Thursday, December 31, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Quinn Harper has been part of UCW for close to three years. His debut in the spring of 2013 came as something of a shock to me because he arrived out of nowhere as a fully formed character. Usually it takes new hires a half year or longer before their wrestling personas and stories take shape as something more than "the oft-abused rookie." Quinn showed up with a dynamic and fully realized heel character already in place. Before him, only Eli Black and Joker had come to the company with comparable force and presence.
In his latest match [#439], Quinn breaks in a potential new addition to the UCW roster, Kenny Star, a fresh-faced newcomer with an impressive physique. Quinn introduces himself to the kid, saying that he is "no longer the guy [he] used to be," an odd introduction unless he thinks there's a good chance that Star has heard bad things about him. As a matter of fact, there is a very good chance of that, and this is not the first time Quinn has given an assurance like this to a new hire--and then gone on to prove himself worse than anyone could have possibly imagined.
Quinn stalls for time, giving himself, he says, a moment to "channel" the "nice guy" version of himself ... or else "you'll never come back," though he might have meant to say "you'll never get out of here alive." Kenny smiles, genuinely amused by the over-the-top banter. He has, he admits, "no idea" who Quinn Harper is. In the collar and elbow lockup, Quinn finds the recruit more of a challenge than he had originally expected, grudgingly admitting that Star is "strong as a fuckin' ox."
Quinn dominates but barely. About five minutes into the fight, Kenny cuts loose all over Quinn, going all sharknado on the guy and revealing the fight he's capable of. Quinn retaliates with all he's got: scratching, biting, hair-pulling, scrotum-twisting, wedgies, the works! Kenny fights back, kicking Quinn in the balls, almost as if to declare that he's ready now to buy into the UCW ethos. Before the match's midpoint, he almost chokes Harper out in a headscissors.
Kenny makes the rookie mistake of not capitalizing immediately on his advantage or his opponent's fatigue. He's new still, and despite his muscle and fighting instincts, he's basically a decent guy, eager to please and accommodate, even saying "please" the first time he tells Quinn to tap out. Quinn works him for a good ten-minute squash, but fast learner that he is, Kenny rallies and pays the heel back tit for tat for the preceding abuse. He even gets in touch with his inner sadist, working Harper like a real dungeon master. As we reach the closing minutes of the fight, the wrestlers are in equal reach of the win, almost unheard of in a rookie debut.
Recently I wrote about another impressive rookie debut (Derrick Cole's in #441), noting that, like Quinn and Eli, the new guy takes to the UCW piranha tank like he was born for it. Unlike bad-boy Derrick, Kenny is the quintessential babyface: honorable almost to a fault, but ready to aim low if that's what the situation calls for, tough as nails and sexy as fuck, but apparently unaware of his true strength and beauty. Like Derrick, Kenny will probably do great at UCW. Derrick and Kenny both have the skills set to succeed at the company, though in markedly different ways, and they sell the tumultuous mat action like a couple of pros, rare for beginning wrestlers their first time in front of the camera.
In response to my assessment of Cole's debut, a reader ("AH") commented,
"I enjoyed Derrick's debut as well. Like how UCW seems to be finding guys that are a bit beefier and more rough-around-the-edges. Hope Derrick's obsession with the belt leads to a match and a complete beatdown of Axel. Any thoughts on Kenny Star?"Do I have any thoughts? Well, yeah, AH, I think I do:
Kenny Star versus Derrick Cole! Rookie Death Match!
How is that for a thought?
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Johnny Saint vs Jim Breaks (World of Sport)
This is a classic lightweight championship match from May of 1973, with slim Johnny Saint, the people’s hero, going up against establishment thug and current champion, Jim Breaks. The contest consists of 10 five-minute rounds, a structure that allows a considerable amount of drama to build up quickly. Both wrestlers, dead even in weight though differently built, are adept at the fine details of scientific wrestling, such as wringing an opponent’s nose or fish-hooking his mouth, executing almost liquid reversals that change the course of the match and steam up the crowd. Breaks and Saint present a master class in How to Be a Heel and How to Be a Face that today's wrestlers should study. The variations in pace and intensity create a rhythm that sucks me in. Saint, in particular, is a joy to behold. His lanky, hairy body moves like lightning while his face beams with dogged determination. Breaks' proclivity for tantrums earns him the nickname Cry Baby with the fans. He is the quintessential man you love to hate. (The link above takes you to the first of three YouTube videos. Follow the trail because you will want to view the entire match.)
