A Little Wrestlemania is Good for the Soul
26 Jan 2014 · by Brennan Storr · Be the first to comment!
If you grew up in North America in the 80s you know damn well who this is
That I grew up spending my Saturday mornings watching WWF wrestling is not something I advertise. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it – I suspect that a lot of guys (and gals) my age spent their Saturday mornings the same way – but the experience, or the knowledge gained from it, is not easily introducible to an adult conversation:
“We’re expecting our first baby! We are SO excited!”
“Oh my God that’s great! This is like when Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3!”
“I said, ‘Lovely! When are you due?’”
“We really must be going.”
High praise indeed
Consequently, I am more likely to tell someone about the times in my life I have been accosted by shadowy paranormal entities than I am to describe my heartbreak at Hulk Hogan’s momentous Wrestlemania 6 loss to the Ultimate Warrior.
Welcome to my childhood
At this point it should come as no great surprise that I am not invited to many dinner parties.
As kids, of course, we didn’t understand that the outcome of what was happening in the ring was predetermined and we cared deeply about whether Sergeant Slaughter joined ranks with the Iron Sheik, but we eventually grew out of it, like our belief in Santa Claus, and the idea that the world would somehow make sense as we got older.
The hell of it was, even after that wrestling was still fun because the fundamentals never changed: there were heels (bad guys) and babyfaces (good guys) and in any high-stakes match it was a given that the villain would distract the referee while his confederate worked over the hero.
"Seriously, ref? Why the hell do you think he brought the guitar in the first place?"
If anything, knowing it was all part of the show made it better because if you wanted to enjoy yourself you had no choice but to “buy in”, your belief bringing the experience to life like a veiny, hulking Tinkerbell.
Sometimes the internet scares me
My interest in wrestling vanished as I got older but every now and then when I find myself in front of the television with nothing better to do, nostalgia prompts me to flip over to Monday Night Raw, at least for a few minutes. This same nostalgia is what sent me up to the Velox Rugby Club in Gordon Head Saturday night to see Vancouver-based wrestling company ECCW (Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling). For what it’s worth, it did not disappoint.
The fog enveloping most of Victoria Saturday was doubly thick in Gordon Head, which made an ordeal out of not only finding the Velox Rugby Club but of then finding a parking spot. The lot at Velox was full, so I, along with a huge number of wrestling fans, settled in the pay lot across the street at Mount Doug Secondary, where some kind of school event was taking place. Many an affrighted parent tightly clutched their children as they were passed by wave after wave of surly, bearded young men in camouflage jackets on their way to the parking meter.
Velox Rugby Club, just before bell time
The bell was scheduled to ring at 8 and I had paid for parking till 9:30, because even if the event hadn’t reached its end by then my patience would have. The club was already ¾ full, the wooden chairs surrounding the ring on all sides occupied by a surprising variety of people. Those sat on the same side as me were (fittingly) mostly young men alone, or in small groups. Not all of them were dressed like the refugees from Red Dawn I’d seen in the parking lot, either – some were sharply outfitted in real-estate agent chic, with grown-up trousers, dress shirts, jackets and what the Germans poetically call backpfeifengesicht, or "a face badly in need of punching."
There were women and children in the section across the aisle and kitty-corner to us were more families. Behind them, near the bar, was what looked to be the “see and be seen” section, with middle-aged yuppies slumming it over plastic cups of micro-brewed beer. As the clock ticked down to 8 and the speakers blared Metallica’s “Orion”, it became apparent that the crowd represented a community of sorts; new arrivals engaged in an easy familiarity with their neighbors, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.
The first match-up featured Artemis Spencer versus Bishop. According to the announcer, Bishop weighs in at 260 pounds and I have no trouble believing it – clad as he was in a singlet there was very little place for it to hide. The considerably slimmer Spencer fared better although the distressingly tight trunks he was wearing found the few extra pounds he had and broadcast them like Howard Beale. Not that I’m poking fun – I have nothing but respect for a man with love handles who can still execute a flying dropkick.
Yep, that's him
Needless to say, the technique on display wasn’t as slick as what you’d see in a professional show but the pair, and everyone who followed, acquitted themselves so admirably you couldn’t help but play along. If, for example, a wrestler executed a move too soon the other would do his level best to make it look good - running extra fast into an outstretched boot, or standing still for a punch telegraphed far enough in advance to have an extra place set at the table by the time it arrived.
The wrestlers’ ability to sell a situation was put to the test during the match between Daniel Adonis and Hellion. Adonis, the heel, looked much the way a man with that name might be expected to and when a pale, pudgy little man with flowing, reddish-brown curls ran down the aisle and entered the ring opposite him I assumed he was a sacrificial offering sent by Hellion -meant to tide his opponent over while he wrapped up a telephone call. However, the announcer “Gino Tortellini” - who sounded like the voice of God filtered through a wood chipper – declared this was indeed Hellion and we all gamely set about pretending like the fair-skinned little man represented any kind of threat to his opponent.
Thankfully, Hellion was pinned and the match concluded before the strain of suspending disbelief caused anyone’s intestines to burst through their abdominal wall.
Was that a three-count? Please tell me it was a three count
By the time 9:30 rolled around I had seen four matches, including a tag team bout between Scotty Mac with “Supernatural” Nelson Creed and “The Riot”, made up of Andy Bird and Nicole Matthews. As I made my way back to the car I thought about how seeing a woman mix it up in the ring with two male opponents was unusual. Even though the atmosphere of the evening had been one of good, old fashioned fun, the first time Creed drove his shoulder into the cornered Matthews’ abdomen I felt like I’d been caught browsing the magazines convenience stores keep behind their counter. That said, Matthews took the bumps well, dished out as much, if not more than she took, and I suppose if she doesn’t mind then neither should I.
And away she goes.
I don’t think I’ll become an aficionado of live wrestling events but that’s down to my diminished enthusiasm for the sport and in no way a fault of ECCW. For a mere $15 ($18 for the front row) those men and women literally throw themselves into their performances, the audience hoots and hollers along with them and, amidst it all a brawny Tinkerbell flexes an impressive bicep.