It is always a good sign when a wrestling show opens by bragging about the theatre awards it has earned. I've heard a lot about HOODSLAM, since I read the hipster internet all day long. They provided a pretty snazzy Brian Kendrick vs. Dark Sheik match for the #rawlternative indy YouTube marathon recently. So let's look at a randomly-chosen show from last year, apparently their set-up show for their showcase event, EnterTania.
The arena or whatever is hyper-dark. I've heard HOODSLAM called "the opposite of WWE" and, in terms of aesthetics, that's accurate. It looks like it was filmed in a womb, which I guess indy wrestling sort of is. Your commentators are Broseph Joe Brody and El Flaco Loco. Both have pleasant speaking voices and it really elevates the product. Lots of salty language for those who relish all that.
Courtney Crimson does a better job at faking pregnancy than most. The Chupacabra/Courtney pregnancy thing gets jettisoned once the match begins. The match is pretty solid. Both dudes work hard and I was especially impressed with Drake showing the moves' effects mid-match. Little touches like shaking his hands after he delivers chops really do a lot to gain audience involvement. It does go a little too long for me after a pair of moves that really should be kills, but the crowd stays into it. It didn't tell an epic story or anything, but it never degenerated into a move-trade fiesta, as sometimes happens in nowadays wrestling. Drake Younger sadly left HOODSLAM after this and now works for a rival company. "You can't waste any time when you're going against a fuckin' Mexican werewolf!"
This peaked for the wrong reasons at the beginning. The first team out is "Superhero" Kevin Douglas and Moshpit Mike. What kind of entrance music would you guess for Moshpit Mike? Wrong, it's scratchy hip-hop. He also has a hatchet man tattoo. "Superhero" Kevin Douglas appears to be fucking sauced. He demands a mic and then says, "Normally do! Normally people think! Marbelly things! Normally people think that there's like some kinda heel promo or something..." Their opponents are Rocky Penasco & Sexy Chino. Sexy Chino is very petite, like a potato, and strips down as Kevin Douglas mumbles something about "Positive mental attitude!" These early goings are a surreal disasterpiece in the Jackie Gayda tradition. Kevin Douglas refuses to give Chino & Penasco any time at the reins and basically shrugs everything off like a methlab Road Warrior. He cuts a promo about Drake Younger in the middle of his match for no reason, too. Douglas and Mike advance and face Ken and Ryu.
Yep, that Ken and Ryu. Fuck the copyrights! Despite being video game legends, they don't get better treatment from "Superhero" Kevin Douglas. "Don't no-sell like a dick!" commentator Joe Brody implores. I loved the video game sound effects and graphics being woven into the match, so splendid. Two more teams appear and this match goes for a very long time. The beginning is such a spectacle that the straight wrestling that follows, while serviceable, seems a little bit like a letdown.
I remember these guys from video games, too! I mean, I have no idea who Sindel is, but the rest of them are familiar. The girl who plays Sindel is an excellent speaker. She tosses off fancy college words like "sniveling" and "autocrat" without any stuttering or Obama/Triple H "uh"s. So far, my favorite parts of HOODSLAM are when people talk! Zangief is billed as "the Russian lover", so it's admirable that they're adding to his already-rich character. The match is mostly short and nothing, but I suspect that it's there just to shift the tempo after the lengthy and drunk-filled tag gauntlet.
Manimal & Soundwave vs. The Stoner Brothers
The Stoner Brothers are, as you'd expect, Steinerish. Rick-Scott wins my heart by saying, "When it's over and Scotty does the math"! He did the fucking math!!! Manimal wins my heart back by coming out to the theme song from Manimal including animal noises!!!!!~ Soundwave is unfortunately not Soundwave from The Transformers, but a portly black man instead. I guess Transformers Soundwave could've been black, but definitely not portly. This match is a Smokelahoma Iron Lung Challenge, which is sort of like that Necro Butcher/Corporal Robinson Tequila Shot Death Match from IWA-MS, only with "good Oakland purple" instead. The Stoners are pretty rad. At one point, Soundwave does a standing moonsault! Otherwise, a fun enough brawl.
Drugz Bunny vs. Brittany Wonder
For a shot at HOODSLAM's main title. Brittany Wonder: "not like other girls"/also super-cute. Drugz Bunny: Immanuel Kant created this gimmick. The energy of the fabu first match rears its pretty head again here. We get brawling, dives, cutoffs, Brittany Wonder's splendid ass-based offense, Drugz Bunny's integration of the drugz thing into the match, et al. I loved both warriors' selling mid-match, very good stuff there. As was the commentary, such as "You can't keep down a coked-up rabbit!" Wrestling-wise, this is the kind of thing I'd dig seeing more of. Exciting and fun and it featured a move called the Cokeslam.
Anthony & Johnny Drinko Butabi (Knights of the Roxbury) vs. Juiced Lee & Dark Sheik [Golden Gig tag champions]
Wasn't Night at the Roxbury some mid-2000s SNL skit? Nostalgia is always terrible. Lee and Sheik are partners who hate each other, which is a fine old wrestling tradition. I'd love to see a team that hates each other and yet goes on to hold tag titles for like five years anyway, but it will probably never happen. The announcers are really pushing this partner-animosity business, but the match mostly proceeds in straight fashion until the finishing stretch. The wrestling was solid enough and led to a Dark Sheik vs. Juiced Lee match at EnterTania, so whee.
James C vs. Virgil Flynn III [Best Athlete in the East Bay award]
James C is a 20s mobster guy who ends sentences with "See?" like Edward G. Robinson. Virgil Flynn is a smallish black dude who gets "Change the Battery Pack" flashing on the screen during his entrance. And, indeed, the pack is changed because Virgil is pretty energetic. I fear this is going to sound weird, but I really like James C's stuff in the ring because it's so basic. Things like refusing to lock up or waiting a while after an offensive move to start shifting about. So basic, but so good. James C should put on a pair of Uggs and drink a pumpkin spice latte mid-match, hail the basics. At one point, he nails a powerbomb off the second rope, but it's like he wants to put no effort into it and just lets gravity take Virgil down. This is smart and awesome and should happen more often in the wrestling. There were some things I didn't love. Virgil Flynn gets so excited about winning the match that he tries this convoluted multi-jump indy DDT thing and forgets that it will look terrible and (more importantly) not wallop his opponent. Enjoyable match and I'd like to see more James C.
Doc Atrocity, Big Van Faber, & Super Mutant Red Rhino 2099 vs. Chupacabra, Futurecabra, & El Flaco Loco
An impromptu six-man tag ends the night, as the Poison logo-colored Doc Atrocity insists that he is the true mayor of HOODSLAM. Erstwhile commentator and mayor El Flaco takes issue and faces are fisted. This was primarily just a way to set up Doc Atrocity vs. El Flaco Loco at EnterTania. So there.
This is not going to be to everyone's tastes! But if you have an appreciation for DDT or old snarky IWA-MS or the goofiest parts of GLOW or the most high-concept parts of Chikara, you might find something to love in HOODSLAM. I'm planning on checking out EnterTania when I get done watching Black Emanuelle solve the world's problems with her vagina. Will report back later.