Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Live Pro Wrestling Review //
The Stan Stylez Intergender Bonanza 5
@ H2O Wrestling Center
Williamstown, NJ

Additional Photos can be found in a Facebook album located here :::

This event is available on digital download by clicking here and DVD by clicking here with thanks to Smart Mark Video.

Back when we first went to this H2O Wrestling Center for Weekend At Sean's House Night 2, I saw the poster for the Intergender Bonanza 5 and thought "That looks like fun!"  Stan Stylez was also on that show and Quentin got a bracelet from him, so it became an easy sell to ask Quentin if he wanted to return in about a month to see Stan Stylez again and a number of other wrestlers I either hadn't seen before or wanted to see again.

We had time on a Saturday to not get too far behind but I also took this weird way which didn't involve the NJ Turnpike and so I was looking at the map at one point and wondering whether the doors were at 6:30 or 7:30 (luckily it was 7:30 since we didn't get there until about 7:45)   We got off the highway at one point looking for a bathroom.   We found a Wawa without gas-but their bathroom was broken.   We went across the street to a gas station.  The guy said they didn't have a bathroom, but there was one down the road at a Burger King which he also owned (So you're cool enough to own a gas station and a BK, but can't put a bathroom in them both? O... k...)

While driving down the road to find this Burger King we instead found a Walmart.   This place was crazy and maybe it was just a Saturday night thing, but the parking lot was near full and the lines were insane.   We looked around a little bit but I knew if we found something we wanted to buy it might take us forever to get out of there and, well, as explained earlier we were almost late as it was so we had to push forward.

When we got to the H2O Wrestling Center doors were open and we didn't have to wait long before the show started.   We found our seats and the first match was the big tag match where the winners would be in at the end of the rumble and the losers would be in at the beginning.   I like this show simply because of the format of it all:  There was a big rumble and all of the matches leading up to it had implications for said rumble.

This was our second time seeing Ray Lyn and Stan Stylez, who were on opposite sides of the ring, but it was our first time seeing Zoey Skye, because she spent time in Stardom recently and I love both women's wrestling and Japan.    The tag match was solid and not once did I ever really think about it being two men versus two women, and as I think about it now all of these matches had that concept which just seems so normal to me now.

I'm not sure who DDS is (I'm still not really sure, but his gear was... different) but I was definitely looking forward to seeing Vanessa Azure, who likes to take selfies and hits hard.   Max The Impaler- who was one of those "I'm driving four hours just to see you" names- was about as scary in person as you might think.   Marc Angel thought he had a win over her and they did this great part where Max beat him up saying she didn't want to go on a date with him to Olive Garden and "fuck free breadsticks".

Jamie Senegal and Allie Recks are two names that if you don't know them yet, then within the next year or two you definitely will.   Their match was so much fun and the stipulation was something about going into the rumble or having a title shot at the next show but Jamie Senegal won and went into the rumble so I guess that was that. 

During intermission Quentin decided he had to go to the bathroom but so did everyone else and the line was long so I asked him if he could hold it.   He had a moment where he wanted to be shy- which he always seemed to do when the time called for him to talk to wrestlers- so I told him if he didn't want to meet anyone I was at least going to go and talk to Zoey Skye.   Zoey Skye was nice enough to take a photo with Quentin, then we bought two bracelets (one glows in the dark!), a pin, an 8x10 and a t-shirt because Zoey Skye's t-shirts are really quite great.

Vanessa Azure had set up shop on the part of the ring right in front of us, so we went to see her next since we were sort of heading back towards our seats.   She had this printed list of items for sale and prices near her display- which, if you're an aspiring wrestler, take notes- and so we bought a sticker and 8x10 and she posed for a picture with Quentin.   Quentin also took a picture with Stan Stylez and the Intergender Bonanza Title for $5, which I need to email them about so I can get that sent to me.

After intermission we were straight into the rumble.   There were a lot of wrestlers in this thing, some men dressed like women and some giant men I thought might never be eliminated.    One of my favorite spots in the entire match was Sean Henderson proposing to Queen Aminata, which happened in the center of the ring but later on continued when he would just start yelling things like "Why won't you marry me" at her.

