by Chris Moyse
“TIGER! TIGER! TIGER!”
Sweating profusely into the second half of the show, it was nice to hear this deafening chant, assuring me that despite us all dying of heatstroke, we still had the capabilities to identify the species of the half-woman, half-cat luchadora flinging herself around the ring with reckless abandon.
But that’s the way Lucha Britannia’s audience works, they live to love. From standing outside in crappy weather, to squeezing together with sweat-drenched strangers, it seems no atmosphere is the “wrong” atmosphere for the Bethnal Green-based promotion, which operates monthly out of a lock-up hidden under a railway bridge. It’s a metal door to another universe, indeed, a Retro-Futureverse.
The show was opened by fabulous announcer Benjamin Louche, whose transition from angsty, pacing bag o’ nerves to confident showman supreme is a sight to behold. Louche would also perform live commentary alongside loveable sleazes Tony Two-Tops and Texaco. The live commentary is an important part of the show, and Louche and co. do a solid job of presenting the action. Though, frankly, I don’t look anything like Bob Hoskins, Tony.
Iconic valets The Glamazons were on hand as always, presenting the wrestlers and hyping the crowd. Viva Ruin and Mademoiselle Maz are excellent in this role, and are a large part of the rainbow of colour that lights up the venue. Colour is absolutely my most favourite aspect of the Britannia experience, and is more responsible for the overall style than many would give it credit for. It’s psychological y’see? Google it.
The first match, for the Lucha Chaos crown, hit outta nowhere as an escalating scrap between the ever-popular Freddie Mercurio and toff Reginald Windsor became a nine-man riot. Pirana went apeshit and took a lot of crowd heat. The monstrous Nordico Helado battled precariously on the top rope in terrifying fashion whilst tag-partner Fuego channelled Thor with an epic balcony dive.
Many of the contenders spilled in and out of the ring throughout the war, with Lagarta de Plata hitting a (literally) mind-blowing moonsault to the floor.
Admist this ruckus, Fug hit Antaeus with an F5 to be crowned the new King of Chaos, whilst the two men responsible for the whole brouhaha (Mercurio and Windsor) battled to the back.
It was high-speed carnage, and it got the adrenaline pumping for the night’s entertainment.
The Bakewells came to the ring next, sans their delectable ball and chain Lilly SnatchDragon, whom they told us they had distracted with a Quentin Tarantino boxset, adding that “absolutely nothing could go wrong with that..”
Cue SnatchDragon, of course, decked out as Kill Bill’s eponymous hitwoman GoGo Yubari. Lilly went into her oh-so-sexay burlesque routine before taking the mic (with a voice which always gets a reaction) to bring out nightmare clown Payaso Pesadilla and Estupido, the latest team hoping to add the Bakewells to their bodycount. Could the Yorkshire boys finally break their losing streak?
Despite a brave fight, the rudos took the bout, not only defeating The Bakewells, but also annihilating hapless referee Italian Dan, who garnered a lot of sympathy from his beatdown. Efforts by the stunning broken doll that is Nurse Buckitt did little to revive Dan, who was carted off backstage, never to be seen again. Well, I personally haven’t seen him since, so I can’t confirm he survived.
After the interval, there were some minor audio issues. This seemed to perturb Louche, who really shouldn’t have worried, as the audience were eating everything up, and any small hitches merely adds to the punk aesthetic of the whole affair. Still, nothing wrong with being a perfectionist about these things. The crowd appreciated the problem, and simply roared over the jittery music as if everything was groovy.
The super-popular team of La Diablesa Rosa and La Tigressa (TIGER! TIGER!) took on baddass incarnate Dragonetta Furiosa and the deadly La Rana Venenosa.
Dragonetta has a Ronda Rousey-esque mean face that burns holes, and Venenosa is hands-down my favourite wrassler on the squad, a fearless, venom-spitting, hat-stealing bitch, and the wrestling equivalent of Mortal Kombat’s Mileena. The villains brutally beat down the colourful Tigressa, who Ricky-Morton’d her way through Dragonetta’s believable offence whilst the crowd chanted her name, or her species at least.
