Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Agony of Tracer X


BJ Hancock vs Tracer X, Wild Card 7 (Old School Championship Wrestling)

BJ Hancock makes short work of the young am-I-cool-or-what crowdpleaser. Eight minutes from start to finish. The self-proclaimed "Future of Old School Wrestling" charges his opponent while the young hottie is standing on the ropes, welcoming the fans' adoration. Tracer evades the attack with a backflip, but his high-flying tactics are inadequate against a man of Hancock's bulk (6'2", 209#), experience (just over 10 years), and slow wear-and-tear approach to rasslin'.

Case in point and subject of today's fixation is this 20+ second chin lock by which BJ makes the little fellow exhaust himself trying to break free, which Tracer does after expending about a quarter-cup of sweat. The kid has several hope spots along the way, but this hold pretty much seals the deal, even with about three minutes remaining before the three count. (Outside interference also contributes to BJ's win, but then I'd expect that of any heel worth his salt.) The cushy-muscled Vermonter may be out of his element in Hanahan, SC (near the city of Charleston), but he obviously has Southern-style grunt'n'groan wrestling down pat.

See also this.




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Riley vs Benjamin



Rudeboy Riley vs Shelton Benjamin, Hit the Lights (Warriors of Wrestling)

In this title defense from last year, Shelton challenges Rudeboy's right to the W.O.W. heavyweight belt. Rudeboy makes a strong physical defense, visceral and unexpectedly honorable, but Shelton, in a break between wrestling in Japan and reenlisting with WWE, is big, hard, and tough, and he seriously wants that belt.

Both gentlemen sell the hell out of this fight. This is basically a two-character drama. Everything hinges on these wrestlers' abilities not only to exhibit high-energy athletic prowess but also to express the agony, tension, and complexity of the role each is playing. In the end, interference from Jason Karloff makes the drama even more complex, unusual because such an intrusion usually defuses tension and derails everything accomplished in the preceding minutes, but in this case Jason's appearance serves to bring the crisis for both wrestlers (especially Riley) to a head.

That crisis is more than just winning. It's winning in "the right way." The still shots do not capture the full drama and psychological detail the wrestlers bring to the spots, or the eroticism (especially at midpoint, when Riley and Benjamin are grappling on the mat and slamming each other in the ring corners). The scissorshold pictured above is what caught my attention. The skin-to-skin struggle continues past the point when most wrestlers pull away in a no-homo break. Such self-consciousness is usually inconsistent with the action and disruptive to the story's inner coherence. By contrast, Shelton and Rudeboy are too caught up in the fight to care what somebody might think of them. This is focus--and it's what generates all kinds of heat in pro wrestling













Monday, August 29, 2016

Mullet Monday: Magnum Edition



Magnum TA vs Steve Brinson, 5 October 1984 (Mid South Wrestling)

The guy had tight blond curls, hair on his chest, and nipples that could poke your eye out. This is Magnum TA at his pseudo-Tom Selleck height. In the eighties I felt ambivalent about the man. For me, his wrestling was hit or miss, but when he hit, he was a hoot. I mostly liked the way he looked standing in his corner, to be honest, or leaning in to talk into the host's microphone, or raising his arm in victory. He tended towards vainglorious and preposterous, but, son, he was hot as slicked-up fuck. Here he takes on muscle-ox Brinson, who outweighs him by nine pounds. Guest commentator Ernie Ladd says that if you wrestle Magnum, you better bring a bag lunch because the man wrestles for the long haul. This one, however, is a drive-thru, not even two minutes long. It's more a photo op than a match. Nice photo, though.





Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lucky Numbers 3 4 5


The cash-cow called Vegas Battles churns out three new challengers for Steel: newcomer White Tiger, a Filipino bodybuilder; the eponymous Scrappy; and Eagle, Steel's equal in weight, fight, beauty, and moxie. The troop explores new locations in the self-proclaimed Fight Capital of the World, bringing together classicism  and swank in some of the best wrestling pairings yet.









