December marks Marco's third year at Thunder's Arena, and I credit his presence there for the company's quick resurgence after the departure of Big Sexy, who had been a major draw. From the beginning, Marco's openness and volatility, along with his muscle, wrestling savvy, and photogenicity, made him one of the most watchable talents in the underground wrestling world. The last twelve months have been a banner year for the Arena and Marco. Three recent matches may demonstrate why.

Marco vs Eagle, Ring Wars 56 (Thunder's Arena)

Ring Wars 56 is a vast improvement on Marco and Eagle's previous contest - an early 2016 mat match which I felt lacked seriousness, inconsistent with the punch which had made Marco a force to reckon with. That force animates both wrestlers' performances in this barefoot rip-and-strip battle that is a convincing simulation of a grudge match, replete with ball-grabbing and hair-twisting. The give and take is raw and personal, and Marco is at his physical best, not only in his physique but also in the absolute assuredness with which he handles Eagle's body. The match goes through the expected catalog of bear hugs and scissor holds, but it's energized by a hardly concealed mutual contempt, culminating in one of the hottest choke-outs I've seen.

Marco vs Steel, No Holds Barred 93 (Thunder's Arena)

Steel's emergence at Thunder's Arena has posed a definite threat to Marco's preeminence in fans' esteem, including this fan. This living-room fight is a direct sequel to Mat Wars 77, Steel's comedic match against Blayne, at the end of which Marco overheard Blayne call Steel his favorite Arena star. Here is a blow to the ego the instinctively competitive Marco will not let stand, and after carting Blayne away from the mat, he returns for a no-holds-barred contest to reassert his dominance. The contest is also an indirect sequel to Marco's first match against Steel. That match I compared to a tooth-and-claw battle between two predatory beasts. This match, their third actually, lacks the vehemence of the first, but it grabs the balls nonetheless. The context requires a certain levity, but fortunately in the last year Marco has perfected an aloof style suited to  quasi-erotic roughhouse and death match - and everything in between.

Marco vs Jake, No Holds Barred 96 (Thunder's Arena)

By aloof, I mean Marco dismantles an opponent with the callous detachment of a biology student dissecting a frog. We see this trait in his work on Jake here. According to the narrative, Marco was instrumental in bringing Jake to the Arena, but then Jake wanted out, and Marco wasn't having it. The catalog description claims this match has the most ball claws of any of Marco's matches, emphasizing Marco's role as company "enforcer" and his anger over the recruit's reneging on the deal. For all the attacks on a man's most sensitive body parts, the match takes its tone from Marco's clinical and mordantly humorous performance as punisher, which, along with the coldness of the poolside light, nullifies the spirit of high-spirited horseplay characteristic of most of Thunder's matches. Apart from an initial pretense of bro banter, Marco's actions are precise and dispassionate. Turning 20 minutes of Jake's life into a living hell is just a task that needs doing. Whatever rage Marco feels is hidden under a mask of indifference and soldierly professionalism - chilling and (if I may say so) stimulating.

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