Squared Circle Pit

Squared Circle Pit

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Punk & Wrestling - One part of many

(*Road Warrior Hawk voice:*) Weeeelll I'm BACK!

I'm here to lay down some serious knowledge from the crazy world of Arthur Brown pro wrestling and punk rock. I'm gonna be doing a similar thing for the forthcoming zine outta one of American's top rock n' wrestling cities, Chicago! The zine "No Friends" is  (*Baron von Raschke voice) "from the genius mind from the bands Autonomy, Chinese Telephones and current MRR columnist, Ray Suburbia. So, look for that soon.

Today I was reminded of the Angry Samoans by some friends who I recently got to know at this year's punk/garage/budget rock showcase, Burger Boogaloo Fest in Oakland. Coincidentally enough, some people at the fest I saw included Johnny Legend who supports the holy trinity of rock, wrestling and B-movies. He was there along with Jello Biafra who himself was once involved during the Bay Area-based Incredibly Strange Wrestling. And jeez, I wish I had taken of photo with them!  So, anyway, I was telling my friends that the Angry Samoans were inspired by wrestling's Wild Samoans, Afa & Sika.  Afa & Sika are from the family with the longest branches in the squared circle the Anoa'i family. In 1984 I saw the Wild Samoans take on the likes of Tag Team Champions Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis who were sort of "The Odd Couple" of mid-80's WWF given the NY leatherman look of Adonis and Texas redneck vibe of Murdoch.


 Getting back to the Samoans   Kenji Shibuya becomes an investor in the Angry Samoans in the video below. Shibuya was a star in the NWA territories of San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 50s and 60s. According to his stats on Online World of Wrestling he teamed with Mr. Saito aka: Masa Saito who worked in the "big three" AWA/NWA/WWF in the 70's & early 80's. Shibuya is here getting annoyed by the be-mulleted Angry Samoans manger, Sterling Brown by throwing salt in his face.

 Now the question is who did this FIRST Kenji or Mr. Fuji? Fuji made it (in) famous as he was more in the spotlight during the 1980's and early 90's WWF. And sure, Fuji did inspire a song by Pennslyvania "wrestle-violence" band, The Ultimate Warriors. Yet another wrestling connection with this band is the one member who didn't go onto Pissed Jeans, was none other than vegan, SxE Chikara Wrestling star, Ultramantis Black who often does his t-shirt designs in tribute to Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuts, Jawbreaker, The Smiths, Black Flag and even Venom!*

In 1981 the Samoans uh, as in Angry had garnered some major controversy from their anti-Rodney Binghemimer  song "Get Off The Air" with lyrics like   Rodney was a big tastemaker in the L.A. new wave and punk scene and was host of KROQ-FM's "Rodney on the ROQ" fame. The song lyrics went:
He can't read baby he can't talk
He's LA's favorite punk rock jock
Glitter bands and Bowie's cock
Are his ideas of new wave rock
Get off the air, get off the air
You pathetic little queer, you don't impress me
Get off the air, you fucking square
Due to the heat they got from this single and their lack of being booked at local shows, the Angry Samoans became the Queer Pills. Under this new gimmick they recorded a 4-song EP with American punk classics like "Stupid Jerk" and "They Saved Hitler's Cock" - the latter title a variation of the B-Movie "They Saved Hitler's Brain". To further take the piss they called their label "Homophobic Records" and the catalog number as Homo 02. This is odd considering the label never released anything else but again they likely made this  an joke as "Oh Too Homo"? This gimmick only lasted a short time and by 1982 they had recorded their 2nd and arguably their best record, "Back From Samoa" as Angry Samoans. While this album does have another controversial song called "Homosexual" it was more to do with hypocrisy of rich dudes who were secretly gay but presented themselves as an "upstanding straight-arrow". Granted the song does take a jab at Darby Crash in a way but the lines "Homosexual/we love you" and "Homosexual/make it last" sound pretty positive. It seems like the song would be more about Larry Craig and a lot less about out WWE wrestler** Darren Young.

Contrary to rumor the band wasn't homophobic they were however, just a reflection of the time in the punk scene - especially in L.A. where certainly there was a lot of homophobia yet also hypocrisy around it i.e. - see Darby Crash's story. However, they Angry Samoans weren't at all like the jocky dudes that showed up a bit later beating people up at Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies shows.

Now here's Sheiky Baby calls out that discount Rambo mofo, Corporal Kirschner by callin' him a punk before their match in My-ammee. Is there a band that's sampled this yet? If not, GET ON IT!


