Yesterday I said that nobody sells other wrestlers' holds better than Mike Bennett. Even as I wrote that sentence, I thought of the one man who can suffer as beautifully as Mike--who on most days runs neck and neck with him, on rare days slipping a little behind or a little ahead, but never by much. That man of course is Tyler Black, or rather was Tyler Black, now transmogrified into the zany WWE-mascot-on-speed Seth Rollins.
Last night I rewatched Tyler's epic Ring of Honor championship loss to Roderick Strong, the one in which Tyler refused to shake Roderick's extended hand at the end, but rather flipped him off and then flipped off the whole crowd, who up to that point had been evenly divided pro- and anti-Tyler. I watched the whole DVD, and realized two things: one, how Black's angry and defiant burning of a bridge behind him was the high point of his career so far, and, two, how sexy Claudio Castagnoli was in his promo with Chris Hero, wearing a pair of designer eyeglasses (but more about that another time, perhaps).
It helped that, pre-two-toned bleach job, Black looked a little like Jesus, a very sexy Jesus, but if Jesus had worked out and worn skimpy black trunks and gone into pro wrestling, he would have been Tyler Black. This would have been far far more conducive to my keeping the faith than Jim Caviezel and Jeffrey Hunter wrapped into one. Like Jesus's last days, most of Tyler's (and Seth's) matches involve a ridiculous amount of punishment, followed by a triumphant, last-minute resurrection in which good triumphs over evil. I know that this angle survived Black's ROH days because I then looked up this February match at Florida Championship Wrestling, in which Seth, 6'1", 209#, gets busted by Rick Victor, 6'2", 219#, without mercy, only to rise again to kick Rick's overdressed butt in the end.
It's enough for me to see that Seth retains some of his former glory, but I must say the monkey antics of his entrance only diminish the messianic gravitas to follow. The former Tyler Black had two personae--pre-ROH, the cocky know-it-all, and Age-of-the-Fall era and later, the haunted glowering Byronic hero. Either was infinitely better than this Hulk Hogan clowning, though I prefer "dark" Tyler as a setup for the torture and then triumph almost inevitably to follow. Happily, the antagonist's (Rick's) role is to dampen these high spirits almost instantly, so the fight itself is pretty awesome.