Friday, February 28, 2014

Connor Meets Aron

Connor Flynn, 6', 171#, and Aron Stokes, 6', 164#, are perhaps the glummest two wrestlers I know of--neither one is big on smiling ... or speaking--and, as a result, this new Movimus matchup verges on downbeat genius ... or, I don't know, something. In the video's intro, the scowling runs neck and neck with the muscle posing, the wrestlers looking as if they've both been dragged out of bed early on a Sunday morning to wrestle each other. 

Always fascinated by like-versus-like matches and by moody, tight-lipped fighters, I turned to this new release out of curiosity.  There's a glimmer of a smirk on Connor's face when the two shake hands and, without prelude or fanfare, start to wrestle. It's while wrestling that he and Aron come alive. They are serious about wrestling, and I like that. 

Right off, Connor deftly fends off the new guy's attack and takes a position of control. But Aron, though the (slightly) lighter of the two, is no pushover. The 21-minute match is in constant turnaround. It takes one of these guys roughly a minute to take Round 1, but then a rough Round 2 goes to the other, two and a half minutes later; one pulls ahead at the end of a nearly five-minute Round 3, then quickly gains a two-point lead in a relatively brief Round 4; the gap starts to close (3-2) in Round 5; in Round 6 the two fighters careen clear off the mat, where they finish their business on the hard blond wood floor; the match ends at seven rounds, with a mere one point separating the two. The fighting is intense but sportsmanlike: a handshake signals mutual respect at the end of particularly well-fought rounds. No words, just the terse handshake, and the two lock up again.

As I have said before, I like wrestling best when it starts to slow down, when sweat glistens on the skin, when the blood rushes to the head, when wrestlers cling to each other more out of instinct than conscious strategy. This is a terrific little match that ought to thrill fans of straight-up submission wrestling. But with these two guys, there's not much to listen to except for groaning and huffing and the erratic drumming of bodies against each other and the floor. Frankly, I don't miss the talk. Usually, this kind of focus and crunched intensity is (for me) much hotter than goofing around.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Call It a Woodie (Surf City Here We Come)

Tag team matches at Rock Hard Wrestling hold a certain magic for me. No doubt the hot, brutality-friendly wrestlers count for a lot of it. I also think that Rock Hard gives me more of what I like in this type of contest--mat work and rope work; worried partners unable to tag in, a foot poised expectantly on the bottom rope (Wrestling Arsenal has been, for me, the poet of such moments of squared-circle suspense); two-on-one beatdowns that ultimately get tastily avenged.

A recent match illustrates my case on all the above points. Josh Steel and Brian Baker, who first teamed in 2013, are big boys brandishing tattoos and shapely muscle. Facing them are Austin Cooper, the veteran of the group, and Brodie Fisher, a teen sensation whose cherry Steel popped in the summer of 2012, a month before he partnered up with Coop. (Fisher actually kicked Steel's ass back then, which only stokes Josh's desire for payback now.) The event is set up as bad-ass surfer boys versus a daddy-and-son team (if that wasn't the intent, then blame my dirty mind for thinking it so, but now nothing you can say can pry that idea out of my head). 

It's fitting that Josh and Brodie are first to face off, still picking at a scab of mutual dislike that is far from healing over. I perk up at the mere mention of these two wrestlers' names. The two of them pitted against each other again, I'm almost ready to explode before the bell sounds. Josh tops his hot body with a nearly perpetual sneer of contempt (against everything good and decent, it would appear--LOVE that in a man), and Brodie tops his with apple-red cheeks and eyes that look determined to right all the wrongs of the world, Canadian style. The moral (and attitudinal) contrast between these two fighters sets me on fire--and, naturally, wickedness takes an early lead as Josh dumps Brodie's optimistic ass on the mat for some stomp-downs under the bad-ass's ironically white boots. "What are you going to do about it?" Josh taunts Austin, stuck out on the ring apron, only whetting my appetite for the answer to that question.

Josh yucks it up as he ties young Brodie into knots, daring him to crawl over to tag in Austin. Austin calls out encouragement to his partner, urging him to reach just the few inches further that will let daddy jump in and take care of the obnoxious surfer punk for him. Josh lets him get close, but there's no way he's letting his long-awaited turn at tormenting Brodie be cut short. Or is there? Bizarrely (and inexplicably) he chooses to beat up Brodie in Brodie's and Austin's corner, just inches away from Austin--still, the agonized so-close-yet-so-far drama outweighs my incredulity, which I put in check at such moments (what stirs the cock, the brain has no right to spurn--put that on my headstone, if you've a mind to).