Somehow my other favorite part of the match also included Queen Aminata, as she was saying at one point she needed water, but then she ducked out of the ring and was moving around to the other side.   Still, I sent Quentin over to concessions to buy a bottle of water and sure enough, after a short time Queen Aminata was saying something about water right in front of me and so I handed her a bottle.   She was so happy as she shared it with Gemma Guliana and then spit some into the face of her enemies.

See.   This is why I like to go to wrestling shows like this, especially in person.  You're not always going to be part of the show in the sense that it isn't advised to get involved, but at the same time, little things like this are priceless memories I hope get caught on video so when a DVD is released or such, Quentin and I can watch this ten years from now and go "You bought that water, remember?"
Ray Lyn and Zoey Skye were the last two in this match after a surprise appearance by Matt Tremont.   Okay, so... Here is how much of a surprise the Matt Tremont appearance was.   I saw Matt Tremont earlier in the evening walking around near the hard camera and I didn't even put two and two together then.  I just assumed he was there because, well, the same reason why you would see Jeremy Leary at a Blitzkrieg! Pro show.

I didn't think that Matt Tremont could be eliminated but somehow he was and Ray Lyn won this one and became the first ever IGB Champion.   After the show some of the talent came back out.   Quentin spent a bit of time running around the ring with Marc Angel and his son.   I managed to pull him out for a little bit though when I saw Allie Recks because we then had Quentin take a picture with Allie Recks and also we bought an 8x10 and a hat he picked up and wouldn't let go.

As we were getting ready to leave we saw Vanity so Quentin took a quick photo with her and we headed home after also talking with Sean Henderson a bit.   I'm not going to go through and count but considering the way the non-rumble matches were set up, I'd say this show had an equal number of women on it as it did men.   If I'm going to a show that isn't all women then this is the next best thing.   There was just so much raw talent in this building on this night it was crazy and I want to watch it all again as soon as possible.

On the way back the maps app really got to me.  It told me to get off the Jersey Turnpike, even though I was trying to take it home, then go down a road where I would get back on the Turnpike on the right.   Only after I drove very briefly it told me to turn left and I was like "wtf?"  We found a Walmart so we pulled over to regroup and so I could get calm.   Funny thing is, it was midnight and I'm waiting in line with an eight year old Quentin to buy cranberry Red Bull and two Lego sets for him.   There were not nearly as many people at this Walmart as the one before, but it was likely a time thing.

I feel badly I missed the first four Intergender Bonanzas.   It's a combination of my not going to live wrestling at that time coupled with my just not knowing how deep the scene goes yet.   But the next one is coming up this summer and I'm going to be sure we go to that one and hopefully as long as they keep happening we'll keep going.

Cassette Review //
"Mark It Well, All Roads End in Death"
(Philip K. Discs)

$5 //
Edition of 20 //
https://philipkdiscs.bandcamp.com/album/mark-it-well-all-roads-end-in-death //

A guitar loop puts me into a trance as a darkness swarms behind it.   You can feel the clouds that are bringing upon the storm, the thunder looms and the lightning is certain to follow.  There is this build and it becomes more intense as this first song goes on.   As it builds I imagine these guitar sounds as being like either time or life- both of which are running out- and the doom, that rumbling behind it is simply the sound of death running us all down, destined to catch up with us one day.   It might sound bleak, but to me it serves as more of a reminder to cherish life, embrace what time we have left because you never know when that storm will catch up with you.

There is this sound like laughing and then the guitar begins to sound as if it is chipping away, digging a hole perhaps, faster and faster.   That darkness forever lurking in the background, a thief of life and time.   As it gets more isolated, it begins to sound as if this is a solo instrument in a large room.   The string slides up and down and there are a few points which sound like shots or something in a quick and abrupt way right before it comes to an end.   If you're really going to meditate, really think about this and feel it like a story then those final shots could be the gun shots of death.   It's kind of like "Final Destination", but in your own mind and maybe without Devon Sawa.

On the flip side we have this same idea of a guitar, but it's a little rambling, and these angelic piano chords form behind it.  To me, listening to this as many times as I have, I always like to imagine this as being the part of life after death- which is crazy because no one really knows what happens but here, in our minds, we are somehow trained to think that we go up and float on clouds with the angels and it's all rather peaceful and content.   For all we know, the chosen sounds in heaven could be polka, but alas, we are taught some time in our upbringing to think it would sound like this.

