Ludwig vs Joey King, Mat Rats 78 (Thunder's Arena)
Ludwig is perfect for Thunder's Arena. Built like a stallion and cheery as a breakfast cereal commercial, by himself he could fill the two spaces recently vacated by Impact and Dominic. I'm even more impressed because he's piled this much muscle onto a six-foot frame. Just the thought of it makes me gulp and bite my lip.
After his mini-wrestling debut, though, I had some concerns about what he had on tap wrestling-wise. Mat Rats 78 is a sequel to that match, in which he ticked off hairy-jawed and -chested Joey King enough to necessitate a rematch. The "big old German Terminator-looking bodybuilder guy or whatever he is" (as Joey refers to him in this match's setup) may or may not be ready to square off with Arena superstars like Marco, Frey, and Eagle, but he hits this one out of the ballpark.
Smiles and all, Ludwig talks some good smack, promising to rip the beard right off Joey's face. And the sweat starts pouring early, always a plus in my book. Three-quarters through this battle, King heaves a nasty forearm to the nards, and the smiles fade (mostly) as the fighters hunker down to some respectable mat wrestling. Both King and Ludwig get in some firm holds that keep the final eight minutes as tight and squirmy as I like a fight to be. The reclining side headlocks are particularly snug. This confrontation does the trick for me. I'm hungry for more Ludwig as fast as I can get it. He's Stretch Armstrong with a Ken-doll face, and that, along with his bent for wrestling, keeps the newcomer on my radar.