Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to 411mania's report for the first ever episode of Wrestlicious Takedown. My name is Ryan Byers, and, by virtue of this assignment, my god has apparently forsaken me.
For those of you who have not yet heard of Wrestlicious, allow me to provide a little bit of background. Roughly two years ago, a nineteen year old kid named Jay Vargas won a $17 million Powerball lottery jackpot. Details become a little bit sketchy after that, but the bottom line is that somebody, somewhere, convinced him that it would be a good idea to invest this money in to the development of a professional wrestling television program . . . but not just any professional wrestling television program. Whoever got into Vargas' ear convinced him that it would be a good idea to essentially resurrect the format of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a syndicated television program from the 1980's that featured models having poorly choreographed "wrestling matches" against one another bookended by embarrassingly unfunny comedy sketches. I'll admit it, from time to time I can go back and watch old GLOW footage and laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all, but I was still gobsmacked to learn that somebody not only thought that it could be successful in 2010 but also that the same somebody apparently found an investor who they convinced to feel the same way.
Wrestlicious first started to get some attention this past fall, when the minds behind the company posted a few teaser trailers on the internet in order to get word out that they were seeking a television outlet to air a few shows that they had already taped. Most people chuckled at the campiness of the promos, but the prevailing opinion was that this would die on the vine, much like CRUSH, an attempt to revive the GLOW format that was spearheaded by Chris Farley's brothers, which fell flat on its face a few years ago. However, Wrestlicious was indeed picked up and is now airing on MavTV and Canda's Bite TV, along with several other smaller, regional networks.
So that brings us to the present, as Wrestlicious' flagship program, Takedown, has made its television debut on March 1, 2010. Let's take a look at all of the action . . .
We open with JV's Crib, a segment in which Wrestlicious owner "JV Rich" (Vargas' stage name) is shown living with the entire roster. JV finds Jimmy Hart, who has a backstage role in the promotion and writes all of its music, hanging out in the kitchen, and, when asked why he's there, Hart says that "somebody has to do the dishes." This is apparently a joke.
It's time for some RAPPING~! If you've seen the promos that have been online for the promotion for several months now, you've seen these. Toni the Top, Glory, Maui, Draculetta, Lacey Von Erich, Candy Kisses, Jimmy's Angels, Super Nova, Cousin Cassie, White Magic, Malibu McKenzie, Lil Slam, Shanna Na, Boot Camp Billie, and Leyla Milani are all featured. What ridiculous names . . . I mean, Milani? At least come up with something halfway believable if you're not going to go by what your mother named you.
A crew of scantily clad referees are doing a dance routine in the ring when the intro is over, with an announcer promising us "more action and less clothing" than any other wrestling show on the market. In light of the vest that I just saw Dave Batista wearing an hour ago, I sincerely doubt that. We're also told that this evening's program is begin sponsored by the Horny Goat Brewing Company, which I'm 90% certain is a legitimate advertiser and not just a lame joke. The best part of it all is that, briefly seen in the background during the Horny Goat ad is the Rivera Hotel and Casino, the original home of the GLOW tapings. That was a neat little nod the past.
We go backstage at this point, where the show's "producer" Johnny C. walks into the locker room unannounced. You know, because that's what men do. He runs across Candy Kisses and listens to a clip from her new single and says that she'll sell millions . . . of ear plugs.
Candy hits the ring afer that, and the announcers tell us that she fancies herself as the Britney Spears of professional wrestling. And here I thought that they were going to let this gimmick preserver whatever shred of subtlety that it may have had left. By the way, unlike GLOW, Wrestlicious is actually using established female wrestlers to play many of its characters. In this case, Candy Kisses is probably better known as Lizzy Valentine, who was involved in Southern California indy XPW under the name J-Love and earned her most national fame to date as the valet of Matt "Evan Bourne" Sydal in the short-lived MTV wrestling venture, Wrestling Society X.
