Every now and then--in fact, most of the time--I like to watch a couple of young, burly, and well-coifed  wrestlers hammer each other from one side of the ring to the other. Large, heavy, strong is still my formula for catch-wrestling greatness. I watch the skinny guys and the aerobicised fitness trainers too with avid interest, as even a casual look-through this blog demonstrates. But many are the days when I want a little wobble in my whomp. Some pudge on the abs gives a wrestler the right touch of vulnerability. More than that, in my mind it's an invitation to take a shot at the man: see what you can do with this!

I'm not talking about lardasses. I'm not talking soft and unfit. I'm not even talking barrel-chested. I mean guys with thick shoulders and thighs, firmly marbled muscle especially at the gut. Ideally, these wrestlers don't have prominent love handles. It's all up front like they swallowed a medicine ball at the gym. Buzz Sawyer and Kevin Sullivan back in the seventies--those kind of men. Grunters and groaners who sweat and breathe hard. It's not a physique you see as much of in American wrestling today, where almost everybody is either a WWE giant or a slim and wiry high-flyer.

It's a look that's not easy to pull off. Youth helps, so does good grooming. If you're rail thin or ruggedly toned, you might get away with stringy hair and a shaggy beard, which, like tattoos, add a touch of wildness to bodies obviously the product of severely high metabolisms or rigorous workout regimens. But if you're going to sport an out-and-proud gut, smooth or hairy, get a hundred-dollar haircut and wear gear that shines. And--I think this is doubly important for big-bellied bruisers--fight guys that match you in size and physique.

All of this is why I love the first match of Episode 31 of Booker T's Reality of Wrestling, based in Houston. Red-haired heel Jared Wayne, in black and silver, wants to make a name for himself by taking on popular Mitch Baxter, in pink. It's a terrific by-the-book catch-wrestling match, featuring two young, capable fighters with a touch of jiggle over their spandex. Fast action is balanced against slow-burning holds. The storyline and characterizations, everything you need to know to love Mitch and hate Jared, are sufficiently developed in the six-minute segment. I might not pick up a Men's Fitness magazine with either of these guys on the cover (then again, I might), but I love watching them wrassle.


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