* I still need that Venom shirt but every time I look it's sold out. Ugh!  Ultramantis' double DVD is totally worth getting though. Check it out here. http://ultramantis.firstpress.net/order/merch.html
** Yes, I said "wrestler" not "sports entertainer" fuck you WWE marketing weasels!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Before YouTube There Was Pro Wrestling This Week

Welp, it's been awhile since I've posted here but I've been telling friends about this incredibly GREAT show from the late 80's, "This Week In Pro Wrestling" with Gordon Solie (Georgia/Florida/Jim Crockett-era legend) and Joe "The Round Mound of Sound" Pedicino (also from a variety of Southern territories). This aired from 1987-88 and I believe I saw it on KICU one of the independent TV station in San Jose. This was like watching YouTube clips 2 decades before it existed. The show highlighted loads of wrestling action from across the U.S., Canada and the Japan.

The previous incarnation was called "Superstars of Wrestling" which featured highlights from all the territories as well as Japan and Mexico. It aired in Dallas and Birmingham. "Superstars" was hosted by Pedicino, his future wife and co-commentator/radio producer, Boni Blackstone and the excellent named ring announcer, Rhubarb Jones.

Some highlights:

* A young Paul E. Dangerously/Paul Heyman getting dissed by Gordon Solie.
* A young Jeff Jarrett working with some mid-level worker (for 1987 Memphis, anyway) named Billy Travis vs. late-era AWA stars Paul Diamond & Pat Tanaka who were later managed by Paul E.
* Very liberal and pre-copyright use of Eddie Murphy's synth-soul hit "Party All The Time".
* Female wrestler, Misty Blue Simmes with a silly run-in on the legendary editor/writer of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Bill Apter.

Misty Blue Simmes looks like the wrestling version of every rocker girl from my high school.

More highlights: 
* The Continental match with the very punk and Alice Cooper influenced Chris Colt up against 'bama fan fave, Wendell Cooley whilst Buddy "Who's the REAL 'Nature Boy" Landell babbles on. 
* Curt Henning vs. Wahoo McDaniel having a GREAT "chop-fest" in the AWA. This is well before Henning moved to the WWF and became Mr. Perfect. Though, Henning was deep into his heel run which also included a great match at the Cow Palace
* Wrestling Ninjas! Or Portland-area wrestling ninjas. By 1987 it seemed like every territory had at least one ninja wrestler. It was part of the unwritten rules of 80's kayfabe.
* Portland heel Rip Oliver delivers the softest-ever chair shot to Mike Miller's back but Miller sells it well.

I've also found another episode of the show with the full intro and of course more of "Party All The Time".  Aaaaaand:
* Footage from Puerto Rico with the Terry Funk & Dory Jr. Funk vs. the Invader & Mil Mascaras.
* Great, heelish commentary from manager and G. Gordon Liddy understudy, Gary Hart.
* Your answer to the question "when are we gonna see a good, clean scientific match?"
*  The "Australian Tag-Team" match from Central States (Kansas City)  has a lady in the crowd yelling "bull-shit!" over & over. Gawd how I love how hardcore some of the fans were back then. (And yeah some fans still kinda like that but it's not really the same post-kayfabe).
* Bill Apter & Pro Wrestling Illustrated's editor Craig Peters give ya updates on "Rowdy" Roddy Piper going to Hollywood (where he was off to work on "They Live").
* Hacksaw Duggan vs. Iron Sheik from a little place called the WWF.
* Lest I forget a young, Zubaz-ed, Rick Rude in World Class Championship Wrestling vs. discount heel, Eric Embry. 

Anyway, this show was the wrestling equivalent of what I experienced in the metal and punk scenes. People circulating tapes and info on bands or in this case, wrestlers from all over. Hence, once again the magic of rock and wrestling lived on.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Hey readers of thee 'Pit - since last time I've been to the excellent yearly convention WrestleFest in Newark (CA) where I met Colt Cabana, Terry Funk, Bret "The Hitman" Hart and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The article below is from my friend and very knowledgeable wrestling fan Kevin McCaighy. Kevin is the mastermind of Salt - the UK's only zine that covers wrestling AND the way, way out there areas of music - ranging from Royal Trux to Brody's Milita to Xasthur. Plus he's interviewed comic artist Renée French and John Lister - author of "Turning the Tables" a book on ECW Additionally, he's written for Rockarolla and The Quietus. Enjoy his review and history of ECW's "Unreleased Vol.1" and "Unreleased Vol 2. (Hmm...suddenly I got a mash-up image of Sabu making like Ozzy on the cover of Sabbath's "Volume 4" in my head).

