Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: KOTR 4 Dash Decker vs. Austin Cooper (RHW)

Another King of the Ring is in the books. This time it's Dash Decker, the biggest star of Rock Hard Wrestling (and an RHW exclusive), versus Austin Cooper, one of the most prolific wrestlers anywhere.

Dash sweaty, pumped and flexing
Austin is ripped for his chance at the belt
I certainly know these guys pretty well. I have all but one Dash match. And I've bought Austin matches from five different companies (BGEast, Can-Am, Jonny Firestorm, RHW and Thunder's). So, the talent alone made me excited.

So how'd it go?

Before I go any further, let me issue a warning about SPOILERS ...

I will try not to spoil the ending or reveal too much, but I cannot guarantee 100% that I won't let something slip. As well, the commenters might spoil things, too.

If you plan on watching this match, you might want to wait. 

This match does have five falls and goes for 35 minutes. This match is very consistent with RHW in terms of video quality, content and value for the money.

The guys are in great shape, their muscles pumped and ready for the cameras. There's lots of classic RHW goodness, with cocky posing and familiar moves. Both guys get their time to shine and both guys get punished. Dash suffers as well as ever, which are my favorite parts. There's a decisive winner. And the King even gets a belt this time!

A classic move - looking good, guys
Austin applies a great bearhug to the big man
Flexing and stretching

However, I was a little disappointed. *GASP!*

Jose at La Sustancia P called me the biggest RHW fan he knows. So I feel bad for saying this, but the other KOTR matches felt epic and this one didn't. It's good, not great. And based on its predecessors and the talent involved, I don't think it's worthy of the title 'King of the Ring'.

But, but ... it has all the elements of a great RHW match! What’s your problem, Alex?

The big problem is chemistry, pure and simple. You have the incredibly hot, muscular, undefeated in singles, exclusive to RHW, two-time reigning King against the incredibly hot, muscular, Rock Hard original returning stud who's gone on to become one of the most prominent competitors in underground wrestling.

Wow! Awesome!

Sadly, no. These guys just aren't that into each other or the match. It all feels very functional and low energy. They don't seem to like each other, but they don't seem to hate each other, either. At least that would have been interesting, to see the action get a little rougher, a little tense. They seem completely indifferent to one another.

Guys, can you try not to look so bored?
Now, I will concede that part of this is due to Dash's inability to trash talk or engage in banter. He's best as the Terminator - silent and methodical. Here, Dash is really off his verbal game. Austin sets him up and he can only say things like, 'no' or 'I'm going to be king' in a quiet monotone. Against mouthy Alex and cocky Ethan, it was fine. Not here.

Now, there are moments where I got very excited thinking that things were going to heat up, like the early low blow by Dash. Over at La Sustancia P, Wrestling Arsenal said he wanted Dash to finally go "100% Bad Boy". I thought he might be right. However, there's no real follow up or continuation of it. On the other side, Bard has talked about Dr. Cooper as Austin's heel bad side. It flashes, but doesn't get unleashed in any significant way.

Dash goes low
Austin uses the ringpost against groin and knee
Austin joyfully smashes Dash's face

In spite of these glimmers of potential, it never amounts to much. There isn't a lot of flow to the match and no energy from the guys. The whole thing is slow and not in a good way where it's because of long-held holds. It's just kind of formulaic feeling between moves, like they're checking a list.

From a production standpoint, I also question some of the holds used. There were some interesting positions if you're the one wrestling, but I'll be honest - holds that hide their bodies don't work for me on video.

No, not a fan of this hold (Dash is the one being punished)
Interesting move, not a great visual

In this match, there's not one memorable 'wow' move or series of moves. It's especially disappointing because I can make GIFs now, but nothing really stood out to me. There's nothing even as hot as the hold on Dash that Bruce breaks up from the two-on-one beatdown.

