I know and/or don't know things; I understand and/or I do not understand.
I was at that Battleground card last night, at the ever festive 2300 Arena, home of the cheap pop. My "a-ha!" moment since the last one was that, duh, this is a RF Production. That is the reason for the talent connection, the $$$ (money mark backing, I assume), the sold out attendance via some twitter/mailing list I am thankfully not privy to, and his presence at the first one. S-M-R-T. I expected that the crowd would be smaller, as with all nostalgia shows. I was not wrong. On thee synchronicity tip, earlier in the day, I was perusing the "free" bins outside Philly AIDS Thrift (highly recommended) and found 3 RF Video VHS tapes (Best of Raven & Stevie Richards, Tommy Dreamer vs Raven, Raven ECW Wrestling (#1648)) as wel as booted ECW-Extreme Babes and The Best of Chris Jericho pts. I & II. The God of Buggery sent down his beneficence.
What I did not expect was a well booked very fun rassling card, which is what we got. The previous show was strictly two matches for me (EnZo vs. Ricky Morton, and Buddy Matthews vs. KC Navarro) (and, to be honest, Sandman phoning it in with a grin always makes me happy). There was a lot of nonsense and second raters. On this one, most everyone was really trying their darnest. Huh.
I do not hold any indie promotion accountable for the announced card versus the actual one. Shit happens. This one was at least partially reset on the fly.
We got the mandatory Blue Meanie appearance out of the way first thing, Xmas themed this time. I begrudge no worker their payday. By Jove, he lives a couple blocks away so why not? Minus two stars for no Hannukah reference.
JLawler vs. BRay is the opener. The King has gotta get home, don'tcha know. This was such an easy and obvious match to call that I was hoping that these two who have the knowing of a lot of ring-stuff but can be lazy would not fail my bitter mark olde tyme mark heart. Answer: they did not. Mr. Lawler threw fire, insulted a distinctive S. Philly regular's breasts by calling them "rottweilers" and USED THE INVISIBLE GIMMICK IN THEE TRUNKS GIMMICK!!!! I love that. I honestly believe in my elitist blackened soul that the mutants, hipsters and drunks there did not even notice it. That's the magick of true pro wrestling. That magick is bigger than 6 dives in a match, it's more moving than a forehead full of skewers for the 14th time, it's more powerful than a Reverse Blue Thunder Stuff Corkscrew Driver, and it's more life affirming than any kay fabe breaking tweet thanking the fans - THIS is RAF's thank you: an old genius reaching his fist into his tights, punching someone who sells it like death and "replacing" his empty palm into his trunk again because he did not want to deal with TSA by bringing a chain dog collar in his carry-on. That, and the stomps on every single punch.
Afterwards, a pre-taped Atsushi Onita phonetically challenged Bully Ray to a (garbled) stip match here in the "ECW arena". As my Dead Mom used to say: it will end in tears. Wasn't Mr. Liar whining about not getting paid for his NJ match with Matt Tremont, like he did not get paid in full before he limped onto his JAL flight. I (heart) carnys.
(By thee Great Spirit, I can't even write a simple show review. Welcome to thee Funhouse of My Mind)
Erick Redbeard beat the Taylor Ham out of some prettyboy with the silhouette of New Jersey on his tights. It looked really good and folks were popping. We all agree that ER has been criminally under/mis-used for a long time now.
Mr. Dave LaGreca (backer?) loped out with his cool dad self. Let's not cancel him despite his associates on this show, he seems like good folk, just by dint of his longevity. He was to (poorly) interview Raven, who did not speak a word on the last show despite setting up an angle and coming out twice with a druidic entrance. Raven was again wearing these fancy looking snow boots (that were less apropos in Sept., still early here in Philly Global Warming December) with this gimmick pocket on the side - for a electric boot heater? Marijuana reefer stash? Ski pass holder? I got involved in a lively discussion with people around me on DEEZ BOOTS. Raven also a chain attached to an ersatz Pit Bull (ECW flavor) named Odin who has yet to show a distinct personality aside from probable intensity on the lift bench. Mr. Flamingo's hand tremors were plain to see, and his once honeyed wordflow was halting. I was saddened for the world, by soon cheered in a shallow fanboy manner by the entrance of Thee Prince of Darkness, Kevin Sullivan! He seemed wizened and stiff but it's Kevin Sullivan. He had two evil brutes with him, including Wrecking Ball Legursky who has been given the Molokai/Kharma/Maha Singh brainwash cult treatment, so Raven and KS switched baby/heel roles from the last show. They even has thee Manson Xes on their foreheads, just like '80s Florida! Kevin Sullivan than proceeded to save not only the segment but my soul by name-dropping Calcutta lepers, Malaysian sifus and the gotdang cosmic cookie. I plotzed. A highlight of this shitty year, emes. Magick...
Next really was the DVDVR Homage Match of the night, but no one knew that but me (and now you): Beast Man vs. Ace Romero. There was a whole mess of beef a-slappin' together inside and outside that ring that night, I tell you what. These two boys, each 300+ lbs easy, put on a big man v. big man clinic. Beast Man's Kamala/Moondog mash-up against the slightly more urbane AR - it was poetry (approaching magick). There were manboob chops, dives, and top roping and big ass slams. Wheee!
We started with Tony Nese vs. Buddy Matthews but after a lights out sneak attack this morphed into Nese/Matthews vs. KC Navarro & a gym-twink slighty over his head. Navarro was defending the honor of Brian Cage who no-showed the last show and got scornfully tweeted. It was fun, and afterwards the video screen let Brian Cage pass along his Zoom challenge to BM (whose Aussie accent is ever so endearing). Cage looks intimidating just standing still, like many others workers cannot achieve in full animated growl posturing. Probably better off with this than Onita/Ray.
