When I learned I would be attending my first pro wrestling, I was skeptical. We were a house full of girls growing up, so wrestling is more than a little out of my range of interests. My friend Alan insisted the theatrical element of wrestling would appeal to me though, comparing it to So You Think You Can Dance. And we know I love So You Think You Can Dance.
Plus, this wasn’t just any wrestling show. This was Pro Guerrilla Wrestling (PWG), the cream of the indie wrestling crop, and it was Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA), the cream of the PWG crop. Over the past few weeks, I got a bit of a crash course in wrestling from Alan and a to-do list for the big night which included, “wear sneakers”, “stick to basic colors”, and “never take your eyes off the ring, as someone is liable to fly out of it any minute.”
So, last Friday I traveled to Reseda for the big show, unsure of exactly of what was to come. What follows are my impressions of each match. While I learned quite a bit from Alan and the oh-so-patient Shayna Baszler, who sat next to me and enthusiastically filled me in on the matches and who these people were, this is very much the story of a noob who luckboxed her way into the front row of a wrestling event several of my friends would kill puppies to be at in my stead. None of it is intended to offend, I had a great time, but some of my assessments are very much that of someone who doesn’t understand wrestling. So sit back, relax, and revel in my naivety.
This video gives some highlights of each of the matches from Friday when I attended (you can even see me, mouth agape in the front row, from time to time). Let me give you my rundown though:
Marty the Manbun vs. Zero Miedo
Now, I did my best to learn the wrestlers’ names, but let’s be honest: there were a lot and it wasn’t like there was a Playbill to reference, so a lot of them got nicknames. Such was the case with Marty the Manbun, who I guess had a last name, but I couldn’t hear it over the preponderance of man buns at this thing. Marty was the only guy who rocked it in competition though and I assumed based on the hair in tandem with a very Kid Rock-esque floor-length fur coat and an umbrella (which he thankfully did not open inside) that he was supposed to be an unlikable douche. When he removed the faux fur to reveal his Speedo had “Villain” emblazoned across the ass, I knew my read was right.
On the other side of the card was a Mexican wrestler who probably has a real name, but who I called “Zero Miedo” because that is what people chanted when he was out there. It apparently translates to “No Fear”, which was rather charming and, because of years of loving Strongbad and his emails, I am always gonna be partial to dudes in Mexican wrestling masks.
It looked like I was on the right side of things early on, as Zero seemed to have the upper hand, but after a night of watching, I quickly learned the point is to make it seem like one person is winning and then turning the tables, so I was more than a little disappointed to see the Manbun, who was a little unmemorable save for his hairdo and his penchant for snarling like an animal. I mean, I understand wrestling is inherently violent, but I am not sure I can get behind a non-verbal dude with longer hair than me. Apparently in the PWG community, this puts me in the minority, as this Marty fellow seemed to be kinda popular.
Jeff Cobb vs. Ricochet
Call me a homer for loving the guy from Paducah, Kentucky, but I do. Ricochet is amazing. He calls himself the Architect of Aviation, but I thought he was more of a flying squirrel. His smile and mischievous nature were perfect for this match, which pitted him against Olympic wrestler Jeff Cobb. Watching Ricochet scoff at the idea that lil ole him was supposed to wrestle this beast of a man from Guam was entertaining. When he hoisted Cobb over his head, my jaw fell to the floor in shock. The perfect blend of athleticism, theatricality, humor, and surprise, this was the match which made me think wrestling was better than I gave it credit for.
Hennigan vs. Seidel
Okay, I don’t think that is how Seidel spells his name, but it was too amusing to me that a guy named John Hennigan who, no shit, apparently goes by “Mundo” was fighting another guy with a poker name. Really, I am shocked I remembered their names at all. I generally just thought of Seidel as “Guy with the pants that look like they were purchased at a Gadzooks in 1998” vs “Guy whose pants look like the clothing porn version of an Affliction snuff film”. Even Shayna had to wonder how these studded, seemingly polyester pants could possible breathe or move very easily.
We had plenty of time to mull over these fashion questions though, as this match was super boring. There was a lot of low-to-the-ground kicking and even more hairography. For those who may not be familiar with the term, hairography is where excessive tossing and twirling of hair is used in place of substantive material, in this case, wrestling moves.
