Many traditions are born on Christmas time. Each differ from family to family, household to household. Well growing up, my friend and I had a tradition of our very own..one that many have no idea even existed! It was a little event called Christmas Brawl. You might ask what is a Christmas Brawl? Before I answer that I need to give you some background. Strap in tight heroes..we are going back all the way to 1989!
I was new to High School and figuring my way through the social climate of Clarenville High. I was not your stand out student, I didn’t do exceptionally well in High School, plus I wasn’t particularly in high demand from the females on the social scene either. I didn’t fit in with the jocks known as “The Byze” (The Boys in non slang). I wasn’t into the popular things like Hockey and music in fact it really didn’t interest me..nope I loved two things..my passions.. Comics and WRESTLING!!
Wearing my Joker or my Macho Man Randy Savage shirt to school really didnt endear me to many friends. Few people shared my like for either of these things..others would be too ashamed to freely admit it. However my crew of friends were not your typical socialites but they were my people and I loved hanging with them! My friends liked all kinds of stuff like Music, Video Games, Horror Movies, and just hanging out. One friend was a religious Bon Jovi guy…hair and all and a hardcore Music, Video game, and Hockey fan, another was a hockey and wrestling fan too and could nail any impression of any wrestler plus an unbelievable Donald Pleasance as well plus a was personality powderkeg! Then there was Butler, my best friend all through High School and beyond who was just like me..he connected with me first with a sound knowledge of wrestling. I usually test people before I invite them in my friend zone and usually had my guard up so I didn’t show my geekiness too much. This guy rattled off wrestling history like he was a text book. I knew we would get along. So it was written..our own little 4 Horsemen hung around and guarded each other from the horrors of social persecution. In fact..I felt we were pretty darn cool in our own way. Sure we could have used a girlfriend or two more but we did okay in the end, besides we had too much fun with my LJN Wrestler collection to concern ourselves with such things!!
With a deep shared passion for wrestling and we both had a passion to do one thing..WRESTLE!! One problem..we had no ring..or ring attire, we just had the unforgiving confines of my living room! Our couches and arm chairs became our turn buckles and the carpeted floor our mat! We were fans during wrestling’s dead zone era known as the WWF New Generation. Wrestling was at an all time low in popularity and admitting that you were a fan was not how you won cool points with the populace.Regardless, we loved to watch the stuff and yes we “Tried This at home!” I will say our early attempts at piecing together a match were pretty horrible. A few fake punches, a body slam and a scattered elbow drop for good measure was the best we could muster. Slow motion matches were also popular at the time with massive amounts of slow motion overselling overselling! The more wrestling we watched together the more moves we would try.
The good news is that we did get better.Body slams turned into suplexes, elbow drops became flying elbow drops, headlocks turned into STFs! We knew we were on to something. Hours and hours we spent after school wrestling around in my parents living room and eventually we were able to mimic a real wrestling match! This was the era of Bret Hitman Hart, Shawn Micheal’s, Big Daddy Cool Diesel, Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior! With the exception of a Moonsault and a true Frankensteiner we nailed all the move sets right on the hard floor with a thin layer of carpet! Carpet burns and back aches were the common sustained injuries that would disappear by the next encounter! We thought we were pretty darn good! The downstairs tenant who rented the apartment below our wrestling arena did not share our joy for combat. Sorry Wayne!
We became more engaged with the inner workings of wrestling. We found out Vince McMahon was more than an announcer and that Brian Lee was the fake Undertaker! We were, at least in our minds, wrestling super-fans! By reading magazines (Pro Wrestling Illustrated!!), and by grabbing a very rare dirt sheet (Pwtorch!), it was all we had to understand the very choreographed world of Pro-wrestling. We loved it and began booking our own matches with cool ending and cliff hanger moments that would “Continue Next week!” Our favorite matches to imitate were Bret Hart vs Mr Perfect from Summerslam 1991, British Bulldog vs Bret Hart from Summerslam 1992, Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania 6 and Randy Savage vs Steamboat from Wrestlemania 3. All these matches contained great match endings and amazing wrestling and we ate it up!!
We even created our own Wrestlemania of sorts…it was usually around Christmas Eve..usually on that evening or the day before when my parents would go out for the evening visiting relatives we had the “Arena” to ourselves! I transformed into my alias “The Anvil” and my friend Butler shifted gears to become “The Hitman”. Not the most original names but somehow it fit! We dubbed this annual event Christmas Brawl..and it was always the culmination of our year long “Story-lines” and the “Title was always on the line!”
Our usual after school “events” were usually the Best Of Five Falls. We always did a multi fall match so we could have the satisfaction of finishing each other off with our finishers! Christmas Brawl was different…we would do the Best of Ten Falls!! This was an Iron Man spectacular and we put out our best effort that we did all year in front of an audience of no one! It didnt matter though..it always felt like we were wrestling in front of 93,000 when we started!
As time went on we had grown in our in ring abilities and finally able to deliver a full fledged tribute to our favorite wrestlers/matches and some we hated as well. Here a list of our favorite moves that we put in our classic brawls!
My Top Ten Moves Included:
- Whoa Be Tide (WCWs Big Josh’s Finisher a Top Rope Butt Drop
- Loaded Knee (AWA’s Illustrious Jonny Stewarts Flying Knee to the chest)
- Super Fly (Super Fly Jimmy Snuka..Nuff Said!)
