Monday, February 10, 2014

Mickie Knuckles Is a F'n Machine: WSU Secret Show #3 Review

Collateral damage in the shape of one Jenny Rose
Photo Credit: TH
In the TH Style. Look for it to drop soon on the Stream WSU site.

  • Shynron caught JT Dunn offguard with a spike rana to get the victory in the Beyond Wrestling Showcase opener.
  • Mickie Knuckles escaped a pin attempt by biting Kimber Lee's thigh and finished her with a pumphandle bomb for the win.
  • America's Sweethearts - Santana Garrett and Amber O'Neal - defeated Christina von Eerie and Neveah by pinfall after Garrett hit von Eerie with a handspring into a standing moonsault.
  • Alpha Female obliterated Barracuda Britney with a torture rack driver.
  • In her second consecutive match, Alpha defeated Jenny Rose with a full nelson submission after tossing her through a gypsum wall.
  • In an unexpectedly electric first match out of intermission, Athena defeated the feisty Hania with the O-Face.
  • Candice LeRae beat back the sleazy challenge of Chris Dickinson with a Balls-plex
  • In the main event, Jessicka Havok overcame interference from Dickinson and a belt shot from the challenger to put down Shanna with the Air Raid Crash.

General Observations:
  • The atmosphere in the CZW Wrestling Academy felt intimate from start. I've been to shows where the seats were just as close to the ring, but the venue itself lent to a warm and close atmosphere. The floor was carpeted, the lighting befit an office complex more than a wrestling arena, and the floor plan made everything feel more compressed. Walking into the building and seeing Chris Dickinson and Alpha Female mill about and talk shop like it was an office building and not a wrestling show only added to that unique feeling.
  • Shynron busted out his backflip handspring into an Ace Crusher move midway through the opening match, and JT Dunn folded up like an accordion for it. The sell reminded me of when The Rock used to oversell the Stone Cold Stunner.
  • Mickie Knuckles hit the ring, and the first thing she did was lick the ring announcer's cheek. During the course of her match with Kimber Lee, she licked Lee and the referee Sozio, proclaiming that she liked to lick things. Hey, at least she was up front with her preferences.
  • Knuckles broke out some fancy grappling early on in the match after a humorous exchange on a Greco-Roman knuckle lock. Talk about portfolio diversification…
  • Lee reversed an exchange into a seated leg-applied full nelson, to which Knuckles replied "I don't bend that way!" I consider Mark Henry to be the best in-match chirper of all-time, and Knuckles was on his level in this contest.
  • Knuckles manhandled Lee so hard that Lee's bra broke. Knuckles did the most civilized thing possible and started to choke her with her own broken clothing.
  • Shortly after that, Knuckles must have caught wind of what Denver Colorado (the man, not the place!) was saying on commentary and threatened to skull-fuck him.
  • Lee caught Knuckles with an enzugiri, and Knuckles' eyes went totally glassy before she fell over like a tree clipped by a logger's saw.
  • After the match, Knuckles kept on Lee, ramming her head into the canvas. Jewells Malone ran out with a fire extinguisher to make the save.
  • Barbi Hayden came out and cut a promo trashing the crowd and venue. Now that she had become the NWA Women's World Champion, she was too big for a secret show, which brought out Santana Garrett and Amber O'Neal to chase her off.
  • O'Neal and Garrett, billed as America's Sweethearts, did their syrupy BFF act before the match, which brought jeers from both Christina von Eerie and Neveah. After the match, the jeering got worse, obviously.
  • Alpha Female hit the ring and stood in her corner across from Barracuda Britney like a pillar of ominous foreboding. She crossed her arms, opened her eyes wide, flared her nostrils, and stared a hole through the rookie. I was impressed.
  • Britney didn't have a chance, actually. Alpha kicked her ass thoroughly, and then afterwards, draped her German flag over her. In another era, she could have broken through the gender barrier as an over the top communist foreign heel.
  • Jenny Rose came out right after the decision and started chanting "USA! USA!" in an attempt to goad Alpha into another match. She got that match, whoo boy, she did.
  • The action went to the outside through the crowd. Alpha, seeming like she didn't really grasp the difference in this venue from the ones she normally works in, threw her violently into a gypsum wall. Rose went through the drywall. DJ Hyde, who owns CZW and is responsible for the upkeep of the building, did not look too thrilled.
  • Of course, to patch up the hole temporarily, the wrestlers took a cardboard cutout of Hyde and placed it against the wall.
  • Alpha finished Rose with a full nelson. Rose is not a petite girl, and Alpha ragdolled the shit out of her, worse than any Master Lock I've ever seen.
  • Hania and Athena worked STIFF early and throughout their match. I wasn't really aware of any beefs between the two going in, but holy shit, both of these wrestlers just laid into each other.
  • Hania broke out a casadora driver into the second turnbuckle. Corner moves are my personal kryptonite.
  • Chris Dickinson came out to "I'm Too Sexy," which admittedly got a rise out of me.
  • Dickinson's shtick was a bit uncomfortable to watch, but to be fair, Candice LeRae was always presented as being able to overcome him.
  • They say you never forget seeing your first Balls-plex live. It certainly is a magnificent wrestling hold, lemme tell ya.
  • Shanna came out for her match dancing like a stripper and accepting dollar bills from fans in her drawers. At least two fans obliged her, as did the ring announcer. Yeah, that whole display made me fucking embarrassed to be there or to call myself a wrestling fan, to be quite honest.
  • Jessicka Havok wasn't too thrilled with Shanna, and she jawed at her from jump. Shanna barked back, and Havok just pie-faced her, which elicited a "HOW RUDE" and a slap from Shanna. Of course, Havok answered it with a lariat. I marked, not gonna lie.
  • Shanna had Havok down and put on the Champ's jacket. It was a great visual to see Havok stalking upon her.
  • After the match, Hyde went to the ring to confront Havok as a receipt from Blood and Thunder, when Havok rebuked his advances. The exchange was entertaining except Hyde dropped a "c-bomb" in there. I can't get over that word. It should not be used. EVER.
Match of the Night: Kimber Lee vs. Mickie Knuckles - A great wrestling match isn't just comprised of holds, counters, bumps, and selling. At its heart, pro wrestling is performance art, theater if you will. Chatter within the match, facial expressions, and gesticulations are technically not necessary, but they can elevate so-so matches to good and so on and so forth. Mickie Knuckles took this match, which was actually would have been a standout match on its own, and elevated it with her shit-talking (on par with Mark Henry, to be honest), her wide-eyed war faces, and her general frenetic energy.

