Sunday, August 12, 2012

Deadly Duo

I have not yet seen Rock Hard Wrestling's latest tag team match, pitting Ethan Andrews and Jason Kane against Austin Cooper and Jake Jenkins, but I need to. Cooper and Jenkins fascinate me as a team because they are so bodaciously bad and beautiful. As I mentioned before in these pages, I've been drawn to the dark side since I was a child--at least to Hollywood's version of the dark side. In movies villains were more stylish, sarcastic, and savvy than the good guys. Their inevitable doom--the most glorious downfalls reserved for the evilest evildoer--struck my immature mind as punishment mostly for their being so damned classy and refined. While all my friends and classmates liked Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, and James Arness, my favorite movie stars were Vincent Price, Hurd Hatfield, and Paul Stewart. Years later, I realized that American movies stylized the bad guy as "homosexual," even when they could not address sexuality, straight or perverse, directly. I was probably being drawn to the exoticism and sexual otherness of these characters more than to their evil deeds, and it did not help matters that in the 1950s and early 1960s blandness, well scrubbed, shallow, asexual, and homely, equated to virtue.

In wrestling tag teams of my youth, the good guys were usually related--brothers, father and son, cousins--thus downplaying the homoeroticism of the team's being a "couple." (Silly me, I was oblivious to the romantic implications of the wrestling tag team until Bard's essay "... In Love and War" almost three years ago.) The bad guys were usually in better physical condition--muscular, elaborately coiffed, smooth--or at least more flamboyantly dressed than the good guys. They were more likely to be foreign ("from parts unknown," a phrase that implied anatomical appendages as much as exotic locales, to me), more likely to artificially match each other: same bleach-blond hair, identical rhinestone smoking jackets. If the heels were billed as brothers, there were sometimes questions whether they were really brothers. What set Austin and Jake apart are their physiques and good cheekbones. Together, as I have said elsewhere, they bring out qualities in each other that are not as evident in their singles matches. Together, they feed each other's vanity and delusions of invincibility. They draw out each other's sadistic streak. It's as if they want to impress each other with how mean they can be.

Of course, there's something fundamentally undemocratic about my fascination with bad boys like Austin and Jake. They don't seem to believe that they were "created equal" with their opponents. They have an aristocratic contempt for the lumpenproletariat. They pamper themselves and hurt their opponents, whom they see as little more as toys they want to break. As a duo, Cooper and Jenkins obviously need to be knocked down a peg or two. Perhaps Andrews and Kane have the  stuff to do this. They have a combined weight advantage over the bad guys, and neither Ethan nor Jason is so squeaky clean as to let escape an opportunity to crack some teeth and muss up some hair in the interest of righting a wrong. Ethan has had a previous run-in with Jake, so there's some interesting history there (as there is in the fact that Ethan's the wrestler who broke his partner Jason in). As I said, I haven't seen the match yet, so I don't know what happens. But I can imagine. 

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