Johnny Lightning vs Paul Perris, Canadian Musclehunk Wrestling 3 (Can-Am)
Polish-born Paul Perris was always a favorite of mine, but I like him best in his early not-so-ripped years with just enough body fat to make the muscles bounce when they’re struck. I always rooted for him and liked him to win, but nothing he did ever topped this 1992 match for heart, with Johnny Lightning, already an "old hand" at Can-Am, forcing him to eat the mat again and again. Lightning exudes arrogance even when he’s not trying, but he gives the beautiful JCVD wannabe the deluxe treatment. That’s not to say that Perris doesn’t put up an excellent defense, though hampered by a rather too ostentatious display of his martial arts training and rubbery flexibility. In my opinion he never did find a way to incorporate his cheerleader splits into a worthwhile fighting style, but he was never less than fascinating to watch. I first wore out a VHS tape of Perris fighting his cousin "Jaime Cutler" (later redubbed "Roman Stone") before discovering this gem, shot about the same time, during Perris's first year at the company. I have actually watched Perris-vs-Stone more times than Lightning-vs-Perris, so it's another video that's bound to show up on one of these lists someday.
Steve Sherman vs Wade Cutler, Hard Pros 3 (BG East)
The cocky heel butting heads with the modest hero is one of my favorite pro-wrestling angles, and the images of Steve Sherman and Wade Cutler embodying these roles imprinted on my fantasies early in my BG East fandom. The contest follows an early BGE formula: shoving match leads to posedown, which leads to a villainous sneak attack from behind. An uninterrupted 10-minute squash job ends with a two-minute hope spot for Wade and much later a too-brief-to-notice spot that allows him to peel Steve's gold gogo trunks off the man's well-upholstered ass. I wish Cutler (ex-Marine in patriotic red, white, and blue) took a more commanding position in this fight, but Sherman is one sexy loudmouth, and he literally mops the floor with Wade, and by match’s end both wrestlers are naked and unashamedly hard as nightsticks. In the final shot we get ass and balls filling the frame, and fade to black. If this sounds like a complaint, in this case it is anything but. The two faced off again in an oil match before a live audience ... the same year, if I'm not mistaken. It's a favorite too, but the boners on both sides of the TV screen give this epic beauty the winning edge.
Monday, December 28, 2015
This short and sweet match from BG East's October catalog is basically everything I ask of wrestling: two studs equally matched in size, skill, athleticism, and hotness wrestling in the bright, clean sunshine. As the match progresses, the two become sweatier and more combative. A third of the way through the fight, I can almost see the testosterone surrounding them like an aura, and they don't stop until one of them is knocked clean the fuck out. If I believed in heaven, this is the one I would sign up for.
I bought Ripped Rookies 2: Backyard Battle with part of my December bonus money (yep, I spent the rest of it on wrestling too). Biff Farrell caught my eye earlier this year in promo pics for a match I passed on because he was wrestling a guy who, through no fault of his, rubs me the wrong way--on screen, at least--just one of those things, nothing personal. Biff's next match was a one-sided beatdown against a wrestler I like quite a lot, but I don't care for squash jobs as a rule--unless the jobber is an asshole deserving of a beating. I am peculiar. I admit it. This is Van Skyler's debut at BGE. (His second match and Biff's fourth were released this month.)
What is more, nothing in the catalog description scared me away from the video. I typed in my VISA info, and four days later Biff and Van were in my mailbox. I inserted the disk in my DVD player, and in seconds I knew that it exceeded even my raised expectations.
There's no backstory here. The match is self-explanatory, and except for the eternal story of two alpha-males butting heads, one rising to the top through strenuous effort, there is no narrative. The dialogue is secondary to the music of their grunts and groans. Van and Biff are both engaging yet seriously competitive guys, and by turns I have rooted for each in four (going on five) consecutive viewings. I suspect I will be squeezing in more viewings before the end of the month. Ripped Rookies 2 is the sort of match I feared wrestling video companies weren't interested in making anymore: simple freestyle and submission moves, respectfully accomplished ("gentlemanly," to use a sadly archaic word), without irony, affectation, or vulgarity, natural and unforced virility. The video is a record of a perfect moment passed between two men.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Austin Cooper is understandably pissed about Bruce Ballard's interference in an earlier match against Dash Decker, Bruce's tag partner. Austin enters the ring dead set on ripping the challenger a new asshole, and for nearly all of the first round (of five) he gives the upstart something to think about, mainly how much life sucks at the hurting end of the champion's wrath.
