bITS 'N CHUNKS
Southern Underground Pro is just a wrestling promotion the same way Fugazi were just an emo post-hardcore group so it seems fitting to start off with them.
I grappled (see what I did there) a little about how to do this entry. Naturally it's something I want to talk about, but how? Once you do one wrestling blog you're a wrestling blogger. I don't care about mark/smark shit or dirtsheets so I'd rather not. Describing the matches to you and recapping the winners seems a little pedestrian when the shows are available on the Highspots network.
I thought to myself, "why am I here?" as traces of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and Prince's "Raspberry Beret" filtered from the stage. Yes…stage. The shows are in punk and noise venues. We recently moved to the Basement East for a packed 3-and-some-change hour show of all killer and nano filler. The square circle fills up a room with no guardrails -- well, no steel guardrails. I assume we are the guardrails because if you get too close to the action you'll be catching bodies all night.
I suppose, to the young couple obstructing my five foot nothin' view, that was the appeal. Being able to touch your favorite indie wrestler and make a connection. Sounds creepy if you ask me, but I don't tell people how to enjoy themselves. After all, I blew fifteen bucks on a teeny tiny Bret Hart to do battle with all my other Funko POPs.
As I dodged the man running past me with the chainsaw I thought, how do I spin this? Why would I convince myself to blog about this? And as the match started and the smell of gasoline made me sick and the kicks and knife-edge chops rattled my brain and the crowd cheered like a small (package) bomb I realized that I need you all to know there is murder going on right under your noses and it's amazing.
By pure coincidence, my phone screen and camera lens were cracked (I'm a klutz). I was pretty sure my pics were going to come out garbage (not that I need them, but sometimes I like a visual diary of the stuff all my friends are missing) but they came out looking like color crime scene photos from the '70s and that seems mighty fitting.
Here's August's card for your edification, and a recap of the show provided by SoBros Network.
I know or know of just about everyone on the bill which is, naturally, why I came, but I think I would go see SUP in the middle of a field with only a ladder match between two small tired children. Actually, that sounds great. Hang on.
Indie shows are a lot different from what you may or may not see on TV or be familiar with. There's no real talk of production values. They're grimey. There's little in the way of protection for you or the wrestlers. There might be liability waivers involved. There's a little sense of good ol' fashioned, kid untested and mom unapproved danger. And featured prominently in this show, tasteful dick chants.
SUP, to me, sets itself apart by being Fugazi. The shows consistently deliver in terms of match quality, length, venue, the venue's drinks, even wrestling merchandise. You've seen me talk about the DIY and supporting small artists and local businesses if and when you can, and this is no different. Ticket prices have remained reasonable, the merch tables aren't bad if it's worth it to you (and it is, be honest), and you get to directly support your favorites. Give these people some gas money, make their night. There's local sponsors to support and their graphic design tends to come from people in the area as well. Seriously, hit them up. They are some kind folks.
There's a cast of characters and a family. I was a little aghast to see people that remembered me, but much like a convention fam a quick handshake and a hey warms the cockles of my heart. Are we an official cult now? Do we get cards?
The Fugazi comparison goes a little deeper as this promotion isn't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Righteous Jesse has given us two heartfelt dedications for stalwart of the scene THE STRONG STYLE PSYCHO yes in all caps Tank's retirement tour, and this show started with a ten bell salute in memory of the late Chandler Biggins. NOTHING about this feels out of place in an almost cartoonishly hypermasculine sport (okay, "sport") because there is nothing wrong with giving homage to father figures and dearly departed friends. And what better tribute than to put on some damn good matches. That's actually what we do in the scene and it's time some of that came back. SUP is fearless in a lot of ways, with shows in places most would probably snuff at for their bottom line and spots on exposed concrete that might make you faint in the audience.
On the technical side because you might be wondering about that too, SUP does a great job of building up newer or local talent while bringing in some of the bigger names. I'm glad to see them able to do a little more cross promotion and bringing in other belts, champs from other promotions. At the same time, I don't think you have to be super into "the indie scene" to come out and have a good time and see a few matches. Don't let that form of elitism deter you. That's actually a lesson for life. The point is exposure, right? Curt Stallion is the reigning Bonestorm champ and after this month's match with Joey Janela I think they're just going to have to bury him with that belt. Don’t believe me? Check his Instagram.
If violence and drunken jock chants still has you teetering on the fence, all I can tell you is, come out to the shows. Wait, don't come out. I like the crowd we have and I'm starting to get a little finicky about it. Well, maybe do come because I need to continue to go to more shows and I feel like they cost money. Maybe that's a dog whistle, I don't know. All I do know is I'm feverishly awaiting the next announcement; whenever you're ready to get weird, check out the grassroots social media (Twitter and Instagram) and think twice when you step out on the floor.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...