I really love writing. Always have. I haven’t done so in a while because I’m more aware now that only a handful would give a shit. Although maybe I’m just more cynical these days. Anyway, some of you may know that I was afforded the opportunity to perform for Lucha VaVoom on the Big Day Out tour. I’m a HUGE fan of anything over-the-top and different. So naturally, I was super excited to be a part of the ‘Sexo y Violencia’ that is VaVoom. After my 1st day I started writing a blog that I briefly updated yet refrained from posting. Now a few days removed from the 14 day tour and I’ve decided to expand on it and put it out there, mostly for my own memory (getting kicked in the head for the last 10 years does not help the cause) and to give some insight into what it’s like to experience the madness of a major festival.
Where do we start? So around 6 months ago I was contacted to help organise and work for Lucha VaVoom on this tour. I could probably say that my networking from 2007 and 2009 in Los Angeles finally paid off, regardless of how much of a failure I saw my last trip being. I was all too keen to help out as…. shock horror…. I actually want to see Pro Wrestling succeed and grow, particularly in Australia. I didn’t actually find out that the tour was a part of the Big Day Out until recently, so when they told me that they were performing Lucha at the Showgrounds in each city, I thought it was going to be on its own in a bunch of oversized venues. You can understand why I was fairly certain that they were out of their mind! VaVoom is super successful in the states but the lucha/Mexican culture isn’t as prevalent down under. Would fans get it? Would they even bother coming? However if you insert 55,000+ drunk festival kids, it turned out to be a far different story :)
This will probably be a long read, so feel free to click that little X in the top right hand corner (fuck MacBooks) if this thing gets boring. I should also put out a disclaimer that for the purposes of keeping the ‘fabe, the following stories MAY or MAY NOT be true depending on who’s askin’. I’ll refrain from revealing too much about the characters I performed under, though it wouldn’t be too hard to find out. Or maybe I didn’t wrestle at all? How’d ya like them apples Urijah ‘fabers? Here it goes…
Wednesday, Jan 16th – Adelaide/Sydney
Rushed from my day job to the airport and boarded a flight to Sydney. The only details I had were to search for a luchadore when I arrived and pick up a rental van to take us to the hotel. I arrive in Sydney and check my emails. The BDO organiser has said I won’t be able to grab the rental until tomorrow, and from Kings Cross instead. I also realise that said luchadore would be in the international terminal whereas I’m domestic. A $24 taxi ride (3-4 minutes. Farken’ bullshit) later and I’m in the ghost town known as Sydney International Airport. No Mexicans to be found. As has always been the case, the 1st day of tours for me never goes to plan. But fuck it, adrenaline is high and I’m about to embark on the greatest 2 weeks of my life.
So I catch a taxi to the hotel and quickly realise that this festival sure does have a lot of money. Unlike the usual indy bed of someone’s spare mattress (at best), I’m in a 5 star hotel. On my own at that, considering my soon to be roommate Shane Haste doesn’t arrive until tomorrow. And there are free cookies and milk waiting for me. I love free shit!
With no means of communication other than email, I sit in my bed wondering how the VaVoom crew will be in contact with me considering the hotel doesn’t have free wi-fi. This thought ends when I hear a huge amount of ruckus and a knock on my door. I open it to the VaVoom promoters who I am meeting for the 1st time. Turns out the whole crew are on our floor.
I re-unite with my old friends TJ Perkins and Willie Mack who I haven’t seen since 2009 when I was in California. Both are awesome dudes and great value to have on a tour like this. I then receive some new wrestling gear that I am to wear as we have a photo shoot for the Daily Telegraph in the morning. I immediately try on said gear which is probably a couple of sizes too small and quickly remember that I have never worn a mask before. I am also claustrophobic. Perfect combination. I remember that I am supposed to be at the PWA Bootcamp in the morning. So I call the powers that be and let them know that I first have to don some white nut-huggers and be photographed for the world to see.
Before hitting the hay I surf the YouTubes to study some Lucha Libre. I had some training in California and in Japan with Hidaka, but it was limited. I am promptly distracted by countless videos of midget wrestling. Oh how I hope there are some of the ‘minis’ on tour.