Looking at the vast tape library that WWE has at its disposal is akin to viewing a mausoleum. One could say that the legacies of Vern Gagne, Bill Watts, Ted Turner, Fritz Von Erich and so many other wrestling promoters form a set of urns that populate the mantelpiece of Vince McMahon Jr; the action captured on those videotapes merely ashes that the company commemorates with an ad hoc series of DVD box sets whose release seem arbitrary at best. It was the turn of Paul Heyman and Extreme Championship Wrestling to receive this treatment last year with “ECW Unreleased Vol. 1”, a low key offering that was clearly intended to test the now still waters of a wrestling fan base that once clamoured for those three initials. Coming as it did at the closure of WWE’s licensing deal with Silvervision here in the UK, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from this set. Having been an ECW fan, but one both out of place and out of time (I didn’t even hear about the promotion until it folded in 2001), I have had a hell of a lot of catching up to do. Despite the vast amount of attention given over to ECW and its history since its collapse, working one’s way through its eight year history still takes a degree of dedication and deduction that only confuses matter further. The Deltavision VHS tapes I was buying in the early years of the last decade were heavily edited pieces of ECW action, with no discernible narrative from one tape to the next. A tape like “Extreme Warfare” would show action from 1994 (Benoit breaking Sabu’s neck) without explaining the leap to 1996 (Tommy Dreamer’s feud with Prime Time Brian Lee).

 Sandman goes through the crowd at 1PW's "Cruel Twist of Fate" show in the UK in 2005

“ECW Unreleased Vol. 1” does benefit strongly from a clear, year by year structure and concise and insightful links from the former ‘voice of ECW’ Joey Styles, leading off with the infamous Shane Douglas vs. Too Cold Scorpio NWA title match that lit the blue touch paper for Eastern Championship Wrestling to become Extreme Championship Wrestling, and concluding with a fine three way tag team title match from the last Pay Per View “Guilty as Charged”. In taking this selected walk through the history of the promotion, several things are lost straight away. First of all, the lack of music licensing means that it is impossible to view anyone’s true entrance with their actual ECW music. The Sandman is deprived of “Enter Sandman”, Tommy Dreamer of “Man in the Box”, RVD of ‘Walk’, and so on. Secondly, the audio has been altered at various points to eliminate swearing from both fans at ringside (who can clearly be seen mouthing obscenities) and from commentary: during the bone-crunching collision between Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka (November to Remember 99) Joey Styles’ line “my mother’s going to hate for this, but….holy SHIT!!!” is omitted completely. How do I know this? Because the line was there when the match was featured on the ECW compilation “Extreme Evolution”, which, along with its predecessor “Path of Destruction” remain the best compilations of ECW ever assembled.

These compilations were released at the tail end of the company’s existence, and still showcase the promotion at its brutal and pioneering best. Most the material from these compilations has been issued on other DVDs but you have to work very hard to find them. The clutch of title matches on “Vol. 1” is notable for the fact that they were hardly the point during certain periods of the promotion’s history. Douglas’ NWA title win is pretty vanilla without the promo he gives afterward – in fact Too Cold Scorpio carries him completely throughout, as does Bam Bam Bigelow during their title match from 1998. To me, Shane Douglas was not a credible face in that he couldn’t sell consistently enough to keep a match competitive. His win over Bam Bam seems like a fluke from this vantage point, even if the Pittsburgh crowd is going wild in the background. Likewise, his title battle against Tazz from 99 is only really watchable for the amazing blitzkrieg run-in by Sabu. I have to say it: Tazz? I never picked up what he was putting down. I could never buy into his hard man, shooter persona or his MMA-based move set. Having seen the worked shoot matches he put together with Paul Varelans and Chris Jericho,, I can safely say that I was completely underwhelmed and would concentrate on other parts of the ECW that didn’t involve him. Of course the match at “Barely Legal” was a classic: that was all down to Sabu, who I regard as one of the all-time great workers, not just in ECW, but of any era of wrestling. He remains one of the great phenomenons of ECW, a terrifying aerial specialist who also possessed tremendous mat wrestling skills alongside a fierce sense of psychology, and who could also sell like a demon. His tag team with RVD gets an outing against the Japanese team of Shinzaki and Hayabusa from the brilliant “Heat Wave 1998” PPV, a thrilling tag war that ranks as one of my favourite matches in ECW history.                                                    

Little things occurred to me whilst watching “Vol. 1”: Mikey Whipwreck looked a lot Jeffrey Lee Pierce of The Gun Club during his tag reign with Tajiri; the chairshot he gives Cactus Jack at the close of Jack’s bout with Shane Douglas might be the most sickening ever thrown in a match involved Mick Foley; and that Mick Foley was dead wrong about the lack of female fans in ECW. The more you watch, the more of them you see, especially at Arena shows. The match from the Elk’s Lodge in New York featuring a heel Jerry Lynn with Cyrus as his manager is a treat both for Lynn’s pissed off heel persona and for Joey Styles and Joel Gertner’s hilarious interaction on commentary.

