Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: Tanner Hill vs. Wes Richards (RHW 2.0)

It's been a while since I really looked at anything new from Rock Hard Wrestling. Alex Waters tempted back a couple of months ago, but I've been lukewarm towards their recent products at best. However, after a month of almost nothing but BGEast and Thunders Arena, I decided to shake things up. I've got reviews of a Krushco match and a couple of older Movimus matches coming before the next story.

Today, it's Tanner Hill vs. Wes Richards. So how'd it go?

It's a crossfit vs. pumping iron showdown

I'm pleased to say that I was pleased with this match. It's not a classic, but it is classic RHW. Both guys are new to me, but they look very RHW. They both have cocky attitudes. And the action, pacing, gear and technical aspects are very much on formula.

The storyline is simple. Tanner Hill is the arrogant fitness model who's all about his pump. Opposite him is Wes Richards, the new age urban Bohemian crossfit guy.

I found Tanner's smooth sculpted muscles, frat boy good looks and cocky attitude to be in the style of Alex Waters, except replace Alex's obsession with his hair with Tanner's obsession with his 15.5" biceps. Hill has wrestled a few times, but I've never been interested in watching him before, so he's a newbie for me.

Tanner loves his 15.5" biceps

Punishing Tanner's arms is like mussing Alex's hair

This match feels like a good starting point because Hill's not facing an established stud in RHW and his hair is finally on point. It's a reputation-building match for him, because he really seems like a capable and cocky bad boy here. I've inferred that he was a doormat in previous matches. Maybe he wasn't, but that was the impression I had. I also like that he ditched his previous 80's high school movie villain hair style.

Right from the start, Hill is boastful, confident and dismissive of rookie Richards for his training. As an aside, he mocks Richards' burpees asking if he's a cheerleader, but Hill looks way more like a cheerleader than his opponent who is lean with a giant tattoo, angular features and weird hair. I just found the comment funny.

Anyway, as I said above, the action follows a very traditional RHW formula. The three-fall match has the usual pacing that is either comfortable or predictable, depending on your POV. I saw a few folks on Facebook complaining that RHW always does the same stuff with guys who look the same. If that's your feeling, you won't like this. It is exactly like most other RHW matches. I, however, was missing my fix of RHW style, so I enjoyed another dose.

Both guys are ripped

The power guy uses the bendy hold

Nice move by rookie Wes 

The guys use standard holds and nothing about the action really plays off the underlying tension. Hill doesn't use more power moves. Richards doesn't use more athletic holds. This isn't a knock, but I think there was an opportunity to really think this through. If it was one of my stories, it's something I would've mapped out to reflect the premise.

There's a lot in here, with camel, crab, full nelson, suplex, ab stretch, punches and stomps. They use the ropes and whip each other into the corners. Most of it is pretty well done and certainly up to a solid RHW level.

A showcase of RHW standards ... the suplex

Ab stretch with punches

The shoulder block in the corner

And lots of stomping and punching

All in all, I think this match addresses most of my issues with RHW 2.0. Like I said, it's not quite a classic, but it is classic RHW. It's a competitive match featuring two confident athletic dudes where they both come out looking good. No heel. No jobber. No squash. The bodies are hard, the action is intense and the attitudes are on fire.

Tanner Hill is more appealing to me throughout, both in appearance and personality. I'd be open to buying more of him, which is a shift in my previous attitude. Wes Richards? It'll depend on the opponent. He's not bad, just not amazing.

So that's my take. What's yours? Any Tanner Hill fans out there want to correct my impressions of his previous matches?



  1. I have to say that this match just didn't do much for me even though I expected it to. Of the 3 newbies when RHW 2.0 debuted (Jax, Rex, and Tanner), I always found Tanner Hill to be the one with the best prospects as he had the combination of a killer body and a sexy attitude (even though we should never forget that Jax is easily the most gorgeous of the three in both the face and the body...yummy). I thought after he faced off against the big boys he would know how to carry a match but it just didn't work that well and I also wasn't impressed with Wes either.

    To be honest, though, I'm not finding much of RHW's new matches are working for me...even Alex's return was just OK (though I blame that on the fact that he went up against boring/vanilla/generic/unskilled Chad Daniels). I know I really miss the pitch black room and the music they used to play during some of the matches before RHW went 2.0, but those two factors alone cannot be the sole reason why it's just not working for me much anymore.

    I do remember really liking Tanner's match-up against Austin Cooper actually. Yeah, I know that Coop is overexposed, but there are matches when he shows that he deserves to be as popular as he is...and that is one of them.

    Of course, he whoops Tanner up and down the ring, but he is so sexy as he does it. Sometimes he acts bored when he is knocking around fresh meat, but there are those matches where I feel he is excited to show off his power and skill against a smart-mouthed newbie...and, again, that is one of those matches.

    Also, Tanner's frustration as he gets his ass handed to him is a real turn on. You can tell he is mad (kind of how Eli Black used to grunt and growl out of pure anger and frustration when he was on the other end of a beat-down) as the much bigger Austin completely manhandles him.

    I would recommend checking that one out...other than that, though, RHW 2.0 might as well have been called RHW -1.0.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts.

      I also miss the black background, which is always how I envisioned The Cave. It was so classic.

      I do think that people are right that RHW is formulaic. Even when I loved them, I never watched too much of it - just Jake, Alex and Dash with the occasional b-lister. As I said in my review, part of the appeal here is that I haven't watched much. I've only watched 2.5 matches from RHW 2.0, so that likely helps.

  2. Honestly, I was glad to find your reviews. The thing is, Tanner Hill is so gorgeous, he is the only reason I ever returned to see what was happening at RHW. I am surprised you are not as impressed with his looks. He has an arrogance that is unique to him, and he is so pompous in showing off his muscles and trying to outflex the competition that I feel there is a real underlying competition going on. He may not be the best wrestler, but I do genuinely feel he is trying to "prove" something which I think adds to his matches. Austin Cooper for me just phones in every match for example. I feel like he doesn't care if he wins, loses, as long as he collects the paycheck at the end. Throughout all the wrestling companies, I feel the matches are stronger when there is some real element of competition. So for me, Tanner is bringing the full package, with looks and body, as well as a desire to look better than his opponents.

    1. Great! Thanks for the comment. I actually thought I was pretty positive on his appearance, both body and looks. He didn't 'wow' me in the pics, but I did think he was good looking here. He's not a must-buy for me, but I'd watch him again.