Wrestling fans, you should find it necessary to get out of the house and attend a live event occasionally! Check out a WWE house show—that’s industry speak for an untelevised card—when you get a chance! My friend Sean and I had a blast when we attended their Road to WrestleMania event this past February! We saw A.J. Styles make his house show debut! Ryback teamed up with the Usos against the New Day! Brock Lesnar took the commie Rusev to Suplex City and that was awesome! We remind each other often that we saw the Beast Incarnate in person, which is on the same par to us as our favorite punk shows of the past few years! Let me tell you something, wrestling fans—I would NEVER want to run into a monster like Brock in a dark alley for all the money in the world! That motherfucker is built like two brick shithouses!
Road to WrestleMania was a ton of fun, but there is nothing like being in a smaller crowd that is rabid for professional wrestling! I’m talking about watching live wrestling at places like your local armory or high school gymnasium, packed to the gills with rednecks, bikers, and other assorted riff-raff! You know—REAL wrestling fans like America used to make! Don’t be scared; make the trip out of the city and give it a chance! I once saw Sabu, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and Frankie Kazarian all on the same card at a suburban community hall! I am also talking about Hoodslam, which has been something of a First Friday tradition at the Oakland Metro since 2011! Hoodslam is the kind of wrestling that PORK readers would undoubtedly love—it is rock ‘n’ roll and America in its own way, outrageous, outlandish, and an awesome time! Wrestling is at its best when you can lose yourself in the action and the spectacle, am I right? Hoodslam succeeds and does it their way!
Hoodslam’s first event took place in April 2010 at the Victory Warehouse, a tiny underground venue in Oakland known for hosting a number of local punk and metal shows. Half of the wrestlers cancelled and barely anyone showed up to see the matches, but word spread quickly and Hoodslam had to relocate to the much larger Metro less than a year later. Their product is quite different from your garden-variety WWE show—there are numerous reasons why they tell you “DON’T BRING YOUR FUCKING KIDS!” even though I think any teenager who is intelligent and/or stupid enough to read PORK would get off on Hoodslam big time. These folks are just like us—many of them grew up on the finer things in life like comic books, MAD Magazine, The Simpsons and South Park, video games and RPGs, B-movies, and sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll!
Broseph Joe Brody is your whiskey-guzzling party host, anointing the crowd with Axe body spray and calling the action! Drugz Bunny is the Golden Gig Champion and Hoodslam’s top babyface—he also does mountains of cocaine in the ring that would make Tony Montana blush! Referees smoke blunts while making three-counts, but no one and I mean NO ONE in Hoodslam smokes more weed than the Stoner Brothers! Rick-Scott and Scott-Rick are twin towers of stoner rage in the ring, making Stoner University proud! Nowhere else can you see characters from both Street Fighter AND Mortal Kombat duke it out in real life! Yes, the chupacabra is real too! I have seen El Chupacabra in person, entering the ring and leaving no opponent unscathed! Name another wrestling promotion who would dare to feature a match with an invisible wrestler! All I know is that I was there and it happened in front of my very eyes! Hoodslam is also one of the few promotions that happily features intergender matches! This is where Brittany Wonder thrives, showing the fans why she holds the title of Best Athlete in the East Bay by destroying her competition! No one has been able to stop the Ultra Girl!
Perhaps you are the more traditional wrestling fan who prefers a serious and family-friendly approach. Hoodslam has just three words for ya: FUCK THE FANS! They don’t care if you don’t like it or get it; their wrestlers are here to do whatever they want in the name of having fun! Hoodslam remembers that wrestling is absurd theater, presenting it as such and winning over new fans all the time.
I started getting into Japanese wrestling years ago by acquiring FMW videos and DVDs of varying quality. Fans regarded Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling as ECW’s equally violent Japanese counterpart, although FMW started first and their matches were MUCH more over the top. FMW was where you could see something called a “Double Hell Barbed Wire Glass Crush Spider Net Death Match” and other assorted bouts of a similarly violent nature. Few of their wrestlers demonstrated the capability to have a match without shredding their skin to ribbons—naturally, those who could do that stood out in FMW’s sea of bloodshed. Hayabusa was one of the few. Atsushi Onita may have been FMW’s top babyface in theory, but the Falcon was the promotion’s true hero to many of us. Hayabusa withstood inhuman amounts of punishment standing beside Onita in epic gorefests against the devious Terry Funk, who had returned to Japan to destroy FMW from within! He stood tall against foes like Mr. Gannosuke, who at one point tried to steal Hayabusa’s mask and identity for his own! ECW fans fondly remember Hayabusa’s American debut at the Heat Wave 1998 event, in which the Falcon teamed with Jinsei Shinzaki (aka Hakushi) in a fun match against tag team champions Sabu and Rob Van Dam. Hayabusa lived up to his name by flying through the air with reckless abandon much like Sabu. Unfortunately, one of those high-flying moves ended his wrestling career and forever altered the course of the masked man’s life.
October 22, 2001 seemed to be another day at the office for Hayabusa as he was well on his way towards winning his match against Mammoth Sasaki. Everything seemed to be going right when Hayabusa took to the middle rope to perform a springboard moonsault, which was likely the beginning of the end for Sasaki. Hayabusa lost his footing and slipped off the rope, landing directly on his head. He cracked two of his vertebrae on impact, causing immediate paralysis from the neck down. I have watched the match a few times over the years. I always cringe when Hayabusa lands and goes limp. Can you imagine what it was like being in the arena that night? Wrestling may be “fake,” but Hayabusa lying in the ring motionless and being confined to a wheelchair was all too real. He frequently issued statements imploring younger wrestlers not to follow his example by performing overly dangerous and potentially life-altering moves to win over the audience.
Things seemed to look up for Hayabusa when he regained use of his legs in 2015. I highly recommend that you track down the YouTube video where Hayabusa appears at a live event, in which he manages to walk to the ring using a cane. I won’t lie to you; I get quite emotional when I watch it myself. Some of Japan’s biggest stars—like Genichiro Tenryu, Kenta Kobashi, and Keiji Mutoh—also attended that evening and there was not a dry eye in the house. He passed away from a subarachnoid hemorrhage approximately seven months later. I was sad to hear of his passing, but I do take solace in the fact that Hayabusa did live up to his promise that his fans would see him don the mask and walk again! Nagai raibu Hayabusa! Nagai raibu Eiji Ezaki!