In a moment of what-was-he-thinking hubris, Josh actually lets Brodie tag Austin in, and strong, burly Austin is more than happy to leap in, give the shaggy-haired surfer the roughing up he's apparently been asking for, and even let his little buddy take potshots at Steel while Coop holds him in place. If there's one thing I like better than a hot, sneering heel like Josh Steel, it's a hot, righteous hero like Austin Cooper to the rescue. As soon as he can, rather sensibly Josh hightails it back to his corner and tags in Brian, the biggest, heaviest, and probably strongest of the four athletes. Coop handily dominates the handsome giant, while at ringside Josh shouts across the ring at his nemesis Brodie, telling him he has "no right" to say anything about what's happening in the ring. In a distinctly vile and perfidious turn, Josh even dares Austin to break Baker's leg. His own partner's leg! The table turns again, when big Brian takes a turn at beating up on Coop, which leads to Brodie hopping back into the ring to give Brian a bruising and then (full circle, in carousel fashion) a climactic showdown between him and Josh again, bringing an exhilarating and unbelievably symmetrical Round One to its finish.

Round 2 again begins with Josh and Brodie facing off, revisiting several of the motifs introduced in Round 1 that (in fugue fashion) the boys repeat at different pitches of intensity. The second round is as boner-inducing as the first, with Coop's massive and hard-to-ignore shoulders and arms taking center stage. I'm still overwhelmed by this fight, now some twelve hours after my first viewing of it, and can't decide whether this is indeed RHW's best tag team match ever or merely one of its top three. Either way, the very fact that I'm led to raise the question indicates the extent to which this battle has got under my skin. Four wrestlers, who can plant their boots in my ring anytime they may care to, here at their best in an impressively balanced (and suggestively nuanced) fight--I'll be watching this one again and again, starting very soon.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do What You Gotta Do

One sign of Michael Hannigan's growing arrogance is the way he taunts ref Quinn Harper over the fact that newcomer Ice Burg is getting a shot at Michael's UCW belt before Quinn, who, after all, is the man who convinced BodySlam (all right, "hypnotized" him, if you want to quibble) into stripping previous champ Joker of the title, thus putting it up for grabs in the first place.

Granted, Ice has shown a lot of promise--and, granted, Michael was a definite dark horse when he acquired the belt in a three-way dance last fall, albeit challenged by nothing but newbies--no Quinn, no Eli, no Axel. You can't much blame Quinn for feeling burned nowadays. But does Michael need to rub salt in Harper's wounds? I'd be more careful if I were he. Quinn's not somebody you want to piss off--even if you are UCW champ. 

Quinn reminds Michael who wears the zebra stripes in this match [#337], cautioning the youngster not to push his luck with him. Probably good advice, under the circumstances. He pointedly reminds both wrestlers that as ref he's the man in charge today and that he has the power to throw either of them out and summarily end the bout.

Quinn adds energy and color to any match he's involved in, even as a ref, and his presence in this title defense in palpable and decisive. He's anything but a ref who'll be satisfied staying in the background. And from the beginning he asserts his right and power as referee to shape this contest as he sees fit. His contempt for the upstart champion is equally palpable, his eyes going hard every time he's forced to acknowledge the young man's elevated status in the company--"by luck," he notes, as a barbed afterthought.

Once the bell sounds, Michael shows his dominance over Ice fairly quickly. The two are wooden at first, unsurprising given both wrestlers' relative inexperience--a reminder that must especially stick in Quinn's craw. Despite Quinn's reputation as a wrestler who holds nothing back in a brawl, as ref he seems unusually scrupulous about keeping the fight "clean," perhaps mainly to rankle Hannigan, who seems eager to dispense with his challenger quickly and by any means necessary. 

Hannigan doesn't get to dominate Burg for long, though. The strongly built recruit fires back, unintimidated by the young champ. When he plops Michael facedown on the mat in an armbar, Quinn can barely hide his amusement as he asks Michael whether he wants to tap out, remarking how un-champ-like he looks now squirming at Ice Burg's feet. Then he prompts Ice to bend the champ's arm even further back, basically using Ice as a pawn to indirectly get at the wet-behind-the-ears champion. 

