“To me, arm-wrestling is the closest thing to a fistfight, and Travis Bagent is the hardest dude in the room.”
Travis “The Beast” Bagent is no stranger to cockiness in The Pit. But at the World Armwrestling League’s 2015 regional championship on ESPN2 Wednesday night, that swagger got turned on its head.
Nick Zinna, a 33-year-old tank mechanic from Missouri, easily dispatched Bagent in the south right arm super heavyweight competition, shaking up the WAL’s established order and putting the rest of his weight class on notice in the lead up to the WAL 2015 championship.
After referee Bart Wood strapped the two men up early in the match, Bagent blasted out of the gate in the first pull.
Again, Bagent came hard out the gate, and again Zinna withstood the fury and pinned one of pro arm-wrestling’s luminaries to secure the win.
After the match, Zinna said his plan was pretty simple: keep the match on his side of the table, use his back strength and dominate.
“And it worked,” he said.
Bagent, a 38-year-old gym owner from West Virginia, congratulated Zinna on the win and attributed his poor right arm showing to sheer exhaustion.
“Nick is a beast,” he said.
Earlier, Bagent easily took the south regional left arm super heavyweight title against 52-year-old Christian Binnie, a retired corrections officer out of Florida.
Binnie tried to take Bagent inside during their best of three matchup, but Bagent played to the crowd and easily pinned his opponent.
The regional championship featured other new blood making a name for themselves against the league’s stalwarts.
Massachusettes native Rob Vigeant Jr. pulled an epic match in the north left arm middleweight final, besting reigning WAL 2014 champion “Todzilla” Todd Hutchings, 48, an Ohio engineer.
Hutchings scored a quick first point on an easy pin in the matchup, and Vigeant had to deal with a “running foul,” where his elbow came off the pad but he won the match, thus negating the foul and earning a starting over for that point battle.
In two grueling pulls, Vigeant bested Hutchings. But the two would call the day a draw, as Hutchings beat Vigeant in the north right middleweight battle.
While the WAL is all about including every competitor who can throw down with the best of them, not every newbie showed up the establishment at WAL’s regionals.
Eric “Mr. Nitrous” Opitz, a 22-year-old Rutgers college student, was handily dispatched by Shawn Lattimer in the north left super heavyweight final.
Lattimer, a 425-pound behemoth and engineer by day, dominated Opitz from the get go, with the up-and-comer struggling to even grip up with Lattimer’s massive paw.
After Lattimer ended it quickly, the champ raised Opitz’s hand.
“Give that boy two years, and I’m going to be scared of him,” Lattimer said.
The regionals also saw arm-wrestling legend Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes square up against defending 2014 champion Paul “The Hillbilly Assassin” Talbott in the north right lightweight final.
It was easily the match of the night. Talbott took the first pull, but Cobra turned the corner, engaged his shoulder and took the second point.
Both men were exhausted. Chalk smeared its way across the face of Cobra, a 50-year-old chef out of Indiana.
Cobra was in trouble early during that final pull. Talbott, an Ohio train conductor, opened up his opponent’s wrist and the legend had nowhere to go against Talbott, the defending 2014 champ.
John Brzenk, heralded as perhaps the greatest living arm-wrestler, made his WAL TV debut against UPS employee Tom Nelson in the west left heavyweight final, where he easily dispatched Nelson, who promised to return stronger than ever.
Brzenk, a 51-year-old Arizona airline mechanic, also won the west right heavyweight title.
In other regional results, 2014 WAL champion Devon “No Limits” Larratt, a 40-year-old Canadian Special Forces soldier, bested 53-year-old Wisconsin construction worker Ron Bath for the south left heavyweight title.
Defending 2014 champ Marcio “The Phenom” Barboza, a 42-year-old iron worker originally from Brazil, cruised to the top of the pile in the north left and right arm heavyweight competition.
The undefeated Dave “Easy Money” Chaffee, 38, continued his years long unbeaten streak when he pulled to the top of the north right superheavyweight category, while South Carolina native Matt Harris and 30-year-old Floridian “Dan the Man” Worley took the top honors in the south left lightweight and middleweight categories, respectively.
In the south, defending 2014 champ Janis “The Jedi” Amolins, a physical therapist, took the right lightweight crown, while South Carolina teacher “Bad” Chad Silvers beat out the rest to secure the right middleweight southern title.
Out in the western region, 30-year-old Canadian nuclear fuel maintenance mechanic Shea “The Swamp Thing” Dickie took lightweight left. Thirty-one-year-old Wyoming hunting guide A.J. Henson took middleweight left and Eric Woelfel, a California solar mechanic, secured a win in the left superheavyweight bracket.
“Mr. Intensity” Allen Fisher, a 59-year-old marketing director took the tops in the right lightweight matches, with California construction worker Brian Brandon taking right middleweight and 43-year-old California pipefitter Matt Girdner taking right super heavyweight.
There is so much more WAL action coming to you on ESPN2 in the coming weeks. Check here for our weight class championship schedule, and check back for more re-airing dates for the regionals." - www.walunderground.com