Last Friday, Lindsay invited me to experience something new in my explorations of the Twin Cities this new year. Neither of us have been a big fan of wrestling in any sort of way, but Lindsay’s friend Andy talked up the utter spectacle and bizarre exuberance of this ongoing professional wrestling extravaganza at First Avenue, Wrestlepalooza. In the nostalgic style of over the top personas and high drama, one would get to see such personages as Wildcat, the Crime Fighting Feline, get in each other’s grill and work the crowds. He did not exaggerate. I did find it funny that the last time I was at First Avenue, I was seeing The Mountain Goats perform their latest album, Beat the Champ, focused and inspired by the wild world of professional wrestling, so it felt appropriate to be returning to the scene to find a ring set up and a dozen eccentric fighters ready to duke it out for the entertainment of the crowd.
For those who may not have been super into the professional wrestling world in their childhoods, myself included, there was enough action, humor, music, and titillation to go around during the proceedings. The seventh Wrestlepalooza held in Minneapolis, live music from beatboxer DJ Snuggles, the bouncy hooliganism of Madison based pop punk band Masked Intruder, and the tongue in cheek burlesque of Queenie Von Curves and Sweetpea ensured that even those with less of interest in the speedoed and musclebound fights were entertained. While temperatures plummeted outside First Avenue, large, bare chested men plummeted towards the mat to body slam their opponents.
As with any professional wrestling, the choreographed fights display clear heroes and villains, though good does not always triumph in these rings. While Heidi Lovelace defeated the Anarchist Arik Cannon, marking a victory for women in the ring, the villainous Sheik sucker punched another wrestler at the very beginning and then claimed victory over his hapless opponent, as the crowd cursed his name and he preened and postured.
One has to admit that one might not be entirely comfortable with all of the retrograde stereotypes and over the top villainy on display here, complete with rather… uncomfortable use of ethnic stereotypes (the Sheik suffered an abundance of hot dogs thrown into the ring before he put his opponent down for good with a well placed flying carpet to the torso), but then, that is probably a part of the retro appeal here. Can one laugh at a guy drinking a beer and then punching a woman, even if she then punched him the balls in return, before holding him down for the requisite three seconds, prompting him to toast a PBR in her honor and welcome more women to the arena?
The most amusing fight had to be the four man battle royale, which included a kilt wearing Trump supporter against another guy, as well as an Estonian farmer frog man and a cat man known as Wildcat, fierce in battle but easily distracted by laser pointers. Along with copious amounts of Pabst Blue Ribbon (the sponsors of the event) much fun was had.