Action movies are badass. Die Hard, Predator (the original, not the new one), Bloodsport, Batman, James Bond, Jason Bourne, anything Jackie Chan is in, etc… They are great. Stuff blows up, people fight, and cool stuff happens. You basically shut your brain off, and watch someone infinitely cooler that you are do awesome things that you could never do. I was watching Rampage, which is absolutely amazing by the way, and it made me start to think. Which current NCAA wrestler would make the best Action Movie Hero? In my mind, the action hero is really defined by the actor more so than the character they portray. For example, when watching Rampage, I was confident that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the one kicking ass. The name of his character is irrelevant. Anyway, which athlete would make the best version of that? This part is tough, because there are several criteria that come to mind, but who am I to reinvent the wheel? I’m going to begin this with a baseline of criteria that Bill Simmons came up with. The following three rules in bold are directly taken from his Grantland article from March 2014. I’ll add my insight as to how these rules translate to choosing an NCAA Wrestler, and in this case, that wrestler is Patrick Brucki, 197 pound wrestler for Princeton University.
Rule No. 1: Over everything else, I need to believe our hero can kick everyone’s ass, in any conceivable situation, at any given time. And he needs to believe this, too. - In translating this rule to the NCAA Wrestling field, in particular, Princeton’s Patrick Brucki, I’m extremely confident that he can kick just about anyone’s ass. First of all, he’s currently undefeated and ranked 3rd at 197 in just about all forums, but also, he looks like this. I don’t find it hard to believe that this hero can kick everyone’s ass. Can’t you picture Brucki in place of Schwarzenegger as Retired Special Forces Soldier John Matrix? I can.
Rule No. 2: During our hero’s apex, I would have seen his action movie no matter what the plot was, and no matter how lukewarm the reviews were. - This is a little more difficult to directly translate to Mr. Brucki, but let’s give it a shot. Brucki being undefeated is great, but he also currently has 2 wins over the #4 ranked wrestler in the country, in addition to being a very active and exciting wrestler to watch. He looks to push the pace, and score points, and certainly put that on display this year in the Midlands finals. Not to mention the intrigue of him potentially entering the NCAA tournament undefeated and as a one or two seed. Kollin Moore and Bo Nickal will wrestle each other at least once, if not twice with their dual, before NCAA’s, and if they trade wins, then an undefeated Brucki should be 1 in my eyes. 197 has a little more intrigue at this point in the season than people are willing to admit.
Rule No. 3: The body of work from a particular run matters more than a single movie. - This translates in the sense that I couldn’t be more impressed with the young career of Brucki, and am very excited to see how it continues to go. I picked him up on my fantasy wrestling team last year after Joe Dubuque gave me a heads up that he was going to be a monster. He didn’t disappoint, but more interesting is his development from last year to this season. I have a feeling that development will continue, and his body of work will be awesome when it’s all complete.
Now, it’s easy to say “but Kevin, there are a lot of big strong and menacing athletes in NCAA wrestling. Why Brucki?” Good question. Let’s first look at some of the all time great action hero’s of the past. Arnold, Stallone, Willis, Snipes, Chan, Johnson, they all have a special on screen charisma, which Brucki was kind enough to display in this brief interview about this piece (these aren’t direct quotes, just my best recollection from notes I took from our phone call);
KC: Who is your favorite action hero?
PB: My first thought is a super hero, like Superman, but he’s not really a person, so I’d have to say Batman because he’s more of your regular person who trained and incorporated some modified weapons and armor to become a hero.
KC: Any particular Batman that is your favorite?
PB: Christian Bale was great, but I really liked Michael Keaton in the originals, and Val Kilmer also.
KC: If you had an action hero name, or nickname, what would it be and why?
PB: I’d probably go with something like “in plain sight” as a nickname. Someone who just looks normal, like your average Joe, but is capable of doing some pretty crazy stuff in the right circumstances.
KC: Action Hero’s tend to have a special skill or ability, guns, knives, martial arts skills, etc… What would be your special skill?
PB: I’d probably be good in close quarters combat. Being a wrestler, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re within arms distance, you’re probably in trouble.
KC: Do you prefer a more realistic action movie, or a completely outlandish and over the top action movie?
PB: Both really. It’s cool to see someone in both sorts of movies. Like in Batman, some of it is over the top, but it’s still a more realistic movie, but seeing someone fighting in the future with tons of explosions is also enjoyable. Hard to say really.
KC: What is your best real life action hero moment?
PB: It’s hard to say. I think the best way to answer this like an action hero, is to just say that I’m just doing my job. There are great things that happen from time to time, but it’s all in a days work, and just kind of happens.
In addition, it was important to me that this wrestler display intelligence. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of action hero’s are smart, and have to solve several issues throughout the course of their movies. Jason Bourne and James Bond are not stupid people. In fact Bond graduated from Cambridge, and Jason Bourne routinely displays his level of intelligence by staying a couple steps ahead of several high level Government agents and assassins. Indiana Jones is a professor of archaeology. Please don’t debate the intelligence of the Princeton University student athlete. It’s safe to assume he checks the intelligence box. I also needed this athlete to be large, but not too large. I wasn’t looking for someone with the size of Conan Jennings to be an Action Hero. Maybe a villain in a Bond movie for Conan, but with metal teeth, or a robot arm or something. I couldn’t pull the trigger on the Action Hero being a 133 pound wrestler either. Needed to have enough size to be believable in any Action Movie scenario, and cutting to 197 seemed right to me. That pretty much sums up the rest of my criteria. Sure, there were other honorable mentions - Alec Pantaleo, Myles Martin, Nathan Traxler, Zahid Valencia, but I felt Brucki encompassed all of these traits, and the rules outlined by Mr. Simmons, most completely. I look forward to watching the remake of Total Recall starring Patrick Brucki.