I am a sucker for loincloths. Like the word "wrestle," the word "loincloth" by itself, free of visuals, excites dark and turbulent desires. Bring the two together, and I'm taken back to the primal erotic fantasies of my childhood, steeped in syndicated M-G-M savagery: croc-infested waters, velutinous vines in art-deco swags, ululating cries in the night, elephant stampedes, ancient and cyclopean spider webs, quicksand, and life-and-death struggles underwater over a knife-blade the size of a man's forearm.
One of Black Wrestling Network's early videos, Predator & Prey, presses those buttons for me. The online image of ex-high school wrestler Panther in a leopard-print loincloth, so beautifully highlighting his mahogany physique, would not let me rest till I could hold the video in my sweaty palms and claim it as my own.
Beginning with a panther's roar, the DVD announces in severe white on black titles--the sort that in old Hollywood movies express gratitude to the U.S. armed forces for their generous support in the making of this picture, or soberly avow that this film is based on a true story--the following declaration:
Panther refused to postpone this debut match despite being sick with a cold and a cough. Insisting on fighting Marcos and making his arrival on schedule, Panther chooses to fight even as a "wounded animal."
But a wounded animal can be the most dangerous kind of Predator ...The melodramatic intonation of this statement makes me chuckle and get a stiffy at the same time. I hope that after the shoot Panther at least sent Marcos a bottle of NyQuil, because after this hot and sensuous battle there's not a microbe on the surface of Panther's fine body that didn't have a crack at one or the other of Marcos' orifices.
Stealthily Panther steps on the mat, only to be welcomed with a surge of aggressiveness from Marcos that was possibly unexpected. Marcos, who has a history of humiliating defeats, opportunistically sees Panther's weakened condition as his chance to climb in the ranks. Panther struggles like the jungle cat that he is and, after much richly satisfying "give and take," he submits Marcos with a punishing leglock that apparently leaves the man unconscious and (Marcos and me alike) bonered.
Panther returns for Round 2, ready to talk some shit, the usual "Is that all you got?" banter that still works fine for me. He nudges Marcos' supine body with his foot, trying to rouse his fighting spirit. Fortunately, Marcos still has some more "give" for Panther to take, and a long, drawn-out full nelson, both men panting on their sides on the mat, brings the promising (but ailing) newcomer close to a tapout. Marcos tries to turn the hold into a choke, which opens himself up to Panther's assault and second win.
In Round 3, Panther targets Marcos' upper thighs again, and in no time squeezes a submission out of the man, who looks like he wishes Panther had shown up with a doctor's slip. Still, Panther is shooting three-for-three in boner-inducement (for me and, I think, Marcos). He pulls out his fancier moves in Round 4, opening the round with a flip and a (sort of) "flying" headscissors to liven things up, but he's at his best when crushing his opponent's body against his own.
Marcos is a sensuous wrestler, and the action on this video is slower than most, perhaps due in part to Panther's cold. But the long, tight holds, combined with the low rumbling groans, suit me fine. Marcos is bigger, but Panther is more agile and aggressive. Too bad we're not seeing these guys go at it on one of their good days. It would be nice to see Panther in a worked-up sweat without worrying about his getting pneumonia.
Repeatedly Panther fires up and seems to be determined to make Marcos pay for his sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever (which, I should add, only rarely intrudes on Panther's performance). Fed up, Marcos strikes back with a body blow that gives him the upper hand for about a minute, until, that is, Panther springs back and hoists him up in a fireman's carry, hopping up and down on the mat so as to smash Marcos' ribs against his broad shoulders before transitioning to a vigorous airplane spin.
Marcos puts up enough of a resistance to keep this fight from being too one-sided. He even gains a submission by a rear naked choke in (what?) the fifth or sixth round (I lost count), and it's an edge he carries over to the next round, delivering a very sexy and almost interminable bearhug. But everything he does only riles Panther up. It's a provocation that's invariably met with swift and wrathful and near-crippling punishment.
I really like Panther in this, and am disappointed to find no more BWN matches featuring him (with or without the loincloth). This match was shot (I think) about eight years ago, so other Panther matches either never existed or have subsequently vanished from the catalog. BWN's more recent matches are more sharply photographed, with a definite eye for complex and stark real-world settings and lighting, and compelling, naturalistic storylines, but this early fight, lo-def and minimalist in its stagecraft, is still quite a handful--if you catch my drift.