Gut Instincts

Zack Reno vs Keelin, Match 696 - Gut Punching (UCW)

Match 696 is less a match than an exhibition of gut-level attacks. It's Keelin's fifth appearance at UCW, which has thus far thrown the 5'11" 160-pound rookie into the deep end of the pool with bouts against former champions Axel, David the Flawless, and Angel Estrada, and spitfire Derrick Cole, Cole twice! Apparently he doesn't scare easily since here he is in his fourth contest, taking on the new champion Zack Reno. Self-assured and nonchalant, Keelin reminds Zack that he once was UCW champion, too - maybe the only champion to win the belt in only his second match (though his original  reign lasted mere minutes).

Reno and Keelin alike are laid-back guys, so here we have less fire than I would expect from Cole or Joker or Eli Black. And they lack the ice-cold sadism of Chase Michaels or Quinn Harper. Similarly, a focus on a single target, even the ever-popular abs, is bound to cut back on spontaneity and surprise. (The two engage in other assaults, but the video is titled "Gut Punching" for a reason.) Keelin takes some heavy blows from Reno and delivers some in return. There is no shortage of variety. Each man's midsection takes its punishment from claws, knees, feet, the middle rope, shoulder/elbow, and of course fists. A belly-to-belly crossbody does the trick, too. As far as I can determine, the only thing lacking is a headbutt to the abs.

Unexpectedly, Keelin dominates for most of the 28-minute match, but in the final quarter Zack delivers a hailstorm of payback. Whether that is enough to hold on to the belt, I would rather not say.

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