On Sunday March 5th I hauled my already tired ass over to Lee’s Palace to behold the joint spectacle being put on by local promotion Lucha TO (a.k.a. Lucha in the 6 or LIT6) and the visiting Kaiju Big Battel. Now, before I get any further into this review, I need to specify that this show was unlike anything I had ever seen before and rating the matches proved just how subjective wrestling can be, as it was clearly not designed to be what other Pro-Wrestling tries to be. This was a spectacle which had more in common with your average tokusatsu film than with most other wrestling promotions. The show proved at times to be overwhelming and difficult to keep track of, and ,while I expected some of what I saw, at times I felt lost amidst the absurdity of it all.
Lee’s Palace has a unique atmosphere, and I can easily understand why it has become the home of Lucha TO, much in the way Les Foufounes Electriques has become the home of BATTLEWAR in Montreal. It is a hard rock/punk edged concert venue with little seating and very dim lighting, the perfect hole in the wall for mayhem to occur. It is grunge and punk and obnoxiously loud, indoors and out if you count aesthetics, and makes for a strikingly different wrestling show experience. The performers often entering the ring via routes through the audience. I can imagine this making for amazing moments later in the promotions lifetime, when it has had more opportunities to craft an identity, diehard fans, and homegrown stars… but if you want to enjoy your wrestling from a seated position it is best to get there remarkably early.
Match 1: Barbed-Wire Mouse Trap Death Match – “White Trash” Matt Cash vs. Warhead
In a bid to hype up LIT6’s hardcore sister promotion Deathproof Fight Club, the first match on this absolutely bonkers card was an insane conceptual hardcore match, seeing a barbed-wire board with mousetraps glued to it spelling out “LUCHA” in all caps being balanced precariously upon two chairs in the centre of the ring, a joint effort by both men. They circled it, as if trying to determine how to begin this psychotic daredevil sideshow experiment. Hands were forced down into the mousetraps before any wrestling had even been done, and quickly the match evolved into slams and a mini baseball bat that appeared to be covered in tacks. “White Trash” botched a corner cannonball in the most bizarre and dangerous looking way, somehow bouncing between the ropes and his opponent and winding up with a terrible landing in a tight space. The match ends with Warhead picking up the win with a death Valley Driver onto the board.
My biggest take away from this match is that Warhead has a lot of charisma, and I wonder if he can work non-death match bouts or if he’s one of those performers who works well in their niche but doesn’t have the fundamentals down to work without all the extra accoutrements of hyper violence.
Musical Interlude 1: Black Cat Attack
This band put on a pretty good performance. The aggressive female-fronted metal really fit the vibe of the venue and show in general, up to this point. During their set a bunch of cool cardboard buildings were set up in the ring, only to be taken down again before their set ended. Just a weird little moment there. Only negative thing i could really find about their performance was that the male guitarist sounded kind of bad when he tried to provide clean vocals.
Match 2: Carter Mason vs. Super Bigote
Carter Mason has a great set of entrance attire and his persona is full of swagger, making the referee take his entrance coat off of him just because he can. Following that entrance should have been hard, but Super Bigote enters to the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right to Party and the crowd is immediately hyped and on his side. The match would have been, overall, unremarkable had it not been for one hell of a high spot that saw Super Bigote launch himself, in one motion, out of the ring, up a staircase, and between bar counters right into the crowd to land on Carter Mason. It was such a tight space to land in that i could hardly believe it was being done. Nevertheless, Mason comes out on top after a sequence with a DVD.
After the match, Dr. Cube and his minions emerge to storm the ring and try to take over Toronto!The diabolical Doctor cuts a hilarious and brilliant promo mocking Canadian culture and butchers the national anthem before a hero arrives…
Match 3: Unicorn Party vs Mongor
So, I’ll be frank and admit that my presuppositions on how to grade and evaluate matches all went out the window at this point and I had to pick up the pieces again. It took a moment for me to readjust and understand exactly what Kaiju Big Battel was all about and how to modify my understanding of Pro-Wrestling to properly adapt it to this new milieu. Thankfully I am already a huge Tokusatsu nerd, and am familiar with the fact that men in awkward to move in monster costumes have based their lumbering mannerisms on the top wrestling stars of a given decade. My grades for matches in which performers wore outfits that clearly restricted their visibility and movement are more lenient than they otherwise would have been, and as the bulk of the show was based on comedy performances you may not have the same ratings for matches as I gave them if you don’t get, or don’t like, what Lucha TO and Kaiju Big Battel are doing here.
Mongor’s costume left him the least agile of the two, and Unicorn party’s costume left him the most bizarrely sexual completely clothed individual I have ever seen. The match was populated mostly by haymakers, clotheslines and axe handles, but also involved cardboard buildings as weapons and Unicorn party getting turned on by being spanked by Mongor’s one giant hand. In the end Unicorn Party picked up the victory in a ridiculous bout.
Interesting to note about Kaiju Big Battel is that their matches are accompanied by live commentary and a soundtrack broadcast through the venue’s PA system, so you don’t have to wait to watch the show again for your play-by-play and colour.
Between matches Dr. Cube came out and a deal was struck that, moving forward, it would be a Best of Five series for control over Toronto, and dr. Cube was aiming for this territory to become his dominion.