Austin has been at Rock Hard Wrestling for five years. That's almost four more years than Ballard. I can't trust my arithmetic or history, but except for maybe Ethan Andrews, Coop has fought more matches in this ring than anybody. Longevity and toughness reinforce Austin's claim to the championship belt, and he means to keep it out of the hands of upstarts like Ballard even if it means resorting to the occasional cheap shot.
After an embarrassing loss by submission at the end of Round 1, Ballard turns the tables on the champ in Round 2. With his Ric Flair Woo! heralding each successful blow, Bruce shows he can play the heel as well as anybody on the roster. At six feet, he is also one of the taller men in the company, a big plus factor for me (though opposite my expectations and prejudices, my list of favorite underground wrestlers consists of a lot of shorter, lighter fighters). Ballard seems to enjoy his destructive powers and evens the score by wringing a submission out of a suddenly vulnerable-looking Austin.
In the break between rounds 2 and 3, presumptuous Bruce pulls the still contested belt to his waist, as if trying it on for size. Not a smart move. Austin erupts in rage; "Put My Belt Down!" he screams, punching Ballard on the shoulder and stomping him flat to the mat. He smashes the belt's medallion between the challenger's shoulder blades before restoring the trophy to its place of honor at the corner post. Then he executes three body slams, counting them out like they're spoonfuls of cough syrup. Bruce hurts in places he never knew could hurt, but the champ is not done with him. Austin threads Bruce through the ring ropes, clutching the head back over the top rope and jabbing his knee to the spine.
By the midpoint of the match, both wrestlers are perspiring--exquisitely, I'd say. They are throwing heaps of energy into well-executed moves. It's axiomatic that Rock Hard Wrestling has the handsomest wrestlers in underground wrestling, with high-key lighting that guarantees not a dimple or bead of sweat is missed. My one complaint is that transitions between holds, the holds being fine in themselves, are too often nonexistent. What in the world motivates Austin to release a painful submission hold that appears to be doing the trick--or would be if sustained a minute longer--and to switch to a different hold?
Such segues are difficult to pull off, I realize. Given the high technical quality of RHW's matches, I come to expect more serious attention to ring psychology and coherence. The wrestlers should not simply move from one hold to the next as if they were reading them off of cue cards. I want a clearer sense that one action stems from another and why and that it is consistent with a discernible strategy or with the state of mind of the wrestler.
Round 3 breaks the tie, but Round 4 restores it, as expected, 2 to 2. Each wrestler is under pressure entering the decisive Round 5, a six-minute near-standoff. Ballard initiates the action, in part in response to Cooper's berating claim that Bruce "will never get ahead." Are these words prophetic? or merely the carping of a vengeful champion who has let his past successes go to his head? I won't say. I will say that Coop and Ballard achieve a tense balance of power in the opening minutes of the final round. In the end, one man gets the quavering submission he's been looking for, and the loser is left in the ring alone, barely conscious after an exhausting ordeal.
Austin and Bruce are two of my favorite talents on the current roster. They have a lot of heart, muscle, and stamina, not to mention sex appeal, all in strong evidence in this potentially pivotal contest. And this is a fine, entertaining match. Austin's a hard worker--and as ubiquitous as Starbucks: he wrestles at three major underground wrestling companies that I'm aware of, and he's a key player at each. I think of Bruce more as a babyface than a heel, but this video shows off his mean streak. He exudes boy-next-door hotness, but this boy likes to fight. Plenty of other experienced wrestlers must be waiting in the wings too, men with their own claims to glory, chomping at the bit for the top spot: Zack Johnathan comes to mind, for instance. For now, though, I'm in no hurry to see the current holder lose the crown.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Bryen Douglas, in newly minted heel mode and black-striped booty shorts, takes on his former tag partner Jessie McCoy in this no-DQ bull-rope match from NWA Midwest in 2014.
