The Gold Rush
The setup in #318 is that Axel agrees to wrestle Michael Hannigan to prep the less experienced wrestler for post-Twisted (and post-Damien-feud) challengers to come, but it really ought to be a match about the gold trunks (gold and black, to be specific). The way to go, I believe, would have been a match between these two doe-eyed babyfaces (with latent heel tendencies, the both of them, I suspect, but more pronounced in Axel at the moment) to settle who's the more becoming in lustrous yellow trunks, the loser having to trade off to silver or bronze, perhaps. Such a contest might have packed added pop with us fans since Joker's been holding the UCW title belt hostage for about a year now up in the cheese fields of Wisconsin, facing no challengers and refusing to vacate the title without a fight.
The guys go through the paces, though, running the gauntlet of kicks, gut punches, camel clutches, crab holds, snapmares, scissors, stomps, surfboards, stretches, bear hugs, and ball twists we expect of any quality UCW match. At first the 36-minute contest plays as pretty much what it is: a workout and training session, nothing too dramatic, yet neither wrestler exactly phoning in moves either. A third of the way in, however, Michael starts making Axel his bitch. Seriously. This, in itself, would be plenty interesting, knowing that these days Axel has been veering towards the dark side and, even at his pleasantest, was never one to let bygones be bygones before taking an overly aggressive opponent down a peg or two. Somewhat more significant is the sight of Hannigan holding his own against his mentor in a protracted give-and-take battle, refusing to roll over even for the boss's signature finisher, suggesting that maybe, just maybe he's ready for whatever pink-haired troublemaker decides to cross paths with him in the future.