Hogtown’s Last Hurrah?
Sunday, June 4th, 2017 was a mixed weather day in Toronto and the crowd had to cover their heads from periodic rain sprinkles as they lined It up outside Lee’s Palace on Bloor St W at Bathurst. Although there was close to eighty pre-sale tickets sold, only a sparse crowd filled the venue. And we were about to find out why…
One way or another, that Sunday afternoon was set to mark another important milestone in the history and future of Hogtown Wrestling. Touted as the league’s kick-off for Season 6 TV Tapings on the Rogers TV Community Network, it became historic for other reasons.
Inside Lee’s Palace, the stage area was decorated with the Hogtown banners and signage, and there were t-shirts and lots of wrestling memorabilia for sale beside the bar. Donated by Ablelin Store Fixtures Corp in Toronto, a sturdy white plastic mannequin brought the TV Title belt to life on stage for all to see.
At Lee’s Palace the wrestling ring was assembled in the central ‘dance floor’ area which is a three-foot depression in the center of the club. This layout offers a unique perspective for wrestling fans who end up sitting higher than the mat. At Lee’s when the wrestlers climb the ropes they are for a few seconds face to face with the crowd and this makes for some remarkable conversations and photo opportunities. Backstage the sponsor Amico’s Pizza supplied six different flavors for the hungry competitors.
The Show Started with Announcements
When the signature music played over the speakers the assembled crowd found the seats.Aany performers still milling about with the fans in the front of the house hurried backstage. Hutch Henries climbed into the ring to introduce the show. Henries informed the crowd that many board members had gone AWOL and that the President had been kidnapped weeks ago and the investigation was ongoing. Even the ring announcer didn’t show up… so Henries himself did the match announcements. Henries also informed the crowd about the ten man tournament taking place to decide the new Commonwealth Television Champion, and in honour of the league’s Season 6 premiere. There would be five separate one-on-one matches which would then lead to a 5-Man Iron Circle finale to decide which wrestler would be crowned the champion.
In the Ring
The first official match of the tournament saw former Openweight Champion Goliath Ayala take on the newly christened Masked Quicksilver. Formally going by the name Super Cosmos, Silver came out of the gate quickly. In the end run, he was able to defeat the former champion. After the match, and in shocking fashion, Ayala’s long time manager and fellow malcontent, Herschel Ben Levi, fired Goliath Ayala. Calling his former client a loser and lamenting that he was a “Fake Jew”.
The next match saw referee-looking-for-revenge Nick Wildey, take on the Maniacal Nick Watts. Both men left it all in the ring with Watts coming out on top and even shaking the hand of Wildey after the match, obviously impressed with the toughness of what he thought was just another striped shirt. The handshake was interesting for such a conniving character, whose reputation for devious betrayals seemed to be misplaced on this night. Watts had bigger fish to fry. He was looking for the gold.
For unknown reasons, the Local Favourite Jimmy Gaffe was nowhere to be found come match time and The Cadet made his Hogtown debut against Freedom Wallace. The Cadet came out with a shocking victory over Wallace, but the Scotsman made sure that the Cadet wouldn’t make it to the finals. Furious, Wallace cinched in a brutal choke-hold after the match and wouldn’t let go. Due to this, The Cadet was not cleared for the final and Freedom Wallace, the loser, would end up in the Iron Circle. This reporter wonders if rewarding that kind of behaviour with advancement in the tournament sets a dangerous precedent. But with no other options, arguments can be made for both sides.
D-Man Daniel Parker took on a returning Rex Atkins in a serious showdown. Parker has had a heck of a 2017 so far, winning cars and money on the Price is Right while also appearing on Championship Wrestling from Hollywood throughout the winter. Then, upon returning to Canada, he sent out the infamous “…DIVE” tweet that made its way to Rip Rogers and then Randy Orton, causing a dust-up in the Internet Wresting Community and fostering both healthy, and unhealthy debate on the subject across the majority of the industry from podcasts to parking lots.
Atkins showed incredible strength and rained down precision blows, which is something he does better than any other member of the Hogtown roster. The D-Man stayed strong and eventually won the match. His victory would have once been called surprising, but these sudden turn-arounds have as of late been normal operating procedure for the young man.
In the final qualifying match of the evening, the Supernova of Superstars Rage took on Herschel Ben Levi’s brand-new Sumerian Golem. Rage got right down to business and ended up with the victory over the monster, even having to field action from a mini-Golem after the three count had been administered.
