Van the Man

Van Skyler vs Ben Monaco, Wrestleshack 22 (BG East)

This is the Van Skyler match I have been waiting for. Not only is he on holy ground (BG East's Wrestleshack) but he's fierce, dynamic, and ready to rub big chunks of Ben Monaco into the wrestling mat. Van always had the otherworldly majesty of an Alexi Adamov, but now he also has attitude and wrestling chops comparable to a Jake Jenkins. He showed his potential in his match against Payton Meadows, and maybe all he needed was a stimulus like Monaco to push him to greatness - and Skyler in Wrestleshack 22  is nothing but greatness.

Monaco is one of the great journeyman wrestlers at BGE. Whether he wins or loses, he puts his opponent over. In the past he's brought out the best in Austin Cooper and others in a variety of combat settings. When he jobs, his facial expressions provide the right balance of misery and frustration. His expressiveness contributes largely to the success of this match, but good jobbing can't work in a vacuum. Skyler's manly confidence and generous sweat raise the fight not only up to his personal best but to the short list of greatest Wrestleshack forays of all time.

Did I mention it's sexy, too? This is Skyler's most overtly erotic match, and the genre suits him to a T. Some underground wrestlers, a surprising many, don't get erotic wrestling, at least not how I see it. Some sacrifice the grit and aggression of wrestling to play up the erotic element, usually lousily, mugging and camping it up. Others take the arched-eyebrow approach, putting every lustful thrust in quote marks as if to signal to viewers that they're somehow above this sordid business. Like the best erotic wrestlers - Brad Michaels, Mike Martin, Justin Powers, Armond Rizzo - Van seems to understand that cockiness and a genuine hunger for bodily domination are what heat up a good fight.

This is a terrific fight, rich in smack talk, sadism, and competitiveness that erupts into an outright brawl. It's a strong opener for Wrestleshack 22, and with all due respect for the wrestlers in the subsequent bouts, all of them a treat to watch, I think this one is my favorite.

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