The Accidental Phenomenon: Hoodslam
Note: This column is going to be chock full of things like the swears and other “mature content,” so if that’s not your thing, here’s your warning
If it’s your first time, and you’re standing outside in line a solid hour before the doors open, you may not notice anything that special. You’ll see your usual cross section of wrestling fans, sporting shirts of their favorite guys from their favorite promotions. Chatter about the most recent televised show can be heard, as well as talk about the local sports teams. Once in a while, you’ll hear a section of the line get a little louder – they’ve spotted one of the wrestlers for the night as they make their way into the building. After some hugs or high fives are exchanged, things quiet back down. You don’t know it yet, but it’s just the calm before the storm.
Once the doors open, you can sense the change in energy, as those who have been here before grow exponentially excited. It’s your first time, though, so you’re still not sure what to expect. You’ve been to countless wrestling shows in your life – how is this one really going to be all that different?
You make your way past the merchandise tables, maybe stopping to grab a shirt real quick, to talk to a wrestler you recognize from somewhere else. It’s about now that you might begin to notice that you have definitely not hit your usual wrestling show. Next is when you stop at one of the two bars inside the building (ah, so that’s why I was carded). Finally, when you go to take your seat, and you notice that there really aren’t any. In fact, there’s not even a barricade around the ring. Fans are already lined around the ring, with the sort of dream seat we usually dream about.
It’s easy to tell who the regulars are, as little groups of fans bump into each other, talk about the last show, and then move on to repeat the scene with a different group altogether. They also hang closer to the entrance stage and ramp, and have the shirts of their favorite wrestlers performing that night. You will notice, in each and every one of them, a frenzied look of elation in their eyes. They know there’s still a bit of time to kill, but they also know that when it gets started, it’s going to be incredible.
Finally, the lights drop. The fans yell. The host appears. And, man, this host is not what you’re used to seeing. He’s “Broseph” Joe Brody, bro. He’s the first ever Rock the Promo Champion, brought to you by The Rock. And as he marches down the stage, middle finger up, pouring Jack to anyone willing to hold up a cup or open their mouth, the fans get louder. He gets into the ring, continuing with his salute to the crowd, as the smoke billows and the booze flows.
We will get the rundown of the rules – simple concepts like DON’T bring your kids; get the fuck out of the way when you see wrestlers headed full steam or risk the consequences; make way for the real cameramen; and, in a nice touch of politeness, tall people should allow the shorter people priority as far as front-row placement goes. As a 6’3″ dude myself, I tell the short people around to let me know if I’m blocking their view, and that they can cut in front of me if they want. I’m such a sweet guy. Oh, and DON’T FUCKING THROW ANYTHING. AT ANYONE. Do that, and you’ll be pointed out by everyone, and quickly escorted out by an all-too-happy-to-assist wrestler or two. Once we’re done with the rules, Brody will once more hammer home the central point of the show: Fuck the Fans.
It’s almost poetic in its honest simplicity. With the entire place chanting the mantra, we’re ready.
This is Hoodslam. And, as you’ll learn one way or another tonight, this is real.
I had heard about it for years. A buddy had been going forever, and had managed to get another friend of mine to start attending more recently. And he couldn’t stop raving about it. All I wanted was to be able to attend, but one thing or another always prevented me from being able to make it to Oakland, California whenever that first Friday of the month rolled around.
With each passing month, I was told about crazier events, and names like Cage, Paul London, and Brian Kendrick were mentioned as having wrestled the night before. What I had first thought to be “the Oakland indy where people smoke and drink inside” was showing me how wrong I was before I could even get there. My friend would even focus on telling me how good the matches were, how into the show from start to finish he was. A guy that was barely keeping up with anything on TV anymore spoke about how it had reignited his passion for wrestling again.
That was when I decided that I just needed to figure it out, and get my ass to Oakland.
Last April, it was my first time. It was EnterTania VI the anniversary show, so I felt like I could count on a pretty damn good show. I stood in line for an hour, pretty excited, but not in the way I could see it in those who had attended. I watched “Ultra Girl” Brittany Wonder literally walk her way down the line of fans, offering a hug to anyone who wanted one. It wasn’t lost on me later that one minute we were getting hugged, and later we’d be screaming FUCK THE FANS as loud as we can. We love to be abused, I guess.
I had gone in wearing some random wrestling shirt, but I immediately went and grabbed a Hoodslam shirt when we entered, and threw it over what I had on. Once I had my drink, I was absolutely in shock about being able to actually stand against the ring. That’s when I was told about the times my friends had seen a wrestler completely take a fan out when they didn’t get out of the way in time. I made a mental note to not space out during the matches, and felt I’d be all right.
The fans were nice, especially when they were told I was a Hoodslam rookie. I was given a quick rundown of everyone’s favorite, and all of that jazz. There were two wrestlers I was there to see specifically: Paul London, the Intrepid One himself, and Drugz Bunny, who at the time held the Golden Gig Championship, the highest honor in Hoodslam.
