Through most of last month, UCW's Michael Hannigan and Damien Flawless engaged in a video war of words and clever edits of each other's vlogs. Damien meanly mocked Michael's adenoidal mumbles, hinting that Michael was either slow or perpetually buzzed, but Michael, with remarkable calm and not rising to the bait, answered, saying he was ready to face the glib party-boy on the mat to settle any differences they might have ... once and for all. Fans responded, either laughing along with acid-tongued Damien's clever sass or urging taciturn Michael to kick the glamor boy's butt. Current UCW champ Joker stepped in to offer his own two cents, opining that the squabble looked more like video-dating than priming for a fight. It was inevitable that the two would rumble in the mat room, and soon ... and that confrontation popped up this past weekend as UCW's latest download [#284].
It would be hard for the actual fight to match the tone of the buildup. But Flawless and Hannigan bring on a good fight all right. If the fight does not break any new ground for the company, it does very capably reiterate UCW's typical motifs: gut-punching, cock-twisting, crotch-to-face humiliation, and surprise reversals. It proves what a capable sensei Axel has been for young Hannigan, so recently the object of Twisted Torment's malicious obsession, now blossoming as a grappler of some resourcefulness and toughness. And Flawless, decked out like Malibu Ken, seems ready, along with CJ Devastation, to inject a big dose of gay into the company, which has mostly teased in that direction in the past.
The match starts, surprisingly, with Michael on the offensive, mocking Damien with a funny (though not exactly convincing) imitation of his colorful opponent--and shaming the guy over his recent loss to Axel. And he takes easy control over the guy with a standing armbar, cinched with some well-aimed jabs, a pretty smooth body slam, and a spine-buster that made me go ouch. There's a touch of menace in Hannigan here that I don't remember seeing before, and I like it. He plies Damien with a rich array of holds and moves, showing how much he's learned in the last nine months since his debut, when Twis targeted him at random on a state park nature trail. From innocent victim to fledgling heel in less than a year--not bad!
But Flawless isn't cut out to be a whipping boy for long. He blocks an attempted snapmare and turns the tables on Michael, giving the boy the deluxe special edition of hurt that goes to the limit, including a strike that elicits what I perceived as the UCW "safe word" and a rapid edit (the action resumed, I suspect, one or two icepacks later). Damien favors slapping and spanking his opponent--for the sound, I suspect, as much as for the pleasure of seeing his handprint in pink on Hannigan's skin. But a dropkick turns the fight back over to Michael.
This is a very good, though not especially dramatic, give-and-take match between two combatants who are physically similar (slender, pale, lanky working-class types), but strongly differentiated: Flawless with his taste for showy excess, and Hannigan with his deadpan resolve and toolbox of stratagems. Both wrestlers have expressed interest in facing each other in a traditional three-round match, and that respect for old-school catch wrestling is what enlivens this contest and makes me like both these guys.