The day started with an awesome match, featuring crazy-raunchy heel Quinn Harper, 5'10", 175#, and sinister-calculating B&D heel Nick Diesel, 5'9", 145#. Two newbies. Two heels. Two fantastically different attitudes and looks. I consider myself lucky that I got to see this match live. My pre-release review in 24 words or less: Nick and Quinn in a rope match you'll want to buy for your dick only if it's been a very good dick this year. I'm just saying. I can't tell you more than these three things: it's a classic, it's probably going to be remembered as one of UCW's top ten matches of all time, both these guys together have more chemistry than DuPont.
Right after the match I got to interview Diesel, a wrestler I admired in his previous match against Private Jack and in his work at BG East (under another name). I told him how great I thought the fight against Quinn was and asked him what goes through his head after a match like that. He said, "One thing I think about is how I could make the next match better. How I could have made it more torturous." I ask him how in the world it could have been any better than it was, how he and Quinn could have been any more sadistic as villains. "More ropes and hooks," he replied. Diesel is a bondage master, intent, he told me, on "turning wrestling fans into bondage fans." In the match, he counters Harper's raw blasts of energy by binding him in a web of nylon cording. (The night before he had demonstrated his roping skills by crucifying me between two beams, lashing me across the chest with a rope end, and twisting my nipples hard. I know, I know. How lucky can one blogger be? Here's how--later in the day on Saturday, when both of us were at the sidelines watching another match, he quietly and rather distractedly tied my wrists together, looped the nylon cord on a hook, and commanded me to "stay.")
He told me he has no real background in wrestling, just bondage. He's been a bondage master for the past five years. He got hooked on bondage through a site he found on the Internet (see? concerned parents are absolutely right!) "A lot of crazy clients like seeing me tie up people, all helpless," he explained. "Some clients like to be tickled and tied up. Mixing pleasure with pain." I asked him what the connection to wrestling was, for him personally. He said that in wrestling he's "using my body as ropes to bind and dominate somebody else." As soon as he said that, I remembered a couple of his previous matches, where the description was a fitting summary of everything I had felt about them at the time.
I asked Nick what he thought made bondage erotic for him and his clients. "The feeling of control," he said. "It's what it's like being the snake or the rat in a snake tank. The feeling of overpowering, it's more intense than regular sex. And it involves characters. You become someone else, whether you're doing the binding or you're the one that's bound."
Eli Black arrived, bragging to a few of us about his hot tub and trampoline hetero-sex-wrestling adventure the night before. I missed his first match against Quinn Harper, futzing around with this blog instead, and from what I heard (and from what I could have guessed for myself) I missed a great match. Later, I asked him what it was like facing a challenging fighter like Quinn. He said, "Me being Eli Black, nothing's too challenging, but I consider a challenge something that's fun and a fun match would be Quinn Harper. I finally met a worthy opponent!" I asked whether, given their mutual respect following the match and their shared interest in bullying, an alliance might be upcoming. "I like what he had," he said. (In fact, later in the day, he and Quinn set up a team to take on Axel and Michael Hannigan--even calling on me to participate in a small way.) I also asked him whether, having played the mouthy heel for the last year and a half at UCW, he might ever turn babyface. He said that he's "better looking than a babyface. ... Eli Black is definitely an asshole," he conceded. "But it's not all bad. He's more confident than cocky. And that's what you need in the fight world. You don't want to be unsure of yourself. That said, Eli Black is the best!"
When I asked him what UCW wrestler's on his "black list," he did not hesitate in naming Axel, who had also topped Quinn Harper's list the day before: "I've shorthanded UCW. One guy has eluded me. It's that pussy Axel, who's afraid to do more than just talk to me on the mat." I asked him what his beef with Axel was. He said, "He's a little Democratic pussy. And I'm a badass Republican!" So this is political? "All said and done, Axel's just a little pussy who wishes he could be me." Later, he told me that he thinks Axel has "severely damaged" the "standards" at UCW. How? "By being a bitch and a pussy and a cum-dumpster. I'm gonna chew him up, spit him out, and make him clean himself off the mat."
What about his fans? I asked him. "I appreciate the fans that I have and even the haters, who are just fans in denial. I get emails every now and again, telling me how sexy and awesome I am. Telling me whether they like or dislike my facial hair. But all being said, I'm Eli Black, so I get the final say in what comes and goes. So suck it up, bitches!" (His goatlike chin patch has been a minor controversy among gay fans. You'll notice in the pictures, though, that the patch disappeared this weekend. Eli's "final say"?)
