Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hooah!








In UCW-Wrestling's latest release [213], the company champion, big and burly Corporal Punishment, takes on two lighter wrestlers, Angel Estrada and Twisted Torment, who are also taking on each other, a "three-way dance" as opposed to a relatively uncomplicated two-against-one match. The interest factor is in watching two scrappy littler guys wear down Punishment, or, alternatively, watching him overpower and crush two wrestlers at once. There's also the sideshow attraction of Angel and Torment taking the starch out of each other. Nevertheless, the Corporal is the real center of attention in what is basically an exhibition match for the current champion. Angel and Torment are his foils. If they collaborate, Angel and Torment may survive the ordeal with Punishment to take on each other for the win. But if they collaborate too much, the match ceases to be a three-way. It's tricky, and sometimes even the combatants are unclear about the rules and object of the contest, so the ref (BodySlam) is a key component.

Nowadays Corporal Punishment is facing a slew of criticism from the other wrestlers. They claim he has been unwilling to defend the championship belt. This is, in fact, the Corporal's first match of any kind since becoming champ, and it's a title shot for Angel or Torment. If either challenger pins, submits, or otherwise eliminates Punishment, he will become the new UCW champ. BodySlam seems to hold little hope for either the mouthy Mexican or the nu-metal punk, so he throws them both together with Punishment. Chaos ensues, with the bruising ex-Marine usually in command of the situation, weighing roughly twice what his competition weigh in winter clothes and snowshoes. The two upstarts, distracted by infighting, only rarely get their shit enough together to mount a concerted attack on the champ. For two-thirds of the match we have all three fighters on the mat fighting. The other third consists of one-on-one action while one or the other of the wrestlers is sidelined.

Punishment is the biggest man at UCW, and it's hard to imagine anybody else on the roster fairly and legitimately snatching the belt away from him, including former champs Axel and James. That said, fairness and legitimacy are in short supply at UCW, where the wrestlers are becoming increasingly barefaced about bringing weapons into matches and where the only rule, as BodySlam once put it, is "No Killing." In real life a war vet, the aptly named Punishment knows how to deliver the pain--and he makes it crystal clear that he likes hurting guys more than winning bouts, a potential Achilles' heel. He particularly likes to squash insolent beanpoles like Twisted Torment and Angel Estrada. At one point, he's got both men incapacitated on the mat, and he singles Angel out for special abuse. He stomps each of the Latin Heartthrob's hands individually, then he stomps his feet, then he slugs him in the face (eleven times!) and gut, and then, as the piece de resistance, he slaps his palm to the victim's back, counting the pink imprints of his fingers as they rise as welts on Angel's pale skin. You might say that Punishment is the kind of guy who leaves his mark on everyone he meets.

Three-way matches and royal rumbles lack the sort of symmetry I prefer in wrestling matches, but maybe that's just a shortcoming of my taste in wrestling. Most fans will appreciate this fight for the double-stacked squash job it mostly is. I like the marked individuality of the three men we have here: the lone wolf Twisted Torment, who likes to choke his opponents out slowly and sadistically; the bumptious lothario Angel, whose shenanigans distract and provoke his opponents to drop their guard; and the Corporal, a straightedge commando type, still operating on a principle of rapid dominance (i.e. "shock and awe"). The segues between the high spots could be a little smoother, but the high spots are so amazing (and stiff) a little bumpiness can be forgiven. A fake climax at the 29-minute mark gives one competitor a false sense of security, which directly leads us to the real sudden-death climax you (and he) will not soon forget.

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