Max Ryder vs Joker vs Quinn Harper, Match 587 - 3-Way Dance (UCW)

Allow me to be professorial ... a bit. A week ago when I talked about the serious side of professional wrestling, I referred to comic matches as prologue to the hard-driving main event, which shares some characteristics of classical tragedy - for instance, inescapable Fate, Nemesis or retribution for defiant arrogance, the transcendent power of agony. What I neglected to mention is that comedy is not limited to its lightweight forms, such as the clowning silliness associated with "family-friendly" pro-wrestling shows. A more visceral if not totally "serious" form of comedy predates Chikara. It was an unruly and vulgar comedy based on Bacchic debauchery and consisting of emasculating ridicule of public figures, toilet humor, and explicit sexuality (giant penises, naked women used as maps of the hills and valleys of the Peloponnesian peninsula - in Lysistrata, for instance).  In Western civilization this form of comedy was largely quashed by the Church in medieval times. (Read Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose  for more on this subject.) But it was partly preserved in fabliaux (dirty stories, usually involving monks and nuns) and Enlightenment-era satires (Swift, Voltaire, etc.), and it continues to this day with John Waters movies, South Park, Borat, and some of the less commercial forms of hip hop ... and, I would argue, UCW.

True, UCW is silly, and it makes almost no attempt at social criticism. But its unruliness and vulgarity are inherently critical of the status quo and mainstream "good taste" and, not least of all, standard notions of masculinity and sexuality. The biting, the ball-crunching, the wedgies, all defy common decency and symbolically drive a stake in the heart of the oligarchical and patriarchal establishment. In its own way, UCW matches often concern themselves with fate, humiliating defeat of the arrogant, and pain as visceral performance art. In Match 587's three-way brawl, at least two of the figures are anarchic - Joker, who lives in a parallel universe that knows nothing of rules or "proper" behavior, and Quinn Harper, who (if you remember) made his UCW debut calling for the overthrow of "company man" Axel. The other part of the triad, Max Ryder, would appear to be the most conventional of the three, but his physique and blue-collar muscle suggest the opposite of the hip technocrat or the bed-tanned Adonis. Ryder has animal magnetism, raw power, and a body his gear can just barely conceal. I can't picture the guy golfing at Mar a Lago or assuming the pigeon pose on a yoga mat (not in those lilac trunks anyway).

Now to set aside the mortarboard and cultural analysis ... let me add that Match 587 is funny, sexy, and as mean-spirited as a die-hard fan of UCW like me could possibly hope for. Joker, Quinn, and Max know no boundaries. Nothing is forbidden. They are capable of just about anything. Given a choice, they'll take the low road - not out of necessity but out of an unbridled preference for dirty tactics. They are the rascally heart of UCW, playing with pain, vulgarity, and humiliation as if they were finger paints. At no point, till the final minute, is it clear where the haphazard mayhem will lead us. Most of the match, to be honest, leaves me scratching my head in wonder. But I love the spirit of man-play - unbounded and rough. What makes all this sexy is the wrestlers' wild abandon and lack of pretense. Cute "family-friendly" wrestling aims for the funny bone. UCW wrestling aims for the nuts.

Visit UCW here.


  1. This was a fun match! I revisited Quinn vs Max circa 2015 when Harper was the champion and Max the newbie. Hero vs Villain, large vs small are favorite scenarios for me. Present day Quinn is still the brash loud mouth bad boy with swagger (ripped, tatted up). Max has morphed into a beast. Very quite yet focused. I enjoyed watching Harper face Max with some Joker sprinkled in. Harper, in this match, is physically the smallest but has the biggest personality. Would love to see more of Quinn and Max.


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