Somebody whose identity I probably should know since he was at the last BCW show sprinted out and gave a hype speech promoting mostly the next card. Possible backer? Everybody wants to be in the show, but it was short and sweet and probably useful leading to intermission.
An arthritic Shane Douglas teamed with the obviously named Steven Stetson (cowboy gimmick, c'mon now) against a relatively spry 2 Cold Scorpio and the positively arcanely named Traxx (??). SS and T gave off the powerful over-rehearsed student vibes but they did not shame themselves. "Jungle Boogie" is in thee RAF Top Ten Entrance Musics list, and all the cool kids got down. 2 Cold entered, and wrestled, masked - masked as in COVID19 stylee, with a fashionable khaki gaiter. All praise to him, he always has been an example for us all. Thee heel/face dynamic was blurry and the match was just there. I got involved in another heated debate on the cowboy's large package and missing ass - worth it or Faustian bargain? RVD's bubble butt was also mentioned. It segued in "Never A Leg Day" Traxx's really odd ringwear choices, like, lost your luggage weird. Tiny little Forever 21 booties w/floral anklets matching his swimwear-catalog-circa-1988 looking singlet and "X" monogrammed wristbands. Yowza. Cranky Old Man Douglas (two years older that your humble narrator) turned on the Stetson One after the young'un used a belly-to-belly. Boundaries, I presume. Scorp did go to the top but no Tumbleweeds or such. Let's be real here, folks.
Mercedes Martinez (way over and nicely recognized by the audience) vs. NWA Ladies champ Kamille - the crowd wanted to like this but it was a listless affair. MM's loose headlocks and weak strikes hurt me inside and would have gotten some kind of rookie punishment involving laps or push-ups until vomitus appeared if my trainer had seen those in the ring. I know pro wrestling is about the familiar and the ritual, and most spots and move are well-worn but the match was very un-innovative, especially considering how high the bar has been raised for the ladies these days (let's hear it for the Ladies!). Kamille looked better, but the South Philly misogynistic catcalling eventually reared it's mother-issues head and showed that the basement dwellers lost interest. There was a small but loud young lass contingent that remained involved which I like to see. A compatriot pointed out the mismatch of color with Kamille's extensions and that was all I could notice then and I felt sullied myself. The goons also mocked her shockingly small (for a modern championship) and admittedly crappy looking belt. Hey, that's not her fault, and it's hard to be an ice queen on the road. The NWA: pshaw. Moolah cries.
Throughout the evening, there were several overacting/committed Druid-zombie-vampire types roaming the crowd and getting in people's faces. One spoilsport did not even take the Japanese hard candy I carry in my pocket like a fogey when offered after he tried to stare me down at the bar - that's dedication: they're delicious (yuzu). Some of these kids were all gothed out with fangs and contacts whilst others merely were be-robed, corpse painted and wearing Sketchers. The payoff was the next match: Gangrel vs. Kevin Thorn, your battle of the US wrestling vampires, Lost Boys/Interview... against Blade 3/Hot Topic - who will prevail in a Lord of the Night (or somesuch) match (no DQ, with mood lighting)? No ASCAP worries here, and good for us since The Brood's theme music is festive. Gangrel keeps up the theme of hobbling bursitis afflicted workers but he did move around nicely once the bell rang. There was a bit with a priest in the beginning that fell flat and the eventual action, as it was, began. All the undead cosplayers were at ringside, Gangrel brought the more Druidic zombie brethren whilst Thorne commands the secret vampy nightclub types. Gangrel (booked off his DSotR turn?) does drop a good elbow, that full body extension version. Nevertheless, KT won somehow with acolyte interference. and thus won the service of all the ringside LARPers, united now in worship of their Lord Kevin Thorn, who hugged them all one by one, which I thought was sweet: wrestling always needs more hugging (and kissing), Eros and Thanatos, baby. This took quite a bit, and all the while poor ol' Gangrel was Fred Sanfording around the ring declaiming "Bullshit!". He may be missing teeth, and I am not talking about misplaced fangs. We got a Brood theme reprise before the main.
Speaking of unlicensed musics, the selection of '70s butt & arena rock was enjoyed by many in the crowd pre-card, during intermission, and for our outro. Needed more Eat The Turnbuckle, in my learned opinion. Main event!! The Rev was looking forward to this: PCO vs. Jonah. PCO's presence was slightly lessened by the lack of Destro - his gimmick needs a manager. Good entrance but he should have come out second. This was the ongoing mistake of this match - the unstoppable monster gimmick against the young big man, but only PCO seemed to know how to work this dynamic. Good workers but shitty psychology. Think early Undertaker: it might seem simple but you need ring savvy to make it shine. Also, Jonah, who I have seen really go before, did not lay his strikes in. Heck, lad - you are working the New Age Gypsy Joe. Nevertheless, PCO's ability to eat big furniture moves impressed us, the savage Roman mob. We left entertained, and satiated despite the Pennsylvania State Comission's ban on blood. And brawling in the crowd. And fun and Hanukkah and Vanilla Coke (it might happen).
This long winded glorified Bughouse Square rant was brought to you by thee Long COVIDs and prescription Cosmic Cookies. All mistakes, errors and misrememberings are mine alone but the opinions are factual. There's a followup card in March. Ima gonna go.