Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Scrappy vs. Blayne (Thunders Arena)

I don't think I've ever had a video that got as much attention before I even blogged about it as Scrappy vs. Blayne has received. The Thunders Arena video kind of took over the comments section of the Joey King vs. Scrappy review, so I had to check it out for myself.

All I have to say to the commenters is, "Thanks!" They were pretty much right. It's a breakout video for the stunning young Scrappy, presenting him in an exciting new way that I hope we see again very soon. It's not perfect for me, but it's well worth it.

Scrappy's a winner, this video is a winner,
and the viewer is a winner.

Now, Scrappy is perfect for me. He's physically terrific. Sculpted torso. Mountainous posterior. Cute face. And when he's wrestling, he sweats profusely and his alabaster skin turns red. He makes it all pop with great gear that shows off his assets. It's not all physical, though. I've praised his attitude and wrestling before, too. He's determined and capable on the mats, really getting into his matches. All-in-all, the total (pint-size) package.

Scrappy proves he's a natural badass

This is a Custom Video Series match, which I believe means that a fan paid to direct the story and action. This means anything can happen. Pay enough and Scrappy could beat Tank using nothing but tickle torture. In this case, I think it's actually pretty believable. Scrappy has demonstrated a feisty side before and Blayne is a regular-sized guy, so I could see Scrappy dominating the rookie.

Hot puppets for some anonymous benefactor

Scrappy is a convincing heel in this small-guy battle

Blayne is a handsome and well-built guy. It's easy to see why Thunders brought him in. He's taller than Scrappy, but is on the small to mid-size range for Thunders. From what I've seen on the site, the guy is a doormat character, so I assume the person at Thunders who named him was Team Duckie ...

"Blaine? His name is Blaine? Oh! That's a major appliance, that's not a name!" (Duckie, Pretty in Pink, 1986)

Scrappy calls him a twink, but that's just intended to diminish his size and muscles. At 5'9"/165-lbs of ripped muscle, the guy is no twink. He’s not a major appliance, either. Blayne is a jobber. One perfectly suited to put young Scrappy over with fans.

Blayne is one hot wrestling dummy

Blayne: "Please, not another sleeper!"
Scrappy: "No? How about I choke you first?"

The whole thing starts in the bathroom with Scrappy getting ready. He's super-cocky as he pumps up his ego, hair and body. Once the action starts, it's as one-sided as it can get. Scrappy tears Blayne apart, alternating between holds and poses, but always trash talking his hapless hunk victim. It's a physical and psychological squash from start to finish.

Pumping up

The jobber goes down easily, perhaps a little too easily. Obviously I didn't commission this, but if I had, I probably would've requested more punishment upfront to get them both sweaty and make Blayne's weakness a little more earned. However, Scrappy's bad boy bravado is the focus, not Blayne the wrestling dummy. He's only here to service the real star.

"This is the Scrappy Show." (Scrappy, This Video, 2016)

Scrappy owns the mat with an impressive display of well-executed holds and moves. He not only completely manhandles his prey, but demonstrates a real skill for verbal domination, too. There’s over a dozen holds during this 18-minute match, including two sleepers, an over-the-knee backbreaker, bearhugs, a rack, gut punching, choking and more.

Poor, pathetic Blayne

Scrappy adds injury to insult

Blayne is great as a submissive, giving into the power of the younger heel. While Blayne sells his physical weakness well, he's pretty silent as jobbers go. The dark-haired hunk mostly suffers is silence, except for body part identification (like "my ribs", "my back", "your bicep") and his submissions to young Scrappy's powerful abuse. Blayne passes out a few times, not only to sleepers, but also to an over-the-knee backbreaker. It's a hot idea, but I would've preferred to hear him moaning, whimpering or screaming before fading away.

Scrappy is the man!

In the end, I agree with my commenters that this is a good squash video. And I agree with Scrappy that it's his show. He does an awesome job as the heel and dominator, systematically crushing Blayne in humiliating fashion. The only things that could've made this better for me is if Blayne was more vocal and there was more punishment at the start to really take him down.

Hopefully we get to see this side of Scrappy again soon against a more active jobber. Whoever paid for this custom video deserves a ton of praise for seeing Scrappy's potential and bringing it out.

So that's my take. What's yours?



  1. While this review is generally positive, you seem to suggest the one shortcoming is that Blayne is a "doormat character." So what would have changed that? Should Blayne have spoken up during the planning stages of the match and insisted he get more offense? Should he have changed the script mid-match and suddenly taken Scrappy down in a guns blazing moment no matter what he was instructed to do? Or should he simply have taken a step back, looked at his entire career in gay-oriented wrestling, as decided that playing a jobber, particularly one who gets squashed, is too limiting? What can Blayne or any other doormat character (you've described Kip Sorell and Rio Garza the same way) do to be better?

