Beer and Chips: Wrestling In the Burbs
"Is there more?" comically
asked a nearby woman. I'm not the only one, I thought,
amusingly scanning the slowly growing crowd. A lively
and expectant mix of mums and dads, children-a-plenty,
footy jerseyed adolescents, beefy Uncle Festers and
a hard-core "face-your-fear" t-shirted bunch,
were grappling for my people-watching attention. Equally
lively was the auditory entree. Belting out of the
walls, loud and nasty and raw as a bulldog's dinner,
the eardrum-hostile and adrenalin-charged music had
the culinary-aware fans salivating into their schooners
and over their mountainous plates of gravied hot-chips.
I too drooled with main course anticipation. Logic
told me, the upcoming was odds on a winner. The beer
and gravy mob had parted with $15 of their hard earned,
braved the winter chill on a Sunday evening and not
even the collective might of 60 minutes and the dual
home comforts of soft sofa and gas-fire warmth could
keep these fans home tonight. No way.
and gentlemen, welcome to ringside at Woonona-Bulli
RSL. Backbreakers, the sleeper hold, atomic drops,
names that mean little to most but
much to a select few. This was wrestling in the burbs.
And boy did it take me back.
and naïve, 1970's World Championship Wrestling
drew me hook, line AND turnbuckle. Brutally entertaining,
it was so
so real. Surgically attached to the
TV every weekend, I was in awe of the harder-than-nails-bulletproof
and mean-as- they-come ring indestructibles. The illegality
and angriness of Steve Rackman, Killer Karl Krupp,
Bruiser Brodie and Co imprisoned my pliable mind for
a rapidly passing hour. God, I loved that hour. And
then it happened. Bigger than Andre the Giant
dropped. Shoulders pinned to the realisation canvas,
immobile with despondency, this was the Armageddon
of my childhood. No Father Christmas and now this!
f-f-f-fake! Battery acid was easier
to swallow. Not long after, the show was axed (probably
just as well for I was in painful denial) and my interest
fell. Then along came Vince.
McMahon. He brought it back. And how! Complimenting
ring roughhouse with breasty beauties and powerful
music, throw in soap opera scripts and you have a
product that shouts "WATCH ME!" And like
millions of others, I did just that. Yes, grown and
worldly and having done all the mature things like
ear piercing, vomit vodka excesses from the depths
of a drunken stomach and French kiss in a nightclub,
it was time to resurrect a dormant interest. I was
a creature reborn. Fake or not, I lapped up the new
and exciting brand with the renewed eagerness of a
rode the wrestling wave for a couple of years, occasionally
drifting out beyond the breakers to buy a few magazines.
I know, I know. What was I thinking? "Get a life!"
you say. Well
still searching for that, I moved
eventually. Or so I thought.
Australian Wrestling Federation (AWF) is a corner
store compared to Vince McMoney's Wal Mart. But corner
stores have charm and appeal. Let's hope they don't
disappear. And so I went shopping into yesteryear.
In the company of Greg "the Media Man" Tingle
(Sydney PR and Promotions personality) and his lovely
partner, Yvette, I went back to the beginning.
passing on the impossible-to-resist chips and gravy,
we sat and watched the ring do its gladiatorial thing.
Not quite the spectacular giant of its famous American
sibling, this poor cousin is primitively run on a
shoestring. Dollars don't mean everything. I had fun.
These guys (and girl) put on a hell of a show of exceptional
acrobatics and good old-fashioned guts. Lacking the
financial clout of their American counterparts and
the biceps and brawn of its 1970's Australian predecessors,
the AWF amateurs performed like pros and thrilled
with dangerous moves a plenty! And with combatants
like Mad Tony Kebab, Billy Flyswat and PC Virus (according
to the announcer's ringside commentary this multi-talented
individual, armed with laptop, invented broadband
and is headhunted by Telstra), how could you not be
entertained and smile?
The AWF isn't everyone's cup of earl grey. If number
27 at the snackbar ain't your done thing then you
may wish to pass on upcoming orders. But
here comes the good bit
if steel chairs thudding
into the back of unsuspecting heads, extravagant aerial
manoeuvres from the top rope and a bearded bloke from
Penrith bellowing "shut up idiots" to booing
fans appeals to your caveman senses then this unpretentious
night of good-natured abuse, beer and chips may well
hit the sweet spot. Enjoy.
2004 Dane Crandon
Department of Sport and Recreation
of a wrestling fan - Cottage Industry or Big Business?
by Greg Tingle
Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle
June 2004 Update