Monday, July 28, 2014

Alex the First

On Wednesday Jose at La Sustancia P carbon-dated the shooting of Rock Hard Wrestling's latest release (Austin Cooper versus Alex Waters) as occurring sometime around January of 2013. The company is labeling the release a "throwback match." It is reportedly Alex's first match at RHW, but the eleventh to be released. It is common practice for wrestling video companies to shoot a number of matches at the same time and stockpile them for future release, spreading a week's worth of matches over years. So the match released today might have been shot two or three years ago, perhaps even longer. Jose gives Rock Hard credit for usually releasing its videos shortly after filming and in the order they were shot. 

For me, a sense of chronology (or "linearity," to cite Jose)--knowing where a match fits into the production timeline--gives me the kind of context I like when watching wrestling--give me dates, ideally give me match locations and athletes' hometowns as well. This information helps me immerse myself in the match, putting it in the context of my own experiences and life history. Companies hesitate to provide particular dates, thinking that the average customer wants to believe every video in the catalog is brand new at the time of purchase. They may be right, but that's not how I see it. For me, a company's history is a story, and I want to read the chapters in order.

What amazes me is how a match as tasty as Austin versus Alex could have stayed hidden for so long? On Day 1, Alex shows his propensity for well-coifed sadism. My guess is he was born with a styling comb in hand and ice in his veins. "Where's this little bitch at?"--baby's first words. Austin doesn't keep him waiting. He leaps over the ropes into the ring and immediately questions the (other) pretty boy's masculinity ("Is it Alex or Alexis?"). The two need no coaxing to lock horns. Pure testosterone drives them to fight. As expected, the more experienced Coop gains an early lead, slamming Alex to the mat and grinding his shoulders into the blue vinyl. Through moans, Alex defiantly taunts him, "You're weak, bitch!"

Alex doesn't sell his opponent's moves, perhaps not wanting to give Austin the satisfaction. His forte is punishment, giving rather than receiving. I wouldn't want to give the impression that there's no pleasure at all in watching little Alex suffer, but the real kicks come in watching him ruthlessly dominate, and we get our first look at his destructive tendencies near the six-minute mark, when arrogant Coop overplays his advantage and starts posturing for the camera and fans, giving Alex a window of opportunity, which of course the handsome young heel takes. The new boy's eyes light up as he traumatizes Austin's back and makes the man yelp like a snared animal. But Round 1 is not Alex's to take as he pleases. He's the rookie, after all. He too is tempted to preen and pose for the camera, allowing Austin to heave him up and bust his butt over one knee. Austin twists a submission out of Alex against the ropes, forcing the kid to say "I give" three times before slamming his smart upstart mouth to the mat.

The next round determines whether this match lasts two or three rounds. Austin feigns surprise that Alex has even bothered to come back for a second round. Starting off with a test of strength, Austin pushes Alex back to the turnbuckle for some knuckle and boot work. He wants to do two or three more things to the rookie's body that he forgot to do at the end of Round 1. Some pec clawing, for one. Full-nelson stretch, another. He flubs an attempt to whip Alex into the opposite corner, allowing us another, more sustained view of Waters' brute power and implacable viciousness. Watching him go after an increasingly incapacitated Austin is like watching a wolf track down an exhausted and bewildered stag. In these moments we see the soulless and opportunistic side of Alex, his best side as it turns out, driven by instinct to hurt and dominate his opponent.

The match might be neither wrestler's absolute best, but they are damn good here, and how stunning is it to watch these buff and golden tan gym gods take each other down! Had I thought the match was more recent, perhaps I would have noted an apparent slippage in energy level or knowledge of holds, I can't say for sure what I would have thought, but knowing that this is his first time in the RHW ring, I'm gobsmacked by Alex's confidence and poise. Austin's ring performance is polished, whether suffering all the indignities Alex heaps upon him or wearing the handsome heel down to a nub. As for taking a year and a half to get to my screen, I believe "better late than never" is the appropriate phrase. I have no doubt this match goes into my "Replay Often" file.


  1. I had only got half-way through the match when I wrote and published my post. When I finished I kinda had the same thought: Is this truly his first match?? It takes a year and 7 months for others to look half as good while dishing punishment. He was truly born ready.

  2. As usual, I'm late because it took me a while to get through this one.

    I really enjoyed the first two falls of this match a lot. I did think they ran out of energy by the end, as the last fall is inferior to the first two, in my opinion. I like the contrast of bodies and the confidence both guys have. I agree that Alex was born ready, as he seems just as comfortable and talented in his first match as he is in every other one I've seen.

    While I have no idea the reason, I think it worked out well, holding this one back. Having Alex establish himself before facing Austin Cooper made this an event, whereas it could've looked like Austin against another generic rookie.

  3. While not the best display of Alex's physique, the image of Austin against the turnbuckle is unexpectedly provocative, somehow evoking the whole tenor of your synopsis.

    I enjoy Cooper, but I say that I'm rather glad that you seem to indicate that Waters won and rather convincingly.



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