Where did I spend my Saturday night?
In a church, watching grown men in Speedos wrestle.
More specifically, it was the New Zealand version of WWE – Impact Pro Wrestling New Zealand. It was as bizarre as you could imagine, as cheesy, and yet strangely, highly entertaining.
The ring was set up in the main room at Annesbrook Church, the lighting was excellent, the big screens and music for the entrances were great and photographers and videographers buzzed around the ring capturing the grimaces and wild faces.
I’m no expert, but the wrestling was impressive. They flipped, jumped off the top rope and threw each other into steel barriers. It looked like it hurt.
And the story lines were fantastic, not in the sense they were good, but that they were steeped in fantasy. Here were a few of my favourite lines from various fights:
“Payback’s a bitch,” from one wrestler to another before receiving a slap to the chest that not only floored him but left him reeling in pain for several minutes.
Another wrestler taunted the crowd that he went to a “private school in Wellington”, supposedly confirming his status as a bad guy.
Another “bad guy”, an Englishman whose entry music was people chanting “England, England” in the style of a crowd of soccer hooligans, yelled at his opponent “I’m going to kick your stupid Kiwi head”.
And the charm didn’t improve. As one wrestler taunted another for being fat by tipping a bag of nacho chips on his head and rubbing a saveloy onto his body, the crowd chanted “a***hole, a***hole”.
As a bit of adult entertainment it was fine, but hearing those chants coming from the mouths of children as young as 7 and 8 did leave a bad taste, especially when they pulled the middle finger to the “bad guy” as they did it.
Without a doubt the highlight was watching local man “Brook Duncan”, aka Duncan McDougall, compete for the light heavyweight championship.
Duncan had great support in the crowd, including from his three brothers who later took centre stage in the script.
Duncan didn’t win unfortunately, but he did himself and his family proud.
His athleticism was something to behold and he certainly entertained the crowd – surely the job description.
At the end of the night the announcer told the crowd that they would be back in Nelson, and as a three hour show of entertainment you could do far worse.
It was fun, it was ridiculous, it was impressive and those who did turn up had a blast.
Proof was only two seats away, where a man in his mid-30s, a man I know, was watching from the front row wearing an orange Mexican wrestling mask, his leg jack-hammering like an excited kid who has finally entered through the gates of Disneyland.
To him, and many others at church that night, it was spiritual.