Desolate now, this one has grown from something which felt so heavenly to something which just feels like nothing.   It's that barren wasteland where you don't see anything for miles in any direction.  It's like those old Bugs Bunny cartoons where everything is erased around him by that giant pencil and all you can see is white.   It really does more accurately set the tone for the afterlife though as no one is really certain what it is and what if- maybe- it is just nothing?  I don't believe that, but it is something that you have to be willing to explore and consider in order to make an informed decision overall.   Through some sharpness there are waves and at the end the last wave just cuts off, which just seems so fitting for that end to what we don't really know.

Cassette Review //
Mu Vonz
"Trouble Land"
(Already Dead Tapes)

Sold Out //
https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/trouble-land //

This starts off with a beat and singing goes with it.   There is an electronic feel right away and sounds are sampled, cut up and pasted back together to form this collage of a song.    It's asking how a planet became like that and even if you don't want to dive into the deeper thoughts of the words you can still put this one on, crank it up and just drive with these blissed out beats.

Organs now come in, slightly back and forth, in this new song which makes it feel like we're floating on a raft somewhere in the ocean.   The singing reminds me of a bedroom pop song and it's almost like speaking, which reminds me of any number of artists from the 1990's that I likely purchased a cassingle of at one time.  Primitive Radio Gods come to mind but so does Folk Implosion.

Beats and claps now make it feel smooth, a little tripped out.    The beats kick in now much faster as words are spoken and this has become quite a bit of fun.   I'd like to call it bliss-pop, but not to be thought of as something on the radio but rather closer to a cousin of hip-hop (or if bedroom hip hop is a thing... maybe I should try bliss-hop?) The next song gets quieter and it's about building a wall.  Words are spoken and this is a bit trippy. 

This idea continues onto the next song and I like the line "Please don't give a fuck about anything I say / hey"   The music is so minimal behind this all it just feels like a spoken word song at this point and, yes, I somehow feel like it's the only appropriate way for this side to morph into such a concept after hearing the songs which came before it.

On the flip side we open up with more of these spoken words which begin to discuss "eight times eight" on a seemingly endless loop as the bass drops in.  This has managed to pick back up with the electronic hip-hop type sounds from the previous side, sort of building back up as the previous side became stripped down.    Beats bring up a song about robots called "AI" and it's kind of my jam on this cassette.

The mood can pick up to be a little bit more magical as the drum machines come in.    There is some pure poetry within these words as well and it makes me think of someone like Steve Scott, which is quite great.   "But a phoenix does not expire"   By the end it feels almost as if a sax comes in, which makes me want to bring out that Us3 comparison which I used recently and feel I haven't used for a long time before that, but yeah, somewhere between Lou Reed and "The Basketball Diaries" soundtrack is where this would have landed thirty years ago and right now it's just feeling like the future.

Cassette Review //
Canadian Rifles
(Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere.)

€7 //
Edition of 55 //
https://audiovisualsatmosphere.bandcamp.com/album/atoll //

We begin with a burst of static which has some magical powers growing in it.    Organs come into the background to set the mood as desolate and perhaps in space.   Strings come through and create a sense of sadness as well.   Static waves crash.    Even with some bits of harshness mixed in, this has a calm and soothing effect for me.   It's like floating in the ocean and letting the waves simply take you to where they want you to be.

A voice comes through now, like a message on an answering machine.   Softer tones.   A little bit of that "X-Files" vibe.    There are waves and signal transmissions.    A hissing like snakes and pieces of a voice.    Splashing around in the water can be heard now as a deeper voice comes through, a different one from before, and this one feels like a narrator in a film.

A helicopter now cuts through the ambient air behind it.    The mood also feels somewhat like a video game, but one in the post apocalypse where you must now wander to find other living creatures, food, water, etc.    It's odd how it has that combination, to me, of something like "Lord of the Rings"- being of Middle Earth- but also "Mad Max". 

That apocalyptic static opens up the flip side with the sound of birds.    Tones shine through like magic and we are once again in a peaceful place, one where we can meditate.   An electronic rattling like a raygun now brings out some feelings like maybe we are on a different planet and have encountered an unfriendly being.    It can continue to feel desolate, such as maybe this wasteland isn't exactly on earth.

