Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mon Dieu









N'Catch champion Tristan Archer versus challenger Tommy End is a throwback to the old-style wrestling matches from forty years ago. I could be watching Jack Brisco going toe to toe with Dory Funk Jr. in the salad days of NWA. This title defense match from April (which I wrote about here, featuring some excellent stills) popped up yesterday on YouTube in two parts, here and here. The video quality is weak, but that's no problem at all for somebody who used to watch championship wrestling in his locked bedroom, fingers frantically fiddling with rabbit-ears atop a black-and-white TV, just so I could train my eyes on a grainy, almost ghostly image seen through miles of "snowy" analog noise. In fact, Tristan and Tommy's tangled bodies, even in silhouette, would probably still pack quite a charge for me.

Some wrestling fans might find this type of bout boring--it moves slowly, glacially gathering intensity, instead of expending itself in brilliant airborne flashes--but it has everything I need in a pro wrestling match: two smooth broad-shouldered and thick-chested brutes, a lengthy opening lockup (in which the wrestlers wrap themselves together and sweatily shove each other from one side of the ring to the other), tight side headlocks, grueling armbars, unbearably suspenseful two-and-a-half counts, a heel mercilessly splaying his opponent's fingers, outside interference, a knocked-out ref, and not one, not two, but three slugfests that put both wrestlers flat on their backs at the same time, once outside the ring, twice inside, the last being the decisive pin, the victor only slightly less groggy than the vanquished.

Neither Tristan nor Tommy is an especially expressive wrestler, which got me to wondering about what ever made me think that I need wrestlers to be expressive in the first place. I like wrestlers to sell their holds and work the living daylights out of an opponent. But expressive? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Stone Cold Steve Austin was ever accused of hamming it up in the ring. In fact, my favorite wrestlers have usually been as impassive as the Ghost of Christmas Past: Brisco, Funk, Rocky Johnson, the Fabulous Moolah, Kevin Von Erich, Bret Hart, Austin, and the early Eddie Guerrero. Even now, I like guys like Eddie Ryan, Krush, Low Ki, TJ Perkins, Morgan Cruise, living breathing blunt instruments who stalk their prey without once winking at the cameras. Tristan and Tommy are just the way I like pro wrestlers--deadpan, earnest, businesslike. Everything they need to express they can express through their physiques and grappling. And what physiques! And what grappling!

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