a Sunday Wrestling post
I have watched a lot of wrestling lately. More than usual. WWE had a pay per view, Extreme Rules. There’s the usual Raw, Smackdown, NXT. The for the first time ever Evolve show on WWE Network. All Elite Wrestling. Classic ECW. Plus there’s an indy show in the near future in my hometown and I’m trying to figure out if it lines up with my schedule at all. Through all of this I’m seeing some people for the first time. Or in the case of classic content on the Network, I’ve forgotten some of the talent and it’s fresh all over again.
Some wrestlers are stars, even at a younger age in classic footage. Some are forgettable. There are those that have “the look”. There are those with worst bodies than me. (Better cardio though.) But some for reasons I wasn’t sure about at the time were downright compelling. They might not have the look. They might not be stars. (Yet.) Still, I was drawn to their matches, to their characters, more than so many other wrestlers on the same show. What was it these wrestlers were doing that others weren’t?
Take this wrestler for example. Curt Stallion. I first saw him on the Evolve 131 – 10th anniversary show. Stallion was in a four way match against Stephen Wolf (winner of the match), Sean Maluta, and Harlem Bravado. At first, he seems the smallest of the bunch. Born and raised in Texas, yet he walks to the ring like a pompous Brit. Nothing on paper says “star” yet he was the highlight of this show thus far. Why?
That’s when I took myself out of watching all four men in the match and focused on Curt Stallion. It hit me. He never forgets for a second he’s on camera. That is an intangible gift that not every wrestler has. Not every entertainer has. Because of it he’s going to go far in professional wrestling.
There is a difference between wrestling a match and wrestling a match for people watching. Much like there’s a difference between reading sheet music and playing an instrument versus putting on a performance for an audience. There’s some improv, taking queues from the audience. “Feeling” the crowd and going on the journey together. Stallion in a match involving three other wrestlers never takes a break. He reacts, he sells the moves. Even when he’s on the mat recovering he is still in ‘on camera’ mode. He’s always committed to the performance. If you think this should be an expected part of any pro wrestling match, watch anyone not involved in the main action during a Battle Royal/Royal Rumble. They’re practically taking naps. Curt Stallion didn’t rest for one moment and carried that through when he accompanied another wrestler to the ring later in the evening.
Speaking of later in the evening, there was a title match featuring the Evolve champion Austin Theory against the WWN champion JD Drake. I had never seen either of these men wrestle before. From outside of my knowledge to one of the best matches I’ve seen this year in one show. Again, both men understanding they are in character the entire time. And what compelling characters!
Austin Theory. Young, in ridiculous shape. Good looking. Talented. Everything about him says he is going to be a star for years. And he’s only 21. Then there’s JD Drake. He looks like a farmer. Nothing wrong with that but he has that big body, blue collar worker look. 35 years old and has had nothing handed to him. Everything bit of this from both men comes across during the match in the ring in character. These two men told a story so well I feel I could guess their favorite music and movies just based off their in ring work. JD Drake with the most crushing words I’ve ever heard in a match. “You can’t hit me any harder than life already has.” Damn. How can you not support a man like that? A lesser man would have been put down long ago but he looked up at the blade above him and said, not today. I got work to do.
Not today life. I got work to do.