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RVD’s Rampage runs through the T.F.
By Gary Kevany

While most entertainment businesses would find the adage ?it’s not over ?til the fat lady sings? appropriate this form of entertainment ? a rarity in Mayo ? wasn?t over ?til ?The Whole Damn Show? had Five Star Frog Splashed, his signature move, to the 800+ in attendance.

While wrestling may not have the adulation in these parts since Giant Haystacks, one of the best known and well-respected ?big men? of the 60s, with roots in Kiltimagh, that it finds in England, Canada and the United States, the sheer number of people who turned up to watch the sports-entertainment extravaganza is a testament to the company and the business itself.

Wrestling truly is a love or hate event, while most grow-up with it, some, including this reporter, never grow out of it. While with most forms of entertainment ? which is what wrestling is classified as, rather than a sport ? there will be patches, phases, where the interest wanes and we seek out other past-times, events or avenues or leisure the lure of the ?law of the jungle? style storied battles and athletic prowess of the wrestlers brings many a fan in from the wilderness.

Of course, the majority of the fans are the younger demographic ? ?tweens? as they have been labelled by the media ? there is still a surge of interest in the 18-35 demographic emphasised by the fact that the wrestlers Ameican Rampage Wrestling have brought over were more prominent in the 90s ? the inimitable Bret ?Hitman? Hart and Marty Janetty of The Rockers along with this year’s headline attraction, the incomparable Rob Van Dam.

Bret wrote in his autobiography “for as long as I can remember, my world was filled with liars and bullsh*tters, losers and pretenders, but I also saw the good side of pro wrestling. To me there is something bordering on beautiful about a brotherhood of big tough men who pretended to hurt one another for a living instead of actually doing it. Any idiot can hurt someone”

And that, in essence, sums up the beauty of a form of entertainment that many would view as pointless, brutish and barbaric. Although there is the illusion of injury and visuals of violence to compare wrestling to Mixed Martial Arts or the Ultimate Fighting Championship is nothing short of an injustice. Wrestling is an art form and this reporter couldn?t put it better than the aforementioned quote from Hall of Famer, Bret Hart.

As for American Wrestling Rampage, they?ve chosen an alternate approach to the major corporations and brought wrestling off the beaten track, travelling to venues that the major corporations wouldn?t even contemplate visiting.

Touring the length and breadth of the country the company usually sells out (or comes close to selling out) its shows but the business strategy employed of renting venues and self-promotion has had detrimental effects in the past.

?[Last year] we performed in a venue where there was only about fifty to sixty people in attendance.? Joseph Hitchen, aka Joe E. Legend told this reporter. ?I think some of the lads didn?t give their all but personally, whether we?re performing on front of 50 or 5,000 people I give every match my all. I only work for about 15-20 minutes a day so when people try to see a show ? I try to put on the best one I can for them?

When questioned why he called himself ?Joe E. Legend? he confessed with tongue placed firmly in cheek ?I?m arrogant? ? the truth is it places him on a pedestal much like aliases other wrestlers would use such as ?Samoan Bulldozer? or ?Legend Killer? ? it shows his desire and intent. While starting on a whim; ?I just started referring to myself as Joe E. Legend… and was getting noticed? Joe admits freely, the name is now one of the most well-known and respected in Europe. The chants of ?He’s a Legend!? that echoed from the seating to the rafters as Joe defeated ?Lord of the Manor? Paul Tracey in Castlebar show there’s wisdom in the seeming arrogance and at the very least, some truth to that assertion.

The Main Event saw four former World Wrestling Entertainment employees collide in a tag-team match. It had been announced as the Main Event after the curtain-jerker – opening match and the hype had built into a frenzied crescendo ? fortunately it didn?t disappoint.

Rob Van Dam and X-Pac took on AWR champion Rene Dupree and Kid Kash in a very back-and-forth, to-and-fro, ebb-and-flow battle with reversals of moves and fortunes, tags-in and tags-out but as Van Dam was besting Dupree, the man who defeated him for the AWR World Championship earlier this year, X-Pac hit his signature Bronco Buster in the corner, while Van Dam took down Dupree and connected with the Five Star Frog Splash for the victory.

X-Pac and Van Dam posed for photographs in the ring after the match but disgusted by the loss Kid Kash took a youth’s foam finger and ripped it in two before storming backstage.

Staying true to form, several members of the roster stayed in the foyer after the show to sign autographs and for the fans to take photographs with them.

With Castlebar now a bi-annual venue, next Spring should see a return to the Co. Mayo capital for the European, Irish and American stars of AWR and then, as the adage goes, the fans will get ?ready to rumble? or if not, ready for Rampage!

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