- Flying Elbow Smash (Top Rope Elbow drop ala Randy Savage)
- Press Slam (Sadly the Ultimate Warrior inspired)
- BaileyPlex (Poor Mans Perfect Plex ala Mr Perfect)
- Saito Suplex (I loved suplexs and this one exectuted from the side into a back suplex was always my favorite throw compliments of Mr. Saito of AWA fame
- Head scissors Frankensteiner (The Ricky Morton Special..looked more like a nice roll!)
- Flying Sunset Flip (Johnny B Bad Top Rope Sunset Flip)
- Torture Rack (Lex Luger..when he was good!! Loved this move!)
Butlers Top Ten:
- Flying Leg Drop (Top Rope Leg Drop/ Alabama Jam Bobby Eaton)
- Trash Compactor Tilt A Whirl Power Slam ala Duke The Dumpster Drosce)
- Spine Buster (Arn Andersons version of course..is there another)
- Suplex (Ala Ted Dibiase..fluid and great!)
- Bret Hart Elbow (Self Explanatory)
- Sharpshooter (Another Hart Classic..even though it was Stings move..that he ripped off..)
- DDT (More Jimmy Jam Garvin than Jake The Snake but still effective)
- Flying Shoulder Block (Ron Simmons special)
- Sit Out Power Bomb (Ahmed Johnston sloppy sit out bomb)
- Flying Clothesline (Barbarian special always sold with the Tito Santana rolling flip from Wrestlemania..look it up kids!)
With our move set ever expanding came the screw ups or blown spots. Yup botched moves were dangerously common. A simple “Roddy Piper Eye Gouge” almost ended in tragedy when my friend misjudged the position of a piece of furniture that was supposed to break his fall as he sold the move with great gusto but rather ended up crumbling into the heater! Hell we even broke the furniture. The main couch in the living room suffered damage quite often after enduring the tremendous pounding it received weekly!
Sometimes we would ratchet up the selling of moves and make that extra leap for good effect as was the case when I jumped high on a Butler wicked spinebuster with extra stink on it and my head missed the hard arm rest of the a chair which could have been concussion city!
Then there was getting blood..yup..we didn’t “blade” but we did take advantage of a well placed pimple from time to time. One pimple on my friends forehead led to a great opportunity to get juice. So I went for it..I dug into that bad boy getting a very light trickle of blood…but it my mind it was the Ric Flair “Crimson Mask”. It actuality it was like Lex Luger’s sad attempt to get blood in his match with Flair at the Bash that was stopped for blood but for some reason Lex could only muster a light trickle..hey..we tried alright!!!
Sometimes we would attract an audience..whether we wanted it or not! During one late evening Christmas Brawl during a particularly brutal match a suplex off the couch a knock came to my front house door. This was unusual as no one used that door for anything..it was always the side door..so stunned and rattled I answered the door after peering through the glass. Here in the dead cold of winter was a very official looking gentleman. This had to be important..after thinking of ditching the guy and not answering the door I knew surely he had heard the great bang on the floor from the suplex seconds earlier..the jig was up. Peeling myself off the floor covered in sweat , hair in great distress I answered the door and to my surprise on this Pre-Christmas eve at 8pm in the night was none other than an Encyclopedia Salesman!!?? Not sure what in the hell this guy was doing selling his wares this late and that close to Christmas but the look on his face when he saw both of us with the ever loving snot beat out of us was priceless. This didnt stop him from spilling out his unsuccessful sales pitch to possibly move his prehistoric volumes. Not really sure what this guy was thinking when he walked away from the house but I can only wonder.
Christmas Brawl would come to an abrupt end when the reality of our in house combat would come back to bite us.On a regular non holiday Sunday afternoon we were in the middle of yet another “Houseshow” style of match. I climbed to the arms of my arm chair and dove off Ricky Steamboat style into a High Cross Body onto Butler and he caught me..however when he did my leg swung downwards clipping him in the side of the knee dropping him like a “Pair Of Shitty Ones” as we would say. Thinking that this was one hell of a sell job I continued to lay the boots to my friend as he howled in pain..the first critical injury had occurred.Butler had completely blown out his knee..an injury so severe it would require surgery! Now of course we would lock up from time to time after that foolishly with knee brace and all, but for all intents and purposes Christmas Brawl as we knew it was dead.
Some 20 years later we have both moved on with life, living a fair distance away from each other. Both of us now with family’s of our own and real jobs and the likelihood of another Christmas Brawl is pretty slim. In all honesty I shamefully admit to not being the greatest “friend” and spent way too much time being my usual anti social self. Despite my friends attempts to stay in touch I sucked as a person and should have picked up the phone from time to time. So despite all that, this post is a tribute to two great friends who shared an unhealthy passion for a fictional sport and trusted each other with our lives. There is something to be said for that … so on this Christmas Day 2015 I raise a glass to great memories and a promise to not let anymore time pass without picking up a phone a saying hello again. Merry Christmas my friend..its been too long. Hope the knee is doing okay. Here’s to one more round..ill even do the “job”.
Check Out The Satellites Original 2 Holiday Specials!