapon, killing off most of his own henchmen, arguing that the hero doesn't have the balls to finish him--but the deed belongs to the victor alone. (I even hate it when, in hair matches in wrestling, the victor doesn't scalp the loser for himself, but rather gives the job to a teammate, or, worse, a barber.)

I'm not a bloodthirsty guy. I don't even believe in absolute justice, which is one of the reasons I don't believe in the death penalty. I don't support capital punishment  also because I think corporate, rationalized killing is more sinister than the old blood-and-guts kind or even the stark raving crazy kind. I sympathize with the character Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) in this exchange with an FBI agent:
Sonny: You'd like to kill me? Bet you would.
FBI: I wouldn't like to kill you. I would if I have to.
Sonny: It's your job, right? The guy who kills me ... I hope he does it because he hates my guts, not because it's his job.
Give me a crime of passion over a state-appointed assassin any day. But I do believe in poetic justice ... in fiction, in movies, in pro wrestling. Entertainment is supposed to fulfill our dark and guilty desires without the real-world consequences. The vengeance model of justice is seeded deep in our collective unconscious. "This time it's personal!" We find Dirty Harry justice more emotionally satisfying than the justice system, which is based strictly on evidence and court rules of procedure, not at all on what boils our blood. This is why vigilantism has been a popular Hollywood theme since the silent movie era. (Its first huge hit, 1915's The Birth of a Nation, helped revive the then basically defunct Ku Klux Klan ... so, yes, there are problems with this idea, even as fantasy.)

The pictures above are from various episodes, various seasons even, of the STARZ TV series Spartacus. Many of you will recognize them. I tried to watch the series early on and didn't like it. The early episodes of Season 1 look too much like a videogame, too much like a ripoff of 300. Then my officemate at work expressed surprise that I hadn't liked it, figuring, he said, it would be right up my alley. So I rented the DVDs of the first season again and watched a little further. By the third or fourth episode I was hooked. What was not to love? Full frontal nudity, butt fucking, violence, orgies, muscles, a gay love story, and Lucy Lawless! And the story of Roman social climbing, betrayal, vengeance, and male bonding was more sophisticated than expected. Now it's one of my favorite series. I own the Blu Ray set. It's far from The Sopranos, but it's better written, acted, and directed than a good 80% of the stuff on TV.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mandingo and My Late Formative Years

When Mandingo came out, I was living in Atlanta and saw the movie during a weekday matinee. Produced by Dino De Laurentis (La Strada, Barbarella, and Blue Velvet) and directed by Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fantastic Voyage, and Soylent Green), the film stars James Mason, Perry King, Susan George, ex-Mr Universe and NWA wrestler Earl Maynard, and, most sumptuously, ex-WBC heavyweight champ Ken Norton. I went to see it because I had a crush on rising star King, but left it enamored with Norton. 

Ostensibly about the horrors of slavery in the American South, it's now remembered as a blaxploitation film with epic aspirations. In 1975, Roger Ebert referred to it as a "piece of manure" and "racist trash." Twenty years later, British film critic Robin Wood called it an "abused masterpiece," raising America's race issues to the level of Greek tragedy (see Ch. 12), and director Quentin Tarantino defended it as a praiseworthy example (along with 1995's Showgirls) of "pure" exploitation (see pp. 172-173). The film preceded Roots (both the bestselling book and the hugely influential TV miniseries) and, in its depiction of fighting as a way of life, anticipated films like Fight Club and The Wrestler, decades later. In the film, Norton stonily portrays a character provocatively named Ganymede ("Mede" for short). White gamblers place bets on him in no-holds-barred fights against other slaves (a practice the film explicitly compares to cock and dog fights), and his owner's bored wife uses him as a sex toy.

