Old Champ / New Champ

Axel vs Derrick Cole, Match 549 (UCW)

I miss the old Axel - Axel the battler of bullies, the squeaky clean but tough champion - but I have to admit that he has never been a better wrestler and performer than he has been in 2017, as dynamically proved in his latest video, a raw and pitch-dark fight against the defending UCW champ, Derrick Cole. Before I say more, though, let me say I still wish there were more good guys in underground wrestling - not as doomed jobbers, but as defenders of truth, justice, and the American way. These days I could really use real heroes - not undefeatable superheroes and not Dirty Harrys struggling with inner demons - but honest-to-goodness heroes who are competent, strong, decent, and ready to stand up to bullies, posers, and cowardly cheats.

For over a year Axel has been clear in his desire to reclaim the UCW title. However, when he first held it, the competition wasn't as stiff as it is today. The UCW pond was pretty small seven years ago. These days it's at or very near the top of the internet wrestling food chain. The ref's presence makes this an official challenge match. Axel is still championship material. Derrick Cole is a tough-as-nails grappler, who has shown no desire to retire and move on, but has been unwilling to take on challengers, yet to judge by his previous work, he could hold on to the belt for many years to come. With Eli Black out of the picture, Axel or Quinn Harper looks like the most likely candidate for regime change. Joker, another ex-champ, has reentered the UCW scene, obviously sniffing around for his lost belt, but there are concerns about the seriousness of his commitment to the job.

I can't risk saying more since this is an important match, and not every fan has had the chance to see it. I can say I was in no way disappointed in it. Both wrestlers are in peak condition, strong, resilient, and clearheaded. I don't think this is either Axel's or Derrick's best fight, but both are reliable performers, and they make every match they're in a must-see. A lot of excitement surrounds this contest, which marks a new high spot in an already excellent year for UCW.

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