Rock Hard Wrestling is messing with the formula a bit, and I’m ambivalent about the results. RHW has promoted itself from day one (months before that, really) as promoting 100% Abercrombie caliber, rock hard wrestlers looking better than you’ve ever seen. A new addition to the stable, Ethan Andrews, is skinny as a rail, with buck teeth, hippy hair and shaggy sideburns. I’m not picturing Ethan in an Abercrombie ad. He’s also not exactly rock hard, unless you count bones and tendons.
Zack of course, is Zack. He’s as mouthwatering as always, and he epitomizes the seminal promise of RHW. He’s rock hard, more handsome than should be legal, and perhaps the only thing that would keep him off the pages of Abercrombie he’s just oozing too much overt sexuality.
I like the banter in this match. Pacing inside the ring, Ethan yells at Zack who’se pumping iron outside the ring, “Hey, douchebag! Hey, douchebag! Why don’t you drop the dumbells and show me what you got!’ Zack rises to the challenge instantly, incredulously asking if Ethan really thinks he can handle what Zack’s packing. Ethan smacks his flat-as-a-board chest with confidence. “Bring it on!”
I continue to like Zack’s development in wrestling. He’s selling nicely. He continues to turn the corners of that shit-eating grin down, transforming it into a half-crazed, singularly focused glare like he’s about to take a mouthful out of a pastrami sandwich. The match is back and forth from start to finish. Rope and corner abuse are sweet. Zack’s reverse bearhug on Ethan is quite hot, using his clearly superior strength to shake the kid like a rag doll. Finally, an over-the-knee backbreaker (hooray!) catches Zack off guard, and he quickly gives up (too quickly… boooo).
Zack stays on script, getting caught more than once mugging for the camera, resulting in a surprise reversal or a rake to the eyes to trip up his momentum. Zack also pieces together some sweet combinations and chain moves that show a lot more confidence in the ring than I seem to remember of Zack from back in the day. Ethan takes nasty hold after nasty hold, finally screaming out his second fall submission racked in a backbreaker, flopping helplessly across Zack’s buff shoulders.
Zack looks strong and commanding moving into round 3. Both boys have a fresh coat of wet on them to start the round, which may be a little too much stage craft, but I appreciate it. Zack’s revenge over-the-knee backbreaker (hooray!) has Ethan screaming long and hard. When Ethan turns on the steam, he pounds Zack’s belly just about as convincingly as I’ve seen anyone do it, and Zack’s muscle belly is screaming out for pounding if you ask me. Abdominal stretch with punches and slaps to his abs for good measure makes Zack grunt out his final submission. Ethan flexes his biceps with his foot planted on Zack’s chest in victory.
And in than instant, I scratch my head. Ethan shouldn’t flex and preen like a bodybuilder or fitness model. It’s just not in the cards. This match works as a big v little scenario, David v Goliath, skin-and-bones overcomes too-pretty gym bunny. I like the salesmanship from both boys. I love the pace. I’d like to see some slowing down of the holds that are really supposed to be long-held, strength-sapping, dominating maneuvers. But it’s a little off script for what I’ve come to appreciate about RHW. A hunk bash by a skinny kid doesn’t quite fit the formula. I don’t hate it, by any means. It’s entertaining. The production quality remains high. But I’m just ambivalent about the tinkering with the rock hard signature.