Full-frontal nudity (male and female) and torturous violence (no stinting on the cruelty of slave-owners) were what held my attention at age 22. The fight scenes both repelled and aroused me, mainly because in physique and stoic reserve Norton struck me as magnificent, even godlike. For me, the fights were less troubling than scenes of cowardly weaklings living off and torturing those they viewed as social inferiors. At least the fights portrayed a degree of human passion and nobility. The film ridiculed white people's stereotypes of black people with the same exuberance we saw a lot in 1970s television (All in the Family and Good Times) and film comedy (Blazing Saddles and Car Wash). Only bleaker and more tormented. At home I tried to explain to my friend Luis (whom I'd known since our Miami days in a whites-only Christian high school) the appalling yet absurdly comic effect of seeing James Mason, as a plantation owner, pressing small black boys against his feet in bed as a cure for rheumatism. Or a scene in which a dumpy German hausfrau at the slave market boldly sticks her hand down the front of Norton's pants and exclaims, "I don't buy a pig in zee poke!"

I was in my early twenties, enrolled in a fundamentalist Baptist college, but obviously in a state of, hm, "spiritual transition." (Luis commented on the fact that I stacked my bible on top of my After Dark magazines and that, with no evident shame, the preacher's son and I would strip down to our briefs to wrestle in our dorm rooms. The son of a preacher man was one of several football players I liked to roughhouse with back then.) The impact of Ken Norton on me was nothing short of stunning. Although I was (and am) principally attracted to white men, I had found black men beautiful since childhood, before "black is beautiful" became common usage. My best friend in fourth and fifth grades in Altus, Oklahoma, was Carl, who lived next door. Carl turned me on to Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and xylophone jazz. He also struck me as perfect in every aspect. At the movies I lusted after Woody Strode and Breno Mello, and though I never watched football on TV, I followed the career of OJ Simpson with interest (as an athlete, not so much later as an actor or now as an imprisoned felon), more for his sexy eyes and mouth than his skills on the field, about which I knew nothing. I knew "about" Ken Norton as a boxer, but he had not entered the path of my radar. In Mandingo he held my eyes in every scene he was in.

The scenes that most entranced me, though, were the grappling scenes, of course. The fighters fought on lawns at night. The camera pulled in tight on the half-nude bodies in combat, just as it lingered adoringly on the bodies in coitus in the sex scenes. Of course, the action was brutal, eye gouging and biting, but the pure animal savagery of it appealed to my (mostly) repressed kinky tastes. I didn't care so much for the blood, especially in a climactic battle pitting Mede against a champion from Jamaica, but the aggression and body contact made my cheekbones flush and my groin go tingly. (One word of warning to the curious, though: a couple of years ago I tried to re-watch this movie on DVD, but the transfer was weak, and the print was too dark to make out any detail in the night scenes.) In the mostly empty theater, the film revealed to me my propensity for mild sado-eroticism, which even my interest in wrestling had not yet clued me to.

Is the film a "piece of manure"? No, but it is entertainment of a seedy, "grindhouse" sort, for certain "tastes" only. Is it racist? Perhaps, in its portrayal of the black characters as psychologically dull and indistinctive objects of white people's' lust and abuse. (But what is the effect of slave labor and abject economic dependence, other than to make humans psychologically dull and indistinctive?) Perhaps, too, the film is racist in its blunt depiction of antebellum racism--since sometimes it's difficult to see the line between depicting racism and perpetuating racism. Then again, perhaps it's not racist. Its deliberate ridicule of romantic ideas about the Old South you find in films like Gone with the Wind (very evident even in its poster art, see below) leads me to trust the filmmakers' motives as sincere and well meaning. Incest, murder, torture, and rape are sordid realities in America's history, but in the film they also represent the deterioration of human spirit for slave and master alike. The film's most lurid moments would repel all but the most dedicated sadist. They are meant to horrify, while other scenes clearly intend us to take in the beauty of bodies (black and white, male and female). There's even a hint of homoerotic attraction between the master and his slave. For me, the appeal of the film rests entirely on Ken Norton, his powerful physique and his tragic impassivity, a heroic figure forced to be a victim of the interests, desires, and mood swings of other people. Norton is something all right. He was Tyson when Tyson was nine. I probably need to look up some of his old fights on YouTube someday.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


He has sexy seeping out of his pores. Gil Barrios, 5'9", 165#, is nature's child. He can't get naked fast enough. He loves to wrestle. He seems to be engineered to hurt guys incautious enough to pick a fight with him. He's BG East's most infectiously exuberant wrestler. I love the guy from his ebon ringlets and insouciant smile to his hairy calves.