    I ask because, as a regular reader wrestlers who play this role seem to get raw treatment. After all, even the most casual follower of any of the gay wrestling companies knows if a guy shows up to work for any of them to make a buck and he's got a square jaw, big pecs and rippling abs, he's going to be hired "to lose" the vast majority, maybe even all, of his matches. And it has nothing to do with skill, ability, experience, training or personal desire: it is simply because a blatantly hot guy taking a beating sells. Brad Rochelle, Beau Hopkins, Z-man, Alexi Adamov, Kid Brock, Paul Perris, Vinny Trevino, Bruce Ballard, Steve Sterling, Troy Baker, Justin Pierce and on and on. All those guys are athletes. Some of those guys are real life kickboxers, former high school wrestlers, former military, and bodybuilders who train at a level that would literally kill the average person and then step on stage and win contests against other athletes who've dedicated themselves to training the same way.

    Any one of them could be trained by any wrestling company, especially BG East with all the talent they have behind the scenes there, to be competitive, even dominant, in any number of their matches. I'd dare suggest that Scrappy's performance in this match has less to do with any pure "fight" within him than the fact that, for whatever reason, Thunder's simply chooses him to play a different role. And they aren't asked to play that role because they don't have enough "fight" in them.

    I know it doesn't matter what I think (I've been buying videos and website memberships from all them for over a decade and have hundreds of matches that easily cost over 10 thousand bucks--sheesh! But I don't have a blog, so...), but it just gets to me now and then to see so few of these guys who play this particular role, knowing how important it is to all of these companies financially, so rarely get any positive feedback at all. It can't be easy to show up and agree to play a role that is so important yet so contrary to most of what those guys have tried to build themselves up to be in real life. They deserve respect.

    And as an aside to this diatribe, I think the absence of acknowledgement for the Blaynes, Kips and Rios of this world is actually why guys like Kaden Keller and, especially, Ty Alexander get so much flack. It's not because anyone hates them or because guys who aren't ripped musclegods get attacked. It's simply because it's sometimes vexing for fans of the many guys who get no praise at all to see someone who isn't always and necessarily purely "better" get singled out to such extreme degree all the time, often getting praised for the same things that other guys get dismissed for.

    1. Thanks for the "diatribe". It's always good to get things out. In this case, however, I think you're projecting an issue onto this review that doesn't exist in it and in a broader sense, I think you're making an issue I don't see. Lots of jobbers get love, including from me. Maybe your personal favorites don't, but I've actually praised many guys on your list.

      I think there are three specific points I'd like to address from your comment: (1) my role as a blogger, (2) Blayne, (3) jobbers in general.

      (1) First, if you don't have a blog, that's on you. So let me ask you, why don't you have one? You have opinions and videos. It's free and easy. You should think about it. However, don't expect it to have a ton of impact. You seem to feel like a victim ("I know it doesn't matter what I think"), but I think you'd find that producers are much more influenced by actual sales than blog posts.

      I can tell you that no one would benefit by me covering something or someone that I'm not interested in. Blogs are personal. I cover what interests me and some guys simply haven't. Not that I can't change my mind. I've asked for comments in every single post and respond to virtually all of them. This review is a direct result of comments. You know how many comments I've received telling me about an awesome Rio Garza match where he shows wrestling ability and personality? Zero. I might not take the suggestion, but it's never even been made.

      I also don't agree that it makes sense to blame a lack of coverage of some wrestlers for people personally attacking completely different wrestlers. People need to own their choice to be negative. I certainly accept no responsibility for it. And I accept no blame for not covering some wrestlers. If they didn't breakthrough with me that's on them, their opponents and the producers.

      (2) Second, you ask what could Blayne have done to impress me more? As I said in the review, he could've vocalized and emoted more. Selling is key for jobbers and he didn't do a ton. I know no more about him now than I did at the start of the match. I guarantee you that Jake, Brad, Ty or Alexi would've done more in that same scenario. Scrappy showed a ton of personality against Frey and Vinny, so I don't think it's accurate to think it was all the scenario.

      And even if it is, it wouldn't make a difference. Maybe the commissioner of this match said, "I want the jobber mute." Fine, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I didn't say anything negative about Blayne other than his lack of vocalizations.

      You ask what I think Blayne should've done, but I'm not sure what you wanted me to do. Should I say he was an amazing and expressive seller when I didn't think he was? I complimented him for his looks, but other than that, this is 100% Scrappy's video. If someone reading this post doesn't care about selling, they can make their own choice.

      To be continued ...