Candy begins to perform her new hit, complete with backup dancers, and it's a love song in which every other word is the name of a wrestling hold. Being with your true heart's desire is compared to a dropkick and a powerbomb. Oh, silly girl . . . didn't anybody ever teach her that love feels just like a piledriver? Anyway, about thirty seconds into the song, the announcer points out that Candy is obviously lip syncing, and it gets so bad that her backup dancers eventually have to pull her out of the ring. Wouldn't that have been a lot more effective if they had worked to establish her gimmick for more than two minutes before revealing that she's a phony, or, at the very least, allowed a babyface to out her fakery to set up a match?
With Ms. Kisses out of the way, it is announced that, at an undisclosed point in the future, a twenty woman battle royale will be held with the final two wrestlers standing facing each other for the right to win the first Wrestlicious Takedown Title. Three competitors for the upcoming match are announced: Brooke Lynn (Becky Bayless), Sierra Sheraton (a Paris Hilton gimmick), and Lacey Von Erich (appearing on this show because everything was taped prior to her signing with TNA).
Now it's time for the Take Down Spotlight, which I am assuming is a weekly profile of a Wrestlicious star. In this particular case, it's Autumn Frost, who is billed as being a real "Stone Cold Stunner." In another life, Autumn has been known to wrestling fans as "Girl Dynamite" Jennifer Blake, a Canadian indy wrestling darling who has made appearances in SHIMMER and ROH before getting noticed by Mexico's AAA promotion, where she has been working for the last several months. The profile of Jen consists entirely of footage of her standing on the beach posing seductively in a bikini. That's it. No voiceover, no interview, no nothing . . . just gratuitous bikini shots. Well, at least they're not trying to hide what they're going for.
Match Numero Uno: Toni the Top vs. Maui the Island Girl
Johnny C. is your ring announcer, a role that he also held twenty-five years ago when he was involved in the production of GLOW. Holy cow, the referee is BRYCE REMSBURG~! This show just gained ten awesome points in my book. As far as the wrestlers are concerned, Toni has a legitimate indy wrestling, mainly in California, as Nikki the New York Knockout. In Wrestlicious, she's been transformed in to a two-bit mobster. Maui, played by Random Model #237, is doing the vaguely offensive "island girl" gimmick that was originated in GLOW and carried over in to all of its various incarnations. It's a weak lockup to start, which Toni quickly turns into a chokehold and some boots. Maui tries to RUN THE ROPES after this, which is a sight to behold, as she backs into them with her arms held straight down at her sides before bending them at a ninety degree angle and "charging" at Toni. She runs straight in to the mafiosa's boot and gets planted with a Michinoku Driver #2 variant, which allows Toni to win the first Wrestlicious match in history. Definitely not the move that I would be asking a barely-trained model to take.
Winner: Toni the Top
Now it's time for skits! Cousin Cassie is in the office of Dr. Grope, which is another gimmick lifted blatantly from GLOW. Cassie says that she thinks she might need glasses, but Doc tells her he doesn't believe in them. Instead, he says he drinks straight out of the bottle.
We head to "Bandita's Cabana," where supposedly-Mexican wrestler Bandita acts as a waitress. Her patron asks if she has a roach problem, and she ensures him that the rats have eaten all the roaches before dancing off and singing "La Cucaracha." Yes, ethnic stereotypes like this are finding their way on to television IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. Embarrassing.
Wrestlers Bandita, Felony, and Cousin Cassie are apparently engaged in a battle over who will get to name the upcoming battle royale. You can vote for any of their names for yourself at Wrestlicious.com. Don't all go at once, now. We don't want the site to crash.
