In May I posted a blurb on Battlespace 34 at Thunder's Arena, a match pitting rising star Impact, 6'1", 205#, against a cocky and oh-so-doomed frat boy who calls himself Mogly, 5'10", 160#. I've just gotten around to watching the whole match, and it's the sort of squash bout that stirs my juices. First, there's a mouthy rich kid just asking for it, insulting Impact's girlfriend and bank account. They're not even on the mat yet, and already you know that Impact is going to swat this dickwad down. It doesn't hurt that both wrestlers are easy on the eyes, too. Add to this the pleasure of a prologue that catches Impact in bed in light blue briefs, sleepily talking to the camera as he rubs his palms along the ridges of his hard cut torso. I'm not a usual fan of promos and prologues, but the suggestiveness of a lead-in that presents the match's protagonist in bed rubbing himself all over before the fight is frankly irresistible.
The main reason I like this match is the wrestling. Mogly can't gain an advantage, but he puts up a rigorous struggle. The man is trying to win against an indomitable force, and even though my sympathies are 100% with Impact, I respect Mogly's moxie. The match does what I think a match ought to do--combine real athletic struggle and the occasional phony (but convincing) flourish to hold the fans' attention and move the story along. We have all seen matches where the wrestlers simply go from one show-stopping move to the next, as if following a checklist. Impact beats Mogly not just because the plot requires it, but because he is able to beat Mogly in a real contest. It's easier for wrestlers to sell the holds if at least 60 percent of them are real. It's perhaps for this reason that the pro and underground wrestlers I prefer have backgrounds in freestyle and Greco-Roman forms, especially when they compete with other experienced mat wrestlers. Impact works Mogly up close and tight, using moves that look strenuous and stressful, even though they may not hurt as much we're supposed to believe they do. (They do, in fact, hurt, I have been told, and even hazard serious injury, as all forms of body-contact sports do.)
In the market of M4M underground wrestling, what distinguishes Thunder's Arena is its lighthearted roughhouse spirit. In some matches lightness outweighs roughness, which is fine by me: not everything is meant for me, and, besides, the sight of near-naked muscle jocks clowning around with and on top of each other often does the trick for me. The Arena is at its best, however, when it brings in wrestlers, like Impact, like Big Sexy, who are not just impressive looking but impressively effective at grappling as well. Battlespace 34 presents a balance of Thunder's finest traits: tough, sensuous, spectacular, and thoroughly engaging.