    2. (3) Last, on your macro issue, I disagree with you. A lot of the jobbers get tons of love. I think you're just lumping a ton of guys together who are nothing alike to me. Not all jobbers are the same. And the stars on your list don't all do the same thing as the mediocre ones at all. I've only seen a few of some, but I've seen a lot of others. Being pretty is never enough for me. I think there are two huge differentiators between the ones I like and the ones I'm less excited by.

      Personality: Great matches tell a story. I think a great jobber makes you feel something. Some jobbers are just plain bland. Maybe they lie there like dead fish and don't express themselves. Maybe they come across as lazy, bored, or disinterested. Being pretty isn't enough. I spark to jobbers who sell and who know how to connect with me. You can be a doormat, but you shouldn't be boring.

      Talent: Jobbers need to know how to wrestle even more than heels, in my opinion. There's the famous quote that Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels. I think it's true for jobbers, too. Some of the guys you list didn't demonstrate any ability to actually wrestle when I watched them.

      So that's my diatribe in response. :)


  2. I appreciate the well-considered response. Though I suspect we're on an agree to disagree trajectory, I'd like to "defend" my position. I wasn't arguing that your tastes were wrong and you ought to reconsider what moves you. Rather, I'm suggesting that perhaps your standards, while lovely and legitimate and completely valid as an opinion, have led you to some criticisms that may be accurate technically but aren't necessarily "fair" when it comes to hunky jobbers in matches that are squash jobs, for a lack of a more lofty description. You pop for jobbers that show personality and "sell" punishment well? Cool. So do I. So does everyone.

    I think it comes down to this: while "being pretty isn't enough" for you, to me it's part and parcel of the entire package. Take Rio Garza (no, please, I'll take him instead, lol): I've seen and eagerly bought every single match he's ever done at every wrestling company he's worked with (that'd be Rock Hard, BG East and Can-Am, in order of his debut at each) and think he has personality to spare and sells punishment and humiliation better than most wrestlers in the past decade or so.

    I could point to specific matches where I think his selling is as good as anyone's (vs. Jaguar on Rio's Wrestler Spotlight--that boy sold the 20+ minutes of pec punishment like his tits were on fire!). I could point to matches where he seemed "off" (his match with Austin Cooper--they both seemed oddly disconnected and uncomfortable to the point that I kind of assumed it was an end of a long weekend of taping and both just wanted to go home). But whether he's arguably on or off on a technical level misses the point. He wasn't hired or (presumably) trained for his technical ability and personality. He was hired and put in those matches and those scenarios because of how he looks. If he failed to display sufficient technical ability or personality in certain matches, I'm not arguing that he did; rather, I'm saying that any such failure is more a reflection on what BGE, Can-Am and RHW chose to do with him than anything innate on his part. And it's certainly not because he was there in any of those matches to "service the real star." Basically, you don't have a ton of Rio Garza matches where he gets long scenes to display his personality not because he didn't have any but because BG East didn't bother to craft many, precisely because they knew his looks were already enough of a draw. The same goes for Blayne or Kip Sorell or any other "hunky jobber."

    While you may be technically accurate that Blayne wasn't vocal or that he went down too easy in the beginning, I don't think it's fair to place those shortcomings on him. Blayne collapsing as quickly as he did was a bit unrealistic. Having seen the video, given that Scrappy got the a long pre-match flexing and braggadocious monologue scene, I'd lay money that whoever commissioned it specifically scripted a match where Blayne was supposed to get walked over effortlessly. That doesn't make him a lesser wrestler or lacking in personality, that makes him a wrestler who does the job he was paid to do. However, it seems to me you blamed Blayne for not doing "more" despite the match itself not being designed to let him do much at all.

    1. I do think we're not going to agree on your main point, but I will say that I don't think I'm blaming anyone for anything. I'm simply reacting to the video on my iPad. Regardless of the reasons for certain decisions, like language, gear, action or performance, none of that matters to me as a viewer or reviewer. The film is the film and the match is the match.

      I'm not buying potential or past matches. I have criticized videos with two of my three Favorite Wrestler Cavey winners Dash and Ty. And if Duke wrestles a dud, I'll do the same.

      Taking it away from performance, I comment on weird cuts and strange camerawork. I'm sure there are valid reasons for those, like the guys needed a break, the room is too small, or the performers moved unexpectedly, but it doesn't change the fact that it happened. And if it impacted my experience, I'm going to mention it.