Of course, the main pitfall of being as expressively extracurricular as Knuckles was during this match was that the main conflict against Lee could have become secondary to getting herself over. However, everything Knuckles did built towards her desire to destroy Lee. She jawed with the announcers out of a paranoia that they might not have been giving her enough credit. She threatened Sozio because god forbid the referee show concern for the opponent that Knuckles would've been content to eviscerate with no concern.

Lee herself played the best babyface she possibly could, enhancing both the story and her opponent's bloodthirsty and somewhat perverted rage. She bumped hard and brought some blazing fire with her comebacks. And when the time came for Knuckles to make Lee's offense look like a world-beater, she put as much into selling as she did in her psychological torment. Lee at one point hit Knuckles with an enzugiri, and she took the move as if she were a redwood falling in the forest, that is, if a redwood had a face to blank out while the lumberjack yelled "TIMBERRRRRR!" This match was a complete performance from both wrestlers, especially Knuckles, who stole the show from the second match and dared everyone else to try and follow that.

Overall Thoughts: The show was unique and fun, but I couldn't help but shake some sense of grossness from some of the components. The portion before intermission was actually okay and the show seemed to be everything I wanted to be out of an intimate studio taping, and that part of the show featured Mickie Knuckles licking everything she could get her tongue on. Seriously though, Knuckles is a cult of personality, and I want her to be on so many shows. She embodies the kind of freakshow fringe that adds edge to a show without making it feel skeezy.

But the main event brought out so much of what is still wrong with women in wrestling in general. For one, Shanna stripper-dancing and taking singles in her tights sets everything back to Stone Age levels. EVERYTHING. Women are only starting to gain a foothold in pro wrestling in America by distancing themselves from the seedy idea that they only compete as spank bank depositors. Shanna taking ones from certain audience members and the ring announcer is part of the same creepy fabric that allowed Barbershop Window to think they could release their infamous shirt and keeps the customs market open.

And I don't really care how much the post-match stuff got Jessicka Havok over. I don't care if she's okay with being called the c-bomb. DJ Hyde should not stoop to using that word in reference to anyone, especially a woman. Other than that word, the segment was a hit. The tension in the air was palpable, and the story is helping keep Havok as Champion somewhat fresh despite her stranglehold on the WSU Championship. In a showdown that included both parties hocking loogies in each others' faces, the worst thing was a word. But that word holds so much power. In a carny environment, a lot of shit gets a pass, but not even the hyper-surreal world of reality bending and performers having skin thicker than bulletproof glass should the continued stratified caste system based on gender (or race or sexual preference or etc.) continue to be perpetrated.

Even Chris Dickinson's shtick made me feel uncomfortable at points. I saw him get really sleazy with Candice LeRae, and it just reminded me of everything bad about bro culture, so much to the point where defending it as performance art makes me feel like I'm mansplaining. Conversely, at no point was he presented as a superior to LeRae, and his endgame in WSU is set up that he's in all making fun of that kind of woman-objectifying bro-mans. His whole character might feel like more of a satire if it wasn't embedded in the same narrative as the other horrendous stuff that went down.

I feel somewhat bad harping on the gross stuff though, because the rest of the show was a fine departure from the typical wrestling event, even by WSU standards. The intimate setting of the CZW School seemed to loosen up the performers, like they felt the intimacy of the venue. Knuckles was an animated dynamo, and Lee bumped all over the place for her. America's Sweethearts, Neveah, and Christina von Eerie were almost adorable in their post-match interactions. Alpha Female brought the hype and then some. Her presence in the ring was everything I thought it would be, and in another era, she may have been able to break through the gender barrier as an imposing "foreign menace" heel. Even without her heritage and the entire flag-shrouding post-match ritual, she came off as a wrestler to be awed at and respected.

And then, Hania announced that she wasn't someone to make fun of for comic botching and finished the job Alpha literally started using Jenny Rose as a weapon in tearing the house down. She brought a fire that I didn't know she had, and Athena to her credit wrestled the same high-impact match she would work before she got hurt. That match embodied what the Beyond Wrestling ethos combined with the can-do fighting spirit of WSU's roster was all about. Having to share that spotlight with some sleaze is unfortunate, but I trust Denver Colorado will right the ship, or at least I hope he does. That roster has too much talent and the oeuvre they have going for them has too much potential to be special for it to be derailed by an imperfect Iberian wrestler accepting scuzz-money directly in her gear.