The Rooster Guy vs. Irish Will
Rooster Guy has a much cooler name, I just can’t remember it and the little fabric situation at the top of his Mexican wrestling has him looking like a rooster. I’m sure it is supposed to be a much more intimidating animal, I am just being honest.
The big talk of this match was the synchronized elements they did, which, while nifty, didn’t impress me as much as they were supposed to I guess. As my friend pointed out, I am literally the only person who didn’t jump out of my seat when it went down. Part of it is I have watched *a lot* of gymnastics, dance, and figure skating in my day, so watching people aerobically be in sync, while nice, isn’t as death-defying as it seemed to others maybe? This is more likely the result of me being unaware of how difficult wrestling is and not their unawareness of how advanced gymnastics have become. Lots of people, Alan included, were big Will fans and I can understand why, but on the whole, this one doesn’t stand out in my memory. It is not them. The issue here is obviously me.
Emo Spats vs. Tommy End
Alan tried to win me over to this guy they call Sabre Jr early on by showing me a short documentary on the up-and-coming Brit. Now here is the part where I am not sure if I am about to say what I am about to say…
We all know wrestling is fake and there are no unscripted results, right? So, yeah, I can play along when people play angry that they lost or play thrilled that they won, but there is a point where the pretending stops making sense for me. If you won a match and were so excited and overwhelmed that you gave what amounted to an Academy Awards speech after your match, it would feel like a little much. So, in this doc, where Sabre gets all emo about this match he lost as if he really truly was crushed this fake horrible thing fake happened to him, I rolled my eyes a little. If I wanted this level of macabre, I’d fire up my Dashboard Confessional albums.
The only thing this Sabre guy had going for him was that his wrestling boots were white, and looked like spats. Other than that, there is not much cause for celebration. He is emo, his face is naturally very serious looking, but then he would be incredibly hammy when hit, acting more cartoonish than a lot of other guys. Throw in the fact that his trademark move appears to be bending people’s fingers awkwardly and you have a recipe for the guy I was most excited to see go away at the end of the night. Unfortunately, he went away victorious, while the talented Tommy End had the crowd on his side, but not the end result.
Chris Hero vs. The Ancient Ligre
Before the matches began, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Hero and marvel at how incredibly nice he was. Then I watched him beat up an old man they call Ligre (I am assuming it is like the Napoleon Dynamite animal, not a name). At least, I think he was old. That is what people tell me, but I can’t say for sure, as he had an elaborate mask on. Judging by his fleet of fans though, people love Ligre and he does seem to be the big deal my friends claim he is.
What was weird was that apparently Chris Hero is pretty beloved and approaching legend status too, so one of these guys had to be the bad guy and Hero seemed pretty intent to take on that role. The folks who go to PWG all the time kept talking about how strange it was to see Hero play what they call a “heel”. I can simply parrot what they said, as I don’t have much insight on the topic. What I can say is I certainly hope in my mid-50s I am half as athletic as a ligre.
Dalton Castle and the Boys vs. Young Bucks & Adam Cole
As a writer, I hate to say “no words” to describe something, but really, no words on this one. From the moment Red Dragon came out masquerading as Dalton Castle’s “fan boys” (fan like Gone With the Wind, not actual fanboys), I was totally sold. Pretending to blow their opponents over with fan and wind power was well-executed and hilarious. Really, that was the theme to this whole match for me. I found my jaw open and smiling the entire time as these guys put together a match that was beyond entertaining, but highly athletic to boot.
My biggest problem was knowing where to look. Like a Cirque du Soleil show, every time I started watching one thing, something else incredible would happen out of the corner of my eye and I was sad I missed it.
I had been told I would love Castle’s campy nature, but I didn’t expect to like Cole and the Young Bucks nearly as much as I did. While their parts weren’t as flashy, they were still fun and impressive, so while the team I wanted to win didn’t, I was still pretty pleased with the end result, which included all of us fanning Dalton back to life like he was Tinker Bell in Peter Pan.
It was an incredible experience, and I am glad to have gone, though the more I write, the more I worry you wrestling fans will be grumpy a noob like myself got to experience BOLA and didn’t even appreciate a synchronized flip off the rope. Rest assured, there is more wrestling in my future, so there is still hope I will get better and smarter, but I can tell you one thing–I am taking the campy and theatrical over the angry and emo every single time.