At its heart, a wrestling match is conflict writ large, and because most matches lack dialogue, contrast in styles is often the best tool to show that conflict. Earlier this month, two of the finest luchadors in Mexico—Rush and LA Park—had the rematch of an epic battle from last year, and the conflict and contrast that makes wrestling great was on full display.
The two wrestlers could not be any more different. Rush is a cocky young upstart, a pampered second generation superstar. He seems truly unhinged, as though even he doesn’t know what he will do next. He is like the sociopathic son of a well-connected mobster—insane and clever, with the knowledge that he is untouchable. Rush is purely in the moment, and consequently, he is one of the most believable performers in wrestling. LA Park is his inverse, a self-made and aging world warrior, having achieved international fame from his time in WCW as La Parka. While his belly is a little bigger than it was during his time on U.S. television, he is still one of the most charismatic and violent brawlers in the world. Park is now the aging gunslinger of lucha libre, wandering from promotion to promotion, grumpy and tired, but when called upon, still a draw with the best of them. It makes for an electric pairing: They are so different they are almost compelled to fight.
The match itself is a true study in contrast, blending the high-flying and fast-paced elements of modern lucha libre with the old school bloody brawls that have fallen out of favor in recent years. For every jump off the the top rope or tope to the outside, there is a vicious chair shot to the head or an attack with a broken beer bottle. Both men dive and fly with a practiced grace directly after using their opponent’s blood as war paint. As they fight both in the ring and in the crowd, the match looks less like a wrestling competition and more of a fight. Rush and Park slip and fall and grab at each other, and the audience is left looking at two almost supernaturally athletic men hanging on each other like drunkards in a barroom brawl left uninterrupted.
This is the third time Park and Rush have wrestled a singles match, and all of them have this same tone, and notably, all have been in different companies (this most recent bout was for Baracal Entertainment, the main event for the production company’s first-ever show.) There is something special in that, reminiscent of the traveling rivals of the territory days in the United States, when feuds sprawled the country because they just couldn’t be contained. Rivals would follow each other, compelled on some grand level to hurt and maim and, above all, prove their own superiority. They would set the stage for the inevitable next encounter, as Rush and Park do here with an inconclusive finish and copious amounts of post match trash talk. Whether it be here or elsewhere, there’s another town waiting to see these two bloody yet another local hall. Therein lies the final bit of contrast that truly sets this match apart: It’s a match streamed for free on the internet, shot days ago from half a world away, and yet it would fit just as well in Memphis or in Texas in the early 1980s, two men fighting because that’s all they do.
JR Goldberg is a Clevelander living in Philadelphia. Punk rock, pro wrestling and board games. You can follow him on twitter @wrestlingbubble.