One of the benefits to having a moderately successful comics blog–actually, the only benefit, now that I think of it–is that after four years of daily updates, people start to get a handle on what I like, and every now and then, one of them will offer to send me something they think I’ll like.
And sometimes, it turns out to be one of the most ridiculously awesome things I’ve ever seen.
Case in point, a DVD of Slamtasia 2, a show put on in February by Inter-Species Wrestling.
Yes, Inter-Species. I’ll get to that in a moment.
As long-time ISB readers (and anyone who had the misfortune of sitting through the punishing Monday Night Raw live-blogging I did on Twitter and swore never to do again) may recall, Professional Wrestling ranks only slightly behind comics and video games in the Holy Trinity of my misspent
youth adulthood. Still, as we’ve seen time and time again, comics and pro wrestling just weren’t meant to go together. But if there was some way to tie pro wrestling into one of my favorite aspects of comics–like, say, all those times where Batman and the Punisher have punched out gorillas and bears–then you might just have something.
Enter Mike “Llakor” Ryan, who was reading through the ISB archives when he hit the sentence about my desire to start “the world’s first all-bear cagefighting league” and rightly assumed that he had something I might want to see: A wrestling promotion that, among other things, involves a panda luchadore named El Hijo de Bamboo:
He is, of course, on a quest to avenge his murdered panda luchadore father.
See, Ryan’s the commissioner and ring announcer for ISW, a Canadian promotion with close ties to the similarly acronymed International Wrestling Syndicate, which the sharper marks out there will know as the company that gave us the greatest wrestler working today, El Generico, as well as Kevin Steen, who I recognized from a phenomenal match on Pro Wrestling Guerilla Sells Out, which is still the best wrestling-related purchase I’ve ever made. As a sort of mutant conjoined twin to IWS (to borrow Ryan’s phrasing), ISW draws from the same talent pool, except that instead of going head-to-head against each other in hardcore death-matches, they’re more likely to be squaring off against a vengeful panda or Moohammad, who is a cow that is also a terrorist, and–as we find out when he joins the commentary team for the second disc–talks just like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Not to put on The Old Man Hat here or anything, but one of the things I really miss about pro wrestling of my youth is the gimmicks. There was a time when the WWF expected us to believe that there was a man on their roster who may or may not be dead, but definitely drew mystical power from an urn carried by his obese, shrieking sidekick, or that a multimillionaire wrestled for the heck of it, or that the Ultimate Warrior was completely insane (kind of a freebie, that one), but they’ve slowly moved away from that. There are exceptions, of course–Santino Marella, for example, who has brought new life to the cross-dressing gimmick that Vince likes to drag out every few years–but by and large, WWE and TNA are pretty much just about two wrestlers-who-are-wrestlers beating each other up for some reason.
ISW, though, is the crystal meth of gimmick-themed wrestling. Slamtasia 2 isn’t just an event that asks you to believe that they’ve got a zombie on the payroll, but that there are two of them, and they are wrestling in a Body Bag Match. There’s a guy whose gimmick is that he’s homeless, and he goes so far as to pass his hat to collect change from the audience after his matches. And of course, there’s El Hijo de Bamboo, who is on the card wrestling Damian, a Quebec-Separatist Ex-Nazi whose moves are inspired by Tony Jaa, and who is the very same wrestler that killed his father:
Also of note, it’s the only wrestling event I’ve ever seen that takes place in a bar, which is actually pretty appropriate. And that’s not a knock on the quality of the wrestlers either; it’s just obvious that everyone, from the crowd to the wrestlers to the guys behind the scenes are there to have a good time. Even the commentators get into the act, with what is unquestionably my favorite bit of wrestling commentary ever:
He’s going for the Surfboard! That move is utilized by Hulk Hogan in WCW vs. NWO Revenge! He doesn’t actually use that in real life, that’s a BULLSHIT move!
And with that, the ISW stole my heart.
If you’d like to find out more about them, there’s a website with a YouTube channel, and the DVDs of their programs are available to buy online, although to be honest, I’m not sure if there are references to the N64 in any of the others.