An abrupt static comes in now, like a car starting, and then we go into these ambient drones which make it feel as if we are floating in space.    This time, as the sound fades, it becomes waves which turn into a crowd scene with some talking and it makes me think we are at an airport.   More of these ambient keys now as the sounds begin to glow.  Soft spoken words.   Waves crash behind the hues and words are spoken in a language which I believe to be French.   This all has a peaceful way about it, a soothing yet hypnotic way of pulling you in and making you feel like everything is going to be okay.

Wrestling Review //
"No People Gate"

CageMatch results here:

Due to the coronavirus many wrestling shows in Japan were being cancelled so when I read about a Stardom show without people I thought "I'd like to see that".   Stardom was kind enough to put it up on their YouTube channel for free and so I feel like it's time to watch some not-in-person wrestling again.

The show opened with a video game-like introduction and then the commentators (including Jushin Liger) came in and talked a bit but this is all in Japanese so I can only guess as to what they're saying: running down the card, saying why they're having this special event without fans, etc.    There is also another intro before the show officially starts with video clips and match graphics.   In some ways, it doesn't matter that I don't speak Japanese-- these parts of the show help me feel like I understand what's going on a little bit better and really the language of wrestling is universal.

The first woman out for this sho is Death Yama-san and she is flipping off the commentators since their is no crowd.   The women are playing to the camera a lot due to the lack of audience.   The first match is a battle royal but it's more like a royal type since they start with two women and then one enters every so often after.   If you've never seen Stardom before, this is a good way to see a number of the women at once and get a little sampling of them- much like how a lot of promotions on IWTV do scramble matches.

Momoe Nakanishi is incredible.   A true class act, giving it a full throttle intro even without the fans there to entertain.   Ruaka, however, seems unphased by it all.   There are pinfalls in this match and as Death Yama-san found out, that means everyone can gang up to pin you at the same time.   Captain Stardom is a fun character that everyone tries to unmask before Starlight Kid makes the save and then they both get beat up for their efforts.

Leyla Hirsch is one of my absolute favorites, as I've seen her on IWTV, and when she came out she posed, looked to her left and right kind of realizing no one was there to react, shrugged it off, went into the ring and started fighting.     Natsu Sumire was really the first one to embrace the idea of the show, coming into the ring with water and some sanitizer type spray.   Mima Shimoda came out with a chair, which was interesting, and then she eliminated Natsu Sumire who was trying to get a chant going.

Saya Iida won this battle royal as "Super Strong Starlight Machine" and then afterwards cut a promo which appeared to call out Natsuko Tora, who then came out for a match which is how I put those two things together.    See, you don't have to speak Japanese when you can speak wrestling.

Following that match was a tag team match which will hopefully help you to see what a star Hana Kimura is and then the match of the whole card saw Bea Priestley and Jamie Hayter retain their tag titles over Momo Watanabe and Utami Hayashishita.   Aside from Leyla Hirsch, Priestly and Hayter were the only two non-Japanese women on this show (I believe) and them coming out to pose for the crowd and kind of interact as if there were people there when there wasn't was a lot of fun for me for some reason.

The main event was a wild lumberjack match which went all over the empty arena and I just can't believe that in these times, when everything feels so uncertain and awful, Stardom still manages to not only put out a show that makes me feel happy and some sort of hope, but also it's for free on their YouTube channel. 

I want to go to wrestling shows.  I think in some ways I got spoiled by seeing wrestling live so much it becomes a different experience when I watch it on tv and as such I really miss live professional wrestling (Even though it's only been a little over a week since I went to a show, as I type this now) I don't want something to happen which forces shows to be canceled or postponed and being in an empty arena goes along with that, but if we're trying to turn a negative into a positive then this Stardom show is a pretty big positive and years from now I hope we all can look back at it like "Remember that time..."

Cassette Review //
Alien Trap Lords
"3L3M3NT 115"
(Hand'Solo Records)

$12 //
Edition of 200 //
https://handsolorecords.bandcamp.com/album/3l3m3nt-115 //

When I was young and impressionable with music, I was part of the cassette clubs (most of you might not even know what those are) and when you would get your featured selection you would have to pick a genre so I would always choose rap.   It brought me a lot of cassettes by artists I might not have otherwise found out about and in that same way, I feel like Hand'Solo Records is bringing out the best in rap I don't know about via cassette in a time when cassettes aren't the most popular form of music but still remain my favorite.

