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Kharn Alexander vs Mitch Johnson, Put Your Fists Up (D1W)

The sweaty champ holds his title belt and paces outside the ring, practically pissing himself at the sight of our hero, who confidently occupies the center of the ring. This is theater, of course, dramatically counterbalancing the two wrestlers and cuing the audience to this contest's particular importance in the summer of 2014. As they square off, Anderson and Johnson pantomime their animal-like wariness of each other, like natural enemies in the wild.

Kharn is itching to get this fight started. Mitch stalls, building suspense, fucking with the challenger's head, bracing himself to take on his eager adversary, all of these conveyed at once in a few mere gestures. Kharn engages the champ with moves right out of a freestyle wrestling handbook. Mitch counters with an unsporting knee-jab to the midsection. This is character development that encourages the fans to take sides.

Mitch means to outsmart his beefcake opponent. If he succeeds in showing Kharn up as an empty-headed pretty boy with nothing to offer in the ring, he may win some hardcore fans to his side. He fails to get the easy pin he hoped for, and when his man punches his way out of a near-paralyzing chicken-wing, it's clear that Kharn is no lightweight. But it's clear also that Mitch's real advantage is meanness, a trait that has seldom failed a professional wrestler.

Often in catch wrestling, hope has a distinctive scent. It smells like failure. Even as Kharn galvanizes the fans with a sudden turnaround at a point when the match is clearly drawing to a close, my heart sinks as I realize where all this is probably heading. I really want to see Kharn fuck this bruiser up, but it ain't gonna happen. Our hero lacks the champ's wiles and grit. I might be wrong about this, but I doubt I am. See for yourself.


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