Sunday, August 31, 2014

Not That Innocent








Maybe ex-champ Michael Hannigan is the sweetest looking wrestler on the UCW roster, but he's not as sweet as he looks. Dakota Bravo learns that truth the hard way in the company's latest video for download [#366]. Nine months ago a lot of people thought Hannigan's championship was a fluke--and maybe it was, in a way, provided the chaotic circumstances under which the dimpled babyface laid claim to the belt--but for four months Sweet Michael took on all comers with the most diligent defense of the title in UCW history! Still, Bravo's got no respect for his opponent, rebuffing even traditional gestures of sportsmanship and good will, blinded by vaunting ego or possibly steroidal rage. It's not an easy match for either contestant, but it looks like Dakota is taken more by surprise than Michael is.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Haste versus Sugiura









Here I was worried August would go by without a single Shane Haste match to munch on. The video definition is low, and the sparse crowd oddly restrained (even by Japanese standards of polite reserve), but the 14-minute video on YouTube shows both Shane and his leathery opponent Takashi Sugiura in splendid form.

Shane could use a better haircut, but I'm still crushing on this six-one sandgroper, crushing bad. What did it for me first was the guy's self-deprecating sense of humor. Also there's his angular face--not flawlessly handsome, but pleasant and strong*--and a half-sneer jut of the jaw I've seen only Australian men do. Topping it all off, Shane's beefy build is 100 percent right for pro wrestling.

As for the match, taped two weekends ago for Pro Wrestling NOAH, it's got plenty to like, also: 
  • a bullish lockup, arm in arm, chest to chest manliness, 
  • 24 seconds of detailed hand work (at the 3:49 mark), as Shane torturously bends Sugiura's fingers backwards, 
  • a cool body-bounce off the ring ropes, and
  • a tasty choke, with Shane's shin grinding Sugiura's adam's apple into the middle rope.
Add to that the usual close two-counts and Japanese hard-style body blows, and a completely convincing three-count pin at the end. It may not be my favorite Haste, but it does the trick for me, plus some.

* Shane somewhat resembles two film actors I'm drawn to: Brian Geraghty (JarheadThe Hurt Locker) and James Badge Dale (World War ZThe Lone Ranger), often cast in supporting roles as sensitive GI/cop types (I'm a ridiculously easy mark for this type). 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Grip








Movimus just put out a rematch between Kevin Harris, 6'2", 200#, and Jimmy Reilly, 5'10", 196#. I don't know who to root for. Both have features that pull me in, though to opposing directions. Kevin has the sharp-angled face of a young Rob Estes (a 1990s crush of mine) and (always a selling point) hairy forearms. In contrast to Kevin's clean-cut looks, Jimmy has dark scruffy hair and firm but voluptuous curves. Jimmy's part rockstar, part jungle lord, while Kevin personifies steely, warrior-like discipline. Physically the two epitomize the eternal struggle between order (Kevin) and chaos (Jimmy). Competition doesn't get more perfect (or Manichean) for me.

The twenty minutes speed by, with five falls spaced more or less equally apart. Kevin and Jimmy never come up for air, keeping the pressure on each other and always jockeying for control of the other. Kevin is mouthier than I remembered, but of the two Jimmy is the more vocally expressive, infusing the chess-like strategies of submission wrestling with the showmanship of pro-wrestling. Kevin can handle just about anybody on a wrestling mat, and Jimmy's no exception, as shown in their first faceoff five months ago. He doesn't mind reminding Jimmy of that fact, with percipient challenges like "I know what you're trying to do" and "You ain't getting out of this one."

Jimmy has one or two surprises for Kevin along the way, but mostly Kevin lords it over Jimmy, keeping the latter's raggedy ass in check. The two bodies are in nearly constant physical contact, limbs twisting into seemingly limitless kaleidoscopic variations. Probably the best compliment I can pay to either of these guys (or to anyone) is that he looks like he'd be fun to wrestle. The fun grows exponentially when the two are locked together and twisting gingerly like a couple of black mambas mating. Part Two of Harris-versus-Reilly is so good I immediately hit replay for more. And I'll be back for even more soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Suplex Party












Dan Joseph brings Ricky Steamboat vibes to this midcard match aired last Saturday (match starts near the 20:00 mark) for West Coast Wrestling Connection. His opponent is the undefeated Alexander Hammerstone ("hailing from Valhalla"), basically a Mack truck in tight black trunks.  Hammerstone's a beaut all right--all 246 pounds of him.

Giving away over fifty pounds to his opponent, Joseph gets faint praise for his superior "speed and agility" (lately, as damning an attribute in pro wrestling as "endurance"). Still, his hotblooded showmanship throughout the eight-minute battle consistently stirs hope in my heart and iron in my pants.