I had heard a lot about Drugz Bunny, and I considered him the very personification of what I thought Hoodslam would be.
There are some quick and easy phrases you’ll hear to describe Hoodslam before you’ve attended. You’ll hear things like “comic book come to life,” or “crazy ass wrestling,” or “dude, weed!” These were the things I had in my head when I heard about Drugz Bunny.
He was awesome. The whole thing was awesome. When EnterTania was finished, I felt like my mind had been melted. The whole show was pure euphoria from start to finish. There was the Butternuts Memorial Lethal Lottery Battle Bowl Tournament that was eventually won by “The Talent” Ean Hancement, who is now a part of a group called The Caution (CAUTION) along with DARK Sheik (a man long-rumored to be a robot, who apparently had something big happen at the most recent Hoodslam on February 3rd), and “The LINK to the Future” Anton Voorhees (who was once known as Link, he Hero of Highrule).
I got to see Paul London (in a SWANK body suit) take on “The Mexican Werewolf” El Chupacabra, a guy I’ve seen in the Bay Area for over ten years, so it was good to see him in this arena, able to fully harness his powers.
I’d then see that same nice wrestler that was giving hugs, Brittany Wonder, put an absolute beatdown on Pissed Off Nergy Gamer in an “I Quit” match for the Best Athlete in the East Bay Golden Fannypacks (another high honor in Hoodslam). Make no mistake, Wonder was incredible. She gave as good as she got, and the two put on a HARD hitting match that had the fans going insane the entire time. Seriously, huge shout out to Brittany Wonder… even if she betrayed us all when she joined up with Doc Atrocity.
And in the main event, Drugz Bunny would retain his title when he defeated “Super Barrio Brother” Jesus Kruze in another fast paced, hard hitting matchup.
What I really like about Hoodslam, though – more than just the intangible “crazy” about it all – is how they truly go all out for the fans each and every time out, no matter what they get us to chant about ourselves.
Whether it’s EnterTania, or Get Your Ass to March the month before, or the Fanarchy Rules event where the fans get to pick who competes in what type of match, or Femmed Out, the two night extravaganza that gives all the glory to the ladies, or the October Bloodslam event, these guys constantly give the fans something they just don’t usually get.
It all leads to this incredible atmosphere where, instead of fans constantly trying to get themselves over, the fans actually play along with the show. I hate these types of comparisons, but at times it really feels like Rocky Horror and Pro Wrestling have come together, with everyone singing along at the right parts, as the wrestlers do their thing with an obvious joy on their faces.
When the wrestlers are done, they’ll walk around with the fans, happy to share a drink, take a picture, or maybe even a puff if you’re feeling froggy. Just don’t forget your blueberry pancakes. You’ll see Ryu, Ken, Cereal Man, The Stoner Brothers (Rick Scott and Scott Rick), and you’ll jam out to the awesome Hoodslam Band.
It sounds hyperbolic, but Hoodslam is the best time I have for a night of wrestling. It doesn’t make me hate the other stuff I watch; it just makes me love Hoodslam more and more, each time I return. It has this reputation among some of the snootier fans for being low-brow, and just for idiot stoners to enjoy. That’s ludicrous. If you like to enjoy wrestling, you can enjoy Hoodslam. Your level of inebriation absolutely does not determine the level of entertainment you’re receiving.
So if you’re anywhere near the Bay Area, or if you are ever heading out here, and you’ll be around for that hallowed First Friday, then you owe it to yourself to make it to Hoodslam. It’s unabashed punk rock, it’s guttural yells, it’s blood, sex and violence. It’s self-aware, with the fans chanting “THIS IS REAL” when Charlie Chaplin wrestles (he’s invisible), or when Cage wrestles Juice Lee: Cardboard Cutout edition.
I’ve seen a Walking Phoenix threaten to destroy Hoodslam, only to be defeated by a gang of zombies that crossed through a time portal; I’ve seen Joey Ryan’s Dong Style countered by a crotch full of cereal; I’ve seen fans get absolutely splattered because they weren’t paying attention when a spill was coming their way; I’ve seen some crazy, life-affirming shit at Hoodslam, if I’m being honest.
I love it for the fun. I respect it for the all out hard work and pure passion everyone involved displays not only for their fellow wrestlers, or even just for the Hoodslam event (which, make no mistake, they are fiercely loyal to this product), but for pro wrestling as a whole. While constantly winking at you the whole time, they still manage to give you a show that you enjoy, and want to see again.
As a side note, there is also a Hoodslam: RENO every few months, so if that’s a little easier for you to make, keep your eyes and ears open for their arrival. And you can always just check them out here and here!
It’s All Wrestling. It’s All Silly. We All Love It.