A missed top rope splash from Venenosa allowed for the hot tag to the happy-go-lucky Rosa, a living superhero, who took it hard to the opposition, dropping Venenosa with a Uranage for the three count (conducted by Fraser the barman, standing in as referee for the now deceased Italian Dan.)
In a world of dreadful Divas, many lacking fundamental skills, and whose gimmicks are all generally “jealous bitch” or “obsessed maniac” the gals of Lucha Britannia are a blast of fresh air, and defy any notion that mixed-gender matches shouldn’t be a thing.
Great gimmicks, committed characters and passionate workers. They’re a highlight of every show.
Speaking of fresh air, by this point in the night the venue was hot, very freakin’ hot. The crowd were feeling it, and it was causing a dip in the noise, as people were suffering lethargy from the temperature. Crowd reaction, even interaction, is paramount to these shows however, so the huddled masses powered up and battled on, though things were about to get a damn sight hotter.
Our second interval act was performer Snake Fervor, a regular of Lucha Town who, on this of all evenings, brought a fire-act to the ring, teasing herself and the crowd with an awe-inspiring and very sexy flame dance, culminating in enormous fireballs that blew the roof off the building.
The mid show acts are a great Lucha Britannia trademark, and as an unashamed scholar of the burlesque and cheesecake world, are moments I eagerly await at every show.
Basically, I’m that wolf from the Droopy cartoons, and upon viewing these performers in action it’s all I can do to not beat myself over the head with a mallet whilst my bow-tie starts spinning. #notallwolves
Our main event of the evening saw the literally evil team of Los Necrosi and Santeria, led by El Cardenal, take on the Britannicos, robot-dude Metallico and current champion Cassius. The supposed four on four match became five on three when El Cardenal managed to hypnotise Metallico into switching sides, leading to an uphill battle for the tecnicos. I was personally hypnotised by Cardenal’s sweet fucking bodysuit.
Santeria is a great big-man, with an intimidating voodoo look and Necrosi are freaky in their roles as sleazy hellspawn. The Brittanicos, Pure and Neo, are technically fantastic, and possibly the best pure wrestlers on the roster. Exotico Cassius is over as all hell, and gets an incredible reception from the audience for his every action.
The two teams put on a great final match of the night, with Metallico eventually rebooting and rejoining his original team. This wasn’t enough to stop the march of evil, and Cardenal and crew got the win after Santeria dropped Cassius. Post-match, Neo flattened Santeria and then hit an amazing top-rope 630 to elicit one last hurrah from the Lucha Town citizens.
As usual, the Techincos filled the ring to end the show. Metallico activated his “Grab the mic and swear loudly” programme, which kicks off the post-show party. Myself and the regulars regaled a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Freddie Mercurio, then watched absolutely mortified as he received birthday chops which practically caved his chest in. Erm.. sorry.
Lucha Britannia is very much a wrestling show with the emphasis absolutely on “show.” They provide two hours of solid entertainment, which, although based around wrestling, is spirited from somewhere else. It’s more a spectacle of style, an explosion of colour and art, with talented people working their hardest to entertain their audience, and the audience responding in kind, which is a huge positive in today’s hip “Let’s break the show” mentality.
It’s been over ten years since I was a wrassler myself, and although pro-wrestling has always been important to me, I stopped going to shows around 2008. Despite this, I try really hard to make every Lucha Britannia show I can, simply because it gives me what I want from wrestling: character, colour, excitement, stunts, joy and pathos. From the hosts to the referees, the workers and even the photographer, everybody is committed to character, and plays it with genuine heart.
As importantly, Lucha Town feels like a community. Not of fans getting themselves over, or snarky types hoping something goes wrong, but a community, dare I say family, of performers and followers, all uniformly passionate about the product.
That’s why I bother going to wrestling shows again, it’s why the fans queue up before the doors open, it’s why no-one cares if its pissing it down, or if the building has run out of oxygen, and it’s why Lucha Britannia is my favourite promotion in the UK today.
I’ll always do my damnedest to be there. Maybe you should too?
Just don’t stand in my spot, capice?
(Chris Moyse can be found on Twitter at JxStarkweather@twitter.com, and also writes about movies for our sister site, Vulturehound)