Tough Guy

John Silver vs Keith Lee, Ripped Off in the Prime of Life (Beyond Wrestling)

Compact powerhouse Silver takes on man-mountain Lee in this classic big-vs-little contest. I liked Silver against Lio Rush a few months ago, a more evenly matched contest. Silver, like Petey Williams, Davey Richards, Tyler Bate, and Jesse Vane, pretty well defines a certain wrestler type for me: well under six feet in height but built out of cinder-blocks, superb in technique, aggressive and relentless--the type of worker who puts the "fight" into pro wrestling.

I'm not usually a fan of big-vs-little matches, but I make exceptions. This match pits energy against mass. A test of strength around the 03:00 mark dramatizes the conflict to come. John is struggling against leverage and weight: Lee has 7 inches and over 100 pounds over him. Silver is basically fighting against physics. This struggle has mythic resonance--Hercules, John Henry, the Little Engine that Could, what have you. The opening spots emphasize Lee's inherent power. Physics wins, but Silver bounds back. Keith offers a conciliatory handshake, which John sees as condescending and he won't take it. He wants a fight, god damn it, and he gets one.

Fists go up. Silver goes down again--even harder--but he gets back up, muscles flexing, ready to brawl, and suddenly the match looks pretty even. Lee offers his hand again, this time out of respect, and this time Silver accepts it.

Big-vs-little matches go wrong, in my opinion, when they make it look easy. They lose sight of the struggle. Like it's a snap for the little guy to outsmart and outmaneuver his lumbering adversary. There's nothing easy in what Silver is doing here. It requires persistence and boundless energy only the fittest bodies are capable of. And there's no guarantee that he will succeed. Lee is not some big fat oaf the promoter pulled in from the streets. The guy's a trained pro wrestler with technical finesse along with the bulk. The odds remain heavily stacked against Silver till the end. This invigorating match gives me every bit of struggle I require of wrestling.


  1. My problem with this type of match is just the opposite: too often the big guy wins just because of his sheer bulk. Smaller wrestlers win so seldom that I have to wonder why promoters even bother with them.


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