In BGE's just-released catalog, Wrestleshack 15 pits Gil (pronounced zhieuw in Portuguese) against Christian Taylor, 6'2", 175#. Thinking he's alone in the shack, Gil is doing chin-ups on a horizontal beam when Christian sneaks up on him and slugs him in the abs. Gil drops to the mat, gasping, and Christian scissors his waist. No doubt Christian thinks catching the man off guard gives him his best chance of dominating him. Even such precautions are not enough, though. The powerfully built Brazilian rises to his feet with Christian's legs still clinging to his hips.

It's a fast-paced match, with plenty of give and take, but Gil maintains an edge for most of it. He puts Christian in a paralyzing hold and strips his shorts off. Then he strips his own shorts off. "You wanna wrestle? Come get a taste of this!" His choice of the word "taste" is sensuously literal. Without realizing it at first, I start licking my lips.

The two men wrestle in their briefs (which too will come off by the halfway point of the fight). Christian has size and experience over Gil. He knows the holds, and he knows enough to try to attack this fireball on his blind side. Gil finds Christian's rangy build difficult to manage, so he assails him psychologically, issuing threats and dares, and using his superior muscle to debilitate Christian limb by limb. He's also faster and more spirited than Christian, almost indefatigable. At one point, he has his opponent prone on the mat, seemingly unable to move, and through sheer excess of energy Gil leaps up on the beam (site of Christian's initial assault) and triumphantly swings like an ape over him.

Christian has to catch his wind from time to time, but his rebounds are sudden and forceful. This match is full of unexpected turns. Gil seems not to know any limits. Perhaps he doesn't know his own strength; his strikes on his opponent are sharp and devastating, but he seems coltish and unspiteful, his smile never more dazzling and disarming than when Christian screams in agony.

I haven't seen Gil in a bad match yet. This one ranks up with his Wrestleshack 12 pairing with Skip Vance for intensity and sensuality. It's a perfect summer evening entertainment. You'll fall in love with Gil, but you might want to think twice before you get on a mat with him.

WS15 is also available on Summer Sizzlers 3, clustered with three other must-see matches. 

I have removed some photos featuring explicit nudity from this posting because they belong to The Arena at BGEast, which owns exclusive rights to them.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Boyhood Crush

My first crushes were cartoons. The very first was Mighty Mouse. His brawls with various feline gangsters excited me as early as age eight, as did Popeye's endless rows with Bluto, or fights I imagined involving Lil Abner and Dick Tracy. Soon live action figures replaced drawings. My first pointedly erotic dream, at age nine or ten, involved me swinging on jungle vines with Tarzan--M-G-M's Johnny Weissmuller in the 1930s--but eventually I was drawn to anyone who could wear a loincloth, wrestle alligators, and fall into quicksand and survive. The Italian Hercules movies were influential, too, as much for their fashion statements (shirtlessness and togas) as for their musclebound stars (who, with the exception of Steve Reeves, were interchangeable in my mind). 

I've collected here a few of the men that became archetypes (and architects) of my earliest homoerotic fantasies, pre-sixteen, i.e. pre-1970. None of them were wrestlers, but as a kid I imagined wrestling them, or at least watching them wrestle. Hollywood images of male-on-male violence affected me, even as a child. (I could almost say, like Bard in neverland, that they turned me gay--or at least shaped what "gay" came to be for me.) I now think that this attraction stemmed from the movies' eroticization of male violence--guys stripped off their shirts to fight, and scenes of life-and-death struggle afforded the only examples of extended body contact between men that American culture allowed. This later influenced my interest in professional wrestling, of course.