Match Numero Dos: Felony w/ Officer Bubba, Bandita, & Maria Toro vs. Tyler Texas, Cousin Cassie, & Charlotte the Southern Belle
Long-time readers of the site know that I'm a pretty big fan of SHIMMER, so the lineup for this match is nothing short of surreal. Maria Toro, who has taken hold of Tito Santa's gimmick from 1992, is Mercedes Martinez, legitimately one of the most talented female wrestlers of the last five years. Her partner Felony, obviously playing role of a convict, is none other than SHIMMER's Rain, who had a cup of tea in TNA as Robert Roode's valet Peyton Banks. This time, she's got a valet of her own in the form of "Officer Bubba" a fat fellow in a rent-a-cop uniform who is supposedly there supervising Felony's work in Wrestlicious, which, you see, is part of her prison work release program. Tyler Texas and Charlotte the Southern Bell are also SHIMMER regulars, with Tyler being Lorelei Lee and Charlotte being Amber O' Neal. Both of them have TNA tryouts in the recent past, so you may soon be seeing them there as well. Rounding out the face and heel terms, respectively, are Cousin Cassie and Bandita, who we have seen earlier in skits. Both of them are models with no real wrestling backgrounds to speak of.
Cassie and Bandita begin the match for their respective teams, and it's another lockup which is just about as good as the one from the previous match. Bandita gets a kneelift, but Cassie recovers quickly and lands a series of snap mares. That's enough to get Bandita to roll out of the ring for a breather, at which point Toro and Felony advise her about strategy. Another lockup occurs when the wrestlers return to the ring, and this time Bandita gets the advantage with several forearms before Cassie responds with a clothesline. The farmer's daughter puts the boots to her opponent and waylays her with a series of shoulderblocks in the corner, though Bandita fires off a hiptoss and a legdrop to the gut.
It's a double clothesline spot after that, which is followed by a double tag to Felony and Tyler. Felony is all over her early on, but Tyler respond and gives her a series of deep armdrags and a dropkick for a two count. The next trick from the heels is an Irish whip by Felony followed by a cheap shot from the apron by Toro, and, before you know it, all three heels are beating on Tyler Texas while her partners inadvertently distract the referee. In the middle of all this, in a comedy moment that ACTUALLY MADE ME LAUGH (write that one down . . . might be the last time for this show), Felony decides in the middle of the beatdown that she needs to take advantage of the chaos to "escape" from her jailer. Fortunately for society at large, Officer Bubba is there to prevent her from bailing on work release.
When the three-on-one beatdown ends, it's back to Tyler and Felony for a bit before Toro tags in and hits Ms. Texas (not Jackie) with a clothesline for two. Felony pops back in for a drop toe hold/elbow drop double team, a move right out of the old Minnesota Homewrecking Crew playbook. Felony applies a stranglehold submission after that, perhaps in homage to her tag team partner from another life. That's eventually turned in to a version of the curb stomp, and here comes Maria again. Toro unloads with a series of closed fists to set up more triple teaming.
Toro eventually screws up and gives Tyler an opening to hit a facebuster, though, and here's the hot tag to Charlotte. The Southern Belle takes both Toro and Felony down with repeated clotheslines before setting up for her "Confederate Crush" finisher, but Bandita distracts the referee to set up a cheap shot by Toro. She hits the "Bull Run" (a fisherman's buster) after that, and Felony gets the three count over Charlotte.
Winners: Bandita, Felony, & Maria Toro
As soon as the match closes, so does the show.
Believe it or not, if I'm going to be honest with myself, I have to say that was significantly better than I thought it would be. Though I made fun of the hokey nature of the comedy and the Candy Kisses routine early on, things picked up significantly in the second match. It wasn't an all-time classic, but it was perfectly acceptable for a television main event and light years ahead of any other match which has seen the light of day from GLOW, POWW, WOW, or the other, similar promotions that his popped up throughout the years. It makes sense, as this is really the first such company to rely on wrestlers with a fair amount of experience to make up the bulk of their roster. Those experienced wrestlers were the ones who worked 90% of the main event, and, if that's the format that Wrestlicious keeps for all of its shows, we could actually be in for some damn fine grappling throughout season one. If they can simultaneously hit their stride with the comedy and get to a point where it's not TOO embarrassing, this might not be such a bad little show after all.