Quinn Harper is always "the man with a plan," a schemer and deceiver, a role he's played from his earliest appearance at UCW. I can't hide the fact that I like the guy, from his fight-the-power attitude to (here) his sly, self-serving egging on of Ice to destroy a man he sees as less than deserving of a recent run of good fortune. It's a ploy doubly devious when eventually Michael reasserts control of the fight and Quinn refuses to acknowledge Ice Burg's attempts to give up, falsely interpreting the guy's garbled screams as "I do NOT quit."

The man certainly knows how to complicate even the most straightforward of matches. Quinn takes basically a supporting role and turns it into a star vehicle for himself. I can't imagine what this match might have been without Quinn's sticking his nose into it, but I'd bet it would have been fairly cut-and-dry. With his input, however, it's a clever and immensely entertaining cat-and-mouse game that lovers of the drama of wrestling cannot afford to miss.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mucho Macho Muchacho

Last night my dear old pal (whose actual name I don't know, but we have written ball-gripping wrestling fantasies together twice a week for about 200 weeks now) suggested we do a match featuring Jose from BG East's golden age. It was a heart-stomping fantasy revenge match against a bigger blond wrestler at a rival online promotion, whom I reimagined (for the sake of dramatic tension) as a xenophobe. It was one of our greater matches among many great matches over the years. Jose--our version of him--kicked some racist butt.

I can't say that I have watched nearly enough of Jose, 5'10", 174#, in action, and having not checked my stash of BGE classics to be absolutely sure, I don't know whether I have even seen all the matches represented in the photos above.  I'm almost sure I have. I sure as hell should have. Jose was a Clinton-era favorite of mine: smooth, succulently muscled, cruel, proud, graceful, and haughty. Decidedly a heel, Jose usually found himself well matched against equally tough and ruthless opponents, so, consummate heel that he was, it was never written in stone that he would win every contest or take his victories easily.

Jose's the kind of exuberantly sexual gogo-boy wrestler that makes steam rise up off my fly. He was quite a performer back in the day, consistently watchable and persistently wicked. I smack my lips just at the thought of him.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tumbl for You

So many great wrestling blogs on Tumblr. A visual feast every day. Let's start with just fourteen of my favorites.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trapped Like a Rat

"You got a lot more muscles since the last time I did this to you." So says the suave, unruffable brute Eli Black as he slams Johnny Deep to the wall and starts feeding chunks of the pretty boy to the paper shredder. Eli sometimes complains that UCW offers him no real competition (though so far he has cannily evaded a one-on-one contest with Axel, his true nemesis). Eli complains, but he doesn't seem really to mind. He's quite happy stomping the internal organs out of lesser talents. It's great to make money hurting people. I'm not certain of this, but I've a sneaking suspicion Eli would do it for free.

Of course, Johnny's wispy innocence is a false front. The guy's a vicious sadist, as I have pointed out before in these pages and as he again demonstrates at about the nine-minute mark of this video. However, Eli encourages him to explore his masochistic side for most of this match. Everything the wide-eyed boy is getting is well deserved, mind you. It's only ironic because Eli's the guy who's serving it up ... again. Eli promises to wear Johnny down slowly this time. He also promises that, when he's done, there won't be much left of Johnny to see. Eli's plan for the next thirty minutes of Johnny Deep's young life is slow and painful annihilation.

It's nothing personal. Granted, Eli might want to destroy Deep for botching Eli's crack at the UCW championship belt*. But that's inconsistent with Eli's psychology, more reptilian than rational. Eli would want to destroy Deep even if Deep had just handed him the keys to a spanking new Alfa Romeo. You cross Eli and he wants to hurt you. You do Eli a favor and he wants to hurt you no less. I'm pretty sure that if you laid Eli out on an operating table and drilled into his skull, you'd find a small thumbnail-sized brain, whose single lobe would flash the same signal over and over: Whup Somebody's Ass. He's a killing machine.

Companies like UCW book Eli for his amazing facility for destruction. Scumbags like Johnny Deep have to be dealt with, but he's too pretty for some of the other fighters to touch. They don't want to muss up that boyish face, that disarming smile. Who can blame them? Still, under all the twinkly charm, Johnny's rotten. Fortunately, Eli doesn't give a shit what a victim looks like. He's an equal opportunity annihilator. And he's back from vacation--rested, relaxed, and ready to rumble. For Eli, "pretty" is just one more layer of an opponent to peel off and feed to the flies. And this match--fairly representative of the man's work in general--is thirty minutes of Eli feeding Johnny, slightly more muscular now, to the flies.

* I'm not sure of the chronology here. Some of the internal evidence suggests this match was shot before Eli's shot at the belt last month (reviewed here).

Images edited on request (17 Feb. 2014)


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