Shane Haste in Japan
After turning me on to SexRock, Gary sent me a couple of YouTube video links, demonstrating the collective comic genius of the Australian heel stable TMDK ("The Mighty Don't Kneel"). Led by 6'5" muscle boss Elliot Sexton, the rest of the team consists of Jonah Rock, Marcius Pitt, Mikey Nicholls, and hottie Shane Haste, who in the videos operate a fictitious fitness center called The Dick Punch Academy. The guys are hilarious and obviously enjoying themselves in the skits, and Shane stands out as a dimwitted parody of himself in one called "TMDK 2012 Press Conference (Highlights)" (the other is called "The Rise and Fall of The Dick Punch Academy Trailer"). Gary said, "Shane Haste has the looks to be a movie star." And about twice the acting chops of some movie stars, I might add.
Anyway, these videos sparked a search for more video on Haste--by both of us, apparently at the same time, without knowing it--and both of us, separately, landed at Pro-Wrestling NOAH in Japan. I gravitated to a match featuring one of my favorite puroresu stars Kenta Kobayashi, in a match from last September. (The match is here on YouTube.) KENTA was then GHC (Global Honored Crown) heavyweight champion, and this was his sixth title defense in his eight-month reign. At 5'8", 181#, KENTA looks dwarfed next to 6'1", 220# Shane. Like the recently retired Petey Williams, though, KENTA has never failed to convince me that he can take on and beat wrestlers twice his size, such are his toughness, speed, ingenuity, and boldness. Last Saturday, it was officially announced that KENTA has signed on with WWE, which I hope means WWE is getting a lot better than I remember it.
Typical of the recent Japanese pro matches I have seen, this one follows a story arc from scientific wrestling, with prolonged armlocks and arm-bar takedowns, through aerial acrobatics and dizzying leaps and twists of fate to, ultimately, a long, enervating climax in which two sweaty and desperately fatigued fighters slug it out, each running on instinct, barely aware of his surroundings. This is exactly the scenario I think works best. And KENTA is an artist at it. But as much as I love and admire KENTA, in this match my eye is on the tall, muscular gaijin (i.e. "foreigner").
Obviously, Shane Haste, being the villain he is, will target KENTA's bandaged left arm, and he does, with steady and composed violence, again and again, in the match's Act One (the slow movement, with old-school pro-wrestling's attention to tight holds and body slams). Later, in Act Two (high-flying assaults), Shane makes use of his brawn in combination with surprising agility and speed. Note especially his cannonball assault on a cornered KENTA at the 25:25 mark. It's mass and momentum merged, and it looks devastating. It's also doubly repaid at 31:10 and 31:13, following a fantastic corner leap executed by KENTA at the 29:40 mark. The bout's long climax (Act Three, in which the exhausted warriors face what looks like mutual assured destruction) does not disappoint. The opponents' sweaty bodies simultaneously prop each other up and relentlessly wail on each other. This is the sort of theater of cruelty I can eat up with a spoon.
In his online research, Gary located two other fights, which he describes as "not for the faint of heart." The first (available here) features
Shane on full display and suffering. He gets his leg worked over for the entire match. And something about his opponent wearing a mask, which seems to give him the liberty to do anything he wants to destroy his opponent. Then there was this [available here]. Probably one of the most brutal matches I've ever seen in my life. The match just gets started and Shane and Mikey are already opened up. The scene at 13:35, where the goon is choking Shane with a rope while hanging him over the top rope, while he's chewing on his bloodied forehead, is almost too much for one sitting. The brutality goes on for almost 28 minutes. A day after watching these, I'm still not over them. I react to this stuff the same way I did when I was a youngster. I've never seen anyone so handsome get worked over like this. Shane is a stud!
As of this writing, I have not watched either of the two matches Gary found, but I intend to. At least I'll watch as much as I can stand. With me it's not so much faintness of heart. I can handle gallons of fake gore in horror movies and incidental bloodletting in pro wrestling or any sporting contest, but I've never been a fan of deliberate razoring and the like in wrestling, partly because it obscures the glamor of male bodies (whereas sweat amplifies it) and mostly because, more often than not, the gruesomeness becomes an end to itself--detracting from the holds and body contact, which are what mainly draw me to wrestling.
But Shane Haste is most certainly a find ("a stud!"), and his 30-minute battle against KENTA showcases his talent, power, and majestic beauty.