Skin Deep











Ron Wilson vs Dillon Walsh, Wanna Wrestle 45 (NHB-Battle/Movimus)

I caught this 2010 NHB-Battle match for free just before Movimus's fourth-anniversary deal disappeared on Sunday night. Bad timing on my part, I know. The video is now available only by purchasing it. It's worth the price. Dillon is one of the company's most beautifully shaped wrestlers, and this is a rematch with Ron, a pugnacious fighter who knows how to put a fellow in a hard bind. You can grasp the tenor of the contest from these photos, but you need motion and audio to feel its earthy vitality.

Last week, somebody who works at Movimus asked me what I thought about diversity in underground wrestling ("from body types to ethnicities"). The company promotes a wide range of competent wrestlers, but as a business, Movimus (like other similar businesses) finds that only "a certain type" of body sells videos. I have noticed the same thing on my blog: youth wins out over age, beauty wins out over knowhow. I had too many thoughts on the subject, contradictory thoughts, and I was politely thanked for them, but I know I had come nowhere close to a satisfactory response.

I love good wrestling even when I don't find myself attracted to the wrestlers--for instance, if they're women (despite one early experiment with a girl in junior high, I'm a Kinsey 6) or if they cover their muscles in business suits. Good aggressive wrestling makes the wrestler attractive to me, yes, erotically, even though the attraction may vanish as soon as the match is over. Like most people, I also love muscle and a pretty face, good hair, a winning smile, skin, bulges, tallness, wit, bedroom eyes, etc. I'm aware firsthand that other fans love these things more than they do wrestling. I have no problem with that, and I confess the same is often true of me. I'm more likely to purchase a match that promises both wrestling and ass. Ass is always a good thing. In fact, I don't think "confess" is the right word because it suggests something crooked, wrong, or petty, and I don't think attraction to physical beauty is crooked, wrong, or petty.

It is, however, unfair that excellent wrestlers who don't fit "a certain type" get relegated to the margins ... in their area of expertise. Ideally, skill in the sport and/or performance should count more than conformity to irrelevant standards of appearance. That's business, one could say, but it's not as simple as that. In most sports, even in mainstream professional wrestling, athletes' looks and youth get less attention than their mastery of the game. In show business, where looks do count, talent and professionalism count even more. Actors don't have to be beautiful and young to earn fans' respect. They need only to be good at their craft. People like or dislike a Kevin Spacey or a Tom Hanks for his acting style, not his biceps. Yet so-called underground wrestlers are frequently judged on qualities that have nothing to do with wrestling.

Do ageism, sexism, racism, homophobia, and body fascism play a part in the entertainment world, including wrestling entertainment? Absolutely they do. Bloggers like me heap praises on abs, pecs, liplocks, and bulges, but how often do we praise resilience or knowledge of holds ... or wins? It's not unusual for me to gush over patently bad wrestling if the "wrestlers" are cute. And despite my good intentions, sometimes I forget to recognize good wrestling ability if the wrestlers don't conform to "a certain type." Yet as I've admitted many times, I have only minimal knowledge of what constitutes good wrestling. On that count, I need to do better.* After all, great wrestling, sexy wrestling, comes in many sizes, shapes, and shades.

*Call that a new year's resolution, if you will, but be aware that I'm terrible at keeping resolutions.

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