Don't Tug

West Virginia wrestler Matt Conard, 23, 6'4", 205#, is a heel in the classic Southern style: dark, rangy, sneaky, and mean. Bob Orton Jr was on top of this style back in the seventies, a glowering ring menace who simultaneously excited me and chilled me to the bone. (Orton came to my mind every time I heard Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" when it hit the Top Ten forty years ago this month.) Its contemporary type (Randy Orton?), snaky and sinister though he may be, distorts the classic type through exaggeration. The shtick is too self-aware and, frankly, too over the top. (And Randy, though magnificent, is too well-built for the role of a redneck poolhall villain, in my opinion.) Bob Jr was a lot cooler; without a whole lot of talk and fanfare and with ice water in his veins, he let his stature and actions speak for him, and in the end was the better heel for it. (Watch the daddy here in a match against Tom Lively, and note that it's his technique and toughness that make him scary, not crawling on his belly on the mat.) Predictable? Hell, yes, but so's Viagra. Outside of regional promotions, the demand for this type of bad guy seems limited in 2012, but I'm happy to discover it is not extinct. Here you can see an NWA Smoky Mountain match from March, in which Matt gets more than he bargained for from NWA Mountain Empire champ Chase Owens, 23, 6'2", 228#.


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