Clearing the Air

Axel vs Erik the Viking, Match 595 (UCW)

So far there are no words for who Axel is. A couple of days ago I winced because another promotion referred to him as a "sinister street punk." Somehow the terms don't suit our man Axel, whose proliferation of PKA names may contribute to the difficulty of putting a label on one of the best grapplers in underground wrestling. It's almost as if his technical prowess is not enough on its own. In this match, Erik calls him a "poser hipster boy" - not a single word applies to Axel - not poser, not hipster, not boy. Certainly a catchy epithet helps glamorize and mythologize a wrestler, and kayfabe and hoopla are what carny-style wrestling is all about, but something closer to the truth of who the man actually is or seems to be on the mat, in the ring, or, as here, under the warm springtime sun would have the added benefit of sounding right and fitting. 

A somewhat different Axel-related quibble gets directly addressed in this video - the question of whether the ubiquitous wrestler is getting spoiled after years in the "limelight." Erik suspects that all the attention has gone to Axel's head, reduced his toughness and readiness to brawl UCW-style. He proposes a friendly bout out in the fresh open air - away from the public eye and flashing cameras, away from the pro-style angles and gimmicks - away from the fancy moves and scripted results - just a plain old-fashioned ass-whupping, man to man. The blue skies and woodsy scenery are not the only refreshing thing about this match. There's also the refreshing simplicity of the back-to-basics setup. Wrestling, plain and simple. It's even nice to see Erik minus the Viking gimmick for 30 minutes.

The no-rules contest holds several surprises that I don't want to ruin for anybody. I will just say that Erik gives what amounts to a star turn. He has certainly shown potential in previous matches, but this bout casts him in a new light - as Axel's concerned but straightedge friend, of course, but also as a fight-down-to-the-nub scrapper. Also, the natural light does wonders in showing off his impressive physique as he and Axel strip each other down to their trunks. The video has a brutal last act climaxing with an unforgettable tap-out.

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