One of the most exciting matches of the night saw the return of Chunk E Fresh taking on his imposter, Budd E Fresh. Originally Buddy was supposed to debut a brand new track that he had been working on. Telling everybody that his newest musical offering was impeccable. Instead, he simply headed to the ring after intermission, yelling and screaming for a long… looooong time. Eventually to the surprise of everybody, the former longest reigning Openweight Champion of all-time Chunk E Fresh sauntered down to the ring.
You would not have known this was the former champion unless he was announced as such. Budd E Fresh though was the most shocked… and as it turned out, Happy?!?
Budd E said that embracing the Fresh was taking over his life and he couldn’t take it anymore.He was losing his hair from the dye, gaining weight, going completely insane. But Chunk E was anything but chunky. He had lost over 200 pounds and gained new cut muscles, short hair and looked amazing. A heartthrob in fact.
After a hellacious match and a few “Yo Baby Yo’s”, the Chunkster’s hand was raised.The former champ was victorious over his doppelganger, and he had some heartfelt words for the VCW faithful. Will we ever see this incredible athlete again? Who knows.
In one of the main events of the evening, the only 3-time top title holder in company history, Buck Gunderson, defended the Commonwealth Openweight Championship against The Hacker Scotty O’Shea. Gunderson had already had two defences of his new title since outsmarting Speedball Mike Bailey for the championship at the 5th annual Iron Man Rumble. One over the Science Guy Jim Nye and another over Kevin Blackwood at the WCPW pre-show earlier in the month. Now came perhaps his greatest test in the Hacker.
A fast-paced match kept Gunderson on his toes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Wild One move so quickly or thrown off his game so much. But the tenaciousness of the current champion came out in spades as he went for his finishing move, the near life experience, again and again, and finally clamped it in on the Hacker, forcing a submission and retaining the Company Crown.
Iron Circle Match for the Television Championship
The end of the night though saw the biggest shock of all. The 5-Man Iron Circle match was a hell of a contest. Soon after the start, Rage chased Nick Watts on stage and in the turmoil, Watts pushed the mannequin at Rage as he attempted his patented Pounce!
In the conflagration, Rage connected with and completely destroyed the mannequin. His opponent escaped unharmed. Rage came up with a bloody scalp and the mannequin suffered a collapsed chest and the loss of all arms and legs. These appendages were soon weaponized by the warriors;.Nick Watts brandished a blood soaked arm to finally fell the Supernova of Superstars.
The D-Man Daniel Parker finally come out victorious with the final pinfall victory over Nick Watts.
But when it was over… it still wasn’t over.
In a huge surprise… out came Mysterion. Flanked by none other than Buck Gunderson and two massive masked heavies.
Mysterion The Mindreader had been fired from the company in late 2016. He announced to the crowd that he was the instrument behind all the Board of Directors not showing up and the Ring Announcer not showing up. He even refunded tickets last minute and had emails sent to fans informing them the show was cancelled, and he told us how he was able to do it.
As he stood triumphant in front of the Hogtown banners on stage, he informed the crowd that his lawyers have been hard at work on his behalf, and that as revenge for being fired last year he has shut down Rogers Community Television. He said that within six weeks the station would no longer be functioning at all, effectively ending Hogtown Wrestling Showcase and the main source of revenue for the league. He went on to surprise everyone by saying that he has purchased over 80% of the shares in Hogtown Wrestling, and was now strong-arming the Board of Directors and even forcing a dying Smith Hart out of his interest in the league. Although not admitting to the kidnapping of the current President, Mysterion pretty much alluded to being behind that mystery too. He offered the new television champion Daniel Parker $11,000 for the title that he now called a worthless piece of tin, representing nothing.
Nick Watts tried to convince Daniel Parker that this “…was Hogtown,” that they’d all been there since Day One and he shouldn’t sell out to Mysterion. It was not enough. In a shocking move, Daniel Parker waffled Nick Watts with his newly won Championship, went up on stage and handed it to Mysterion. $11,000 later and the D-Man became a member of Mysterion’s Den. Mysterion put on the television title saying it was his now, that he owned the TV, shut down Rogers and owns Hogtown. With Gunderson, the current Openweight Champ, by his side… he truly owes everything.
Hutch Henries entered the ring and rallied the roster, chasing off Mysterion, his minions, Buck Gunderson and the D-Man. Is this the end for Hogtown Pro? Stay tuned here for more information, but if this is the end folks, all I can say is…. it was an honour.