In BG East's newly released Submissions 9, up-and-comer Jake Lowe gets to test his mettle against Cameron Matthews, one of the legends of underground wrestling and arguably one of the principal shapers of what the genre now is. As for Matthews, I don't know exactly how long he has been on my radar. Perhaps more than ten years, but I'm not sure how that can be true, youthful as Cam is (according to his bio, however, he's wrestled in pro rings since age fifteen). All I can say with certainty is that it predates my MySpace page (now a virtual ghost town), where I friended Cam and was thrilled with his quick and personalized response, something to the effect that, for a fee, he'd bring his skimpy trunks to North Carolina and wrestle me, anytime, anywhere. We'd have fun, he promised. (Sigh.)
In April, Cameron announced on his personal blog that he had shot his final match for BGE in February. Whether or not Submissions 9 is that match I cannot say. Since then, he has shot some custom matches and worked behind and in front of the cameras for Cyberfights and Can-Am. I don't think Cam's influence on the business can be overestimated, and it looks like his interests are moving more and more towards the production and promotion end of things, where he will no doubt continue to innovate in the business and inspire my wrestling fantasies. If we have in fact seen the last of him at BG East, it's a beautiful thing indeed to watch him here go toe to toe with Jake, a young wrestler who's ready (I believe) to fill the Champ's shoes.
I do remember when Jake caught my eye. It was two years ago when, in his debut, he impressed me by standing his ground against the redoubtable Eli Black in the latter's Wrestler Spotlight. Jake went by the name Lorenzo then. Since then, he has made a reputation for himself by taking on the company's fiercest competition: Ethan Axel Andrews, Gabriel Ross, Flavio, Damien Rush, and Steven Ponce. Each time he hits the mat, enters the ring, or laces up his boxing gloves, he shows that, despite his short stature and slim build, he's one of the toughest men on the roster.
As Submissions 9 starts, Cam acts like he expects almost nothing out of Jake. Pushing his tall, muscular frame up to Jake, he seems taken aback by Jake's steady, unruffled gaze, eyeball to eyeball, so to speak. He decides to teach the kid a lesson, and he does, squeezing out a surprisingly quick submission. Even more surprising is the energy and determination with which Jake exacts payback. Cam's not even sure what just hit him. The rest of the fight is a nailbiter to the agonizing finish, an astounding give-and-take collision course that showcases the wrestlers' distinctive attitudes and combat strategies. Jake emits a stream of satisfying grunts and yowls while suffering in Cameron's steely grip, but if you want to hear the loudest, most desperate submission of the match, wait till you hear Cam when Jake stretches his thighs so far apart you can almost hear tendons pinging like snapped violin strings!
The ending, I'll admit, is a bit hokey--especially in light of what happens at the end of Babyface Brawl X, packaged right next to Submissions 9 in the two-disk set Summer Sizzlers 5. Its winking PG-13 coyness looks retro by comparison. But there's no faulting the performances of Jake and Cameron. Apart from Jonny Firestorm and (at Thunder's Arena) Angel, two very different cases, perhaps nobody is more persuasive than Jake that a short lightweight could conceivably kick the ass of an opponent half a foot taller and almost a third his weight heavier. Quiet as he is, Jake has the moxie to pull off such a victory without stretching credibility. Don't be fooled by appearances. This boy's fire.