Ever wondered what it would look like if wrestling and video games were mashed together in a squared circle? Well, it’s funny.
As a student of the game and a former writer/booker of regional shows, one of my favourite subjects is the delicate balance between pro wrestling and comedy.
How much, and what kind of comedy can a show have without “contaminating” our suspension of disbelief?
Well, UK-based independent promotion ATTACK! Pro Wrestling seems to have found a formula their fans enjoy.
“Here at ATTACK!, our aim is to create a unique and fun wrestling-based product that is delivered in a way that is unlike any other in the world. By doing this we hope to draw attention to [current wrestling] fans and create new ones.” – told me “Flash” Morgan Webster, featured wrestler on the card and the social media guy for ATTACK!.
The show itself, the second instalment of the “Press Start” series, features a total of 5 matches, where all ATTACK! wrestlers portray a well-known video game character. Grappling, ass-kicking cosplayers-for-the-day, if you will.
At “Press Start: Level 2”, you get wrestlers portraying the more memorable personas of Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, Pokemon, Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers (not the movie version, thank JBL).
So… book a wrestling card and theme the event after popular video games? Hmm, interesting.
It’s new, it’s fresh and capitalizes on a very significant overlap between wrestling and video games. In other words, odds are YOU, the die-hard wrestling fan, know all about Chris Jericho, Prince Devitt, The Mario Brothers and Angry Birds.
But I immediately started thinking about that delicate balance between wrestling and comedy, with which I confronted Morgan. After all, how do you prevent the comedy aspect from taking over?
“I think we’ve got that mix of fun and fast paced action. For us the wrestling is always first. It’s what brought people to us initially.” – Morgan replies.
The more I discussed it with Morgan, the more I thought ATTACK! was not only on the right track, they had their priorities straight.
I’ll confess that when I saw the video thumbnail Morgan sent me, my mind went “Oh. Great. Another wrestling comedy cluster…”. To my surprise, I found the trailer not only enjoyable but had me thinking that ATTACK! may have found their sweet spot, by using video games as the umbrella for putting together wrestling and comedy.
“We had played around with a Halloween theme show entitled ‘GooseBUMPS’. But it wasn’t until this one that the idea for sound bites and costumes that it really took off.” – Morgan recalls.
“We did the first Press Start over a year ago to great reaction, so a sequel was always in the pipeline. We have always tried to have a fun approach to shows. After all the excitement and fun is what drew us to wrestling as kids.”
As the video showed you, there is a lot of clever references to the video games, of which I’ll highlight:
– The opening sound effect to invite a short-tempered Mike Bird to play Farmville. We all feel your pain, Mike.
– Sebastian Radclaw’s routine, about the frustrating and very universal gaming experience of Flappy Bird. Ain’t that the truth, man.
– In one of the bolder comedy spots, Chris Brookes pulls off the Sub Zero Freeze move on his 3 opponents. The crowd pops.
– Another bold one, Jim “Mario” Hunter and Lee “Luigi” Hunter get into a chase… below the ring, trademark game sound effects and all. The crowd pops.
I saw, as you probably will, a few spots that could have been done better or not at all. The Mario Karts, for example, are a cool reference, but difficult to get into the match, especially in the banana peel spot. But it’s all part of being creative, trying out new things, figuring out what works, what doesn’t and getting better in the process. (From my personal experience, I’ve never re-watched any of my own writing without picking it apart and wishing for at least a few sections to be airbrushed.)
While this show is only for a certain type of wrestling fan, I enjoyed ATTACK!’s creative approach, and its effort to combine all these different worlds into a cohesive show, and still do the techniques of pro wrestling justice.
In a business where a lot of indies (especially small ones) either don’t get it or think making it means killing yourself with high spots, ATTACK! has found a way to stand out. Good for them.
What did you think?