I got excited two months ago when "Smilin'" Bruce Ballard debuted against Tyson Matthews. I'm more excited that in his second Rock Hard Wrestling match he squares off against Austin Cooper, who can do no wrong, in my opinion. Both make my heart pound--Austin limbering up in a workout hoodie and khaki-green trunks and Bruce hoisting dumbbells as bare-chested as Mother Nature intended him to be.
Bruce may be new to RHW, but he's already a player, and a major one at that. He demonstrated as much in his first match. Here he lords it over Coop for seven long minutes, expertly working the thick muscles on the mat and against the ropes, never breaking a sweat, always smiling like a cornflakes-eater, then busting the more experienced wrestler over his knee for a first round submission.
Bruce starts Round 2 strong, too, driving home the fact that underground wrestling may now have a new devastatingly handsome heel to reckon with. Like Alex Waters before him, Bruce is a cool, calm, and collected destroyer of opponents, but Bruce also sells the hell out of being the victim, which Austin is about to let him demonstrate. Coop gives Bruce a taste of his own medicine ... and then some. Then he cracks the newcomer wide open, wiping the nearly constant smile off the guy's face, to win the second round by submission.
Round 3 is what a third round is supposed to be: a furious showdown between two proven equals, now more determined than ever to kick each other's ass. Both men enter the round confident that they can not only win but give their opponent some bruises and bumps to take home with him as souvenirs. I would prefer more sweat in the mix, but the rest is so hot I don't want to complain. It's one terrific showdown, and it wouldn't be fair of me to say how it turns out beyond what the promos already hint at. I will say it involves a lasso and a tasty choke-out finish that settles, pretty definitively, the question of who is boss of the RHW house.