*Photo Credit - The Ringside Perspective*
This is an "unsanctioned deathmatch" - with lots of swearing. It's also a tag team match, two on two, and a crowded one given that the ring is a LOT smaller than the WWE version.
First, Drew Parker and Ricky Shane Page enter - one is a large man in a black leotard, while the other appears to be the Joker with a ponytail. He loses the white facepaint before the match starts. Shame. It's his most impressive feature.
Then strange horns blare. The audience start to sing along to the music (I don't recognise the tune, I'm afraid). Is someone else coming? Drew and Shane pace the ring for a while. Then, at last, we see a big bearded guy and a chap with a white labcoat and a hockey mask. They go by the band name of "Callous Hearts" and they have their own ring. If they have individual names, I'm unable to hear them over the music.
It's like one of those awkward meetings when you don't confirm the details beforehand and you and your date are waiting in different places.
Suddenly everyone runs from both rings and meets in the middle, amongst the audience. There's a brief fracas in the crowd. Chairs are thrown, as are punches, but it's hard to make out what's happening. This is camerawork so shaky it would not be out of place in a Jason Bourne film. The big guy in black (Shane or Drew, I'm not clear which is which) is slapped around by one of the Hearts (the guy in white, though he's lost his mask and coat and now looks barely recognisable - if I didn't know better, he could be someone from the audience).
While Drew/Shane is dragged back towards the ring by one Heart, Shane/Drew is tackled to the floor by the other. I think. The light here is dreadful, and there seems to be only one camera tracking two separate fights. Badly. As Ponytail crawls away, the other Heart throws a chair at him. Ponytail dodges, but it's two on one here. Where's the big guy?
Here he comes! Then Black Heart throws a folding chair at him and he hits the ground. Black Heart shrugs to the audience before returning his attention to Ponytail.
White Heart, meanwhile, is taking Big Guy back towards the ring. There's time to smack his head into some metal railings first.
Ponytail is now meekly following Black Heart around the set as White Heart continues to smack Big Guy around. The two pairs catch up to each other. White Heart calls Ponytail a bad word and shoves him down to the floor. Then he picks him up, smacks his head into some scaffolding and kicks him.
So far, Shane and Drew have been a bit rubbish. But the Big Guy is finally doing something useful as he intercepts White Heart and gives him what looks like a cuddle. White Heart screams, especially when he's manhandled by his, er, man handle.
Meanwhile, Ponytail has caught Black Heart and is trying to make him eat barbed wire. It doesn't go well. The Big Guy comes by with what appears to be... no, that's ridiciulous. But the audience agree - "he's got a cheese grater!" Which would be more impressive if Black Heart didn't simply steal it from him and use it to give him a shave.
A short distance away, Ponytail is punching White Heart. Whitey responds by throwing Ponytail into the railings. He then slaps his thigh, which apparently causes the other guy pain. I don't know how that works.
Big Guy punches a metal drum, then limps after Black Heart. White Heart has stopped for a beer. When Ponytail asks for one, he gets slapped. But with Big Guy coming out on top, White Heart goes to his mate's help and punches the Big Guy down.
There's blood all over Big's face now.
White Heart (ugh, those terrible trousers!) starts rearranging the security barriers while the two guys in black continue their brawl. The big guy is unable to resist as the two Hearts take him under an arm each and then flip him over their heads and into the barrier, which has been arranged like a very uncomfortable ramp, complete with barbed wire. Big Guy shouts out in pain.
I've no longer got any clue where Ponytail has got to.
As Big Guy crawls off his metal bed, still yelling, the Hearts enter the ring. Looks like Ponytail is already there, crawling along as though trying to stay out of sight - to be fair, given how this "match" has gone so far, the ring is the place that's seen the least action. Who'd think to look for him there?
With the Big Guy out of action, Ponytail just stands there and takes it as the others take turns punching him. The nipple tweak is particularly unsporting. Ponytail then learns why so many wrestlers eschew long hair as Whitey drags him along by those long luscious locks, and then introduces his forehead to the metal of the same security barrier as before. Those wire bits can be sharp. Ponytail says a rude word.
Things suddenly take an unexpected turn. Mounted in the corner of the ring and slapped a little, you'd expect Ponytail to go down fast. But then Whitey takes a run up and hits the post as Ponytail darts away. Then Black Heart charges in and Ponytail darts away again, the two Hearts colliding in the corner. Where the hell did that come from?
