Sunday, February 14, 2016

Unda Pressure

Patrick Donovan vs Alex Arias

Undagear 24's first battle pits pink versus blue in baby-shower shades. As expected, Donovan takes an early lead, all too smugly, toying with Arias, half amused by how easy it is to make the rookie twitch.  "What part is it that you're liking best?" he asks in his raspy Clint Eastwood tenor, scissoring Alex's waist between his thighs and choking the boy with his own arm. "The part where I'm kicking your ass, or the part where you're looking like a pussy?" There are few better mat wrestlers or submission wrestlers than Patrick, at BG East or anywhere, yet he has always underplayed his aggressiveness and competitiveness in favor of a cool, deadpan viciousness. He doesn't project the razzle-dazzle of some other wrestlers, but over the long haul his insidious style fucks with an opponent's head just as effectively. Besides the psychological warfare, Donovan often puts his man in holds designed to wear him down--or, more exactly, to make the opponent wear himself down in a desperate but futile struggle. And here, as in many of his matches, there's an undercurrent of foreplay in the slow-grinding struggle, culminating, we are left to assume, behind a closed door.

Eli Black vs Boyd Hicks

When Boyd mocks Eli for wearing "panties," Eli points out, "I'm not the one in pink." Boyd replies, "Come here and let me show you what pink can do." The lighter wrestler (by about 30 pounds) gets the first takedown, to nobody's surprise, slipping behind Hicks and dropping him in textbook freestyle form. When Hicks rolls over on top of Black, we see the size and weight advantage at work. The older wrestler buries Eli's head in his armpit, but Eli raises Boyd off the mat and slams him down, thus busting the hold. Black rubbing his neck and Hicks panting like an asthmatic, the wrestlers square off again. I sense that Eli is holding back. For all his mouthing off, Eli has always struck me as a good and decent kid at heart, respectful towards his elders. Boyd is quick to take advantage, targeting Eli's legendary abs, which he works for all they're worth. Not to be outdone, Eli rules the next five minutes of the fight, without letting Hicks up for air. Here is the fire we expect of Eli Black. But perhaps you've heard the expression "age and guile beat youth and innocence": Boyd retakes the upper hand by dirtying the fight up. The only problem is ... this youth ain't so innocent, and Boyd may have pushed his luck (and Eli's limited supply of decency) too far.

Jake Jenkins vs MJ Vergara

Jake looks like an Adonis and fights like a wolverine. All the guy has to do is step on a wrestling mat and I get wet. Here he is cockier than I've ever seen him, dismissively calling Vergara a "regular Latino," mocking the guy's soft-serve hairdo, and then schooling him on how to make a "mus-cle" (the word enunciated as if it were two words). Needled by Jake's mouthiness, MJ cartwheels across the room and snapmares Jenkins to the center of the mat, where the Latino clamps thighs around the guy's waist and rolls him in circles. It's the first of Vergara's showy moves that mark major turning points in the contest. Jenks, however, needs no fancy flips to get the job done, preferring joint-cracking holds over acrobatics. Frankly, Vergara's monkey business leaves me a bit cold, failing to do a thing to counter Jake's steady onslaught of old-fashioned cripplers. But MJ looks fantastic, even as Jenkins ties his taut body in knots, and MJ suffers loudly, which counts for a lot with me. At midpoint, the trunks peel off, revealing thongs and more beauteous skin and muscle. This is Jake Jenkins in peak condition in body and spirit. Next to his all-in slugfest with Eli Black in Mat Rookies 1, this is the match I'll most remember him for, the one to remind me of his greatness, should I ever happen to forget. Heel or babyface, Jake is a superstar, a deity at Skull Island.

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