Frank vs Neo, Awesome August (PWP)
The American playwright and wit Dorothy Parker once critiqued Katharine Hepburn's performance in a play, observing that the actress ran the gamut of human emotion from A to B. I searched every frame of this 24-minute match in search of a facial expression from newcomer Neo, who almost doesn't make it to B. Except for a goofy look of surprise at one point, which might in fact be a stifled sneeze, most of his "expressions" are saved for the end as Frank yanks his perfect ginger hair. These should probably not count as they look like Frank is working Neo's facial muscles with his fingers--more puppetry than emoting. In fact, more massage than wrestling.
Even as Frank is choking him out at the end (yeah, it's a "spoiler," so sue me) Neo smiles self-consciously at the camera as the "struggle" draws to a finish. Neo makes frequent eye contact with the camera. The camera loves him, so he loves it back. When he's not looking vacantly into the camera lens, he is checking out his muscles, which he does even when locking into Frank collar and elbow. I suspect he might be a better wrestler if he focused more on his opponents. And I do sincerely wish he were a better wrestler because if he could even halfway wrestle he would be perfect.
But the problem, as I see it, is not so much an actual problem as it is PWP's preferred house style, modeled, I suspect, on the short post-WW2 wrestling films of the Athletic Model Guild. Lately spoiled on the authenticity of Movimus or the ape-shit insanities of UCW, I am slow to adjust to the dreamy pageantry of PWP--and though I personally find Kid Brandon, Sexy Steve, and Vince hotter, I have seldom beheld a more divinely beautiful object than Neo. It would almost be a shame to muss up such a stunning example of man-flesh, though I wish someone would. More accurately, I would love to see Neo kick some Quebecois go-go boy ass--or even try to and fail.
Lovers of exquisitely proportioned young men in tableau-vivant simulations of athletic combat should rejoice that PWP continues the legacy. Lovers of "pure" wrestling must look elsewhere. Neo is worth spending some cash to watch, at least once or twice, even as he looks mildly uncomfortable and keeps his agony and rage quietly to himself. To quote another playwright and wit, Oscar Wilde, or rather his character Lord Henry Wotton, "It is better to be beautiful than to be good"--but, I say, even better to be good at wrestling.