Chris Ridgeway vs CJ Banks, He Who Does Wins (Just Do Wrestling)
Early in the match, Ridgeway and Banks are still jockeying for position. This part of the ring drama exists as a kind of preview or prospectus for the rest of the contest, each wrestler feeling out the opponent's strengths and weaknesses. The two wrestlers reveal their characters through their response to suffering. We see who's the more gentlemanly (Ridgeway), who's the more vicious (Banks), as revealed through their tactics, through their body language and facial expressions, assuming we didn't know beforehand.
Banks' nastiness has a pornographic edge to it. Bald, smooth, solid as a bludgeon. Ridgeway's Romanov beard gives him an air of urbane sophistication, almost as if he just stepped out of a late Victorian novel. (Note: In other matches, Ridgeway is anything but gentlemanly--different stories, different roles.) Refinement is altogether missing in the perpetually snarling Banks. Both wrestlers have well-honed bodies and tattoos, which represent, among other things, discipline and maybe a high tolerance for pain.
The interplay leads to the more dramatic and expansive acrobatics that wind most fans up, but for me, as a wrestling eroticist, this macho "dance" is important for its own sake. It brings the bodies in close contact. The stylized ritual borrows equally from freestyle and folk wrestling and sideshow strongman competitions. It exhibits the wrestlers' muscle for the audience's purely sensual pleasure. It's always a pleasant surprise to see a mainstream show paying this much attention to the way the fighters work each other up close, an essential ritual in underground gay wrestling.
Before tossing each other against and through ring ropes or leaping from turnbuckles or dropkicking and punching (the latter eight minutes of this match), the wrestlers converge into tighter and tighter contact, muscles flexing, diaphragms expanding as they suck in air, beads of sweat forming on their shoulders. The physicality of this is, of course, amplified (and, yes, distorted) in my imagination to something having to do with virility, control, possession, and sex.