Friday, 4 October 2013

Matt Stryker vs Chad Collyer - Submission Match Rules

Every so often, during my frequent wrestling-watching sessions on YouTube, I come across a match that makes me really sit up and take note: it seems to capture the essence of why I love professional wrestling.   I will watch the match a number of times and think "Yes! this is what pro wrestling means to me".  

It is certainly not always the same type of match, nor does it always feature the same type of wrestler.  These "Yes!" wrestling moments can be evenly-matched technical back-and-forth bouts, and they can equally be brutal, one-sided squash jobs.  They can be long 20-minute battles or a quick three-minute demolition.  It all depends on my mood.   However, they do usually require at least one of the wrestlers to wear some nice snug trunks and some proper wrestling boots with laces.

The match below, with Matt Stryker and Chad Collyer, from a few years ago, is one of these "Yes!" wrestling moments.  There is plenty of down-on-the-mat wrestling, technical skill, submission attempts, a relatively slow pace to the fight, yet plenty of action.  And, of course, both wrestlers are wearing gorgeous trunks and nice boots, looking every inch what I think a pro wrestler should look like.


Monday, 20 February 2012

After a long absence .....

I first started to write this blog a little over a year ago.  For various personal and professional reasons, the past year has not been conducive to finding the time to write much at all, be it about wrestling or other matters. 

My passion, if not obsession, for professional wrestling remains undimmed - if anything, it has actually increased (if that is actually possible) recently, fuelled by yet more discoveries, internet-based and in attending live shows throughout the past year.  Jack Gallagher, pictured above, is a particular favourite of mine on the current British wrestling scene.  He combines great technical skill with a fearsome attitude in the ring. 

And I must mention the constant literary and pictorial joy of Ringside at Skull Island and The Wrestling Arsenal, my two favourite wrestling websites.  They have both given me great pleasure and deepened my understanding and appreciation of my own obsession with pro wrestling.  Thank you Joe and Paul.  I must start writing about wrestling again and what it means to me.  And I shall.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Working The Hold

This video shows to great effect one aspect of pro wrestling that I have always absolutely adored:  repeated punishment by one wrestler of a specific part of his opponent's body, usually the arm or leg.  I think my very favourite match of this type (although it is a close call) is a thorough working-over of the other wrestler's arm.  Physical domination is obviously a key and recurrent theme in pro wrestling, and something that almost all wrestling fans surely enjoy.  This particular form of dominating the opponent inside the ring, of going for the same or similar hold throughout much of the bout, has always excited and aroused me.  

I think it is something to do with the fact that it demonstrates true mastery of the ring by the dominant wrestler.  He is not only dominating his opponent, but choosing exactly how to dominate and punish his opponent.  He is able arrogantly to target the punishment on a specific part of the other wrestler's body, for maximum pain and weakening effect over the course of the bout.   For me, this is the beautiful epitome of calculated cruelty in the ring: a powerful, manly and erotic display by the stronger wrestler.  His victim starts to visibly struggle, clutching his injured limb, thereby inviting the controlling wrestler to improve his advantage  -- which he does, mercilessly, manfully and (I always hope) with a big smirk across his face.

In this particular video, the wrestler in the red trunks goes to work on his opponent's arm, relentlessly working it over and over, in punishing hold after punishing hold, from about the 0:35 mark.  I love the simple, effective method and tactics on show by Brown (in red).   The wristholds, the knee-drops, the armbars, the arm-drags, the overall pace: all hugely enjoyable.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Good Guys

Although the 'standard' bad guy vs. good guy match is what I immediately loved about pro wrestling back in the 1970s, when I first started watching, I soon became equally fascinated by another type of match that followed a very different kind of script.  Not that I would have understood that any wrestling match followed a 'script' back in those days.  But I did realize that there was much to learn from this other type of wrestling match that I was seeing on my television screen.

A mainstay of televised British pro wrestling in the 1970s was the 'technical' match.  This saw two 'good guy' wrestlers trade hold after hold, manoeuvre after manoeuvre, over many rounds.  The spectator was treated to something of a masterclass in professional wrestling, showcasing the skill and expertise that a well-trained professional wrestler possesses.  The athleticism and technical knowledge of some of the wrestlers was obvious, even to me as a young boy.

