No offense to Michael Hannigan, but I think Eli Black should have replaced Joker as UCW wrestling champion last year. In a fair one-on-one contest, Eli would have kicked the malingering ex-champ's butt. There's no doubt about it in my mind. Eli has the chops and the mojo (and probably many other clichéed attributes) to maintain a distinguished reign as champ. Unlike Joker (who, Eli says, had "cheated" him out of the belt two years ago), Eli would have defended the title against all challengers. Eli just likes to fight. He doesn't really need anything to fight for. A good fight is its own best reason. And, as he showed everybody a year ago, if Eli decides he needs a belt, he will make the goddamned thing for himself!

Black has been an electrifying force at UCW these last couple of years. Although the company has had many fine fighters, chief among them Axel, who swelled the numbers (and members) of UCW fans at its startup, nobody has unfailingly infused its matches with energy and drama the way Eli does. If Eli's in the match, there's a 90 percent chance that it's going to be something that will stick with you for months after the first viewing. He not only performs consistently at top notch but also inspires anybody else on the mat with him to do more than might have been thought possible otherwise. So, that said, I was delighted to hear that UCW was giving Eli a shot at the official belt ... and at Hannigan.

It's probably best not to say much about this match--though probably by now the outcome is well known to all true UCW fans. It's bound to be a source of controversy for fans and wrestlers alike. Indeed, the entire battle is rich in intriguing details. (If I had the time, I could go on for a couple of paragraphs on one detail alone: Did anybody else notice the size of that bulge in Eli's blue trunks?) 

Eli starts the fight with an unprovoked attack on both Hannigan and guest ref Johnny Deep. When Eli focuses his ire on Michael alone, things look bleak for the champ. Then Johnny offers some not-strictly-legal backup. Michael and Johnny together beat the bad-tempered challenger down to a stump. Johnny's assaults are especially sadistic. (What have I always told you? Behind those manga bunny eyes is the mind of a dungeon master.) 

But wait just one minute! It looks like Michael and Johnny may have just overstepped themselves! Eli starts wiping up the UCW mats with both their heinies! Where it goes from here is anybody's guess. And I mean that: You have NO idea.  But it's a safe bet, knowing what we know about UCW, that rules and codes of honor will influence the outcome hardly at all, and there will be plenty of stiff punches and scrotum clutches to go around before the bout reaches a wild and woolly end.

Images edited on request (17 Feb. 2014)


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