In most ways Denny Miller was all wrong for the role of Tarzan (in a 1959 M-G-M reboot that did not catch on). He did, however, have the pecs and abs for the role. Later, in the 1960s, he put the jungle-boy loincloth back on for a couple of episodes of Gilligan's Island, which, for reasons I cannot now recall, I found even more stimulating than his initial go at playing the ape man.

Jeffrey Hunter was (and still is) my ideal of the handsome man. He is one third of the reason I love the movie The Searchers (the other two are John Wayne and Monument Valley). I mostly knew him from still pictures in fan magazines. He had a nice body, too, though not at all the cut physique that's popular nowadays. He had a little pudginess around the midsection, which he kept honey tan and which made him even hotter in my eyes.

James MacArthur wrestling his onscreen brother Tommy Kirk in a muddy river in Disney's Swiss Family Robinson and then, immediately after, having to grapple with a coiling python gave me a treehouse in my pants till well into the 1970s, when the film was re-released and I went to see it by myself and found (to my embarrassment) that it still carried the wallop I remembered from childhood. For several years he was Disney's go-to guy for shirtless pulchritude (few other people realized back then how fucking sexy Disney movies were). He made good eye candy in 1963's Spencer's Mountain, as well.

Another Disney sex symbol, Michael Anderson Jr. first caught my eye in In Search of the Castaways with Hayley Mills and Maurice Chevalier--a movie full of Freudian sex dreams (cliffs, avalanches, giant condors, flash floods, primevally huge trees, ropes, cannibals, and a volcano). He became a bigger player in my fantasy life when later, with some hair on his chest and legs, he played the lead on TV's The Monroes.

To this day The Son of Captain Blood ranks undeservedly high on my list of favorite movies because a Spanish film producer chose to cast Sean Flynn in the lead. Flynn had the sexiest torso I had ever seen in a movie. The movie had swordplay, but, alas, no wrestling, or even boxing. Flynn's torso also featured prominently in John Willis's 1963 edition of Screen World, which I checked out of the base library on numerous occasions, until one day I found that the prized pages had been ripped out of the book. The mixture of emotions I felt is hard to describe. I was angry and frustrated because I had been robbed of my window to Flynn's navel. On the other hand, I was thrilled at the idea that somebody else on Yokota Air Force Base valued the sight of that body as much as I--or more, since he (or she) was willing to destroy government property for it.

The hairiest of all the Tarzans, Mike Henry played the jungle lord as a 007-style secret agent. True to the original book series, his Tarzan was articulate and gentlemanly. It was the square jaw, furry chest, and flexing muscles that mainly interested me (though I was a huge James Bond/Sean Connery fan at the time, as well). He also had magnificent long legs (not pictured). The movies were forgettable, but the posters and lobby cards were my pre-adolescent soft-core porn.

The greatest crush of my childhood and early adolescence was Robert Conrad as James West in The Wild Wild West. West often found himself shirtless, bound, and stretched out. Then he would escape and fight the bad guys before finding a shirt to put on. Most of the villains on the show were effeminate men with excellent tastes in clothes and henchmen. My earliest erection in the presence of another boy was when my pal Robin and I wrestled on his bedroom rug while watching an episode of TWWW. I mounted and pinned him to the floor, then noticed that my dick was pressing hard against my corduroy trousers, then noticed that Robin's dick was poking against my ass. I have previously recounted the embarrassing tale of my meeting the actor in the flesh when, in my early twenties, I worked as a filing clerk for the US Coast Guard in downtown Miami. During my lunch break at a nearby hotel, I heard a familiar voice behind me and turned around, and there he was, my boyhood crush. The first thing out of my mouth was (I still cringe) "You're short." He smiled and said, "Yeah, I guess I am." I was mortified, and could not speak another word.

