Mister Muscles

Apparently I prefer bodybuilder poses when there's a serious wrestler pacing behind him, itching to get his hands on him. At the start of this 1978 World of Sport match, Steve Grey awaits the conclusion of Johnny England's performance so he and the crowd can find out what all that meat can do. Grey's hooded eyes and dark hair make him look like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (though Brontë says nothing about a metallic silver entrance jacket). England's shaggy hair, elfin face, and bulbous physique are so 1970s I can almost smell the Aramis and poppers. The setup alone gives me a boner.

The crowd roars its approval when Grey starts the ball rolling by testily slamming the body beautiful to the mat. England bounces back to his feet, but he's still not ready to wrestle. The former Mr. Europe (of 1972) gets caught up in a test of strength, no doubt delaying his presumably inevitable ass-kicking. A double dropkick ends the test, again to the crowd's roaring approval*. As an exercise in suspense, this works much better for me than a posedown between two muscular wrestlers (though I can't seriously complain about that either). It's the supposed antagonism between wrestler and physical culturist, between action and posture, between "businesslike" and "pretentious," between cagey and shrill, that winds me up.

* On a different note, I find Grey's supposedly "scientific" but highly improbable escapes as silly and irritating as England's constant carping at the crowd. I consider myself a Steve Grey fan, but really it's Johnny England who sexes up the screen in this match. What works best here is almost entirely due to England's cocky attitude and the bouncy way he takes his bumps.


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