残酷 (Cruelty)












Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo vs MAO and Mizuki Watase, DNA18 - 1 July 2016, Tokyo (DDT)

Putting aside the obvious tricks (razoring, barbed wire cages, etc.), the essence of wrestling cruelty is a matter of the pace with which an assault is performed and its victim's reaction. These elements are well displayed in this 2016 tag-team match.

Konosuke Takeshita (6'2", 218#) and Tetsuya Endo (5'11", 187#) are physically formidable, both of them hotter than firecrackers - bigger, heavier, faster, and stronger than their competition. Their attitudes, too, are intimidating - especially the gusto with which they strike the faces and bodies of their foes - and a sense of their relentlessness comes through their (especially Takeshita's) habit of going for the extra, purely superfluous final blow, even though their adversaries are no longer capable of resistance or retaliation. Both execute each move with such deliberateness that the move seems italicized, framed, as if to emphasize its momentousness.

The same violent energy can be seen in wrestlers like Kid Karisma, Roderick Strong, Terry Funk, and Eli Black. Other heels have the look and can perform the gestures, but fail in their pacing, mostly failing to vary the pace to suit the dramatic moment, thus also shortchanging the sense of climax.

Completing the effect for Takeshita and Endo, MAO (5'10", 176#) and Mizuki (5'9", 189#) portray their agonies with amplified feeling so that even the back rows bear witness to their pitiable condition. Or, conversely, they go blank as death, like Mizuki after receiving the last elbow jab in the fifth GIF above.

I am not a cruel person, but I am intrigued with cruelty - at least in the context of theater. I suppose my interest partly derives from my hellfire-and-brimstone religious upbringing. Cinematic bullies like Red Grant and Hans Gruber also contributed to it, as have misfit heroes like Harry Callahan and Mike Hammer. And in the past year or so, it has been the lens through which I look at aggression in pro wrestling.


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