But I can't take my eyes off Hammerstone too. It's as if Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Randy Orton had a baby boy. Amazingly, the big guy wages war as much with his head as with his triple-tiered muscle, outsmarting the appealing but gullible Dan maneuver after maneuver.

It's Joseph and Hammerstone who set fire to my pants, but if (like me) you're also a fan of "Hot Shot" Danny Duggan (current WCWC Pacific Coast Champion), he looks brutally handsome in a main-event title challenge with "Voodoo Princess" Jimmy Jacobs, around the 47:00 mark.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After Dark














It's been too long (over three years) since I last reviewed a Chris Steeler match. Sweetening the pot for this Warriors of Wrestling outdoor show from Saturday is Anthony Nese in full-on heel mode. Nese wastes the first third of the YouTube video keeping his distance from Steeler. The coward slithers out through the ropes to leer at the pissed-off fans. Meanwhile, the pacing Man of Steel can't wait to get his hands on the Premier Athlete. Then Nese hits the trifecta of heel perfection when, done stalling, he opens the match with a low blow. The cheap shot sets him up as the perfect foil for the rough-and-ready Steeler, all the tangier because of both men's silky, unreinforced trunks.

I have never caught Steeler in the act of being boring. I like the man's energy, his toughness, and his way with a crowd (as heel or hero--he can play both). Nese gets overconfident, and Steeler righteously explodes all over him outside the ring. Fighting on the grass and at night, the wrestlers tap two more details from my wrestling fantasy playbook. I can almost hear the crunch of stiff blades of grass under the soles of their boots. Then Steeler hurls Anthony back into the ring and mounts him in the corner for a ten-count punch-a-rama that reverberates through the crowd. 

But this is an even match, and there's plenty more fight left in Nese. The mayhem mounts to (a favorite of mine) a knee-to-knee slugout and then, standing, an exchange of side kicks to the kneecaps. A belly-to-back piledriver gets the fans "on their feet" (as best as I can tell they were already standing, but I quote the ringside commentators), followed by (wow! did I write this scenario?) a vicious, tongue-lolling choke session against the turnbuckle. When the ref tries to stop the illegal choking ... but wait! ... there's only seconds left to the match ... and what happens next is gold, pure gold ... so I won't spoil it for you ... though I do so badly want to. (Seriously, gents, you HAVE to see this ending! Get on it.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

El Ring








I can't help my disappointment that Anton Antipov (5'11", 190#) does not wrestle. But this dark and moody video excites reveries of the 31-year-old Belarusian fitness guru (now situated in Brooklyn) enmascarado, rasslin' in smoke-filled back rooms. Blues Saraceno's "Save My Soul" adds the backbeat to a beautifully shot video by Marco Ovando. The video was part of an August 9th wrestling-themed party in NYC. My invitation must have got lost in the mail.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Might This 1960 Match Be My New Favorite?











Here I go slipping off into nostalgia again. The faceoff between Michel Allary and bald, Teutonic Johnny Stein at the Élysée Montmartre in Paris is right up my alley, and all I've seen is the 30-minute first round* (on YouTube here). While watching and rewatching and immediately after, I jotted down some notes (or perhaps I should add a Frenchified touch and call them "pensees"). My love of the old stuff is not just affectation. Something's going on here that hits me in the right spots, and scribbling down my impressions gets me (I hope) a little closer to understanding (and defining) my peculiar wrestling kink. Here are the notes, for anyone who's interested:
No splashy entrance can equal two opponents fidgeting in opposite corners, trying to listen to their cornermen while busy sizing each other up. 
Wrestling in the 21st century underestimates the drama and eroticism of the referee's pre-match pat-down of the contestants. 
One wrestler backing the other against the ropes, their arms entangled, and then pressing in on him is something I unconsciously demand of every single wrestling match ... at least once. 
The bearhug by itself is not enough. The victim must at least attempt to peel himself free of the assailant's grip. 
Slowly working an opponent on the mat is better than a speedy hurricanrana. I want to see the bellies heave and fall as the enervated wrestlers strain to gulp down air. 
Sweat. Always sweat. If the wrestlers don't sweat, they're not wrestling hard enough. 
If the hair is curly, it must be pulled. (Ears can substitute when wrestlers are bald.)
I like refs big and tough enough to pry a heel off a babyface once that heel has crossed the line, but not big and tough enough to stop him when the heel flies into a mad rage. 
When even the babyface shoves the ref away, you know the fight is spiraling upwards to greatness. 
France versus Germany = always good for a fight
I would love to see Lane Hartley and Guido Genatto reenact this fight, move for move, blow for blow, and grunt for grunt, with Jonny Firestorm officiating. (Or if we want to keep the national rivalry intact, how about Tristan Archer versus Patrick Schulz?)
* I have not yet found the second round on YouTube. Any help in locating it would be appreciated.

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