I was over Chad Everett by the time he became a TV star in the 1970s. For me his one iconic role was in the B-movie Johnny Tiger (1966), in which he played a young Seminole in Florida. Passionate and violent, he was a challenge for paternalistic white teacher Robert Taylor. The magazine Screen Stories, the closest we North Americans got to fotonovelas, carried pages of black-and-white pictures of Everett shirtless, looking either fierce or smoldering, the two merging in my imagination. (Everett's death this past week is what prompted me to make this list.)

The shot of Peter Tork in a portable bathtub in the opening credits of TV's The Monkees never failed to get me a little stiff. I seem to recall that he wore a jungle-boy loincloth in one shot, as well. The Monkees' hijinks included something approximating roughhouse, too, but without a hint of aggression or, for that matter, testosterone. Tork was the Monkee most likely to be photographed shirtless. He had a nice slim body, full lips, puppy-dog eyes, and the sort of nose I associated with pied pipers and handsome princes.

Franco Nero played Adam and Eve's doomed son Abel in The Bible (the third guy on this list to appear in a biblical epic--Hunter played Jesus in King of Kings and Anderson played the disciple James  in The Greatest Story Ever Told). It was Nero's chest (partially on display above) that did it for me. He was on screen longer as Lancelot in Camelot, but way too overdressed. A recurrent fantasy of mine at ages 14 and 15 was that Nero and Robert Conrad were lovers and kept me as a boy slave in a detached gym and workout room behind their Beverly Hills mansion.

Yet another Disney stud is Peter McEnery. He won my heart playing the love interest in The Moon-Spinners opposite Hayley Mills (I loved Hayley Mills; at times I wanted to be her). He was also dashing in the seldom-seen The Fighting Prince of Donegal. It wasn't till years later that I saw him in the breakthrough British film Victim (1961), the first film to deal with homosexuality sympathetically and (if I remember right) the first film to use the word "homosexual." His finest achievement, in my opinion, was as the always provocatively (or barely) dressed protagonist of the 1970 film adaptation of Joe Orton's (brilliant) comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane. In the 1980s I was infatuated with a teaching colleague who was McEnery's near-double, a painter/cyclist/drummer/fencer/sailor/actor, who, though straight, was my best friend for five years and (occasionally) wrestling buddy.

Honorable mentions to Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Stephen Boyd, Dennis Wilson, Sean Garrison, George Maharis, Yul Brynner, Gardner McKay, James "Skip" Ward, Michael Parks, Mark Frechette, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Frank Converse, Tom Adams, Paul Mantee, Ron Ely, Don Galloway, Leonard Whiting, Patrick Wayne, Nick Adams, Sal Mineo, Gary Lockwood, John Richardson, and, um, Dick Cavett.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Born Ready

I liked Austin Cooper from the moment I first saw him. But his match with Kid Karisma, in Wrestler Spotlight: Austin Cooperimpressed me, really impressed me, with his ability to execute and sell elaborate pro-wrestling moves with grace, conviction, and force. Yesterday BG East released Babyface Brawl 2, available also as part of Summer Sizzlers 3, in which Coop brings the magic again, this time with Cameron Matthews, another wrestler who's taken a turn towards greatness in the past year.

The intensity of the rivalry between Coop and Cam is palpable from the beginning. They look each other up and down, without saying a word, and then enter the ring, with identical flips over the top rope. Cameron conveys nothing of the sweet, easygoing jobber of his early BGE bouts. He's a cold, hard legend in his own right now, with a chiseled physique and a defiant steeliness in his approach to Austin. "You ready?" he asks Coop in his best Clint Eastwood voice, clipped and throaty. "Born ready," Austin replies, pacing all the while like a panther in a cage. This match is steaming my glasses even before it starts.

