Bad to the Bone
Derrick Cole vs Chase Michaels, #494 (UCW)
UCW's latest is the company's hottest, sweatiest, and meanest match ever. I can barely keep my laptop level as I type these words. Both Chase and Derrick are in peak condition in a gritty, no-punches-pulled title defense full of surprises. It was a surprise, a month ago, that Chase could pry the championship belt from Axel's most capable hands, the tall, dark-haired looker turning from babyface to heel in a matter of seconds. Just as surprising is the fact that UCW has chosen Derrick to be his first challenger. I expected that Chase would face a few lesser contenders before such a momentous match as this. And make no mistake, this match is a stunner.
In just four months, handsome Chase has risen from nobody to one of UCW's top draws. Tall, lean, with a sharp jaw and hooded eyes, the new champion is as capable a brawler as he is easy on the eyes. He started out strong, facing the company's toughest muscle, first Nero Angelo, who guest-refs this match, and then in a first run-in with Derrick, shortly thereafter. He learned fast how the game is played at UCW: savagely, sneakily, hungrily. Then he went on to square off against a series of similarly built combatants like Kevin Lin, Eli Black, and Axel. The company never made it easy for this guy, and the stiff competition tested his resolve and taught him the dirty tricks common to the best fighters.
Derrick first stepped into the cinderblock fight room at the end of last year. He has plowed through a bunch of pretty boys to get to this challenge match. Like Chase, he was given an early shot at the championship belt, then still held by Axel. He failed where Chase succeeded, a situation that adds several shades of animus to this contest as he attempts to claim what he undoubtedly feels is his by right and long overdue. Unlike the suave and sneaky new champion, Derrick is a wild man, a force of nature, blinded by incessant rage, a maniac who eats pain and spits out punishment. His rage is both his strength and, as his first title challenge proved, his Achilles' heel.
The fight is not easy for either side, but it's Christmas come early for me and other lovers of take-no-prisoners brawling. The battle stays close to the mat, with muscle straining against muscle, sweat causing the mats to squeak and flesh to lose its natural friction. No tactic is too low for these guys, and the ferocity of the scrap means that the contest could end at a second's notice. They wear and tear at each other till they're working on instinct alone. The intensity mounts exponentially from midpoint on, leading to what appears to be a false climax, with one guy down and counted out but then springing back to life for a sudden, thrilling knockout against the brass emblem of the belt.