So a cat, a monkey, and a dragon walk into a wrestling ring. Sounds like the beginning of a hilarious joke doesn’t it? Well, it’s no joke. Add some burlesque dancing, a punk band, a whole lot of PBR and a sold out First Avenue and you get Wrestlepalooza and how I spent my Saturday night.
Saturday night was F1rst Wrestling’s twelfth installment of Wrestlepalooza at First Avenue. I’m not a huge wrestling fan but there’s something about this event that has kept me coming back twelve times now. The event is hilarious what with some of the hilarious characters that take the ring for this event and last night was no exception. Space Monkey made his way into the ring with a banana in hand. Of course the peel was used later on to make one of his opponents slip which made the sold out audience roar in laughter. Then there was Wildcat– the wrestler who just can’t resist an ear scratch from the ref or his opponents and instantly had the audience screaming “Meow! Meow! Meow!” at the first sight of him.
Beyond the antics of some of the characters and personas, Wrestlepalooza is truly a wrestling show that may have you questioning if this is a sport for you. The athletisism of all of the males and females that took to the ring was top notch. There were high flying antics and truly impressive on the floor wrestling skills. Being sold out and being that I found myself constantly going to the bar, I couldn’t see everything that was going on but the excitement radiating from the other members in the audience was more than enough for me to get the picture.
I know I said I’m not that into wrestling but, when it comes to the locals that wrestle at Wrestlepalooza I can get very into it. It was shocking to see Air Wolf steal the Wrestlepalooza title from Arik Cannon during the second match. The audience was silent as Arik handed over the prized championship belt but not before explaining that Air Wolf had just graduated from high school on Thursday night– literally. I think it’s so amazing to live in a city that has such an avid wrestling scene. Not only is Air Wolf on the up and up but there are many local wrestlers that seem to be snaking their way to the national stage and being able to watch them grow through events like Wrestlepalooza gives me the same feeling watching bands grow does.
Every year it seems like when the band takes the stage inbetween a couple of matches, many people take the opportunity to fill up at the bar or head outside for a smoke but not me. The music of Wrestlepalooza is the thing that got me to go in the first place. Saturday night’s music was provided by Oklahoma City based Red City Radio- a band I have been listening to for years and have only caught a couple of times now. The four piece punk band blasted through two sets of three songs throughout the night. Both times it seemed like they were able to catch the attention of the people who were trying to make their way to the bar or outside and that made me super happy to see. Sure, they got some eyerolls from some die hard wrestling fans standing near me but that didn’t stop me from singing along to their six song selection of their infectious songs that make you want to move around a bit.
Sometimes bands get involved in the wrestling. Last Wrestlepalooza I saw Ryan (singer of Off With Their Heads) bash Darin Corbin (local wrestler) with his guitar after Darin made fun off the music and his band. Then there was the time that Masked Intruder played and all of the band members found themselves in the ring. Unfortunately, Red City Radio didn’t take the ring but that was okay with me. Being able to see them perform (even if it was only six songs) was enough for me and I told myself to not be greedy. As the music faded, the wrestling kicked back in. Honestly the balance between the two sets of music and the two sets of burlesque dancing (one from Queenie Von Curves and one from Joy Koy) mixed into the wrestling matches is beyond perfect. It truly gives everyone in the audience something to look forward to whether you went to the show for the music, the dancing, or just the wrestling.
I could go on and on about the many little moments that made last night as memorable as it was. I cheered with excitement as Cody Rice (aka The Husky Heartthrob) won his match making him one of the wrestlers in the main event next Sunday at the FREE showcase during Open Street Lyndale (that means you’re invited– it’s free– it’s wrestling– See you there!) because Cody is definitely one of my favorites. There was the deafening roar from the audience as Ultimo Dragon came out for the first match (he’s a world famous wrestler from Japan and people were truly and utterly shocked). There were the random chants that the audience comes up with every year along with the good old favorites (my personal favorite is “This Is Awesome!”). So many little moments made up last night’s experience and, like so many other times, no matter how many words I write, you won’t feel that excitement and you won’t care. Some shows are shows that you just have to see for yourself and Wrestlepalooza at First Avenue is definitely one of those shows.
Last night wasn’t just a concert– It was a concert, wrestling, dancing, and one too many drinks. Did I ever see myself getting so into wrestling? Hell no. Am I super glad I stumbled into that first Wrestlepalooza years ago? Most definitely.