Talon vs Beast, Ring Wars 24 (Thunder's Arena)
If there isn't already a rumor that before he hit it big in Hollywood, Russell Crowe mated with a pit bull, I'm starting it now and presenting Beast as proof. Every inch of Beast screams "gladiator." The man looks volcanic. He has the angular beard of a 1960s Hercules and a squat, burly body that looks like it could smash a jeep. If I could customize, I'd put hair in his pits and on his chest, belly, and thighs, but seriously the man looks grand just as he presents himself here.
The real surprise is Talon, who heels it up so audaciously he should be cast as a henchman in a 007 movie. I expected this match to be a squash job after the first five minutes, but Talon more than holds his own against Beast. He executes high kicks to the chest and choke holds that almost knock the Beast out, while conveying equal parts arrogance and cruelty. He also pulls hair, which is the 666 of ring villainy as far as I'm concerned. Gone is the lightness that kept his ring match against Bucky from being altogether compelling for me. He is charismatic and menacing in his own low-key way that had me talking to the screen.
The shit is intense. Both wrestlers are shiny with sweat from the 2:00 mark on. After Talon takes an unexpected lead at the beginning, Beast comes after him, roaring. (I'm thinking the hair-pulling might have pissed him off.) He shows the looker what a full nelson should feel like, folding the man lengthwise like a bath towel. Then using his body to calf-rope Talon, he puts the heel in the humiliating position of having his ass in the air and his nuts in his mouth. Somewhere along the line somebody must have stuck a cannoli down the front of Talon's trunks. (Look closely at the last screen grab above.) I think the pauses between holds are a tad too long and sometimes the camera fails to find the optimal viewpoint quickly enough, but the body work and give and take are otherwise topnotch.
Some prize moments for me are the ten seconds when Talon cowers in a corner, awaiting the couple of stiff knuckle-blasts Beast gives him. Not usually a fan of posedowns, I thought the one that takes place in the last half of the match is good because of the way Talon's facial expression practically invites everybody watching (and especially Beast) to hate his guts as much as they like. Anytime Beast delivers comeuppance is a thrill for me--but particularly the previously mentioned tight small cradle he rolls Talon into before the match's midpoint. The wrestlers whip off the ropes, clothesline each other, and make illegal (or barely legal) use of the ropes. I liked Beast's first match a bit more, but this one has something that match did not have, which is Talon's luscious, boo-hiss-worthy grandiloquence. It's a breakthrough performance for Talon, for sure.