The wrestlers invariably shook hands, good-naturedly, at the beginning and end of the bout.    Sometimes they even helped each other up from the canvas during the contest.  There followed a catalogue of pro wrestling holds, which I lapped up watching, paying particular attention to the commentary so that I learned the names of the holds and moves.  Boston crab, toe and ankle-hold, hammerlock, surfboard, backbreaker, posting, whip, backhammer, headscissors --  I can still hear Kent Walton's voice describing them all.  I loved learning the holds, seeing them executed, and watching these skilled wrestlers gain advantage from them, with varying degrees of success.

These matches seemed to me to verify the sporting provenance of pro wrestling. Sure, the heels were fun to watch in action, punishing their hapless jobber victims and, of course, it is that type of bout that has fuelled my lifelong passion for pro wrestling.  But here was professional wrestling in its purest form, in what I innocently imagined to be its original sporting form, before more theatrical elements had taken over.  While the drama, cruelty and crippling holds of the bad guy wrestler excited and aroused me (as it does to this day), I appreciated the contrast of the gentlemanly wrestling in these other bouts between two obviously good guys. 

An example of such a bout is to be found in this link.  Steve Grey and John Naylor were always favourites of mine, both skilled and very able ring technicians.  Naylor always wore great trunks, at least in the eyes of this gay wrestling fan. This bout dates from before Grey wore his customary black trunks and silver boots, so must be early to mid-1970s.  

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Perfect Pro Wrestling Attire?

Before I get too carried away with my nostalgic ramblings as to why I love pro wrestling, I have decided to take a slight diversion and say a few words about a video that I discovered on YouTube a few months ago.    

In many ways, it's nothing special.  Certainly, the wrestling is nothing out of the ordinary. Some typical back-and-forth moves, a few neat throws, a little bit of outside-the-ring action -- stuff that we've all seen many times before.  It's fine, but that's not the point of this bout for me.  My fascination with this video, and the reason I have returned to it, again and again, is because of Matt Vaughn's trunks and boots.  I love them.  In my eyes, they are perfect.  It was gear like this that helped draw me to pro wrestling, gear that I grew up admiring and fantasizing about.  I don't see much of it nowadays, and so to come across such a perfect recent example was a joy. 

There is something about those simple, shiny white trunks that I absolutely adore. Cut full enough to look like proper pro wrestling trunks, and yet brief enough to look decidedly sexy.  Tight enough to cling to the body, but not too tight. The way that Vaughn bulges in the trunks is also just right: enough to allow us fans to enjoy the obvious male form of the wrestler, but without being too obvious, too much of a visual distraction. The colour, white, is also so perfect: clean, simple, unadorned, innocent.  Then there's the boots! Made to look a real old-fashioned pair of pro wrestling boots: low cut, matt black leather, with contrasting white laces and a pair of white socks poking out of the top.  Close inspection shows this is just a trick of the eye, and that they are conventional pro boots with an unusual design.  No matter.  They look every inch the part of classic old-school wrestling boots. 


Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Bad Guy versus the Good Guy

Having realized almost immediately how much I loved watching men in trunks and boots grapple in a ring, I quickly became intrigued by the scenario that was usually played out inside the ropes:  the good guy versus the baddie.  This was, of course, a scenario with which I was already very familiar, by way of children's programmes, principally cartoons, where this theme was (and is) a staple.  I do not recall, though, ever having seen it before with real people -- grown men no less! -- playing out the same good vs. evil scenario -- in real life, apparently!  This fascinated me. 

I recall being able to identify the baddies almost immediately as they appeared on the television screen.  They looked (in this six-year-old's vocabulary) 'not very nice', 'a bit suspicious', but certainly intriguing.  By a process of very simple deduction, easy even for a six-year-old, the good guy was obviously the other man making his way to the ring and through the ropes.  Having worked out who was who, I could then observe their respective characteristics in a little more detail as the wrestling commenced. 