For me personally, the best thing about tag teams is their breakups. The longer they've been together, the juicier the split at the end. The resulting confrontation presents an ideal situation for squared-circle drama: two competitors with built-in history and consequently a knowledge of each other's bodies and psychologies most opponents do not have. And sometimes nothing clears the air like a fight.
Roping the two wrestlers together stops either of them from running away. The thick rope serves handily as a weapon too. It can also symbolize the former tie between the two that violence must now sever. When the exes are young, as in this case, the battle can be steamy. Jessie, the good guy in red and black trunks, starts things off by lighting into Bryen, fists flying in the first half-second. In no time, Bryen is striking back, in and out of the ring. This is body language writ large, as staccato kicks, headbutts, and jabs convey the pair's contempt for each other, climaxing with the heel climbing the corner ropes for leverage in strangling the good guy. The death blow, a TKO by cowbell, is dealt with shocking suddenness.
Thanks to my new friend James for sharing this link to YouTube. This fight is at 1:37:00 to 1:49:00. Unfortunately, the camera's autofocus gives us a sharp view of the foreground with the fighters and ref in a haze. The clearest shots are of the ring ropes. There's not enough light, and the lens might be dirty too. Still the video, as is, gives us a fast-paced, entertaining, no-frills scrap.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Animotion, 1984I am a possession unopened at your feet.
There's no balance
I will not accept defeat.
I will have you
I will have you
I will find a way and I will have you.
Like a butterfly
a wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you.
You are an obsession
you're my obsession
Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?
Oil Hunks 5 (from Muscle Domination Wrestling, Season 17, Episode 3) has two parts. In the first part, roughly two-thirds of the video, Cal Bennett loses at arm wrestling (twice) and then again at something resembling ring wrestling and, as a result, must rub baby oil all over Brad Barnes' sumptuous body. In the second part, Brad loses and has to rub oil all over the beauteous Cal.
So ... the oil was supposed to be a punishment???
If so, bring it on. I want to tap out for Cal and rub his body with oil, too. I'd slather it on. Thick. He'd look like a giant jellyfish had splooged all over him.
I am a total gay-wrestling mark for Cal Bennett. Maybe he is not the best wrestler in the world; maybe he's only above-average. I don't care. He has been an infatuation since I first laid eyes on his baby blues. And Jiminy Christ the guy looks great in almost no clothing! At the beginning of this video, he and Brad, fresh from the shower, wear nothing but damp towels tied low on the hips. The image is still stuck in my mind.
I purchased the download for this match earlier this week, a Christmas present to myself, out of a not-huge-but-thanks-anyway bonus at work. "Money well spent" is all I can say. The action's not especially aggressive or adroit or dramatically coherent (I did not get the point of the match or its rules and penalties. Or maybe I did. Maybe I did.)
To be sure, there was a headlock takedown. Pec abuse. Armbars. A single-leg crab, body scissors, a figure-four chokehold. I love chokeholds, especially between the thighs. A stomach claw. A chokeout finish: next to a piledriver, my favorite kayo. Then the rubdown with oil. Suddenly a jump cut and now Brad is wearing the leather trunks Cal was wearing in the first part of the video, which soon come off to reveal that both wrestlers are in matching jungle-cat-print gear. The whole thing's pretty laid-back and slow for pro wrestling. It is, however, just ... so ... fucking beautiful, you know?
Cal Bennett. I love the man's nostrils. Does anyone else in the world admire a person's nostrils? And his gums. I am fascinated by his teeth and gums when he grimaces. Even contorted in pain, his face is handsome beyond compare. New butch haircut, tattoos, facial hair, those thick long lashes, oh my. The man has style, and clothing has nothing to do with it. The graceful outward curve of his midsection in profile. And his navel. It's perfection. Have you ever seen such a ridiculously pretty iliac furrow? The chesty voice. Those shoulders, those pecs, those thighs! That ... ass ... I just want to clutch those vanilla cheeks with both hands! Grrrrrr!!!
This is not exactly what I think of when I hear the words "oil" and "wrestling" together. But so what? That's unimportant. Oil Hunks 5 is a National Geographic-style documentary about Cal Bennett's body (and Brad Barnes' too--duh). The video makes me dizzy from smiling too much. As for the wrestling, I can't complain. My favorite part is towards the end when Cal is schoolboy-pinning Brad, his jungle trunks barely on, his fingers clutching Brad's massive upper abs and then the tits.
Pure, unadulterated heaven.