Formerly known as VCW… the New Hogtown Pro Wrestling banners, freshly donated by the event signage dept of Sign Source Solution, were visible in the front window box of the gallery and probably impacted a couple thousand people out front of the venue on Saturday night. It was Nuit Blanche after all, and the streets were full of young people looking for thrills. Hogtown’s new banners, illuminated in the art gallery window, work especially well when there’s a fight going on inside. With half dozen people on the sidewalk peering in through the glass, the event looked really exciting and inviting. I remember the first time I saw the banner lit up in the box; I was impressed – impacted. I knew I was in just the right place to see a first class live wrestling show.
Just inside the front door a pretty young woman with lovely brown curly hair was selling tickets – $20 each because I neglected to get them online, despite planning to come to the event since last week.
I got there too early on purpose; i wanted to watch the ring get built. The place was near empty at 5pm. The guys were still tightening the ropes on the ring, and gallery owner Christian Aldo himself was milling around, focusing lights and being a good shop steward. Props in storage were being shifting about to make space for the wrestlers in the back. Administrators hurried to locate key resources, and secure unused materials to make room for the wrestler’s dressing area.
The performers began showing up at six thirty and getting their costumes and their ‘characters’ on so to speak. I think many of these handsome and muscular men feel a little awkward in civilian clothes when they first arrive at the venue. They’re suddenly between two worlds, and two sets of behavior. Below is Jackson, aka The Professional as he arrives, and is welcomed by his ‘second family’.
Hutch Henries entered the ring at 8pm and formally announced the wrestling league name change first thing, making reference to the newly printed banners and the vinyl media wall behind him.
These props nicely illustrated the name change to the live audience, and in the Rogers TV show audience. Now it should be obvious to everyone that the name of Victory Commonwealth Wrestling is buried in the past, and #HogtownPro is the future of this league. Mr Henries likes to use the #HogtownPro hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and the upcoming November show may employ Hashtagio to archive tweets and curating the best pics for a social media feed wall.
The wrestling match started with the usual boasting and less than friendly banter as the performers squared off in the ring. Their combative oration is perhaps the oldest form of storytelling, and is still highly effective at communicating a ‘conflict of being’ that contrasts different ideas – combat is the best place to test and weigh characters, social constructs and philosophical principles.
The wrestler Nick Watts whom many of the other audience members seated beside me described as being a bully, represents the antagonist and on some level, an evil force.
His opponent, The Hacker is the force of good and the benign protagonist who struggled (successfully) to overcome evil and advance in the rankings of the Hogtown Wrestling organization.
The next match also had bearings on the rankings. Different emotions were imbued in the actions of these warriors as The Lover and his manager Saki San take on Eddie Sapps and Joey Valentyne in a match filled with suspense. The winners will face-off with current Tag Team Champions, the dreaded From Russia With Rage, later in the night for the titles.
Some of the best costumes at the show were designed by genius Lori Peltonen aka Monster Muffin who came to the show and sat ringside, perhaps to take mental notes on how her suits performed. Later I found out she’s a roller derby star herself and skates with Team Ontario, Toronto Roller Derby All-Stars and The Chicks Ahoy.
Jeannie Johnson, wife of local wrestling legend and uncle of The Rock Dwayne Johnson, Ricky Johnson, was there serving Amico’s late night pizza which is the beloved caterer of the event – the famous Parkdale ristorante feeds the wrestlers, and in return one wrestler named Rage wears a tight black Amico’s pizza shirt in his act.
Everyone in the community knows and loves Jeannie, and she loves them right back – you get the feeling this is her favorite night of the month.
Looking around the room, I was struck by the diversity of the crowd. There were people from all walks of life here enjoying the show. Let’s start the roundup with a snapshot of these young attractive socialites who I suspect were en route to Nuit Blanche and just popped in when they saw the excitement happening inside.
Seated beside them was the youngest fan at the show, and Brixton’s Mom and Dad who were there to support a workmate, and blow their kid’s mind.
There were passionate Superfans at the wrestling show, including one who wore the now outdated (and collectible) Roger’s red Victory Commonwealth t-shirt. Another lady came sporting horns and a dozen homemade signs with crudely embossed slogans condemning some wrestlers while praising and promising to make passionate love to others.
This attractive wrestling Super Fan was here to cheer on her hero in his upcoming bid for the belt.
The Title Fight Between Goliath Ayala and Jim Nye the Science Guy was nothing short of spectacular, and crystallized the excitement of Socktoberfest in a single bout. The fight started with some brisk maneuvers and the usual banter. There was the usual ring bound combat occurring until at some point one of the combatants was ejected from the roped arena and landed in the audience, breaking up the tightly packed rows of spectators.
To everyone’s surprise, instead of returning to the confines of the nearby ring, the wrestlers instead chose to fight it out right in the center of the main audience seating area. Jim Nye got Goliath Ayala in a devastating headlock and wouldn’t let go until the big man in blue beat himself free.
When Jim Nye tried to get back into the ring, Ayala, infuriated and perhaps a little humiliated by the beat down he took amidst the crowd, grabbed onto Jim Nye’s shoulder and forcibly hustled him outside into the street!
Goliath Ayala pushed Jim Nye the Science Guy right past the pretty brown haired ticket girl and out onto the sidewalk in front of the Super Wonder Gallery. I cant find any pictures of what actually happened out there, but they didn’t come in right away. . .
Playing it safe, I dared not follow them outside or even get close to the door least I somehow get caught in the melee when these two barrel chested behemoths rush back into the spotlight.
My instincts proved correct; less than two minute later the two big men came running back inside ostensibly with Goliath chasing Jim Nye who finally got free of the bear outside on the concrete (what really happened we’ll never know – unless you know someone who was outside smoking during the Title fight.)
Moments later they were back in the ring battling it out in with more loud hits, throws, flips, jumps and fist pumps over belly bumps.
It was an incredible show and ended with Science Guy exploding in rage to defeat Goliath and his mouthy manager.
At the end of the match a new wrestler wearing a mask came out and helped Jim collect a mountain of applause from a packed house.
Afterwards this mysterious masked wrestler who calls himself the Wild Machine became the focus of everyone’s curiosity – it seems the (new?) character is central to the upcoming Nov 11th 2016 event? I see his picture is on at least one of the posters (in the poster art) debuted by Mathew Brady the President of Hogtown Wrestling league.