We Don't Need Another Hero

When UCW-Wrestling started, it consisted almost entirely of reticent but game young men who liked to wrestle. The shit talk, if any, was forced and unconvincing, but rather sweet, given the effort they all were making to be arrogant and menacing, and the gear was modest, if not cumbersome (yes, I mean James). Joker was the exception. He was, of course, the wild card in the deck. Nowadays, with every visit I make to the site and every new video I see, I'm reminded of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Even Axel is edgy now, and Joker has serious competition in the mouthy upstart division. I couldn't be happier.

We live in post-heroic times. Wrestling-wise, anyway. In UCW's latest releases, we see Twisted Torment and Joey Cantrell, at first attacking each other and then ganging up on Aron, who, suntanned and tattoo-free, looks like Mommy's bestest angel, but don't you be fooled: the kid has a sadistic streak a mile long. Let me save the three-way for later, though. I want to talk about Episode 205, in which Joey and Twisted ever so briefly bond over their mutual dislike of Aron before lunging into each other at full tilt. Together the two of them look like they'd be right at home riding on the back of Wez's motorcycle, and already I'm imagining a lost Road Warrior scene of the two of them fighting to the death to be the biker warrior's number-one boy.

These two guys are dirty fighters, and though I have an old-school longing for wrestling justice, served up by some supposedly clean-living hero like Kevin Von Erich or Jack Brisco, I do enjoy awfully, awfully much a good and nasty scrap between two slippery heels. Heel Number One is Joey, who's already proved his grit against Eli Black, Aron, Axel, and Joker. He is vicious, smart-mouthed, and intense. The guy knows how to tear into an opponent. Then, opposing him, there's Twisted Torment, in the dark kneepads, Heel Number Two. In his one and only previous match, he ripped pretty-boy Aron a new asshole, then choked the boy out cold, pretty well confirming the legits of his alliterative mat name. It was destiny that these two bad-asses should meet.

When TT expresses relief over "at least having someone a little more my style," Joey seems a little dubious about the words "my style." Twisted explains that the last guy he wrestled, Aron, was a little  too much the "California pretty boy" for his tastes. I like strongly contrasting styles in wrestling. I also like to see two similar guys fight too, what I call "symmetry." (Yeah, I like a lot of different, even contradictory things in wrestling.) A match with two wrestlers with the same styles and similar gear is close enough to brothers fighting to scratch my itch for fantasy sibling rivalry.

As the action starts, Joey displays his characteristic snide concern for his opponent, asking, "You okay?" right after a deliberately crippling arm wrench. Twisted sidles like a cage fighter, and Joey compliments him on his "crazy moves." "What, you don't like to talk?" Joey asks early on, and Twisted replies with a headbutt to the chin, then says, "When I've got the advantage." And the advantage moves easily between these two, so well suited are they to each other.

UCW markets itself as a producer of a mix of pro wrestling and nhb fighting. The synthesis highly favors the latter, especially as there are no ring and few wrestlers on the roster in the usual weight classes of the pro ranks. This match, like the others before it, favors outright slugging (pulled, but not noticeably, and the marks left by the blows might suggest that, sometimes, not at all). Abs, pecs, thighs, and biceps are the usual targets of abuse. At the 00:04:10 mark, Joey drives a stiff fist to Twisted's nose that only miraculously fails to cover the new mat with blood.

We do get body slams, however, a bit of pro-wrestling theater you don't often see at UFC. The camera tilts, subtly but effectively, to give us the feeling of these slams, which look and sound good, given the slenderness of the wrestlers. These two guys pack the most smack and jolt into their prolonged chokes and armbars, as the screen caps above would suggest. Done right, these are sensuous holds, ones that almost always do the trick for me, as wrestling fetishist and fan. Both these guys are naturals at selling these holds. Of course, just the idea of one guy intently working another guy up close is a turn-on for me.

As usual, UCW provides a raw, garage-rock approach to kink wrestling. With this sort of thing, it's easy to miss the technique, but all you need to do is compare this match with, say, a YouTube video of a couple of 16-year-olds trampoline-wrestling to see the art that goes into UCW product. What's more is that this match lasts a full 34 sweaty minutes, with little room for intros, posedowns, or open-mike frippery. Its "working-class" ethos and stark minimalism rub me the right way, and I'm happy that, so far, the major wrestling companies on my radar clearly distinguish themselves from each other in style, tone, technology, and (for lack of a more sport-appropriate word) dramaturgy. Not only that, but they all take chances and have evolved noticeably in the years that I've been covering them in this blog, introducing new talent, new venues, new kinks, and new modes of marketing themselves. Even if there's no more Ringside blog then, I look forward to finding out where UCW and its competition will be in another four years.

* * *

Last week somebody told me that a study was done, in which test subjects were asked whether, if given the chance to meet and kiss their favorite sexy celebrity, they would prefer that it happen right away or later, in three or more weeks. Most people said they would prefer the wait, the longer the better, ... and the anticipation. This is why I like to plan trips well in advance, and this is why I don't care for surprise parties. It's not that I'm a control freak or obsessive compulsive. It's not that I can't be spontaneous. But for me anticipation is at least 70 percent of the joy of anything. The only events I want to surprise me are grief and misfortune. If my water heater is going to explode, I want the event to be a complete blitz. If Jason Statham is going to pick me up for a six-week cross-country motel-wrestling vacation, I want to savor that knowledge for months in advance. The expectation and suspense alone would keep me buzzed for the duration of the wait.

This weekend I'm going to Philadelphia for a couple of days, and BodySlam invited me to stay over at his place for a taping of UCW-Wrestling matches. Seven months ago I had not seen a live wrestling event, ever, and now this! Wow. I am full of happy anticipation. I don't know what to expect. And that's a feeling I like. (Keep in mind, too, that I'm a college English instructor, so preparation and repetition have characterized my work-life for over thirty years. I've gotten older, but my students remain predictably, almost invariably eighteen--and little has happened during those years to change the subject matter: writing skills and pre-1700 world literature.) BodySlam has dropped hints that I'll be meeting Axel and Joker this week, nothing but excellent; however, I expect this whole adventure may wind up a bit like Lytton Strachey Goes to Thunderdome *, but beyond that, the future is a bright, inviting nebula of unfocused expectancy.

* BodySlam has already told me that Joker and I may, as I sort of suspected, require the services of a translator.


  1. you will have to do a writeup about your visit to the ucw "compound"!


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