Steel vs White Tiger, Vegas Battles 03 (Thunder's Arena)

The video starts with an interview in which the very personable newby shares his interests in physical culture and jujitsu and explains his name, the "Tiger" part honoring his Asian heritage, the "White" part acknowledging the strands of white in his otherwise jet-black hair. "Wisdom," he explains succinctly, smiling. The Tiger also happens to be Steel's training partner from a few years ago, so the two have history. Later, Steel points out that Tiger is considerably smaller than he (5'5", 160#, to Steel's 5'9", 200#), but praises his old pal, saying, "Dynamite comes in small packages," before he suddenly remembers he should be talking smack.

Shortly before the 6:00 mark, the two get on their knees and grapple, in the time-honored warmup exercise of jujitsu fighters. For me the sexiest part of Thunder's Arena, sexier than even the all-you-can-eat muscle buffet, is the moments of bonafide grappling, which happily play a part, even though small at times, in most of the company's product. In VB03, honest-to-god submission wrestling takes center stage, with Steel and Tiger engaging in straight-up and sportsmanlike competition--no body slams, no hair-pulling, no ball-socking--just rolling and squeezing back and forth all the way to the final handshake. Tiger holds his own with the bigger guy, but Steel reigns supreme for most of the contest, showing an ease of command and a knowhow of holds that add grit to the city of glitz.









Steel vs Scrappy, Vegas Battles 04 (Thunder's Arena)

A luscious shot of Steel stretched out in an opulent Vegas penthouse opens this video. Steel asks viewers, "Ready for a tour?" He gets up and nods towards the grand piano before striking a single-biceps pose that the camera laps up like milk. With a smirk, he adds, "You guys didn't think I was talking about the room, did you?" Arms, chest, abs, iliac furrow, thighs, it's quite an impressive spread. He then carries it all outside to flaunt it in the bright Nevada sunlight.

The fight starts about seven minutes into the video. Steel chides a sunbathing Scrappy for not cleaning up his mess in the dining area. And by "his" I mean Steel's. Scrappy resents being treated like the hired help and pushes back. Maybe not the smartest of moves, but he isn't named Scrappy for nothing. The bodybuilder shoves the kid to one knee, squeezing him in a standing headscissors. Then he lifts him in a gargantuan bear hug, squeezing Scrappy dry like a tube of Crest before pinning him on one of the cushioned lounge chairs.

The duo moves swiftly to the pool, where Steel clotheslines Scrappy, launching him into an aquamarine splash. Impressively, Scrappy is able to snapmare the arrogant bully into the water too, and the two wrestle amid the churning waves. I've seen this before in the first two installments of the Vegas series, but, for me, swimming-pool wrestling has not got old for me yet. I have memories of a couple of summers working at a summer camp to give me all the sense details I need to complete the fantasy.

As usual for pool battles, the side headlock is the hold of choice. Once again, I have no complaints. I consider the side headlock--standing, kneeling, reclining, or waist-deep in wet--one of my all-time favorite wrestling holds. Bear hugs and poolside head scissors provide some variety, along with several fleeting underwater shots--fun and enticing, but Thunderball they are not.

May I add, as a side note, that while Scrappy and I may have nothing else in common, we share the habit of biting our lower lip when we wrestle. A bad habit, as my dorm mates used to warn me right before smacking my chin and making me bite myself.









Steel vs Eagle, Vegas Battles 05 (Thunder's Arena)

Posing and putt-putt golfing amid neoclassical statues of water nymphs put Steel and Eagle in the mood to issue challenges. They take the fight to a conveniently available pink (is it magenta?) wrestling mat, where Steel's pal White Tiger looks on noncommittally (apparently), and then, of course, to the pool. This is my favorite of the Vegas Battles series (so far -- please tell me there will be more) because it is a truly herculean struggle between two well-matched and easily pissed-off rivals. Up to now Steel has taken on smaller guys in Vegas. I like them too, but Eagle is as swole as Steel and has a good chance of knocking the chip off Steel's shoulder.

