As hipster referee Rob D’Arcy shook off the effects of el Cardenal’s sinister hypnosis and groggily counted one, two, three, the tightly-packed crowd in Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery fell silent. All joy had been sucked out of the room – nay, the world! – and Freddie Mercurio was now the ex-Lucha Britannia champion…
That’s skipping to the end, of course. Before that was another two hours of the bastard mix of lucha libre, cabaret, comedy, and chaos that Lucha Britannia has made its stock trade. The show – dubbed April Atonement, although they could have called it what they liked and still sold out – kicked off a weekend of wrestling fun for your reviewer that would climax with WWE, WCW & ECW legend Sabu wrestling in a Victorian pleasure house in front of thousands in Camden.
But, even though the rest of the weekend was a very high standard of entertainment, nothing touched Lucha Britannia. There was some better wrestling (and I’m sure the luchadores of east London would agree with me on that regard), and there were moments at ENDVR & ICW that popped the fun-seeker in me like a balloon in a drawing pin factory, but Lucha Britannia was the best show.
And that’s what it is! A show! Going in, you know little of what you’ll see. No matches are announced and you’re not even sure which luchadores you’ll see. All you know is that, at the end of the night, you’ll come out with a grin a mile wide.
I’d been to one show before – February Falls! two months ago – and I was hooked. I couldn’t make March Madness and it hurt. I devoured photos, jealously eyeing my spot, and hating the person standing in it. I can’t make the June or July shows, either, and I imagine I’ll be feeling exactly the same way then. Either they’re doing something very right, or I’m very wrong. But – ha! – before you say anything, smart aleck, I took a pal with me on Friday night and he now feels it, too. So I’m not very wrong. Well, maybe I am but this is no evidence of it, sir!
So, the show. The show! It kicked off with the pulcinellan Benjamin Louche corralling the crowd into a frenzy, before introducing his cohorts Tony Two Tops & el Texaco, and unleashing the mind-blowingly sexy Glamazons – Mamzelle Maz & Viva Ruin. And they we got the first match…
A seven-man Lucha Chaos match began the night in a pulsating and furious manner. What are the rules of Lucha Chaos? NO-ONE KNOWS! One thing everyone knows is that it’s going to be all over the shop, in the best possible way. Pure Britannico, the latest product of the egg-laying queen that lies at the heart of the Lucha Britannia universe, won the day for the powers of good, with assistance from la Tigressa. The forces of evil, marshalled by The Army of Darkness, and featuring the nightmare clown Payaso Pesadilla, two of los Necrosi, el Piraña and el Lagarto del Plata, ensured it wasn’t an easy win.
With the grappling action underway, the show sidestepped into cabaret, as Lolo Brow and Scarlet O’Hora performed a bizarre mix of sideshow geekery and booty-shaking that left me a little disgusted and strangely aroused.
Those feelings continued into the next match on the card, with the arrival of la Rana Venenosa – the venomous frog – who was teaming with Zombie Janey Britannico, former nice girl turned flesh-eating animus. They were fighting the forces of good, in the shape of la Diablesa Rosa and Discocita. Discocita, who also goes by the name Dragonita when she’s not dancing, was returning to Lucha Britannia after two months with the Japanese Stardom promotion. Big time.
Evil won the day when la Rana took advantage of a miscommunication between Diablesa and Discocita to pin the reformed demoness. After the match, Discocita laid waste to her former friend, angry at suffering a loss. Bad times, man.
During the interval, I turned to my pal Jake and sought his opinion on what he’d just seen. I needn’t have bothered asking, because his grin said volumes. He was as impressed with whole ‘ness of the show as much as anything in it, and felt exactly what I did – that being there makes you part of it. Not in the stupid way that some fans have taken to trying to include themselves in shows nowadays, by shouting out oh so funny! things at the wrestlers, but in the traditional professional wrestling manner – using the fans to build the atmosphere, working off them not against them, and making them feel part of the family. I apologise if that’s not the aim, but it’s a good way to fuck up if not.
After the break, it was back on with another Lucha Chaos match. This time it was a tag-team chaos match, with four teams, although one didn’t show up – more of which later! The unfrozen Vikings, los Nordicos, who may have been unfrozen by Maoris if their haka is anything to go by, took on African Prince Katonda and his primate pal el Monito Aullador, and the team of east end bovver boy Fug and the neon explosion Cassius.
This last – and unlikely – team came together when Fug took exception to the Army of Darkness taking liberties on his manor with Cassius, and Tony Two Tops has welcomed the dancing queen into his stable.
Once again, the action was frenetic. Monito Aullador and Nordico Fuego both came off the balcony – Fuego landing in an Iron Man pose, fist striking the mat, that even made Tony Two Tops on commentary utter a “holy shit!” – and the dives into the crowd came thick and fast.
Katonda ended the match with some bruising slams and picked up the win for his team, to the delight of his simian friend and the crowd. Shit, we didn’t care who won – they’s all good guys there. And, just to emphasise that, they all danced to Cassius’s favourite song, the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men”. Even the huge Viking.
Remember I said there should have been four teams? Well, the Fabulous Bakewell Boys made it to the ring after everyone had left. Since they had no match, they launched a charity appeal. Yes, that’s right. Apparently, children all over the world are being born without facial hair. Donations to the Bakewell Boys’ Charity for Babies Born Without Moustaches would enable the Boys to get so drunk they could start breaking into people’s houses and drawing ‘taches and beards on with permanent markers. A worthy cause, I’m sure you’ll agree.
To help raise money, they drew a raffle ticket, and the winner would get to spend the day with the Boys before next month’s show. The winner was Grandpa Bakewell’s former Thai mail-order bride Lilly SnatchDragon, who vowed to make the Boys day a miserable experience. Gold.
Before the main event, the ring was set up for another cabaret act. This time, Snake Fervour would wow the crowd with her lack of a gag reflex as she swallowed a long-stemmed rose and two swords. Not at the same time, mind – it was impressive enough as it was.
And so this is where we came in – the main event of the evening. We knew Freddie Mercurio would be defending his Lucha Britannia title, and we knew that Tony Two Tops had resurrected Metallico to play some part in the evening, and so the announcement of el Cardenal’s witch-doctor Santeria as the third man in a Triple Threat match marked our card.
Before the match, el Cardenal attempted to take control of Metallico by stealing the Speak ‘n’ Spell that Tony Two Tops uses to programme the robotic warrior (look, just go with it, okay?) but he was unable to get it to work because the Speak ‘n’ Spell did not understand Latin.
So these three titans did battle. Mercurio and Metallico teamed early to dispatch, temporarily, the houngan, and then sportingly went at it themselves. Blood was spilled, bodies were bruised, and the upshot of el Cardenal’s dark mesmerism was a title change that nobody wanted: Santeria was Lucha Britannia champion once more.
Initially silent, the crowd erupted into disapproval, and the Army of Darkness slunk away with their treasure. Freddie Mercurio, bowed but not beaten, rose and led the crowd in a sing-a-long, smiles on faces the last thing remembered at this show, as always.
Lucha Britannia are doing something special. It’s on the downlow – possibly British wrestling’s best-kept secret – but it’s so very, very real. They’ll be back on May 15th with another chapter in the ongoing struggle between good and evil, with fun, fighting, and fabulous fuckers guaranteed. Miss it, miss out.