Monday, January 21, 2013

The Best Out There







UCW-Wrestling's latest release [#253] pits Eli Black against newcomer Jack Marino ... again. The two just fought a real submission match for UCW's sister company, Freestyle Combat League, reviewed here less than two weeks ago. This is not so much a sequel to that match as a remake, infusing the competition with the pro-style salesmanship typical of UCW's product line. The reboot is instructive when compared with the FCL fight. We get to see the original match sexed up, so to speak, as Jack's pain and humiliation get acted out more broadly and Eli's master heelmanship takes center stage. 

Of course, in real submission wrestling the object is NOT to sell your opponent's assaults, but rather to withstand them and, as quickly as possible, counter them. With this revised match, we see how much selling the moves and holds adds to the entertainment value of the spectacle. Though I would like to be the sort of macho sports fan who categorically prefers the awesome skills and training it takes to compete in the sport of submission wrestling, I have to admit I usually prefer the fakery. And it's not that I don't get a charge from the body contact and struggle of the real event. I do. It's that the amplified groans and grimaces add so much to the experience.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the pain and humiliation at UCW are not exactly faked. These matches are directed, edited, and talked out in advance, but they are far from choreographed, and the blows, while pulled, are not simply pantomimed. Fist and flesh do connect. Contact, stiff and painful contact, actually occurs. Guys can get hurt doing this. In a 2009 interview, Michael Tovar, the brain behind UCW, said he instructs his wrestlers that
[h]owever hard they can hit a wall is how hard they can hit each other. ... They need to do what they can to make the other guy say ouch. The ouch needs to be real.
At FCL, the ouch is incidental, a byproduct of competition, as in any sport. The goal there is to notch up points and win the game. It's legit and engrossing, but it's not just a show. At UCW, however, the ouch is the show. The sound effects contribute to the spectacle--and frankly, for me, they double the eroticism of the match.

In my opinion, Private Jack Marino makes a much bigger splash here at UCW than he did at FCL. He's probably the prettiest babyface to enter the UCW roster ever. That's saying quite a bit, given the youth and prettiness of UCW talent in general, but especially wrestlers like Axel, Klown, Aron, and Pippin. Jack has perfectly symmetrical features and, typical of UCW wrestlers in general, a build that's delicate without being fragile, effete, or soft. And he has the added grace of having some hair on his forearms, always a plus, to my way of seeing things. And Eli has the enviable task of decimating this living, breathing work of art. He does it with enthusiasm, and, as we had hoped, Jack suffers beautifully.

Eli, self-proclaimed as "the best out there," tells Jack up front that when he's done beating him up (and it takes 40 scintillating minutes to do so), Jack is going to worship him. The asskicking will be so memorable, he threatens, that "you'll probably just want to name your ass after me." Having lost two previous UCW matches in a row, Eli wants to make damn well sure that he doesn't make it three. Eli is preoccupied with Joker all through this match, mimicking Joker's trademark adolescent hijinks--fishhooks, wet willies, wedgies--going Joker even one better when he plucks some of Jack's ass-crack hair. When he traps Jack in a face-to-crotch headscissors, he remarks, not untruthfully, "A lot of people would die to be in this position."

I want to say that this is my favorite UCW match of all time. It's how I feel right this moment, but I'm learning that, quixotic and fickle as I am, I call every match that strikes me as great my favorite. (And it is. Always.) So let me say instead that this is a great match, one of the best of the best out there. Eli is everything Eli ought to be, even though he's channeling Joker, current UCW All Star Champion, and Jack is splendid too, giving Eli tit for tat when he can, and his ouch puts a big fat smile on my face.

Images edited on request (17 Feb. 2014)

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