Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink Trunks

Mikey Hanlon banks on the magic of the pink trunks for this 26-minute rematch with Kevin Harris. It's hard not to miss the translucent white trunks he filled to bursting in the first match, a certifiable NHB-Battle classic that's available now, like this sequel, at Movimus. For the larger part of their first showdown, Kevin surprisingly dominated the more experienced Hanlon. The question is whether Mikey, who packed on two or three extra pounds of muscle in the interim, can get the job done right this time. 

Well matched in ability and determination, Harris and Hanlon differ starkly in combat style and physique. Six-foot-one Kevin has the face of a Byzantine saint, and five-foot-nine Kevin looks like a Roman satyr. Of the two, Kevin is the more focused and centered, Mikey, the more freewheeling and reckless. As in their first matchup Mikey relies on his speed and well-stocked arsenal of collegiate wrestling holds and muay Thai moves, and Kevin, on his strength and viselike clutch. But as binding as Kevin's holds are, in the time between the two matches (taped in 2010 and 2011) Mikey has apparently acquired escape skills worthy of a Houdini.

Kevin Harris opens with a side headlock that basically is a policeman's wheel clamp attached to Mikey's skull. Kevin is justifiably proud of his perfection of this classic hold, more paralyzing under his biceps than for most wrestlers. Nevertheless, Hanlon succeeds in tripping and toppling his assailant and worming his way loose, bringing the two back to a standing faceoff. The wrenching headlock that submitted Mikey in their first match is not quite as productive in the second. Not only that, but Mikey has developed quite a clutch of his own, climbing his statuesque opponent and clamping his full body weight to the man's shoulder. When Kevin casts him off, Mikey lands catlike on his feet, and the fight continues uninterrupted.  Fourteen minutes into the bout, Mikey submits Kevin in ... you guessed it ... a headlock, a surprising reversal.

But ...

Three minutes later Kevin evens the score with an inescapable headscissors hold, with an added wrenching motion that forces Mikey to tap out. With a 1-1 tie, the last five minutes of this battle packs as much intensity as all the previous minutes combined. As I have noted before, I typically favor the ends of matches anyway, the exhausted bodies, the desperate sallies, the spent, impassive faces, the frictionless sweat. For 300 stretched seconds, both these guys are in full go mode, and they give each other as rigorous and pain-streaked workout as I could possibly hope for. Both of the Hanlon-vs-Harris matches are unmissable, as dramatic and spectacular as just about any ring wrestling contest I have seen.

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