With steady beats, one of the only other albums I can think of which came out this year that comes close to this is by clipping. in terms of rap and hip hop.    Musically, this is just one of the most solid cassettes I've ever heard because it has these sounds that make for great beats but also there are sounds added in which I've not heard used this way before.   As the artists themselves say, this is future shit and it really is quite ahead of its time.

Along with the lunar eclipse and ideas of wearing tinfoil hats, the lyrics of Alien Trap Lords tend to stick to the idea of both their name (which at one point, they call themselves a band) and the cassette title itself as well.   If you're into that Area 51 scene (and I am) then this is the perfect cassette for you.   I didn't know such a thing as alien hip hop existed, but here it is and I feel like it's the perfect edition to my life right now.

There are also songs on here- as Hand'Solo likes to do- which are exclusive to the cassette, which I love because it makes for people to buy physical media and not just some stock in cyberspace.    If you're going to listen to a cassette about aliens I'm sure you have some kind of paranoia about having all of your "digital downloads" wiped from your database one day.   (Side Note: I'd actually heard rumors once that movies people had purchased through iTunes or some such site just started disappearing from their collections and that's always made me reluctant to rely solely on digital media)

At the end of this cassette you'll still hear the song "Gotta Go", which is a song about what the title says.   It's the only fitting way to end this cassette but moreso it has that double meaning of not just saying goodbye and having to leave, but you can imagine it being the end of this story to the point where Alien Trap Lords and beamed back up into their spaceship to return to their home planet.

Cassette Review //
Them Teeth
"Sun of Serpent, Moone of Cipher"

€7 //
https://worksovcauldron.bandcamp.com/album/sun-of-serpent-moone-of-cipher //

We start with what sounds like a lot of ambient moving around.   There are some sharper bursts within and at times it can even feel like some haunted folk, as I think there are about to be lyrics.    A sound like an organ now waves back and forth and this has a pleasant sound to it as the percussion kicks in.     As it builds now, it grows into what sounds like a storm.   There is still this jovial vibe that makes me feel like we're on some wonderful ride at a carnival, but there are these dark strings looming over us as if we're set in the Dustbowl. 

Modems start up and we go into this dark acoustic rock with a classic feel to it.   The notes grow and begin to tell a story and then it almost begins to laugh as well.   Though this is instrumental, the instruments tell enough of a story that this does not need words.    A sharpness lingers in the background of what sounds like a classical guitar symphony.

A little bit of singing now- without words- brings in the dark strings and this has a Murder By Death feel to it in some ways.   It somewhat feels like we're going to the gallows.   This just grows into something of the rock genre, but I'm not quite sure where it lands exactly.  It has this classic rock feeling hanging over it, but it could also just as easily be along the lines of an acoustic metal.

With a glowing hue, the frequency cuts through.   An engine starts up now and it just feels like we're going to go into some kind of electro-dance but we don't.    It was just a tease.   There is a dark drone through this song and I like it because it feels so ominous, so telling of the future. 

Quieter now, the whirrs build back up the darkness.    There is a calm to this now, the aftermath of the storm.    A slight crackle and this is minimal where you have to pay very close attention to hear what is going on between the silence.

On the flip side we open with quite a bit of windstorm drama and there are some words being spoken in the background of it all as the percussion makes its way in.   Acoustic guitar strings bring in the plucks as it sound like balls are rolling around behind them- almost like rollerskating somehow.

Higher notes come in which sound like "Three Blind Mice" but then much heavier, darker notes follow which make me think we are in the presence of the king.    This is heavy and serious, but I'm having a lot of fun with it.   It feels like we're in a different time, like Robin Hood.

Sharper tones are placed in the background of an acoustic guitar melody now.    We switch songs and there is a darkness with whispering behind it.   A sharpness comes through now, like the screams of a horror movie.    More whispers and this has definitely become haunted now.   There is a rocking groove now and I'm nodding my head along even though I feel like we could be taken to the darkside at any moment.   As the words increase so does the sharpness of the feedback.