Who's the New Bitch?

I hear that sales are brisk for the debut of Rock Hard Wrestling's new find, Josh Steel, 5'11", 160#. It's a rigorous initiation for the new guy, poising Josh against Ethan Andrews, 6', 155#, a seasoned fighter with an unrepentant animosity towards pretty boys who think glossy 8x10s of themselves shirtless are all it takes to become wrestlers. The match further testifies to Rock Hard's evolution as producer of online and DVD wrestling entertainment since the company started in late autumn of 2009. The most recent catalog, its best yet, gives fans something to sink their teeth into. For the past 18 months especially, RHW has demonstrated a knack for spotting awesome wrestlers and then matching them up to the right competition. Josh looks like a winner, for sure, and Ethan is the ideal guy for putting this longhaired blond rookie's wrestling chops to the test.

Both these guys are interested in "down and dirty" competition, but Josh is the newcomer, whereas Ethan has ridden this territory for a while now. Josh enters the ring while Ethan warms up with jabs and high kicks, MMA style. "Hey-y-y, UFC shit," Josh calls out, in a drawl anyone who's ever lived in a beach community on either American coast would recognize. "Yeah," Ethan says, a little smugly, "that's where it's at." But Josh is a WWE man. And the debate doesn't even have time to escalate before Josh pulls Ethan's knees out from under him. He dominates Ethan, a little woodenly at first, but effectively, all the more so after Ethan blasphemes, calling WWE legend Brock Lesnar a pansy. Josh enjoys a nice long run of working Ethan against the ropes and stomping him into the mat before Ethan fires back, and then Josh's beginner's luck all of a sudden peters out. Ethan delivers a series of punches and chokes that Josh endures for several long minutes before finally coughing up a submission.

Ethan continues the beating into Round 2. He makes his point (forcefully) that WWE and pro wrestling may be all right for the "fake stuff," but in UFC and MMA you get to really hurt somebody. By Round 2, Josh is warming up to the way things are done at RHW and even mounts a temporarily strong defense, but too late to save himself from Ethan's two-fisted onslaught and determination to humiliate the rookie. Josh sells the action a lot better in the second round, in no small part because Ethan gives him ample opportunity to improve his grunting and groaning skills.

RHW's trademark technical polish is strongly in evidence, of course. The professional sheen of its products has distinguished the brand from the beginning. Andrews-vs-Steel makes a terrific B-side to RHW's latest DVD release, opposite the stellar Black-vs-Kane, which I reviewed on Monday. What no doubt sells it is Josh's long blond hair and hot tan body, but, seriously, Ethan is the man with the moves here. Once Ethan can restrain the urge to cripple the beach boy, he might make a terrific mentor and possibly tag partner for him.The kid seems like a quick learner, and in two or three more matches he could become a force to reckon with at RHW. Despite a rough start (and what fledgling wrestler does not start off rough?) Josh has unmistakable screen appeal, yet the potential for underground stardom depends entirely on his heart for a good fight.

(Thanks to RHW for the four exclusive photos of this match at the top of this post. The photos below are taken from the company's site.)


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