For in-ring action, the highlights of the set are Chris Jericho’s stunning New Japan-style match with Too Cold Scorpio (which was Jericho’s last ECW match before moving to WCW), a crisp Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero TV title match and the fantastic first meeting between Jerry Lynn and RVD from the ECW Arena. It was bizarrely only shown in sped-up highlight from on RVD’s “One of a Kind” set – a strange omission that makes “Vol. 1” all the more essential. It clearly sold well enough for WWE to commission a follow up, which was only recently released.

Former ECW: World Champion Mikey Whipwreck
Jeffery Lee Pierce of The Gun Club

For “Vol. 2” Joey Styles is joined by Tommy Dreamer for some amiable links and stories, giving much needed context to the unfolding action, and the archives have been well and truly mined for extreme treasure. There are some real gems, like the extraordinary sight of Bobby Eaton and Arn Anderson in an ECW ring, tagging with Sabu and Terry Funk respectively in a heated battle that raises the Arena roof. Similarly, viewing the legendary Steiner Brothers in a team with Eddie Guerrero against the team of Malenko, Scorpio and Cactus Jack is a treat for veteran wrestling fans. There are misfires that are only notable for their place in ECW history (Dreamer vs The Tazmaniac, Douglas vs. Al Snow in a risible title match), but even the “debacle” of Tazz’ shoot fight with Jericho is rescued by the super-heel antics of referee Bill Alfonso at ringside; despite being handcuffed to Tod Gordon, he still influences the outcome like a true bad guy should. The best inclusions by a mile are the astounding six man tag by teams from Michinoku Pro in match described as a “Barely Legal teaser”, which is just as staggering a collision as their celebrated match on that milestone PPV, and a hugely enjoyable Three Way Dance between Jerry Lynn, Tajiri and Super Crazy that first featured on “Path of Destruction”. Styles and Dreamer are effusive in their praise of the recently retired Jerry Lynn, as well as Steve Corino and the man who arguable possessed the archetypal ECW gimmick, Mikey Whipwreck. Even Tazz is worthy of kudos for his part in a three way dance for his (completely bullshit) FTW title against Sabu and Bam Bam Bigelow, holding his own with two wrestling giants in a captivating 30 minute draw.

 There is a market for ECW on DVD; this review is clear proof of that. So what is it that is so irksome about these releases? Consider these facts – the only complete ECW Pay Per View on DVD (“Barely Legal”) was given away as a bonus disc with “One Night Stand” 2006. That much of the context of ECW’s original run, be it aural in terms of music, or oral in terms of abridged commentaries, have been edited and/or excised by WWE in order to suit its own version of what ECW was. That long running storylines that formed the backbone of the company appear in WWE-dominated anthologies (Raven vs. Dreamer, Sabu vs. Tazz) and aren’t given their own boxed set treatment. That many workers who made names for themselves in ECW have yet to appear on any of these DVDs at all. To that end, here are a few matches I would like to see included on “ECW Unreleased Vol. 3”: 1) Raven vs. Terry “Bamm Bamm” Gordy (November to Remember 97) 2) Jerry Lynn vs. Justin Credible (Anarchy Rulz 2000) 3) RVD and Sabu vs. The Eliminators (November to Remember 96) 4)Taz vs. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka (Anarchy Rulz 99) 5) Shane Douglas vs. Pitbull No.2 (The Doctor Is In 96). ECW is over, but it is far from dead and buried.

The outpouring of sorrow for its demise is visible through the new documentary “Barbed Wire City”. Film-makers John Philapavage and Kevin Keirn have forged something really special with this film, a heartfelt and revelatory homage to the promotion that they and thousands of wrestling fans took to their hearts forever, those three letters still embody their sense of what was possible in wrestling. My own brush with ECW came in late 2005 at a 1PW event called “A Cruel Twist of Fate”. I was fortunate enough to meet The Sandman, and watched him turn back the clock with his patented “Enter Sandman” entrance through an ecstatic Doncaster crowd. I saw him wrestle a terrific three way Extreme dance against Tommy Dreamer and Raven; I was so caught up in the atmosphere I can’t even remember who won.