The give and take is exactly right for me. I could dispense with the prologue--except for the magnificent shot (see above) of Steel and Eagle posing side by side, which beautifully establishes a heroic tone, only to be squandered by the putt-putt silliness that follows. (I will say, however, that if I could be assured that Steel and Eagle would be there in speedos, I'd put miniature golf back on my things-to-do list.) The match is at its zenith during the bear hugs, with the collar and elbow lockups coming in at a close second. Of course, as already stated, anytime side headlocks are brought into the picture, I am one happy guy.

The ending is decisive--a chokeout in three and half feet deep water--but the match as a whole suggests there is more to come, possibly involving White Tiger. I'd be more than happy to see Steel and Eagle go at it a second, third, fourth time. In Vegas, in Florida, anywhere.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Shanghaied











KARN vs Ace Owens, Super Villain (Wrestler4Hire)

I haven't seen enough of Wrestler4Hire to have an informed opinion, but I have three hunches based on what I have seen so far:
  1. The company draws some of the best looking and most talented wrestlers from both live event promotions and internet wrestling sites,
  2. it favors squash jobs over give and take, and
  3. it strongly believes that wrestling won't sell without tacked-on storylines, which require lots of exposition delivered orally in the form of monologues.
In this 2015 release, KARN's minions have captured and beat up Ace, who has, for unknown purposes, trespassed upon the supervillain's "fortress." Perhaps the fact that Ace was in wrestling trunks and boots while poking around the place raised the underlings' suspicions. That much we do not see, but we are told about it by KARN in a spell-it-out speech to the victim, who choses at first to remain mum. His reticence is understandable. Ace has awakened in a dramatically lit wrestling ring with the rugged badman hovering over him (also attired to wrestle). Finding the intruder unwilling to provide information, KARN decides to finish what his henchmen neglected to. Ace exacerbates the situation by attempting to fight back -- if insolence can be called fighting back.

What follows is a string of wrestling holds, some of them pictured above, with few counters by Ace, leading to a fine piledriver finish that nevertheless does nothing to resolve the mysteries implied in the opening monologue. Who is this super villain? What makes him so villainous, apart from having lackeys and a fortress? Why would he be suspicious of a jock in wrestling trunks poking around his place of business? What is his business? As an avid reader and moviegoer, I am underwhelmed by the plotline, but wowed by the two factors that drew me to purchase the download in the first place:
  1. KARN, all silky-smooth, malevolent muscle, and
  2. Ace Owens, pure and fresh as SnowWhite and doomed in the way only the "preternaturally beautiful" (I quote the online description) can be.
This is one of those It Is What It Is things common in underground wrestling. What it is not is straightup wrestling or a sustained and self-contained wrestling narrative. I had a nagging sense that this is not the whole story, that more information will be provided in a second act we do not see. There's minimal coherence from one hold to the next, often just a pause as KARN deliberates over what to do to Ace next. The never explained elements of the story are no problem as far as I'm concerned. The wrestler's bodies carry the 28-minute video well enough without ring psychology or denouement.

In my fantasy version of events, the villain's hired thugs have tricked, drugged, captured, and stripped down Ace (let's say he's a hiker) and left him for their boss to use in whatsoever way he sadistically pleases. I drop the trespassing angle--or translate it into a red herring meant to further confound the still-groggy captive. In my version, Ace puts up a better fight, actually gaining some ground, however short-lived, on his sinister opponent. KARN treats Ace as an extravagant but expendable toy. Fearing for his life, Ace fights more recklessly and desperately as the match builds to the climax, inadvertently setting up the devastating piledriver by exhausting himself almost to the point of collapse.