As the two Hearts argue, Ponytail dives in to take advantage - bad idea. They're not so distracted that they don't see him coming, and he's soon thrown back into the post and slapped a little more. Black throws himself into his opponent, leaving Ponytail winded on the mat again. White steps out of the ring while Black goes for an unusual pin - he seems to be holding Ponytail by the eyebrows.
White returns with some sort of implement. But what's this? Is that Big Guy I see returning to the ring? It is! White is clobbered to the floor, giving Ponytail the opportunity to break free of Black. The Drew/Ricky pair (I wish I knew which was which) swap partners, ready to do something to them both, but the Hearts reverse their move - simultaneously throwing both of them into the fencing around the ring. It splinters like it's made out of matchsticks.
The Hearts (five, six) pick up sticks and (seven, eight) put the other boys straight. This seems to involve laying sticks against bare skin and hitting the sticks. I vaguely recall this being a thing at school with plastic rulers.
The Hearts decide to team up again, but the same thing happens again - the victims reverse the throw and it's the Hearts that end up in the now rather pointy wooden barrier. This is probably why WWE uses the traditional ropes - much less dangerous... The Drewrickies take the opportunity to push sticks on their enemies' foreheads. Well, Ponytail just uses his hands. I guess he couldn't find a stick.
Big Guy clobbers Black, then invites his friend over to assist. Together, they throw Black into the corner and a fresh bunch of kindling. Black screams in pain and then crawls out of the ring. Meanwhile, the Drewrickies team up on White and sling him out of the ring, head first. There's some scattered applause from the audience.
Since the Hearts don't seem to be coming back, the others go out to get them. Ponytail helps White to his feet, gives him a quick punch and then gets him in a bear hug from behind. Meanwhile, Big Guy (still with a face covered in blood) seems to be carrying what looks like a pane of glass. He carefully props this up in the ring and goes back for something else.
In the few seconds the cameraman was distracted by this, Ponytail has lost his advantage and is about to be shown the benefits of scrubbing your face with barbed wire. A quick elbow to the ribs puts White off, and he runs away into the crowd for beer.
Big Guy has found... I'm not sure what it is. Looks like a collection of white planks all bound together. Regardless, he literally walks into White coming the other way and gets booted in the stomach. White picks up the thing. Ooh, it's a collection of poles. They sound like metal... or... fluorescent lights? Oh dear. Big Guy backs away as White pulls one pole free and advances. He places the pole against Big Guy's forehead and headbutts him - the impact snaps the pole in twain and leaves Big Guy reeling.
Ponytail picks this exact moment to walk back in and gets kicked in the shins. He drops to his knees. White picks up another pole and does the same again. He picks up a third pole, ready to go again... but Big Guy is back on his feet and kicks him to the midriff. He grabs the pole, ready to do something 'orrible, but then Black reappears (where's he been hiding?) and now Big Guy is the one being molested by a pole. This particular one is put between his teeth while White punches him. The third punch shatters that pole. I think they really are tube lights. Not what I'd recommend for a light snack.
Ponytail struggles to his feet, attempting to help Big Guy up. The crowd chants something - Lucifer? You Sit Up? I have no idea - and then the Hearts are back. Black kicks Ponytail away, who so far has been about as effective as a Teletubby, so he can carve his initials into Big Guy's head with a piece of broken lightbulb. White does the same to Ponytail. There is more blood.
Black changes tactics, now trying to insert the lightbulb into Big Guy's hand in an attempt to replicate stigmata, or something. White takes Ponytail and his lightbulb into the ring. Having tried and failed to turn him into a unicorn, White goes back to his favourite trick of headbutting lightbulbs into dust against his opponent's forehead.
Outside the ring, Big Guy yells a lot. But is he reaching for something...?
Whitey comes back with a white bag. It seems to be filled with something, as he's using it to clobber Ponytail around the head. He tips some out - it looks like gold dust? Golden somethings, anyway.
I don't know what's been happening outside the ring but it's all change. Big Guy is on his feet and clubs Black with a fluorescent lightbulb. It shatters into dust and Black drops to his knees. Meanwhile, White is carrying Ponytail on his shoulders, but drops him after a few too many elbows to the face. Ponytail fights back, forgetting he's a Teletubby, and White turns his flying leap into a 69. Ponytail struggles for freedom - after getting an extreme close-up of those ghastly trousers, I'm not surprised. Whitel then begins walking him around the ring like a wheelbarrow, inexorably closer to those gold things from his sack.
