Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Wars

Keeping my new year's resolution into the third week of 2012, I supported local pro wrestling by attending GOUGE's Winter Wars show last night in Roxboro, North Carolina, about 30 miles north of where I live. I was expecting to see Stoney Hooker and Alex Avgerinos again (they were named on the poster), but they were no-shows. Still, the show that showed up was awesome--I maintained a nearly continuous state of elation. My friend, who begs for anonymity in these pages and doesn't quite "get" my obsession with wrestling, even had a good time, if only in laughing at me as I screamed at the ref and bemoaned the many injustices that play out in the squared circle ... and perhaps as I crossed and uncrossed my legs too frequently when ripped and longhair wrestler Mike West challenged North Carolina champ Damien Wayne. 

The standout matches for me came late in the evening, as more experienced wrestlers dished up the grunt-and-groan action I love. Raleigh heavyweight champion Otto Schwanz, a Teutonic escapee from the loony bin, had an early comic fight against baffled babyface Curtis Mack. Schwanz and his Middle Eastern manager Admir Al Akbar (nod to Star Wars fans) communicated in gibberish that went kind of like "m'huk la mushim al kohlrabi."  I dug the silliness, but big hairy Schwanz, with his enormous thighs, is what held my eye. Longhair body-beautiful Mike West was ostensibly the good guy up against heel champion Damien Wayne,  but the crowd was clearly stoked for the sight of the Sarasota muscle boy broken and humiliated--and they got what they wanted ... even though it was Wayne who pulled hair, insulted the city of Roxboro, and snatched a metal chair two seats away from me to brain the handsome challenger. For my part I was simply appreciative that West felt at ease showing off his ultra-tan body. In the main event, Jimmy Jack Funk Jr, whose name pays homage to at least three great Southern wrestlers of the '70s, fought Italian brickhouse Mickey Gambino in what was the most intense and dramatically satisfying bout of the evening. Funk (seen also above with comic nerd wrestler Seymour Snott) was a crowd favorite, and, while certainly no Mike West, he exuded sexy self-confidence and was well matched with Mickey Gambino, a Jersey Shore gimmick packed with muscle and arrogance. Gambino kept the crowd hissing in a remarkable show of heel charisma.

At least this time I remembered to charge my camera battery before going to the show. What I did not do is get up from my seat, so I wound up with shots of ring ropes and the turnbuckle, partly out of a desire to stick by my friend (decidedly a fish out of water here, whose original suggestion was that we visit an art gallery) and partly out of shyness and inadequate assertiveness training. Will I keep going to these shows for the duration of the year? Well, that's the plan, and the two live shows I've seen so far have whetted my appetite for more.

Otto Schwanz climbs the ropes

Schwanz takes a bite out of Curtis Mack

Mike West makes an impressive entrance

West tosses Damien Wayne

West dying out on the cold concrete

Wayne and West duke it out in the ring

Jimmy Jack Funk Jr makes his entrance, cowbell and bullrope in hand

Mickey Gambino pulls Funk into the ring

Gambino stomps on Funk


  1. Atta boy, Joe. I hope you continue to support the local indie wrestlers who put up shows in your city. As you know, there is NO pro wrestling scene here in the Philippines, but I will be attending a World Wrestling Fan Experience (WWFX) show here on Feb. 4. Scheduled to participate are John Morrison, Chris Masters, Carlito, Shawn Daivari and a bunch of other former WWE stars. I can't wait!

  2. Hi --- good for you, Joe... this sounds much more fun than an art show (though, art shows certainly can be a nice time as well...)
    Otto Schwanz is “just how I like ‘em” ... big and bald and hairy(!), but I’d love to see him in a real throw down as opposed to the goofy shenanigans (thats imho, btw)
    thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us! --- Ray



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