Last summer and this summer, Eli had insisted that he fight back-to-back matches. I asked him why. "I like to get a nice warmup with whoever thinks he's got what it takes to step on the mat against me and that sets me up to demolish the next guy. It sets me in a groove, and I run with it. I do what I do and do it well. I'm a finisher." I ask him to tell me the secret to good smack talk, of which Eli is an undisputed master. "Um. Just open your mouth and make the other person shut theirs."
Two of the company's younger, less experienced wrestlers were scheduled for a two-out-of-three match. Damien Flawless and Michael Hannigan had been talking shit about each other on Facebook for weeks, dividing fans' allegiance between them. I spoke with Damien first, asking him what the inspiration for his wrestling persona was. "I think my real personality," he said. "I have a bit of ego actually. I wanted to base a character on that. A character who thinks he's great whether he really is or not. I wanted to portray a character who could get away with saying anything, so fans either laugh with me or go 'what the hell is going on here?' Kind of like I was the popular kid at an all-gay Catholic school." (Whuh?) I asked him which wrestlers he had looked up to, growing up. "I really love Chyna. I got to meet her about two years ago. What I admired about her while I was growing up was that nobody at first knew what to make of her. Nobody had seen anyone like her before. You didn't know whether she was going to be a success or a joke, and she ended up being massively successful." Among male wrestlers he admired, he named Shawn Michaels and "Macho Man" Randy Savage. He couldn't single out any current young male wrestler he admires. "You don't really get that kind of immortal male wrestler today."
I asked about his feud with Michael. "I would love to talk about Miss Hannigan," he said. "Which is ironic, given my character. I will say one positive thing about him, though. What I do like about him is that when we perform together, we've got a really good chemistry. I like that he's not just doing it for a paycheck. I really kinda gotta respect him for that." I asked him whether there was a "but" after all the praise. "There's always a 'but' with me. He kinda started with me because I was starting to get my own little following--nothing on an Axel level, obviously--and I think that bothered him, that I had guys who were starting to send me speedos and such."
I then asked Michael Hannigan to respond to what Damien had said. He explained matter-of-factly that the feud had been started to fill the hole left after the sudden disappearance of Twisted Torment, whose long-running harassment of Hannigan had been Hannigan's introduction to UCW. Michael noticed that Damien was using Facebook videos to respond to fans' questions and decided to mock Damien in a few videos of his own. "The fans wanted to see me in a feud with somebody, so I picked Damien. They deserved a fight, and I picked a wrestler that wouldn't chicken out and run like a little bitch." Then he told me, smirking slightly, that 95% of the fans tell him to kick Damien's ass.
Michael got hooked on wrestling around the age of ten, watching WWE on TV. "I got my friends into it, too, and we started wrestling around with each other, backyard wrestling. I still do that." His backyard wrestling has diminished as he's become more involved at UCW. "Now I know how to do everything right and they don't, so that's been a factor." I asked about his favorite match. "So far I really like the Christmas match I had. The fact that I had four different opponents. And I think I did pretty good in that match." His strong points? "When Bodyslam taught me the ring awareness stuff, that became my strongest point." He sees a lot out of the corners of his eyes. That wide range of alertness helps him respond to the events of the match quickly. When I asked him what it was about wrestling that so strongly appealed to him, he said, "Just the fact that it's really physical. Not just running back and forth on a field. Or running around a baseball diamond. It's more physical, more active."
The last match of the evening was as great as the day's first, I thought. Rope-master Nick Diesel versus ego-monster Eli Black. All decked out in red, white, and blue, this is the match you will see this coming Independence Day. And wow! Strangulation fetishists should have a field day. The angle is that Diesel wants to declare his independence from UCW. He wants out of his "exclusive contract" with Bodyslam so that he can work for other wrestling companies. According to the contract, Diesel can win his release only by fighting and defeating one of the owners of UCW. Axel was away, and Bodyslam was still physically unable to wrestle, so Bodyslam found a clause that stated he could pick a proxy. He picked Eli.
This fight was as raw, violent, and savage as any I have seen. I would compare its visceral intensity not to Tarzan movies exactly, but to my darkest red-in-tooth-and-claw fantasies of Tarzan. Eli and Nick fought like a couple of pissed-off crocodiles, raising the temperature in the garage (which already was hot--98 degrees Fahrenheit). After the fight, Damien, Eli, and Quinn left for home. Bodyslam and Axel started a fire in the backyard for toasting bratwursts and s'mores. Nick and Phil, UCW's "bean-counter," picked up some mojito mix. Hannigan, feeling a little sore after his match against Damien, joined us, as we sat in lawn chairs, in a semicircle around the blazing fire. It was a great way to top off a great day.