Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hot on the Heels

Alex Waters exhibited pronounced villainous tendencies in his first match at Rock Hard Wrestling, tendencies he toned down in subsequent matches in favor of harsh yet righteous judgment, letting snide bullies with suntans and chips on their shoulders (talking to you, Josh Steel) dig their own graves before he slapped them silly. Happily, in his latest output, the original Alex is back, as arrogant and nasty as I could hope for, as he orders teen wunderkind Kyle Carter into the ring to help him measure the circumference of his bicep. Kyle got such a thorough thrashing from charismatic veteran Zack Johnathan this summer, I'm a little surprised to see him back in the ring. Pleasantly surprised. He suffered beautifully under Zack, and now he's set on making his mark at RHW. "We can't always be winners," Alex says, condescendingly charitable about Kyle's supposed physical shortcomings. In fact, Kyle towers over Alex and looks every bit as thick and hard--and confident in his fight skills.

It turns out that cocky Alex has a mere half inch over his opponent, bicep-wise, and Kyle is unmoved by Alex's BMOC swagger, prompting the two to drop to the mat for an impromptu test of strength. Arm wrestling is the form of wrestling that interests me least, easily six notches below sumo, and this contest is no exception. I'm primed to see these smooth young men tear into each other, head to toe, and the best I can say about this delaying tactic is that it sure beats long, expository harangues at the microphone. Fortunately, not a lot of time is wasted on preambles. Kyle's quick victory over Alex leads promptly, if not seamlessly, to the two getting back on their feet to lock up--for some real wrestling.

Kyle looks good bodyslamming Alex, then rolling the pretty boy over to clobber his shoulders and lower back with forearm and balled-up fist. Segues between holds are a little clunky here and there, but Kyle works Alex over nicely--on the mat and against the ropes. A badly timed Irish whip turns the tide to Alex's favor, who gives a Ric Flair-style wooo after he knocks the crewcut Southerner to the mat. "Oh, yeah, you didn't see that coming, did ya?" he brags, just before a boot-stomp to the kidneys, followed by another, followed by another.

What I like about Alex the heel is the contrast of retro teen-idol good looks--all flashing teeth and brilliantine--one part Fabian to two parts Pat Boone--and gleeful, self-assured brutality--a dead ringer for any bad boy who ever picked on Ralph Macchio in the 1980s. Faced with such exuberant malice so beautifully packaged, I imagine only big things for Waters' career in underground wrestling.

I might wish for more momentum in the first half--some emotional force that carries the wrestlers from one move to the next more smoothly, accelerating to a big climax. Kyle and Alex perform the moves well and look fantastic while doing so, but at times self-conscious choreography threatens to upstage any sense of bristling drama. These complaints fade as we draw to the close of Round 2, as the action heats up, setting up the decisive final round. 

Of course, a little sweat on the chests and shoulders goes a long way towards improving any situation--that, and the determination of both these young studs to break the deadlock that ends the second round. I'm ready to see anything and everything these two wrestlers do next, but I admit I'm particularly taken with Alex. Deceptively clean-cut and bright-eyed, he's got the heart of a dungeon master. He's like the senior class president from hell, exuding upbeat yet oily charm, while doing everything in his power (which is considerable) to torment and destroy the likable, easygoing Kyle. 

The decider is a superb ring corner beatdown. There's a lot of fire and sass in the finish. Both guys pumped up and firing on all cylinders. Seventy percent of this match is the bodies of these two--Alex's suggesting the Barberini faun, and Kyle's, the homegrown beefcake of Physique Pictorial magazines--two styles of hot in the same ring. The other 30 percent is its sweaty and ego-obliterating finale.

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