Physical Wrestling

I associate the terms "physical wrestling" and "physical wrestler" with 1970s ringside commentator Gordon Solie. For him the terms refer to wrestling based on what the wrestlers do with their bodies, not what they (or others) have to say before, after, and during the matches and not what their reputations were at any point before the sounding of the bell starts the particular match. It probably derives from the term "physical comedy"--the comedy of pratfalls, eye boinks, and pie fights. Physical wrestling rests on the wrestlers' capacity to build suspense, intensity, and ultimately a sense of climax with how they hold their bodies, how they use their bodies against their opponents, and how they situate their bodies within the squared circle. It has to do with what's sometimes called "ring awareness" and "ring psychology." A "physical wrestler" relies heavily on body contact to affect the tone of a match--armbars, up-close corner work, headlocks, and lots of prolonged body contact. Since I liked whatever Solie referred to as physical wrestling, I further associated it with the erotic component of wrestling and a (perhaps conscious) rejection of tactics used to minimize or disown that component.

Chasyn Rance has what I consider a good body for a modern physical wrestler. He's muscular, with a hard round midsection, thick thighs, a heavy man-sized butt, and big arms and shoulders. A solid belly is perhaps the chief index of surliness, to my way of thinking, which naively owes a lot to the word "bellicose." Rance shows his body off well in these purple trunks. His slicked hair and meticulously trimmed beard are other pluses. I know he's controversial, but I like his wrestling style. His style is to get up close to his opponent and work him over, often by targeting the guy's arm, as in this Riot Pro Wrestling cruiserweight match against rookie heel Blake Archer on June 22nd.

It's not a perfect match, but its heart seems to be in the right place. Chasyn and Blake spend more time wrestling than mugging or striking poses or carping at the ref and fans. I appreciate that. This match (which you can watch here and here) is built almost exclusively from what the two wrestlers do with their bodies in the ring, with the more experienced Rance calling most of the shots. I have nothing against high-flying hijinks, or dropkicks, or jujitsu style chops and kicks. But body contact is what draws me to wrestling as opposed to other martial arts. I like the theatricality of pro wrestling, too, just not the theater of titantrons, pyrotechnics, or microphone rants and sob stories. Give me the theater of bodies grinding each other down to big puddles of sweat and moans.


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