Match 4: Merle Skeeter vs Burger Bear
By this point, while I still wasn’t rating matches as easily on the fly as i would have been if they were anything other than Kaiju Big Battel, I had learned what it was that I would need to understand to provide fair criticism and commentary on the matches. This match featured a great Raven-esque drop toe hold with buildings instead of chairs to impact the target and a bunch of totally cartoony wild swings like stereotypical Tokusatsu monsters. Merle Skeeter picked up the win by injecting Burger Bear with the Zika virus and pinning him. Dr. Cube’s forces are up 1-0.
Match 5: Genetically Modified Jellyfish Stinging Bananas Death Match – Hell Monkey vs Space Monkey
The two competitors started the match with a shoving contest to determine who was the dominant Alpha Male in this mutant monkey mayhem. Then they dueled each other using their tails as swords. Through the match both of these great apes tried to Monkey flip each other with no success, and they both tried to throw each other into the pile of deadly bananas in the corner, mirroring spots between them often. Space Monkey nailed a beautiful Michinoku Driver on Hell Monkey and went on to win the match when he came out the victor of the Monkey flip duel, landing Hell Monkey on the stinging bananas placed delicately in the middle of the ring and following that up with a solid clothesline. Very entertaining and unique match. The score is tied at 1-1 for control over Toronto.
Musical interlude 2: So Sick Social Club
This was an unfortunate set, in my opinion. I’ve seen So Sick Social Club before, opening for the Insane Clown Posse, and they were really great at that show, I have watched all their music videos, and seeing them again was a big selling point for me to go to this show. But this set, something was off. The vocals sounded bad, the guitar player seemed to be having difficulties getting his instrument to work right throughout the set, and the topless girl seemed out of place and unwelcome at the show. I have heard many complaints about this set, from friends and acquaintances in attendance, who all label the band terrible.
Match 6: Superwrong vs. Evil Uno
Evil Uno, a wrestler I’ve seen perform countless times, really camped it up with a cartoonishly heel performance at this show, where he took on infinite underdog Superwrong. Superwrong seemed to be looking to ditch his losing ways by dancing-and-dodging the majority of Uno’s attacks, until Uno applied a testicular claw and brought the might monster low. Superwrong worked hard to come back from having his dong manhandled, hitting the evil one with a nice snap suplex onto some buildings and doing some good dance fighting where he peppered Uno with bionic elbows. However, it was all for naught as Superwrong made a classic mistake and knocked himself out by trying to land a splash from hilariously far away, leading to Evil Uno getting the pinfall, a huge bag of cartoon money, and Dr. Cube a 2-1 lead! Oh No!
Match 7: Freddie Mercurio vs. Kikutaro
Freddie is introduced as the brainwashed slave of Dr. Cube, a hero forced to do his evil bidding via the nefarious square one’s control over time. As Dr. Cube explains that he will not let Freddie go spurts of Bohemian Rhapsody play and Freddie starts reacting, trying to break free from the Dr’s control via the power of Queen. If you haven’t guessed by now, yes, Freddie Mercurio is a lucha libre version of Freddy Mercury. His opponent is first introduced as French Toast, a man wearing a giant waffle mascot outfit, but quickly French Toast is replaced by legendary Japanese comedy wrestler Kikutaro.
The match started with Kikuatro getting some good arm drags in on the fabulous Freddie Mercurio, but quickly the tide turned with Freddie stomping-and-chopping to the rhythm of “We will Rock You”. Stomp-Stomp-Chop, Stomp-Stomp-Chop! Eventually Kikutaro accidentally throws the referee into Mercurio during a series of blocked charges into the corner and somehow both men simultaneously chokeslam each other, providing one of the best comedy wrestling moments i’ve ever seen live. Kikutaro wins the match after hitting a rad Shining Wizard on Mercurio after the mustacioed one missed a moonsault. The score is tied at 2-2.
Post match Kikutaro breaks Dr. Cube’s clock and Freddie Mercurio is a tecnico once more.
Match 8: DeSean Pratt + American Beetle vs. Erebus, the Evil Sea Turtle + John Greed
The match starts with some good, athletic indie style brawling between Pratt and Greed. Then erebus and American Beetle tagged in and Erebus had the upper hand, mauling Beetle pretty hard before the he made a very American comeback with a big boot and leg drop combo all wrestling fans should find familiar. Next Pratt and Greed were back in with a high pace sequence into a huge lariat and pinfall attempt where John Greed looked remarkably dominant. Erebus rolled over and splashed people repeatedly with his spikes, and then did that spot where you put a garbage can on someone’s head and then hit it, only using cardboard buildings. It was sold wonderfully. A ref bump leads to a 3 on 2 handicap against the heroes until Unicorn Party arrives to become the new guest referee. The face team makes a comeback and DeSean Pratt hits a great spinning DDT and 450 Splash for the win. The score is now 3 to 2 in favor of the forces of good. Dr. Cube has been defeated, and we can all rest easy with the benefits of our universal health care.
All-in-all, a fascinating show that defied all of my expectations, even going in knowing that this would be hokey and filled with awkward to move in monster costumes. The lack of seating at the venue was disappointing, and the lighting really could have been better for my ability to take photos. Otherwise the vibe in the venue was spot on for this kind of promotion. Vampiro was slated to make an appearance with a special announcement but, unfortunately, had a last minute flight cancellation and couldn’t make it. I hope I get to meet him eventually.
Kikutaro, sadly, seemed to me to be largely ignored and under-recognized by the fans around me. Which is a shame because he was in arguably the best straight wrestling match of the night, and was one of the major reasons I attended the event.
Have you been to a Lucha TO or Kaiju Big Battel show? Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.