You Don't Know What You're Up Against

Within the first three minutes of Thunders Arena's Battlespace 80, Frey growls at newby Skyler, "Don't cut that out and I'm going to punch you in the face, bro." Then he storms off the set. It's the kind of outburst that usually gets edited out of a wrestling video. I like that Thunders left it in the final cut. It's hot and it's real. We already have been told that Skyler kept Frey waiting a long time before showing up for this match. Things may have been a little on edge before the camera started rolling. So is this a superstar temper tantrum? Or an ambitious rookie coming on too strong and crossing the line*?

Title cards pop up assuring us that Frey calmed down and returned. The match resumes. Frey has that pit bull look on his face some people get when they are pissed off. Frey traps Skyler in a tight full nelson and stretches the kid's torso out in front of the camera. He tells the fans at home, "Check him out. Take a good look. You won't see him around much." Typical wrestling trash talk, of course, but it reverberates, given the context established just minutes earlier. For the rest of the match the line between reality and make-believe is crossed and recrossed, adding to the match's intensity. Frey threatens Skyler again, and Skyler replies, without expression, "You don't know what you're up against."


It looks like the company meant to go for something different here. Probably not THIS exactly, but something. For one thing, this match is not the Arena's usual brightly lit, low contrast setting. It's not the sun-shiny swimming pool. It's not Mr. Mike's stylishly appointed living room. There's a backdrop creating a black-box effect, and the backdrop absorbs the light and darkens the figures of the two wrestlers**. Also, for the first quarter of this 20+ minute match, the camerawork is erratic, kind of like video of a drug bust. The early action is shot from a starkly low angle; the effect is initially jarring, but it steadies soon enough, and I settle in and enjoy the show.

It's quite a show too. Frey is mesmerizing. His hard body bristles with menace to the match's end. Skyler is a tough and hungry newcomer, good looking, strongly built, all set to stand up to Frey chest to chest. The product details for this match close with the words "If you enjoy watching a seasoned veteran pro wrestler show a tough, baby face amateur who is boss on the mat, this is one you will watch over and over." I'll echo that sentiment--yet suggest that, at least for this Frey fan, the description falls short of the full salt-sweaty heat and locker-room atmosphere of this surprisingly intense showdown. I loved it.

* The promotional copy on the Arena web site explains that Skyler applied excessive and unsafe pressure on the back of Frey's neck. It's a rookie error, and Frey was magnanimous enough to forgive and forget ... sort of.

** In the screen grabs above, I have tried to compensate for this, using iPhoto, hence the unfortunate washed-out look.


  1. This was filmed back when Frey was always in shape and wore those tiny posers that showed off his sexy physique.

    Nowadays we either get okay-build Frey or pudge-boy...and he never wears anything that revealing anymore :(


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