Sunday, June 25, 2023

How I just learned to just love pro wrestling

Never mind. 
Saturday June 25, 2023. 2:45 p.m.

I was standing in the afternoon sun when I all of a sudden found myself on the receiving end of a rib-threatening (and sorta, like, wet) hug. 

I'm talking an in-your-face body-slam embrace; a hug that with the addition of a simple vowel, becomes huge. (See what I did there?) 

A bearhug by which all others will from now on be measured. 

The nuclear-powered clasp came at the hands (and arms and legs and what have you) of one of my scores of cousins, Jennifer Crawford, a.k.a. Master Chef Canada 2019; a.k.a., Moon Miss.

That's right. When Crawford's not whipping up gourmet meals they're whupping evil enemies' backsides as a pro wrestler. I know. Almost hard to fathom. Both take sooo much focus and hard work.

Moments before our hug, Moon Miss and tag team partner Space Monkey suffered a wrestling loss to "Clan Freedom," kilt-wearing  (supposed) Scots named Freedom Walker and Bradford Montague. 

The match was the fourth of six that afternoon. The show ran from 2 until 4:30 and was organized by an outfit I'd never heard of before--but I'm a huge fan of now--Junction City Wrestling. 

It all unfolded in a four-basketball-courts-sized parking lot, two sides of which, thank goodness, happen to be the patios of two microbreweries. Two other breweries, Shacklands and Rainhard, sponsored the show. 

I am particularly fond of "Shacklands," because the matches took place in what's called Toronto's Stockyards neighbourhood; home to a bunch of old and some still-operating meat-packing operations.  (This geography spices the whole affair with a sort of harmless sleazy Rocky or Requiem For a Heavyweight air.)

We're talking an outdoors, bring-your-own-chair entertainment, rain or shine. 

Lest you're interested--and I am!--next up is "OctoberFist," slated for Sat. Sept. 23. 

But as yesterday's hard-working and overtly vaudevillian announcer T. Bernie Diamond told the audience, "So what if it's in September? Octoberfist can happen any time."

In their fight, Moon and Monkey were the crowd faves; Clan Freedom? Mean and evil. 

STIRRING THINGS UP: Yes, that's Moon Miss
in there, doin' that. Sorta scares me!
M&M got cheered loudly, Clan Freedom vociferously dissed. The ref, Brandan Doty, too, took his share of disapproval. And rightly so, I'd say. Doty even quote unquote let the tag-team match spill out of the ring and onto the pavement. For shame, we all agreed. 

Despite getting beat, post match, Moon Miss and Space Monkey laughed, smiled and high-fived fans en route to the dressing room. 


Moon Miss--who had travelled from their Nova Scotia home to compete and had no way of knowing I would be on hand--spotted me standing near the steps that go up to the change-room door. 

And you know that thing pro wrestlers do when they stick their arm out and point at their victim before pouncing? That's what Moon Miss did. 

Sorta scared me a bit.

Standing between Moon Miss and me was a slender ponytailed guy; about the same build as me. I'd been cheering (and boo'ing) right along with him and he was politely impressed when at one point I told him my mom was Moon Miss's Grandmother's sister and that I was there on behalf of about six gazillion relatives from across Canada who are all so proud of Moon Miss it's almost difficult to express. He and I sorta bonded.

So I actually felt a bit bad at how MM actually jumped over the chap to get to me. 

I'm not exaggerating about the jump. All these wrestlers can do that. You gotta see these people!

BORED OF THE RING? Moon Miss (yay!) takes it to
the streets with Clan Freedom (boo!)

All the performers, Moon Miss, Space Monkey, Clan Freedom, The Mighty Cadman, Salsa King, the entire slate of competitors leap like leopards and toss each other around like bowling pins. They can take falls and throw  themselves from high off the ropes, on to the (very noisy) ring surface, pop up again, do a roundhouse kick, withstand a punch and never break from the eye contact and rapport they maintain with the audience.

These people are fit; and funny; and real. 

At one point--this was a few bouts after the hug to end all hugs, I was standing beside a woman who looked to be in her 30s, a toddler hoisted on her shoulders. 

Watching the wrestlers toss each other about, appearing to actually be in pain and also seeming to joyfully inflict suffering, I asked the mother if junior knew that the performers might not be hurting each other. 

(Full goofball disclosure? A few seasons ago, Moon Miss actually did break a bone in action and got sidelined awhile. So at yesterday's match, when Moon Miss was throwing down with either Freedom Wallace or Bradford Montague and the Scot was just a-wailin' on MM's once broken limb, the protective older cousin in me was like, "Wait! What if it's really hurting??" Newsflash: It wasn't.)

But back to the sideline mom.

shared DNA in there somewhere!!
"[One of the wrestlers on the card] is my husband," the mom said. (I didn't ask her permission to use her partner's real name in this blog so I didn't. But I coulda. Then again, who'd want a guy like that mad at them? Ha.)

Turns out both mom and dad are, by day, computer programmers and dad wrestles as an avocation. "At our house, every night after dinner, it's wrestle wrestle wrestle," mom laughed. 

This all-star wrestling is a thing that a whole bunch of really smart people do for fun!. 

Meanwhile, back at the hug....

After Moon Miss leapt the ponytailed wrestling fan and landed around me, I clasped my cousin hard and said, "I love you."

And here's what the still sweaty athlete, moments after giving it their all in a fiercely fought but fun-filled match, panted back: "Moon Miss loves you soooooo much."

I think I just figured out why the hug was so memorable. 


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic… Thanks for representing everybody Peter. Wish I’d been there hopefully next time!