Wrestling Justice Without the Spandex
Kaiju Big Battel Mixes Technical Wrestling Excellence with Bizarre HumorBy Brian Loux
Kaiju Big Battel
Mayday! Mayday! Boston SOS!
Saturday, May 1, 6 p.m.
Traverse enough of Boston and you’ll be sure to find a decal bearing a remarkably square frownie-face with crossbones. Ever wonder what underground movement it might represent? The answer is so bizarre, so outrageous, and so ludicrous, it could take root in no other place than the New England metropolis.
Kaiju Big Battel, which describes itself as a “tongue-in-cheek hybrid of American pro-wrestling, Japanese monster movies, and lowbrow pop culture,” does indeed resemble the love-child of World Wrestling Entertainment producer Vince McMahon and an anime fanatic. Wrestling’s masculine melodrama changes here into a ludicrous story about a battle for control of the universe as men in monster costumes duke it out in a steel cage (now termed the Danger Cage).
Kaiju does indeed take heavily from American professional wrestling organizations, including monster Unibouzu’s “murky depths” move, a modified version of Brock Lesnar’s “F5” maneuver in which the opponent is placed on one’s shoulders, lifted above ones head, spun around, and dropped. But there are attributes that set Kaiju above a backyard wrestling production mixed with humor, and to some extent, even above traditional professional wrestling.
First is the small venue in which battels are performed. The intimate setting helps rile the crowd more frequently and makes the high-flying maneuvers all the more impressive. Of course, the monsters follow that up with an impressive move repertoire. While the performers tend to be actors by trade, they are still able to pull off the eye-catching moves like tornado DDTs, sunset flips, and fisherman’s suplexes. For myself, I was able to watch Dusto Bunny and Neo Teppen perform moonsaults off the top of the Danger Cage all the while being an arm’s length away from both.
Then would come the colorful characters and storyline. Traditional wrestling stories tend to be ones of personal feuds. However, Kaiju permanently keeps itself in the World Championship Wrestling vs. New World Order days, with four factions (one good, one evil, two rogues) battling each other and no one ever truly gaining the upper hand. This is infinitely easier to understand and dive into for a fan.
And while the costumes do help exceptionally in developing a character’s relationship with the fans, the monsters usually go the extra mile to show their personalities. The newly debuted Superwrong came out dancing to the internet-famous “Yatta!” song and took a good three minutes to perform before his matchup. Dr. Cube (the chief villain whose visage graces the Kaiju decals) will stomp around and salute his followers after gaining the upper hand. Gomi-man (a living pile of New Jersey garbage) comes out with a barrel of toxic waste and throws handfuls of it into the crowd.
In order to help direct the tempo, musical selections are played throughout each match. Sometimes it is simple as playing a monster’s theme song when he comes to interrupt a scheduled match. But usually, the music is able to express how the fight is going. When both monsters are getting slammed into the cardboard building props, you have typical streetfight music. Should the hero have the upper hand, something more triumphant or in the style of his theme song might play. The opposite is of course true for the villain.
The best musical accompaniment tends to come just before a high-risk maneuver is about to be executed. The music starts out soft, slowly building as one of the competitors scales the cage, then climaxes as the monster makes his fall back down to Earth. It’s an innovation in wrestling that again helps the crowd get into it.
But one of the most important traits of Kaiju is the ability to never take itself too seriously. While the story does describe the battle for the universe and commentator Louden Noxious describes the battles with the sincerity and emotion of WWE announcer Jim Ross, there’s never any doubt that it’s a spectacle.
Two of the matches that night were one-punch knockouts; one because Superwrong was so weak, the other (the championship match) because Hell Monkey made his way to the ring drunk and barely able to stand. Los Plantanos were able to defeat Marutambo (a giant tree) by taking axes to him.
This ultimately combines for a product that is truly captivating. No more than three hours after being introduced to the world and story of Kaiju had I become a “mark,” or a wrestling fan who has forgotten that the entire thing is staged and is cheering as if it were real. I tried to start “Holy Shit!” chants after every flip off the top of the cage and booed when evil Dr. Cube walked away with the championship belt that night.
Wrestling, Godzilla movies, and anime all have their clique audiences. But if you enjoy a modicum of any one of them, be sure to check out Kaiju the next time they’re in town.