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.