Tommy Dreamer is about to take Sandman through the express lane to hell while Raven looks on from the far left corner.

At the end of the evening Raven came out in a dressing gown to sign autographs – the only wrestler to do so. I even got to shake hands with one of my wrestling heroes in Jerry Lynn earlier in the day. Even though I was never able to visit the ECW Arena during its heyday, that same energy was there for one night in the North of England, and I was fortunate enough to experience it. It’s through watching these matches that I am able to relive that night. ECW may only be memories now, but what a great set of memories they truly are.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All I'm gonna say about this

"It's professional wrestling with ties" - comedian Dana Gould on political debate in the U.S.


 Whereas the squared circle shows much more civility.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not the Prince of Darkness


Sure his name is fairly common & his likeness comes up in a few instances but I'm still imaging every article to be about a Boston-accented, spark-plug bodied mystical speaking guy in proto-corpse paint.

Y'know this fella:

h/t to Atomic Elbow's excellent: professionalwrestling tumblr

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Unsolved Mysteries - Theme to The Texas Hangmen

Not mine but one can dream. 

It came from the the badlands of Texas in 1989. The Texas Hangmen were said to be the indie promotions answer to the WWF's Demolition (1987-91). The two members of the Hangmen were Killer & Psycho. Or in their non-kayfabe names: Mike Moran and Rick Ganter (later Bull Payne in WCW). The Hangmen were in the AWA in its latter days and moved onto USWA bringing with them this incredible traditional heavy metal song (albeit with late 80's/early 90's VHS noise but think of it like an underground metal demo/rehearsal as this video is also as rare & obscure. Or just imagine it as a Merzbow re-mix). Part of their theme song can heard in the AWA footage below (@ 00:02) along with medicore announcing from future "WCW Nitro Road Reporter", Lee Marshall & head honcho Verne Gagne.

It's seems likely that AWA hired some local musicians to record this tune but the band's identity remains more unknown than these two masked men in the ring. The song has a great shouted, almost death metal-like chorus that could easily have overlapped into their promos. Along with this there's a steady riffs and more commanding vocals that sound quite original and not like one of those royality-free rip-offs we had in the late 90's. The bass is balance and clear and the drumming's on top of things (albeit buried in the mix). Regardless of recording quality and level of popularity this is a damn good & PURE HEAVY METAL song from any decade! Hell, Exciter could've had this out in 1988 and it would've been a lot better than this album. I'm not 100% how correct these lyrics are but follow along anyway.

Intro chorus:
"Who will be next to be hanged? (repeat x8)

Verse 1:
The Texas men are at it again 
The mat's turned to a pool of blood red
you can't win, you can't compete
disqualification - it's your defeat

Verse 2:
Psycho reigns into a frenzy - when he smells the blood on their face (?)
Killer he's a firestream (?) - fills the night with the pain-ful screams (*evil laughs*). 

Clothesline - we'll break your neck
The match is on and your body's cracked 
Powerslam - will put you out
Havoc & violence is what we're about
DDT - total destruction 
you're unconscious you have a concussion
Whirlwind - pray for the end
Against our attack - you can't stand

(*Riff breaks*)

Verse 3: 
No guns, no knives don't you understand?
All they need is those bare hands
Pull a noose around your head
Pull it tight - 'til you are dead
Psycho and Killer rippin' it up
One slam and we can't be topped
and with you I don't care
we are the best - you will lose 
and we can't be stopped.

(Repeat chorus)

 Now that you've heard it -tell your local metal band to record this song NOW! 

The Texas Hangmen also worked in Japan's W*ING promotion against the methuselahian Gypsy Joe. as well as a fairly long-ish stint in Puerto Rico's WWC promotion. Here's a punishing cage match with where they take on fan favorites TNT (Savio Vega) & Carlos Colón. 


Along with AWA, USWA and WWC, The Texas Hangmen also worked in Chicago's Windy City Pro Wrestling and IWA Japan & Big Japan. They've wrestled together in the occasional indy match in Wisconsin (which I saw on some random lady's myspace page from who knows when). The Hangmen held the tag-team championship 3 times in WWC and once in USWA. More details over at Wrestling Data. The same site also has info on the multiple versions of this gimmick that came later. Dunno if they used the same theme song but I kinda hope so. 

Noose gimmicks work in wrestling...

as they do in death metal, just ask early 1990's Obituary

 ...or Dusty Rhodes who was also bringing the brutal to Florida a few years earlier.