Wednesday 7 May 2008

The Literary Wrestling Alliance

In the shadow of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), various smaller wrestling franchises have sprung up, offering a different experience to the hype-ridden fireworks of Vince McMahon’s behemoth. One such franchise is the LWE, or Literary Wrestling Alliance, which has been gaining popularity in the Midwest states of the US. This week, I took my favourite notebook and witnessed an LWE show first hand.

Euclid Hall in Mansfield, Ohio, is a fairly sizable venue, and it seemed that everyone under 30 in the city had shown up for a night of quality book-inspired wrestling. The crowd cheered and booed throughout the show, everyone being familiar with the characters and their plotlines. I noticed a lot of people holding home-made posters with slogans such as ‘Sherlock = Sheer Luck!!’ and ‘Oliver Twist Wants More Smackdown!’ Plus, as well as the young male contingent always showing up at these events, I could also see a lot of middle-aged and older men in tweed jackets. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought they were English professors.

The first match of the night was between two high-flying young men, Romeo and Tybalt. There had been bad blood between these two fighters for some time, since both were vying for the hand of Romeo’s valet, Juliet (who also happened to be Tybalt’s cousin; incest is a great way to make a bad guy – or ‘heel’ – seem even more unpleasant). Things had turned even worse between them recently, when Tybalt ended the career of Romeo’s former tag-team partner, Mercutio.

This was a great match, full of acrobatic athleticism and brilliant timing. The winner was Romeo, much to the joy of the crowd, who loved watching him put his body through so much abuse to get the win. I must admit, I was a little sad to see such a young man taking so many risks in the course of a match, and if he keeps this up, things could end tragically for young Romeo.

Second on the bill was a tag-team match between the current champions, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, a pair of up and coming new wrestlers. Ros and Gil were laughably ineffective as a team, and from the moment they decided who would start the match in the ring (by tossing a coin), they did nothing but argue all match. The only time the champions looked like the might lose was when Quixote was nearly counted out after he ran off to fight the scaffolding. But experience beat youth in the end, and Guildenstern was knocked out by Quixote’s patented Windmill Smash. After their defeat both wrestlers vanished from the centre of the ring; rumours have it that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead to the world of wrestling.

Next up was a 30-man over the top Battle Royale, a massive pile of mayhem. First to be thrown out of the ring was Grendel, thanks to a concerted effort by all the other wrestlers working together. After that, it was a free-for-all, with Winnie the Pooh being eliminated fairly easily (he really is a bear of very little wrestling ability, I noted), and Moriarty looking pretty strong after his win over arch-rival Sherlock Holmes in the Waterfall match last month. In the end, it was Captain Ahab who looked like he would win, throwing Heathcliff, Gandalf and Nicholas Nickleby over the top rope in quick succession. But a giant new wrestler jumped out of the crowd and eliminated him, leaving the Captain furious. (This newcomer was called The White Whale, and I think I can see a feud brewing between him and Ahab) In the end, the winner of the match was Deus Ex Machina, who dropped down to the ring from the rafters, prompting much booing from the crowd, who considered this a bit of a cop-out. I must say I agree.

A real grudge match was next, between the immensely popular George “The Rock’ Wickham and Destroyer Darcy, one of the biggest heels in the game. The two men had been fighting over Wickham’s valet, the lovely Miss Elizabeth for a long time, though it was clear that Elizabeth had no interest in the arrogant bully, Darcy. The fight went back and forth, with Elizabeth shouting encouragement in Wickham’s corner and Darcy drawing boos from the crowd each time he pulled off a good move or proudly kissed his own arm muscles. The fight started to go Wickham’s way, but as he was about to do his finishing move, the Meryton Mangler, he was distracted by Elizabeth, and Darcy countered with his own finisher, the Pemberley Punch, and won the match. Angered by his loss, Wickham turned on Miss Elizabeth, much to the disgust of the crowd, who started cheering for Darcy when he came to Elizabeth’s aid. In the aftermath, Wickham walked back to the dressing room in a hail of empty cups and chewing gum, while Darcy and Elizabeth embraced triumphantly in the ring. Surely, this is one of the biggest combined heel- and face-turns in the history of wrestling, and something I never expected.

Finally came the main event, a ‘Loser Leaves Town’ match between Macho Man Agamemnon and Aeneas the Troy Boy. These two huge specimens went at it from the start, with massive piledrivers shaking the building and some pretty dirty play from both fighters. In the end it was Agamemnon who won, despite being bloodied and battered by the final 1-2-3 count. And so, Aeneas was forced to leave town, and American wrestling, for good. I believe he is currently fighting in Rome, where he has set up his own franchise.

Macho Man Agamemnon celebrates his victory over Aeneas The Troy Boy. In the week following the event revewed here, Agamemnon was defeated by his wife Clytemnestra in a mixed-gender match.

I think LWA is a pretty decent wrestling company, and the fights are as enjoyable as the ones that occur in its competitors’ events. I’ve got to say, though, that the storylines are a little less believable than those in the WWE or TNA wrestling; the victory of Deus Ex Machina and Mister Darcy’s face turn being particularly disappointing. But I look forward to watching some of their upcoming events, particularly next week’s fight between Oliver Twist and The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Grappler). That should be funny.


Falwless said...

...rumours have it that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead to the world of wrestling.


Feisty Democrat said...

C'mon IR, don't you know those wrestling matches are all fake?

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Falwless: It's sad, really. The wrestling world hasn't seen such existential angst since Jean-Paul Satre was a prize fighter.

Mathdude: Yeah, I know there's an element of scriptedness to a wrestling event, but still, my favourite films are all scripted and I still like them. Some storylines are better than others, though. I mean, Darcy? The arrogant prick? Becoming a good guy? What utter rubbish.