Tyler's Gay Gimmick?
Four years ago I worried over what WWE would do to Tyler Black. By reputation, the company swipes the best and brightest from smaller promotions and renders them into bloated, overhyped caricatures of pro wrestlers. Renaming him "Seth Rollins" looked like an early bad sign, a name better suited to a car salesman than to a brooding figure like Black.
Contrary to my apprehensions, Rollins hit it big. He was not quickly used up and kicked to the curb. Except for the attention-grabbing but unflattering two-toned hair, he looks even better than he did as Tyler Black, something I thought impossible back then because I could not imagine him looking any better than he did at Ring of Honor (2007-2010, when he was 21-24). Now his body is hotter, though WWE seems intent on unveiling it to fans in increments and in extreme slow motion. But the recent shirtless-in-leather-jeans look plays up his mannish, hairy-chested torso and bump-worthy butt. And his story arc has been huge, known even to me, not a close WWE follower.
I feel a little easier now about others of my favorites--Big Sexy, Kenta, Prince Devitt--who got swallowed by the same whale in 2014. Still, I'm disappointed, though not surprised, that Seth's bio on Wikipedia makes no mention of his short but shining run (pre-ROH) at Cyberfights, the straight-acting sibling of Can-Am Wrestling. In his online matches for that company, Black wears his skimpiest trunks ever and plays a sexually ambiguous bully, toying with the idea (supported by science) that the most aggressive homophobes are almost invariably homosexual and closeted. These matches have recently been rediscovered by straight women who write and share fanfiction featuring Seth and SHIELD partner Roman Reigns as a couple. (Reportedly, Seth has tweeted, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that he's embarrassed at the mere thought of the stories.)
But years ago, Tyler Black, 6'1", 202#, played an equally provocative scenario with Marek Brave, 6', 195#, who resembles Black enough for them to be mistaken for brothers. In several Cyberfights matches they are paired as adversaries who sometimes collaborate against a third foe, but their hostility towards each other is often expressed in glaringly homoerotic terms. Deliberately or accidentally, these two strike suggestive M4M poses at some point in their matches together, more so, I think, than either does against other opponents. The lust-tinged feud is a gimmick they honed over a number of matches.
- In New Breed: Episode 101, Cameron Matthews mischievously stacks Black and Marek against each other in sexually suggestive ways before the two collaborate to kick his ass. Then Black, sporting (if I'm not mistaken) a boner, gets attacked from behind and pinned by Marek (first photo, above).
- Black and Marek go one on one in the opening match of Border Brawl 2: Episode 102. The match exhibits most of the traits I associate with a "male catfight," hair-pulling and lots of tight, suggestive pussy-to-pussy holds. (Photos 2-7)
- At one point in a three-way with Scotty Mac in Bitter Revenge: Episode 103, Black backs up to the crotch of a cornered and spreadeagle Brave and wiggles his butt cheeks against it, leering at the camera, suggestively slackjawed (eighth photo).
- In Confrontation: Episode 105 (photos 9-12) bald and sublimely muscled Fade seems dubious about the two "rejects" he's booked to wrestle. Fade is a no-nonsense guy, so the contrast is pronounced between him and his opponents. Of interest to my thesis is Marek's coquettish bootie wag at the ref before the match begins and Fade's consternation over the boys' girlishly long hair (he even weaponizes it as a gag). Since Tyler eliminates Marek fairly early (giving him a spanking before finishing him with a piledriver), most of this match is a singles fight between Black and Fade. Oh, and then there's the twelfth photo, above, which might be of interest too.
- Black butches up to face inked mega-hunk Kurt Sterling in Summer Slam: Episode 108. (Who wouldn't?) The dynamic between these two is different from Tyler's matches with Marek, less bitchiness, perhaps. Still, Kurt is clearly the "real man" here, his crisp butch crewcut in sharp contrast to Tyler's flowing locks, his movements abrupt, forceful, and commanding. Though Black resists submitting to Sterling, he spends a great deal of time cringing and sniveling. When he dominates, though, Tyler throws his midsection into it. This is, in my opinion, Black's most bonerizing match for Cyberfights. (Photos 13-15)
- In Bashed: Episode 122, Black and Brave partner up to take on bodybuilder Johnny Handsome. Before the bell sounds, Brave puckers up for the camera, makes a heart shape with his index fingers and thumbs, and mouths "I love you." Johnny gets his face close up to the camera and confides, "They're not that popular around here," nodding back towards his opponents. "Some of the guys want to see them get their asses kicked." The pointedly sissified heels consider no tactic too low in their attempt to take the strong man down, not double-teaming, not even biting. The match is brutal and intense, climaxing with a simultaneous double submission that cripples the bad boys. Johnny leaves Tyler and Marek flat on the mat, legs spread wide, whimpering in a grating falsetto. Marek pleads, "Let's be friends!" while lifting Tyler's boot to the side of his sobbing face and stroking it gently. (Photos 16-22)
- In a singles rematch in Vancouver Fight Night: Episode 139, Black and Brave resume the catfight from Border Brawl 2. By the fight's midpoint, it looks like both guys sport chubbies in their black (Tyler) and blue (Marek) trunks. (Photos 23-25)
- In 2011's Vancouver Revenge: Episode 140, reviewed here on this blog, they seem to complete the cycle in another three-way with Cameron. They pick on Matthews for being gay-ish--the word is not spoken, but the point is made. Yet repeatedly it is they who wind up in positions that pretty much scream "buttfuckers." This is the match where all the preparation of the preceding matches pays off, at least as a statement on homophobia--and how gay it is.
GIFs taken from Perversions of Justice.