Coop is more compactly built than Matthews, who has a swimmer's build, long waist and long legs. Coop looks more classically gladiatorial, muscular shoulders, thick and solid thighs, and hawklike eyes that narrow to a pinpoint. The two wrestlers circle each other warily and lock up. Cam makes a quick and easy start, slamming Austin to the canvas. Austin springs back with a trio of bodyslams and a dropkick that hurls Matthews to the corner ropes. It's a boilerplate opener, but executed with style and heart. Things get hairier fast. The pace quickens. The plot thickens.

What's intriguing for me about the Babyface Brawl series, which Cam inaugurated two years ago in a match with Alexi Adamov, is the sight of two strong, beautiful men pitting themselves against each other. There is no obvious top or bottom, heel or jobber, veteran or rookie. The dramatic potential centers on the two wrestlers' jockeying for position just as the spectacle centers on their stunning physiques. Soon enough, Austin establishes himself as the badass. He hurls Cameron out of the ring. Cam lands hard against the concrete block wall. Winded and a bit shaken, Matthews calls for a timeout. Austin, however, dives over the ropes into the man. "No timeout." Then he chokes him on the middle rope.

It looks like Coop is claiming the role of heel, delegating Cameron to his usual role of sacrificial lamb. Not so, though. Just when Matthews looks most vulnerable, we find out he's playing possum. He wants Austin to underestimate his resilience. Nobody's going to roll over and play dead for the other guy in this fight. Cameron and Austin brawl with conviction. It's a fight to the finish, not a morality play. Each one goes for the low blow, as circumstances demand. They'll do whatever it takes to win, and what it takes, apparently, is sweat, grit, and dirty tricks. The boys uncork what looks like years of pent-up rage. They cash in every ounce of hostility they've ever felt and make their opponent the repository for every bone they've had to pick with anyone. It's a joy to watch.

I like both these guys, but my heart's with Cooper here. He's the one with the killer glint in his eyes. The less experienced of the two, he's the one who has more to prove. With his Abercrombie & Fitch body and golden looks, he's easily discountable as just another fitness model grimacing and thrashing about, pretending to be a wrestler. If that's all he was, I'd like him still. The guy is supremely fuckable. But that's not all he is. In February he told me,
In high school I wrestled from sophomore to senior year. I was a horrible wrestler my first year and ... being such a competitive person ... I was determined to come back and make a name for myself, and I feel as if I can say I successfully did that by the time of my senior year by being the captain of the team and earning the MVP award.
Austin's drive and determination to excel are what stand out for me in his work at BG East. Guys as good looking as he have made careers in underground wrestling by just posing for their videos' cover art. They sleepwalk through their matches, fully confident that their fans will be satisfied so long as some hairy heel stretches them out for the camera like a shopkeeper displaying a particularly fine bolt of silk. And they're right, of course. I've bought matches just for the packaging. But Austin knocks me out because he pushes harder and reaches further. (Much like Cameron, too, in this respect.) I'm sure the man likes selling videos, but Coop aims for more than that. He doesn't just do the same shtick over and over again. He gets better. He tries out new shit. This guy actually watches wrestling. He studies it. He pushes through his limits to find out what he's capable of. He surprises me. That's really it, I guess: his capacity to take me by surprise. I can watch his muscles flex and shimmer all day, but his dynamism and can-do attitude are what draw me to his character as a wrestler and a man.

This match is a star in the crown of the Summer Sizzlers series, now as big a part of the season as Pepsi, Speedos, and caiparinhas. Fans of Cam and Coop will definitely want to catch this one. Fans of good pro-style wrestling, too. It's an instant classic. Consider this an unqualified recommendation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rex Taylor Gets His Man

A great heel needs to have a great tush. If a wrestler's going to be an asshole, he might as well come fully equipped with the expected padding. AJ Evers is a great heel, and he wears his pretty tush in white, which should not be taken to mean that he's a good guy. It just means that white's good for highlighting a great ass in dim lighting. Here in a young lions match last summer at the Croc Rock Cafe in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Rex Taylor gives him a good going-over and puts him in his place. Rex is muscular and decent. The fans love Rex. (Watch video of this match here.)