You know, I think they're drawing pins.
Ponytail gets to crawl his hands through the pins, and then Big Guy comes to the rescue. Ponytail is now being held up at either end. But what's this? Black sneaks in behind, and kicks down at those much abused hands. The Drewrickies fall into the pins. White then throws Ponytail into the pins, and Black uses a flying kick to push Big Guy into them.
Our wrestlers suddenly realise they are actually supposed to be wrestling, and Black attempts to pin the big guy. He kicks out and breaks the hold. Ponytail reaches out feebly to White, who kicks his hand away. There's a brief moment where both teams regroup, and then Black goes for a charge at Ponytail in the corner. Ponytail gently tosses him out of the ring. Then Whitey decides to get mean and slap Ponytail around a bit. This includes the positively lethal move of holding a stick against his forehead and then tapping the back of his head. Okay, then.
The Big Guy crawls back into the ring (I didn't know he'd left!) and is "helped" to his knees by White, who decides the best way to bring him round is to wrap his legs around Big Guy's head. Ponytail is not impressed, coming in with a surprise flying kick to send White sprawling. Black returns, not impressed either, and throws Ponytail into that pane of glass that Big Guy brought in earlier.
I'm not quite sure what happens next. It looks like Big Guy tries to help Ponytail up, and then Black half flies, half slides into him. Big Guy sails across the ring into the corner post. Black pulls him back in, then goes for another pin. It fails.
Everyone stops for breath before they crawl away from each other.
Black decides to get creative. He positions Big Guy in the corner, props him up with a stick AND a lightbulb across his chest and goes for a charge. Big Guy moves aside and swings down with the bulb. Goodnight, Black Heart. Though I think he just took out the cameraman instead.
There's a shocked pause. Ponytail and Big Guy stare at each other in horror. The Hearts... I have no idea what they're up to. More camera guys run to their fallen comrade's aid. The crowd begin chanting about the Pope's morning ablutions.
Then it's back on. Black charges into Big Guy, who reverses the throw and drops him to the mat. Whitey charges in and there's a quick tussle before the two men spin and Big Guy lands hard. Ponytail comes in swinging, but misses. He picks up White and tries to throw him but it doesn't quite work as intended. Ponytail tries again, picking the dazed and fashion-unconscious Heart up before flipping him over his head and into the mat behind him. It's a cool looking move. It also doubles as an unconventional pin, but White easily shrugs it off before the count expires.
Ponytail exchanges a quick word before climbing the corner post for a flying leap - which, as always, goes horribly wrong. White moves away and Black is waiting with another lightbulb. Swing and SMASH! Ponytail is left red-faced and embarrassed. No, wait, that's not embarrassment. That's blood. Black swiftly picks up the helpless Ponytail and slams him into the mat, which is now covered in so many shards of glass and drawing pins that it must be an even more painful experience than normal. Time for another pin? Not the drawing kind. But in comes Big Guy, pushing Black away with a flying punch before the countdown can hit three.
Big Guy is really narked now. White moves in and gets a punch to the face for his trouble, then thrown into the corner. Big Guy mounts him on the ropes ready for an impressive throw - but Black smashes something into his face (a bit of lightbulb, perhaps?) and Big Guy goes reeling. While he's gone, Black clears some of the detritus away - or sweeps it together? I'm not sure - before picking up the feebly struggling Ponytail and throwing him back onto the mat.
Now White picks up Ponytail and tosses him back down like a sack of potatoes. There's no fight in this kid any more, is there? Both Hearts pin him down. One! Two! But no - Ponytail jerks free. The fight continues - twenty minutes in now. But where is the Big Guy?
Never mind him - while Ponytail crawls away, White's gone underneath the ring to pull out a FREAKING AXE. Seriously?? Ponytail asks him to be reasonable as he (very sensibly) backs away. Quickly. He climbs up the gantry holding the match banner, while back in the ring Black returns with what looks like a folding chair. Ahh, the stalwart of wrestling weapons...