GIF courtesy of La Sustancia P

Sure, they use some moves we've seen before, but they just didn't even seem comfortable moving into the right position. For example, the work in the ropes. Twice, Dash has Austin in the ropes, but he doesn't use them very well. And when Austin has Dash in the ropes, I'm thinking, 'Ethan did it better', which he did, both in creativity and duration.

Dash trapped by Ethan
Dash trapped by Austin

In the end, I'm still a huge RHW fan and I still love Dash (#teamdash4ever, baby!). I don't regret buying it, especially for just $17.95. It's just that it's not as special as I wanted or expected. In my last Movimus review, I wondered what made that match a World Series match. In this one, I get why it's a KOTR match (5 falls, 35 minutes, two big stars), but I think it ended up as a standard Rock Hard Wrestling match

Would I recommend it? It depends.

If you're an RHW veteran fan, you should like it as long as you don't let your expectations get as out of hand as maybe I did. So I'd recommend it to you.

If you're new to Rock Hard, perhaps drawn in by the hype and hot studs, this is not the best match to try first. I'd recommending going for KOTR 2 or 3 to see what RHW is really all about.

Here's the order I would rank the King of the Ring series along with my rating out of 5 Flexing Dash Deckers:

As I move on from this to whatever Rock Hard has planned next, I am left wondering about King of the Ring 5. They've introduced a belt, which implies they want to keep going, but who can be in it? Do you bring in superstar jobbers, like Zack Jonathan or Bruce Ballard? With all due respect, they don't seem very King-worthy.

Or will they use it to elevate a lesser-known or even an unknown guy? Alex and Dash were built by facing lesser known guys or jobbers. I'm not sure who's on the horizon like that. I assume Josh Steel is gone, but he's probably the only guy on the roster I can think of who's worthy and SPOILER ALERT ... Josh is technically still a reigning King. What are Will Stanley or Lucas Payne doing these days?

So what do you think? Am I crazy? Am I being too harsh? The comment box is just waiting for you to share how you feel!



  1. Hey Alex, I agree with you 100%. There was a lack of chemistry between Dash and Austin and the match itself was a bit sluggish and formulaic. Nevertheless, I'm still a fan of both guys and hope they can rectify this showing later on.

    I think it would serve RHW well to recruit some seasoned indy wrestlers who look good and are hungry to have good matches. Once one or two new stars are established then you can feed them the green fitness models.

    1. Thanks for the validation! I'm glad it wasn't just me. I was actually kind of worried about posting this, so on Sunday, I sent it to someone else that I knew had watched the match for a second opinion to make sure I was being fair.

      I think RHW should do something about recruiting some new talent for sure. They hit home runs with guys like Alex, Dash and Bruce, but it seems like they haven't developed their next big thing.

      Chad Daniels caught my eye, but they fed him to Austin and Dash right away. Those brown trunks didn't help.

    2. I like Chad as well, I think he'd make a nice teammate for Josh Steel. He's pretty green but he's got potential for sure.

      Regarding Austin's overexposure: I think it would help if he changed his hair and gear style a bit more. Imagine Austin with long hair, or as a white knight babyface. That would be something new.

  2. The 'Flexing Dashes' are killing me!!!

    We agree on many levels here, but I do have my hypothesis as why the lack of chemistry and intensity. Just as W.R. says, I hope we get more chances to see them improve on it over time. Perhaps a rematch at some point?!

    1. Thanks Jose! The flexing Dash Deckers rating system was just a bit of last minute fun, so I'm glad you like it.

  3. I think both these guys are hot, and often churn out very good matches, but Coop is just so ubiquitous these days. Sometimes we wait months for a (pick your company) catalogue update, and boom, there's Coop again. As much as I like him it would be nice to see some other wrestlers returning, or even new faces. Had the same sentiment towards Eli Black last year (though imho Coop is a better wrestler and performer) but luckily for me he's taken a step back it seems.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I have felt the same way about guys who do so many matches in so many places. The last few Austin matches I bought were actually not to see him, but the other guys (eg, Jersey, Dash). I figure Austin must sell great, though, because everyone keeps paying him.