We might all know professional wrestling is mostly faked but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the experience. The Romans understood the value of a spectacle and built the Colosseum to host their games. Usually, no one dies in today’s games and matches but they still trigger something inside us and produce responses that may make us feel a little ashamed.
Heavy Mania – a side event at the Heavy Montréal music festival – was just like that. The villains and heroes made the crowds respond with cheers and jeers. Hearing a crowd chanting, “You fat f*ck,” in unison was a moment that made me feel a little conflicted. Watching a woman go head to head with a much larger male opponent excited me. Everyone wanted her to win but when she lost it just made the winner more of the detestable villain the organizers intended him to play.
The wrestlers themselves are quite open about who they are and what they do. There are wrestlers like Eddie, or if the announcer could be believed, Sexy Eddie with five pounds of meat below the belt. The 15-year veteran leads the Brotherhood of the Hawk. As he told the Nation, “You don’t f*ck around with the Mohawks!”
Eddie grew up a fan of wrestling. “I watched Hulk Hogan and I wanted those cheers,” he said. Given little money many wrestlers make this is all they really get in the end. One time, someone grabbed Eddie’s five pounds of manhood, which he said is understandable because it’s a big target. “Usually the target is on your back but mine is between my legs.”
The ultimate winner of Heavy Mania threw this reporter under the bus. Mike “the Mouse” Auman told the Nation, “Strangely wrestling is a very homo-erotic thing.” He said women liked that about the sport.
Another wrestler who went by the name Muti Brothers said he was the skinniest kid around when he was young and he saw the wrestlers as heroes. “As a skinny-assed kid I could lose myself in those superheroes who were larger than life,” said Muti Bros.
He said the white knight image is now unpopular in today’s wrestling world. “Everybody has their dark side… there are no pure heroes,” he said, adding the audience feeds on them and vice versa. He loves the interaction; “That’s why I am here.” In everyday life he is a polite and respectful person but wrestling lets him go beyond the restraints society demands.
Shayne Hawke, a five-time wrestling champion, said wrestling and heavy metal goes hand in hand and the Heavy Montréal event is a natural partnership. But the work to make it happen was hard. “But my people gave me their best and that what’s makes this special,” said Hawke.