Ponytail is trapped up top while White climbs after him, slowed a little by one hand holding a FLIPPIN' ENORMOUS AXE. Have I mentioned the axe? He does the sensible thing of punching White in the head as he comes closer, though trying to pull his nose off is more successful. White drops the axe and falls back.
Big Guy returns from nowhere and has a go at White, but it doesn't go well for him. Whitey climbs back up the gantry (sans axe) while Black does some interior design work in the ring - though I think all those boards and chairs and whatever else he's gathered together will prove to be very bad feng shui. White discovers that climbing up just leads to getting punched again. Lucky for him that Teletubbies don't punch very hard.
None of this impacts on Black's grand designs in the ring. He even politely asks for donations of chairs from the audience. He seems to have made two benches out of some chairs and some plywood boards. Whatever for? Is he building a fort? Shouldn't he be wrestling or something?
Satisfied that his work in the ring is ready, Blacky climbs up the other side of the gantry. Ponytail seems to spot him too late. The two trade feeble punches at the top before Black picks up his rival and - ah, now I see what those homemade benches are for. Both men spin down into them, breaking all Black's hard work, but Ponytail takes the brunt of it. The crowd return to the subject of the Pope's bowel movements.
Big Guy returns to the ring, as does White. The former greets the latter with a boot to the head. Big Guy helps Ponytail up, clearing the ring and giving Whitey another boot to the head on the way. He then arranges two chairs with a pane of glass between them - only losers use plywood, right? - before giving White the same head-between-my-legs treatment that White gave him earlier.
Black breaks up the party, but his efforts to lift the Big Guy are too weak. Big Guy shrugs him off, punches him in the face and lifts him up over his shoulders. But not to throw him into the glass pane - oh no. There's a whole row of those fluorescent lightbulb tubes waiting in the ring. SMASH!
Big Guy proudly shows off to the crowd while, behind him, White is getting back up. Big Guy turns to fight but gets a fist in the head. You should have been watching him! White follows up with another glass tube to the head - how many of these things do they have?! - but his efforts to chuck Big Guy into his own pane of glass backfire. Big grabs the charging Heart and flips him into the makeshift glass table. SMASH!
I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up all this stuff.
Astonishingly, White is the first up. He pins the Big Guy to the mat, there's a count to three and... is that it? Is it over? That was a bit sudden. All four men seem to be in immense pain. But they're up, and they're hugging - the two Hearts in victory (painful, painful victory) and the Drewrickies in (just as painful) defeat. And then the two rivals acknowledge each other, all enmity forgotten, before they leave the arena.
This was a long and brutal fight, but not entirely dissimilar to the WWE ones I've previously watched. They even have the same folding chairs. We have the same ghastly outfits, the same overambitious moves swiftly reversed, the same level of overacting. But WWE was never this bloodthirsty. Drawing pins? Lightbulbs? Panes of glass? Barbed wire? It's ludicrously violent, like Tom and Jerry tagteaming Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner, and just as believable.
I'm afraid this match doesn't quite work, but not because of the match itself. As a member of the audience, I'm sure it would be thrilling (not least because you might end up in the middle of the fighting). It's the logistics that spoil it - the word to describe the filming of this match is "chaotic". I'm pretty sure braining a cameraman with a lightbulb was scripted (it was just too perfect) but the opening section was so choppy and confused that I had no idea what was going on until the match finally got into the ring. It was some time before I realised they even had more than one cameraman.
The story too lacked cohesion. To start with it seemed to descend into an immediate brawl, and wrestling was forgotten in favour of throwing chairs and experimenting with cheese graters. Then they seemed to remember it again at the end and this brutal, bloodthirsty match was won by a simple pin. What was the motivation for all this? Are we supposed to think these guys are rivals who hate each other, or is there a prize at stake? Who are meant to be the villains here and who are the heroes? A lot of this could be cleared up with some simple commentary, but I'm already missing the badly acted storylines that surround the WWE matches. Fighting for Santa or over a luchador mask may be ridiculous but it gives the fight a purpose that seemed lacking here.
Drew and Ricky are an interesting pairing (if in completely different weight classes - the big guy was carrying the fight most of the time) but it's the Callous Hearts that really work here - they have the look, the cohesion and the sadism to make a great villain combo. For that alone, they were worthy winners.
As for me, after all that shaky camerawork and confusion I'm going to take some headache tablets and go for a lie down...