The Agony and the Ecstasy


Kelly King vs Kirk Donahue, Backbusters 1 (BG East)

I'm seeing a new Kirk Donahue emerge these last few months. He's tougher, rougher, and from the looks of things, he may be abandoning his "jobber" standing before the year is up. He and Trevor Read kicked off Wrestling with Pride last month kicking ass  - and Kirk thrilled fans with the unruffled manner in which he dispensed with the cocksure bad boy Trevor. I consider the match the best fight on the card, all the more impressive because the remainder of the card was dynamite, too. Kirk is looking more and more like superstar material. That ass, for one thing. But there's also the expressiveness of his performances in match after match since 2014. It also doesn't hurt that his face is pure fresh-scrubbed wow, an irresistible blend of adorable and pugnacious.

In Backbusters 1  he takes on a much beefier opponent in Kelly King. It's a safe assumption that King can and almost certainly will beat Donahue, but Donahue is a headstrong adversary, unwilling to yield even when, as here, the cards are stacked against him. In fact, Kirk boldly takes the initiative - an expression of his confidence and perhaps of his awareness that if he doesn't act quickly, he may be altogether eclipsed by his Texas-sized antagonist. The series' title sums up the moves we can expect, and Kelly does most of the honors as the action shots illustrate. I would hesitate to call Kelly a heel under these circumstances. He simply has the weight and muscle to dominate his slenderer opponent, and there's really no reason why he should hesitate in destroying him. Though hardly resigned to defeat, even Kirk desires nothing less than Kelly's best fight.

Kirk sells the agony in heart-wrenching detail. Few other wrestlers, at BGE or elsewhere, can match his responsiveness to adversaries' attacks or the verisimilitude of his suffering. Off the top of my head, I can think of only four who come close: Eli Black, Paul Hudson, Jake Jenkins, and Lionel. Like them, though, Kirk does more than elicit pity. There's nothing degrading in their agony. Rather, there's something heroic and, yes, exhilarating in it.

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