      We actually do agree that Blayne wasn't vocal or emotive in this video, which is the only point I made about him. You view it as me blaming Blayne. I don't. It's stating a fact that Blayne hangs silently and motionless in an over-the-knee backbreaker. Even Scrappy wonders aloud why he's so quiet. It's also a fact that I would've preferred him to do more in that position. Since we agree on the action, maybe you're saying that I should've put it on the producer and said the same thing, but phrased it like, "Thunders doesn't give Blayne a lot to do here. They don't get him to be vocal enough." That feel presumptive on my part, because I don't know that. It also doesn't change the point. Whether it's because Blayne was instructed to be silent because the fan who commissioned the video hates loud jobbers or he did it because it's who he is, the result is the same. Blayne could be a selling machine, the next Jake Jenkins, being held back by bad direction. He could be a trained pro wrestler or MMA fighter who could crush Scrappy in five seconds. Okay, but I'm not buying potential. And I'm not judging the person. I'm simply reacting to the performance on the video I bought.

      Blayne has quite a few videos against some great talent. His ability to connect with fans will make itself apparent in his sales. And his ability to connect with me will, too. I myself have his match vs. Vinny, which I just haven't been motivated to watch yet. I've talked about how Bolt changed my mind after a weak first video.

  3. 2 things:

    1. I agree that Blayne was waaay too quiet in this video but, as you mentioned, that was most likely at the request of the person who paid for the video.

    2. I really appreciate, Alex, how you are willing to respond to just about every single comment you receive. As a person who has written you many times I always know that within a few hours you will have written back. For that reason and b/c you consistently post you have become my favorite blogger for this subject matter...even when we disagree ;)

    1. Aw, thanks! I know the feeling. I love it when bloggers respond to me and depending on my comment, I feel disappointed when they don't. So I do value comments, including those that disagree with me. I actually think that those comments are very useful for readers to hear what other fans think.

  4. I appreciate you, too, Alex. You're also my favorite blogger, because you do seem to listen (and because your stories are f'n fire!). So it's all good my friend. But to further beat this particular horse, I just mean to say, while it's obviously not a bad thing if a particular wrestler is compellingly vocal and convincingly engaged while on the receiving end, if he isn't that doesn't necessarily make it a weak performance or render him a dud or a doormat as a wrestler in my eyes.

    Maybe it's a double standard, but I don't expect someone like Blayne or Rio Garza to suffer and sell the same way wrestlers who aren't as "pretty" need to. I blame the International Male catalog that used to come to the house in the mail when I was a kid. Many of my most constant pro wrestling fantasies was imagining the models in those pages (usually wearing those otherwise ridiculous thongs of course) facing the meaner, most savage heels on TV at the time to their well-coiffed regret. And if one of those guys wasn't technically as good as many others, fine. It's as if I have a 10 point ratings scale: 5 means I don't regret buying a video; 7 means I'm glad I bought it; 10 means it's legendary. Being sufficiently hot gets a guy 5 points off the bat. A decently skimpy pair of trunks gets at least two more.

    And if the action doesn't score any more points beyond looks and gear, oh well. I tend to assume that action is more a reflection of the producers than the wrestlers. After all, if the set up and choreography isn't particularly imaginative and doesn't give a guy much to work with, emoting and being vocal won't work all that well anyway. Again, thanks for the responses!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate being your favorite. You're welcome for the responses. It's been an interesting discussion.

  5. I'm going to put this here b/c I know it won't be deleted like it would be other places:

    So, I saw in a promo back in the fall that Scrappy was going to get his "revenge" on Joey King after suffering that humiliating beatdown. I've been excitedly waiting for it b/c I wanted to see Scrappy play the dominant heel. I was so wanting to see that match but had no idea the Scrappy vs. Blayne match was coming until the day it was released as they never teased that one.

    Now, that the Scrappy vs. Joey King 2 match has been released I can say 100% that I absolutely prefer the match against Blayne. The Joey King match is not bad by any stretch as Scrappy is a stud and anytime he's wrestling I will find it hard to be displeased. However, I did not find his second match against Joey King to be anything special. In fact, I think I actually prefer his previous match with Joey King when he's the one getting beat up.

    Isn't it just funny how you can be so excited for something and then something else can come along unexpectedly that you end up liking so much better?

    Now, I would like to add that the second Joey King match is worth getting, but not at full price. I think I would give it a 3/5 stars. As a point of reference, I would give his first match against Joey King a 4/5 and his match against Blayne a 5/5 all things considered.

    1. You are 100% right. I watched it last night. It's much better in description and concept than in execution.

      The idea of Scrappy using inside knowledge of a bum knee to seize control over the hairy he-man is simply brilliant. However, there aren't many moves (maybe 6 total? 2 sleepers, a camel, an OTK backbreaker, full nelson ... any others?) and the sleepers are poorly executed. On the plus side, Scrappy has a good heel attitude and King is a great worker.

      I was so excited by the idea, but it just didn't live up to my own hype.