This one doesn't end well for Mark Lander, but fans might rightly claim that this 66-minute private submission contest is one of his best. Venrick is an atypical opponent in successfully submitting Lander, and not just once. Still, the bout features some of Lander's best mat work.
Among the great skinny wrestlers I have watched and reported on in this blog, Lander remains the greatest, in my opinion. He has an undeniable mystique. His face is childlike and jaded at the same time. The faraway look he gets in his eyes when he is cutting off his opponent's oxygen, most of the time in most other matches, is seductive and a bit scary.
Lander and Venrick never relent in this heated, measured contest of skills and wills. It's almost as if they cannot stop. About midway through, their faces look swollen and puffy as if they have just been boiled alive, a startling indication of the mutual erosion of their energy and spirit. Yet they persist, recklessly going beyond the edge of normal endurance.
The circumstances and dating of Lander's "Let's Wrestle" matches are as mysterious as Lander's Mona Lisa smile, which is detectable at those moments when he has absolute mastery of the twitching body in his grip. I came to Lander's work only after the site had closed, so many of you know more about him and this particular match than I do. The homemade disk I have credits Lander's opponent as "TJ Venrick," but I can't verify the name or determine whether this wrestler is Kyle Venrick, identified elsewhere.
Cunning, merciless, and, for long stretches, deadlocked, this fight is for fans of chokes, scissors, and endless tight clenches.