The fans scream at pasty-faced AJ, as he stalls for time on the ring apron, "Rex is gonna kill you"  and "You scared?" The fans are right. AJ hurls abuse at the fans and mocks Rex's grandstanding muscle poses, while Rex watches from the shadows behind him. One last time Rex pops a double bicep pose for the crowd. Then the two men lock up. Rex gives AJ a muscly shove that knocks the heel back into the corner. AJ complains that the clean-cut babyface has pulled his shaggy hair. (Not so. But Rex is sure to do so once the action heats up.) 

AJ grabs Rex from behind, intertwining his fingers over the man's rock-hard abs. Rex peels AJ's fingers away, easy as unwrapping candy, causing the heel considerable pain. AJ stalls, as the crowd boos him. The two wrestlers lock up again, and Rex backs him into the corner, pressing his solid weight against him. The ref counts three and calls for the break, and Rex backs off. But AJ slaps him across the mouth and cravenly crawls through the ropes to escape. Rex lights after him, punching the pantywaist and slamming his head on the apron before tossing him back inside. All AJ's cowering can't save him from a stomp to the gut and a stiff punch to the face. Then Rex lifts him up and tosses him overhead for a bodyslam.

Rex drags the heel back to the center of the ring for an elbow drop. He goes for a pin, but AJ thrusts free. Rex swings the man to the ropes for a dropkick, but AJ clings to the top rope and Rex's boots hit nothing but air. AJ points to his head, indicating that brains (clinging to ropes) beat out brawn (having biceps of iron). Taking advantage of the fact that Rex is on his back, AJ kicks the guy's left leg then locks and twists it between his thighs. After some more crippling thrusts, AJ lifts Rex up to his feet, pushes him to the corner, and chops him across the face. He rolls the young bodybuilder out of the ring, bashing the guy's forehead on the apron. In a contest of fists, though, AJ is no match for Rex, who bodyslams the sniveling heel and then rolls the two of them back into the ring. AJ clings to the bottom rope, ignoring the ref's warning, till Rex pries him loose and drags him by the hair for a snapmare.

Again, Rex tries for the pin, but AJ gets his shoulder off the mat in time. Rex drops his leg on AJ's chest and then climbs to the top rope. He tries for an elbow drop, but AJ scoots away, and both wrestlers are down on the mat, dazed and seeing stars. AJ uses the ropes to pull himself up. Then he pulls Rex up and punches him twice. A slug-, kick-, and chop-fest ensues, but AJ can't match Rex for power. AJ whips himself off the ropes, but Rex catches him and slaps his back down to the canvas.

Yet again, Rex goes for a pinfall, but AJ is not yet ready to go. He decides hurling him to the turnbuckle might make him more ready, but AJ leaps over him and tries to get Rex's shoulders to the mat. He fails. He slams the mat in frustration. Somehow AJ thought it would be easier to beat a muscle god like Rex. He whips himself off the ropes only to get dropkicked. Rex covers the half-conscious heel, and the ref counts to three. Rex is the victor, just as the fans said he'd be. Rex makes more muscles, and the fans go batshit crazy.

I enjoy a one-sided match a lot more when the victim has it coming to him, all the more so, I have come to discover, when the victim is a sneaky punk with nice glutes, and the man doing the honors has broad shoulders and a strong back. What I crave is good-looking but cowardly, dirty-fighting wrestlers to get their comeuppance, and strapping babyfaces to finish them off fair and square. I like both wrestlers to be close to the same age, both fit, both adept at dishing it up and taking it--"young lions" in this case, but I'm no less fond of two hairy veterans playing out the same scenario. The kingpin for me is the heel. I identify with him, but still I want to see him get his ass whipped. I'm liking AJ Evers these days, and I'm happy to see he has hooked up with Beyond Wrestling for now. The bad guy is always more interesting as a character, but the good guy, even if he's bland, strong and dumb and probably full of cum, is always going to be the one to set my rocks on fire.


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