Professional Wrestling

Matt Vine vs Milad Akbar, #132 - 25 February 2017 (Premier Pro Wrestling)

It's probably a good thing I'm expecting company at noon. Otherwise, I might waste the whole day whacking off to this imperfect, but very fine match. Akbar vs Vine is my Christmas present to me. In my dictionary, this is what you'd get when you look up pro wrestling - two smooth strongmen, with no discernible definition but a ton of energy, working a slow burn, entangled at first - the first four minutes of this match is largely mat wrestling - then whipping each other off the ropes, slamming each other to the canvas, and barely keeping their tempers in check till the three-count at the end. A tighter, more rehearsed match might have been more of a crowd pleaser, but the measured pace of this match (and pace is the essence of pro wrestling, as I see it) and the burly bodies of the wrestlers bone me up.

Let's be clear here. I do like muscle posing. I do also like wild skinny boys with ponytails and next-to-nothing to wear. I'm especially a sucker for loincloths and G-strings. I can appreciate back flips and hurricanranas, chloroform rags and steel chairs, cowboy gimmicks and chieftain gimmicks. I'd like to sandwich myself between greased-up bodybuilders. I really would. I'd make a day of it if I could. I think smart smack talk is a corker. I love fuck-him and fuck-him-up wrestling equally. I love underwater wrestling. I love wrestling in mud, oil, Jell-O, and K-Y. But ask me what I want when I go to Skull Islander heaven - it's pretty much this slow-moving, heavy-breathing old-school sideshow heave and squeeze - on replay for eternity - but maybe with more sweat.

Both wrestlers are similar in build, but strongly contrasting personalities. It's a gentlemanly match, and there's not much of a story framing the ring action, which works all on its own, with handshakes at the beginning and the end. (There is, however, a prologue that's too long.) The contest is purely physical, so you don't need to know the language to know what's going on - you don't need ringside commentators - you don't even have to be a smart mark. Without a plot, the match holds together in the rhythms set by the wrestlers. These could be tighter and stronger, but they are there. A lot of matches I see, especially ones with intricate plots, have no rhythm.

There's no heel since both gentlemen play rough and hard by turns. Milad plays a little rougher - and he's the better grappler - but he's no villain. If either man is jobbing (and, of course, one of them is), he doesn't advertise the fact. There's a ref, but thankfully he does not try to be part of the show. Like a kid in the schoolyard, Milad digs his chin into Matt's pate when the opportunity presents itself. This touch of adolescent sadism is a masterstroke, but almost unnoticeable.

Holds last for half a minute - some of the hottest parts of the match consist of a wrestler immobilized by another wrestler for a long time. They may be catching a breather, but it reads as intensity. Neither wrestler exits the ring to recoup or to run away. In other words, neither wants to abandon the fight. Bodies are in contact more often than not. Attacks are sold by both wrestlers - giver and taker - even Matt's flick of the wrist at the end of the first GIF is a sell - a small but macho gesture.

Though I think six- and eight-packs show a lot of determination and hard work, these are what I call significant midsections. I want them to bury faces. I want them to be punched. The finisher (not shown here) is sudden and decisive - the ref counts the loser out - there are no loose ends, no temper tantrums. All in all, it's a good nine-minute mid-card event that touches on the strong points of early television wrestling, which was also slow and sloppy, but which presented (for me, way back when) an indelible model of masculinity - noble, tough, tenacious, and earnest.

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