Saturday, November 17, 2012

Show Off

Even though it's not my main draw to wrestling, high-flying off-the-ropes acrobatics impresses me nevertheless. I count some high flyers among my favorite wrestlers now, guys like El Generico, Ricochet, John Morrison (whose thing is technically parkour), and Fire Ant. In the last decade the high flyers have evolved to integrate the highspots with spots I like better, such as tight clenches and toe-to-toe slugfests, almost putting to rest my earlier complaint, that wrestling was turning into nothing but speed and daredevilry without any real body-to-body grappling, i.e. the old-school stuff I first lost my heart to.

Take, for instance, this incredible match from Beyond Wrestling's Tournament for Tomorrow last year. Newcomer ACH, 5'9", 185#, takes on AR Fox, 6', 185#, both guys renowned high-flyers in independent wrestling. As promoter Denver Colorado enthuses in the commentary, these two guys are nearly perfectly matched, in training, in style, in weight, in age, in heart. ACH carries his muscle in thicker slabs, but AR has the edge in ring experience. In addition to jaw-dropping feats of agility and balance, both these wrestlers know how to apply a hard side headlock ... and how to pound his way out of one, too. (Not as good as Jack Brisco and Terry Funk back in the day, but then, who is?)

The match begins coolly enough, both competitors feeling each other out, scouting the other guy's weak spots and predictable traits. Quickly, though, the action heats up. As in most Beyond Wrestling matches, we get a lot of showoffery. BW exists mainly to give young pro wrestlers just starting out a showcase, a platform for showing fans, fellow wrestlers, and promoters how awesome they can be. Showing off is a good 60 percent of pro wrestling, and attitude, charisma, and heart (ACH's acronym) are, of course, hardly unappealing to me as a gay fan.

AR and ACH throw some hard punches. More than once the action spills out of the ring. They make good use of the room, both its physical layout and the pumped-up audience of fellow pro wrestlers. We get some strenuous and satisfying mat work, too, and some barely legal use of the ropes, ring apron, and turnbuckle. Gripping enough for me, and it helps that both contestants are hot, young, and competitive, too. Of course, the real "wow" factor is the highspots. Fox amazed me when I saw him live in an Evolve show in Charlotte earlier this year. He is even more amazing here. So is ACH. Together these guys bring out the best in each other, the evidence being a see-it-to-believe-it midair crossbody collision (at the 14:27 mark of the jam-packed 21-minute video). See it, and believe it.

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