Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Taming of the Heel

WWE seems to take a page from Shakespearean comedy in this climactic match between Justin Gabriel, 6'1", 213#, and Heath Slater, 6'2", 216#. The ideally matched duo had been a heel team for over a year. Then Justin turned into a good guy, and the fierily temperamental Heath burned with resentment, dogging Justin with a constant clamor of accusations that Justin had been holding back his career. The two quarreled openly, coming to blows, leading up to this dramatic turning point late last year. 

In the buildup to the match Justin looks benignly amused at Heath's bluster and determined to beat some sense into his onetime partner. At first he's almost playfully twisting his testy ex's arm, big toothy smiles all the way. But Heath puts up tougher resistance than expected, and the grins and sideways smirks disappear. Where the bard would have had a war of words, witty repartee leading to the smack of a slapstick, we get, somewhat more satisfyingly in my opinion, a center-of-the-ring slugfest between the former tag-team champs. In time Justin's superior ring skill softens, quells, and then completely silences his ill-tempered rival with a 450 splash, and joy and laughter are restored.

I don't know what it is here that reminds me of Petruchio and Kate, but there's a hint of opportunistic yet good-natured rogue in Justin's manner, especially when having to ride out Heath's whinging harangue. Perhaps the beard and cowlicky hair contribute to the effect. Too much to hope for, I know, but I wish this energetic and surprisingly well-developed rough-and-tumble battle ended with a raucous McClintock-like spanking and a chastened Heath, humbled by defeat, brought back to Justin's side.

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