Jonah Rock vs AJ Istria, Rat Daddy's Revolution - 9 June 2018, Adelaide (Wrestle Rampage)
Yesterday morning I interrupted grading literature essays (not a hard or unusual sacrifice) so I could watch this match live. It's an anxiously awaited rematch that touches on a lot of points I find interesting about professional wrestling - what makes a heel a heel, force vs attitude, desire vs justice, the art of "selling" a fight.
Both wrestlers have qualities to recommend them. Istria (29, 6', 194#) has looks I go for - a meeting of Harry Windsor and Shane Haste (former member of his opponent's stable TMDK) - plus a game plan, which becomes clearer as the match proceeds: punish Rock's limbs and thus weaken the man in increments. He's also cocky as fuck. (Pre-match a year ago he mockingly led the fans in chanting "Jonah's gonna kill you.") Rock (29, 5'11", 275#) has a gruff attitude and strongly contrasting game plan that involves sheer force: pummel, crush, roar, stomp, and slam. Nobody tops Jonah for blunt brutism.
Istria's good looks sways me to his corner. I want the hot guy to win - pretty much the reverse of what most of my gay wrestling-fan brothers desire. This match almost persuades me to their side. I can't deny the appeal of watching AJ's smugness subside to vulnerability the more Jonah bludgeons him. Take, for instance, that last GIF below (several minutes before the fight's finish), with the camera zooming in on his face - the look suggesting both exhaustion and yearning. That look launches a hundred different fantasies. Still, I want the guy to rise up and destroy the ungainly brute. I think it's purely the hotness factor on this one. Given AJ's savagery and swagger earlier (and in previous matches), justice would be served if Rock bashed his head in.
In the end, one game plan triumphs. The other fails. But the beautiful differences in strategies and attitudes as well as physiques keeps me transfixed ... second by luscious second ... totally.