Ethan Andrews can't find a thing wrong with newcomer Matt Engel's smokin' physique, so he picks on the guy's haircut. As he confided to us a couple of years ago, Ethan gets his kicks out of beating up the "pretty boys and Abercrombie wannabes" at Rock Hard Wrestling, possibly another motive for his opening volley against Matt's tonsorial tastes. When Matt retorts with a crack about Ethan's hairstyle, Ethan lunges at him and snags him in a side headlock ... maybe he can't take what he dishes out, or maybe he just wants a closer look at what $85 gets you at a good salon.

There's no question about Ethan's superior knowhow in the wrestling ring. This is only the second match of Matt's RHW career, though, like Ethan, he comes to the company with MMA training. Matt's first contest pitted him against Jake Jenkins, whose MMA experience, I suspect, outstretches either of these guys'. Ethan and Matt start quickly, keeping the preliminary shit talk to a blessed minimum and satisfying my constant urge to get the ball rolling.

An armbar checks whether Matt's grunts and groans have improved over the past two months--indeed they have! Though remaining impressively articulate (and expository) despite immense discomfort--"You're breaking my arm!"--Matt suffers beautifully as Ethan twists his wrist and positions his elbow against Ethan's codpiece (a silky red pouch that does nothing to hold back Ethan's outstanding cod).

Ethan subjects Matt to a series of painful and humiliating holds, which he maintains for a while and then inexplicably relents. Ethan's failure to persist is what gives Matt a chance to turn the tables on him, which he does with some enthusiasm, until a corner beatdown goes horribly wrong and Matt finds himself again on the receiving end of the punishment.

A workout against the ring ropes breaks Matt out in a beautiful sweat. Let me just spit it out and say that Matt's upper body is a wonder, so I appreciate anything that might effectively humidify it. Ethan's pounding does the trick. Matt's torso reminds me of Taylor Kitsch's, circa Snakes on a Plane. But whereas Taylor's sexy death scene (what snake wouldn't lunge at that?) was disappointingly brief, Matt hangs crucified and perspiring on the ropes for more than a full, uninterrupted minute. 

The beatdown against the ropes ultimately gives Ethan a first-round win and the chance to strip Matt of his white boots--which, happily, frees the young bodybuilder to start Round 2 as barefoot and feisty as Kevin Von Erich on a beach of uncut cocaine. The second round gives Matt a brief window during which Matt gets a fleeting taste of victory (which tastes surprisingly like a posedown) before finally getting reduced to gravy by a violently stoked Ethan. Rock Hard starts the new year with this great little 23-minute match ... and note to RHW: Do keep Matt barefoot and perspirant


  1. "Ethan subjects Matt to a series of painful and humiliating holds, which he maintains for a while and then inexplicably relents."
    My main gripe with RHW is that the holds are released to quickly for no apparent reason.


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