Monday, June 5, 2017
A Fight to the Death
Eli Black vs Axel, Match 535: The Final Match (UCW)
Long before the apocalyptic events of the 21st century, I fantasized about death matches. The scenarios permeated the action movies of my childhood: Tarzan, Hercules, 007. I suppose it was natural that they would seep into my fantasy life--one of which I wrote up as a story eight years ago. Two things I want to make clear, though--one, my fantasies are fantasies, not actual acts of mortal violence, and, two, as grim as the world is at present, so far it doesn't scare me as much as the 1960s scared me--a kid growing up on SAC airbases where we had to take civil defense classes throughout elementary school, endured numerous end-of-world drills, and meditated upon what we'd do in case a nuclear weapon was detonated in our vicinity. Somehow I survived that, just as I survived the 1980s--the decade of AIDS, Reaganomics, Bhopal, and Chernobyl. (The present dark ages may or may not be as survivable.)
Now UCW has released a match promoted as having "the darkest ending ever," and it's not just hype. I must be careful not to give away too much plot here--though I'll say the ending toys with the idea of one wrestler killing the other with his bare hands. If any promotion was ever going to "go there," there was never any doubt it would be UCW. Apart from the ending, this is a fine rematch between two mortal enemies: Eli Black and Axel. Surprisingly, Axel dominates most of this match with a high level of confidence I haven't seen before. Equally surprising, Eli at first seems somewhat less vicious than he's been in the past. Making the harsh finisher the more chilling, the death is treated by the survivor as ultimately of no great importance--"Good riddance," the victor blithely maintains. Up to the end, the battle is as strong as we have come to expect an Eli-Axel confrontation to be. It's as over-the-top and perilous as UCW's fights tend to be, but, for the most part, no more than that. Only in the final seconds does the darkness descend, and one wrestler's future, indeed the future of the whole UCW brand, is up for grabs.
Or is it?