Photo by Bob Hanham

“DING,” the microwave plate has stopped revolving and the corn is popped. A second “DING,” the selections have been made and now in dazzling eight bit definition, player one advances on player two: “FIGHT!” Butter greased fingers mash at a control pad and health bars take a hit… Thirty-two years later, condensation soaked fingers mash at a card machine and after an anxious wait, “DING,” “APPROVED,” and two ice cold beers are taken back from the bar to the sold out seats of the Rickshaw theatre where Friday night Kobra Kai and Calamity Kate presented their innovative nostalgia trip BATTLEWORLD ’88 (A Rickshaw Wrestling Production). 

In a striking golden suit Kobra Kai took to the ring and set the scene. Battleworld ’88, Kai explained, was a legendary night of wrestling captured on film. Tragically, that film was then believed to have been completely lost in a fire, but the story continues. Mercifully (and to the delight of his audience) nine VHS volumes of the fights have found their way into Kobra Kai’s possession. 

Brandishing a stack of golden coloured tapes, Kai advanced on the roaring crowd inviting a ring side ticket holder to pick a cassette. “TEST YOUR MIGHT GAUNTLET,” he announced. On a giant screen behind him the Battleworld projection made way for a “choose your character” screen boasting pixelated headshots of the Rickshaw Wrestling roster. Walking around the edge of the ring, two of Kobra Kai’s assistants carried buckets filled with the names of wrestlers. These buckets became known as the “Lethal Lottery” from which fans were invited to draw.

The first name to be drawn: Shreddz. The almost All-American looking, wax chested man burst into the ring. Above him a video of bikini clad, gun shooting women played whilst a pompous electric guitar solo wailed over the speakers. His hot pink short shorts were diamond studded with such quality that not a sequin was left in the ring five rounds later, even after grappling with and defeating five successive opponents. These enemies included Subzero, fully equipped with ice freeze spray, and a four armed Goro who after an initially strong start eventually succumbed to an elbow drop from the middle rope. Shreddz’s final move, when called on to “FINISH HIM,” was a back-handed slap over the top rope.

Photo by Bob Hanham

The Cassette player was working and in what would prove to be a marathon night of high impact wrestling the next nine tapes included many impressive performances.

No one seemed concerned that the white picket fence that separates Canada and America was unguarded as the tag team brawl between local East Van wrestling heroes (Kenny Lush & Billy Suede) and Canadian Border Patrol villains (Nick Pesky & Fergie) spilled out into the front rows. At one point Lush and Suede pulled shoes off of the audience’s feet and launched them at the border patrol, beating them back until they were finally pinned into submission. 

Another tag team match saw Moustache Ryder and Uncle Daddy team up to fight Calamity Kate and an undead Nurse Ratchet. Ratchet arrived in a body bag but it was Uncle Daddy who left in it, after falling into a supernatural trance. A stark contrast in tone to the previous match in which the black and white pinstripes of authority were substituted for pink as Princess Peach presided over Mario vs Luigi.

The most intense scenes were saved until last as Christina Von Eerie faced off with “Transcendentally Trans” wrestler the Dark Sheik in a no disqualifications match. It began with respectful handshakes and slick grappling before escalating into some hardcore chair and staple gun attacks. The boiling point was reached when Von Eerie hammered uncooked spaghetti sticks into the brain of a bleeding Sheik, followed up by a drop from the top rope and an inevitable three count. 

If you’re interested in an event at which The Wife Beater is more likely to be the name of a high flying, moustache kicking female wrestler than a problematic undershirt; where ProblemattiK might be a ghostly dust slinging villain who boos spookily back at the crowd when they boo him; then don’t miss Destroy Wrestling: Aftershock at the Rickshaw (presented by Kobra Kai and Calamity Kate) on April 24th.