Pull the Pin
I have to agree with Jago's comment to one of my posts some months ago that, while Shane Haste gets a lot of love on this blog, his beefier partner Mikey Nicholls is "danged hot" too. Jago compares him to Roderick Strong. So do I, and I'd throw Mike Bennett and Eddie Edwards into the mix as well. Right now Mikey is lead contender for the starring role in my minotaur fantasy (a minor fixation since I first saw Fellini Satyricon in the 1970s).
Here is Nicholls in combat with Yuji Nagata in an October 21 match for Pro Wrestling NOAH. Mikey has enough heft to pass as a sumo wrestler, a beginner anyway, and I can easily imagine Nicholls stripped down to a traditional mawashi. A lot of the physical stuff early on in the match is sumo style, hands clasped and chest butting up to chest, not to mention the yelling.
Mikey has one of the best "fight faces" in the business, blunt forehead, piercing eyes, and slack jaw. From time to time he pushes it into the camera lens, filling the video frame with his crazy rage. His reptilian tongue-flicking at the 11:30 mark deserves attention too. The entrance T-shirt says "Pull the Pin," a phrase that suggests both a wrestling finish and a hand grenade. There's something grenade-like about Mikey, a volatile temper, an eagerness to lob himself into an opponent and explode.
His main job here is to sell Nagata's moves, which he does magnificently. Note Nagata's merciless work on Mikey's left arm. Mikey uses his torso not only to express the intensity of his suffering but also to emphasize Nagata's great achievement in repeatedly causing such a big and solid body to suffer. We never lose sight of Mikey's brawn even at his most vulnerable. Even minutes later, his body movement and gestures suggest the ghost pains of Nagata's earlier attacks.
I don't want to neglect the force of Nicholls' defense, which is key to this match's success. The struggle atop the corner ropes that starts at the 13:37 mark is exemplary of Mikey's toughness and resilience--and it very nearly marks the end of Nagata. The extreme low angle adds to the effect, but the two wrestlers' body language at this moment suggests a faceoff between Godzilla and a MUTO, especially as they square their shoulders and glare into each other's eyes.
Win or lose, this would be a star turn for Mikey, taking on a wrestler of Nagata's eminence and putting up this big of a fight. Sure, his partner Shane hovers at ringside (never interfering, by the way), but this is 100% Mikey's show even if at times it looks like Nagata is the one running it.