Making the Cut

Ethan Andrews vs Jett Bentley, Making the Team (88Wrestling)

With his near omnipresence in underground wrestling, Ethan has to work hard at expanding his arsenal of holds and moves. For one thing, his opponents have enough opportunities to study his techniques and develop effective counters for them. For another, fans may not be able to get enough of the personable wrestler, but they may well tire of seeing him perform the same shtick over and over. Luckily, Ethan's ever-expanding knowledge of grappling is well illustrated in his recent match against Jett.

Though this is a ring match, the strategies (most of them) and singlets suggest collegiate wrestling. Use of the ropes is minimal, and pro moves like body slams, high kicks, and piledrivers are absent. The action is fast and sweaty with both guys grappling for real, pitting Bentley's strength against Andrews' skill. Jett surprises me with his confident grasp of smack talk as the two men lace their wrestling shoes. He's articulate as he calmly voices his doubts about Ethan's ability to keep up with him. Most fans will see things differently, of course, but his voice is so steady and assured that I'm halfway convinced that Jett could win this one.

The setup, as described both online and in the dialogue, suggests that this is a wrestle-off for the last available position on "the varsity team."  It's fantasy. I doubt 88 is ready to lose either of these wrestlers, different and appealing as they are. (88 persists in taunting me by referring to Ethan as a "street punk," but I will not rise to the bait, no matter how much he mangles Jett in this match - and, for over half its 24 minutes, he does.) The struggle is rough and competitive enough to hold my interest. No great effort is spent in trying to heighten the drama unreasonably or to spice (sex) up the action. It's a sporting contest between two lean and rugged opponents - very sensibly played by both.

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