I think my earliest memory of a professional wrestler is a wrestler by the name of Mick McManus, pictured above.  Even then I realized he was not an especially young man, someone at odds to what I thought a sportsman should look like.  Consequently, he appeared very experienced and knowledgeable by virtue of his age alone.  This man clearly knew what he was doing, how to wrestle: he'd been doing it for years (whether actually true or not).   McManus had jet-black hair, a striking Eddie Munster-style haircut, wore low-cut black boots and (usually) royal blue trunks.  He looked like a wrestling baddie, even before I had fully grasped what one was, and long, long before I learned the terms 'heel' and 'jobber'.  

McManus always wrestled dirty, trying to get one over on his opponent when the referee wasn't looking.   He visibly enjoyed dishing out punishment to the other wrestler, and immediately made a huge fuss as soon as he was on the receiving end of the same sort of treatment, invariably after having provoked it in the first place.  I was intrigued: how could he get away with this kind of thing? Why didn't the referee see what he was doing?  Why didn't he stop him?  Why didn't his opponent strike back even harder?  And yet I realized that it was his ill-treatment of, and lack of respect for, his opponent that made me want to watch his matches. McManus was the bad guy, the heel, and he made me want to watch wrestling. 

I loved the sense of anticipation that I felt as soon as I saw McManus in his corner, waiting for the bell to ring.   I knew what was coming, and liked the fact that I knew.  McManus would try to cheat his way to victory, and was going to use anything he could to secure that winning pin or submission.  I knew what his opponent was in for: to be the victim of Mick's dirty tricks.  Even though back then I rooted for the good guy -- it just felt like the natural thing to do, certainly at the age of six  -- I understood that it was this nasty, mean, underhand, sneering, grinning wrestler who was providing the real interest, the drama in the ring.  I could only admire McManus for his skill as a pro wrestler, for managing to triumph in the wrestling ring, even if his methods were then puzzling me.       

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Men in Trunks and Boots

When I stop to think about what it was that drew me to watch professional wrestling, I realize it was the gear that probably first attracted my attention to the television screen.  The sight of seeing men in tight trunks and laced low-cut boots, and usually nothing else -- this was the early 1970s, when almost all pro wrestlers wore gear that today would be regarded as 'classic' or traditional -- made an immediate and huge impact on me.  Apart from children's programmes that I enjoyed, such as Scooby-Doo and the Banana Splits, nothing else on TV grabbed my attention like pro wrestling, certainly no other 'adult' programming.

Seeing men in such overtly athletic clothing (in effect, little more than underwear) and those small, laced boots stirred something deep inside me.  I hadn't seen anything like it before, save for guys in their swimming trunks at the local pool (this was the early 1970s when most men and boys wore form-fitting Speedo-style trunks, unlike today), but that hadn't raised my interest in anything like the same way. At that age, I had no idea what was stirring at the sight of these pro wrestlers, but something certainly was.

No sooner had I absorbed the idea that these guys in their trunks and boots were definitely worth watching, I realized that what they were doing was equally fascinating.  Men, in minimal, tight clothing, grabbing each other.  Moving around a space, enclosed by ropes.  Touching each other; forcing each other to the floor; twisting each other's body in ways that were not comfortable or natural; trying to inflict pain on each other.  Absolutely, totally fascinating for this young boy.

I can still recall the rush of complicated emotions and ideas that, at that age, I could barely articulate, much less understand.  I think I grasped very early on that part of the appeal was derived from watching physical domination, or at least the attempt of it.  I liked the sight of men -- ordinary-looking men, at that (British pro wrestling in 1972 required nothing special in terms of physique or looks, to put it mildly)  -- in tight trunks, their maleness clearly visible to all.  I liked the ring, a sort of roped arena, designed to show off the spectacle to best effect.  I liked the camera close-ups, as I saw the victim's face enduring, or suffering, the pain that his opponent was inflicting on him. I liked the daring acrobatics, as one wrestler flipped from one side of the ring to the other, or bounced off the ropes to catapult himself at the other man. I realized, without really realizing it, that I liked just about everything about pro wrestling.  But I had no idea at all at the sheer pleasure and joy that pro wrestling was to bring me in the years ahead.