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.