In my opinion, the video squanders KARN's and Ace's wrestling talent and ring savvy. Both have shown elsewhere that they are capable of playing up the drama inherent in pro wrestling. I'm not saying the wrestlers have "phoned in" their performances, though perhaps the lack of a live audience zaps some of the contest's potential energy--as does, I believe, the backstory. At any rate, something doesn't click for me the way that the pairing of these two talents ought to have. But the parts here are better than the whole--the trim and beautiful physiques, Ace's grimaces and groans, KARN's cool contempt for his opponent/victim, the arm locks, the hair-pulling, the scissorholds, and the piledriver that brings the action to a halt--and, in this case*, the parts are plenty enough for me.

* I always make exceptions for the sexy.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Last Chance for Pretty Boy Roan





Roan versus Kid Lightning, Magi, and Kevin Peterson (Savage Wrestling Federation)

He either beats three opponents in 8 minutes or he's out on his pretty ass. It sounds like seven years ago somebody made himself unwelcome in North Carolina.  Swan song or not, it's an impressive show for "Pretty Boy" Roan, who subsequently made a name (correction: "made names") for himself at Movimus, NHB-Battle, and No Rules Wrestling. The limited POV camerawork gives us all the action but unfortunately few of the details of the brawl. These out-of-ring shots, however, indicate why Roan was called "Pretty Boy" and why he became a superstar of internet wrestling.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I'm Going to Kill You




Austin Cooper vs Kirk Donahue, Demolition 20 (BG East)

Coop tells Kirk, "I'm going to kill you," at the moment the photographer took the photo above. This is the fourth match (my favorite) in BGE's recently released Demolition 20. For me, the moment is important because it is what separates Cooper vs Donahue from 90% of punishment matches, including the other three matches on this disk. Two things, really: a modicum of intense struggle preceding the total domination of one wrestler by the other and a motive for the punishment to come.

Before I say more, let me say that squash matches are not my thing, though I'm gradually developing a taste for them. I can enjoy one wrestler, big or small, raking another wrestler over the coals ... nonstop. Done right, it can be as invigorating and sexy as a long-haul give-and-take match, which I prefer as a rule. What I enjoy less is not knowing why the demolisher thinks the demolishee is deserving of his fate. I like the squash even better when I too think the victim deserves exactly what he's getting. I call it my "justice fetish." It's what makes my balls scrunch up in movies when King Kong cracks a pesky T Rex's jaw or Dirty Harry rubs out a lowlife pusher.

I will, however, admit to tingles in the disk's first match: Big Barry Burke vs Kip Sorell, about as uneven and unjustified a battle as one can possibly imagine. Burke's series of bone-crunching bodyscissors with tiny Kip writhing in his even tinier trunks got to me. It hit me right where it needed to, mostly, I suspect, because I find Big Barry and Kip inherently hot, though they are physically opposites.

I like struggle for the body contact, but I also like pro wrestling struggle, aesthetically, for the way it reveals character and for the way it clarifies each character's ring style and ethics. I've written about this factor at length elsewhere. Kirk's surprise opening edge over Coop is brief, but it serves to explain why Coop might want to kill the guy. I don't think Kirk deserves punishment just for being lithe, fetching in a club-kid sort of way, and skillful as a fighter. But dramatically the upset explains Austin's motive for the damage to come.

Also, Kirk's opening (what turns out to be) "hope spot" makes Kirk hotter in my eyes. I am not implying that Kip in Match 1 is not hot, but he would be exponentially hotter to me if he demonstrated some facility for wrestling holds--though admittedly Big Barry Burke is a presence that might overrule this possibility. Coop is bigger than Kirk, but not to the same extent that Burke is bigger than Sorell (whose ring moniker I'm sure is a contraction for "sore as hell"). Kirk's exhibition of savvy and prowess at the beginning of the match elevates him in my estimation far beyond what I would think of him if he were only modeling swimwear or doing sit-ups in the center of the ring.











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