Thursday, Jan 17th – Sydney
I wake up and head down to the pool area for the photo shoot. TJ ribs me that I must keep complete kayfabe throughout the hotel. So I walk around in full lucha gimmick. Such a dick. As soon as it ends, I rush off to find a train so that I can take the 90 minute transit to Campbelltown for the boot camp. I bring Willie Mack along. After realising that Sydney’s railway system is too complex for my feeble mind, I eventually make it with about 1 hour left of the camp. We take a few drills and then go grab burgers. It is as hot as the fires of hell and apparently will reach a record high tomorrow. My mind wanders back to when I tried on the mask the night before. At worst, I will die. At best, I will botch everything.
We get back to the hotel and Shane Haste has arrived. Due to his frequent stays in Japan, I hadn’t seen the guy for over 2 years. I get greeted with a naked luchashane with a mangina. No time to rest, we have to go to grab the rental vans from Kings Cross. We get there and the office is closed.
Nate Dooley is in town helping to promote the Mundine vs. Geale fight, so we meet up with him and catch a cab to Darling Harbour. Nate decides that we need to share a beer. Several more decisions later and it’s decided that we need to share jugs of sangria. I should probably mention that I never drink. Oh how this would change. It reaches the early hours and after every place in Sydney is seemingly shut, we find 1 last open bar. We walk in and it is flooded with people all dressed to the 9’s. Suits and all. We are clad in basketball shorts, thongs and UFC promo tees. After a couple more [bad] decisions, we call it a night. After all, we have a big day of lucha libre in the morning.
Friday, Jan 18th – Sydney
It’s Big Day Out Day. We have no idea what to expect. However I don’t have much of a hangover so I hit the hotel gym for a workout. Hangover kicks in. I cut the workout short and head over to attempt to get the rental van AGAIN. Kings Cross tell us that we were supposed to get them from the Airport. Awesome. So after almost an hour of waiting and generic ‘oh you’re a wrestler’ small talk with staff, we get some more vans and head off.
Arriving at the Sydney Showgrounds we notice 2 things. (1) It is 45 fucking degrees and (2) The VaVoom arena is MASSIVE! I find out that I will be on both the 3pm and 5pm sessions. Fortunately my old pal Robbie Eagles is booked against me in 1 of the matches. After getting over my claustrophobia I head out and am completely stunned by the eruption of the crowd. People have filled every seat of the 1000ish (guesstimate) seat arena. People are even lining the aisle ways to fit in. For the 1st time ever I also get to wrestle old mate Willie Mack which was cool.
I soon realise how different lucha is to American or Japanese style. I can safely admit that I had not a clue what was going on. Fortunately the crowd were likely full of too many chemicals to care. The 3pm session ends and after eating basically nothing all day I head over to catering for a free feed. Catering closed at 3pm. It doesn’t re-open until 5pm when my next match is on. Again, I am a jew, so I refuse to pay for food like a civilian. Instead I steal some leftover cookies sitting around and chug on countless cans of red bull. The 5pm session comes around and this time I am full body spandex. But I am a little more accustomed to the lucha libre styling and have a fairly decent match.
After getting back on the Coronas, we are semi-naked and off to catering. I am stoked that I do not have to rely on tuna packets like I thought I would. I also feel like I do not deserve any of this incredible treatment. I search for celebrities. It dawns on me that after boycotting radio to make way for podcasts 2 years ago, I am completely out of the loop with pop culture. These people all look like they play in bands, but my shitty music pulse is weak these days. After eating more food than my dehydrated body can handle, Dooley messages us that he is side stage for Childish Gambino. It was a goal of mine to meet Donald Glover, so we sprint to the stage just as Glover is finishing. He is promptly rushed to a getaway vehicle, but Dooley stops him so that we can take a photo. The G man starts spitting water at the camera. Dooley asks “hey man, are you spitting water?” to which Big Don replies “Yuuup” and spits more water. We then run off giggling like schoolgirls.
Back to the hotel and it’s time for the official after-party. We only know that is near the Opera house somewhere. So we drink the remaining coronas from our rider and head off into the night. Having no idea which club the party is actually in; we try 1 and are denied. It’s late and we’re not really in the mood so we walk towards a fancy museum looking place which is flanked by security. Must be something important. We are greeted by a hostess who asks “What’s your name?” We introduce ourselves, thinking this is some big business party or something and expect to be turned away. She then says “Who are you with?” We pause and look dumbfounded before saying “Lucha VaVoom” expecting her to look confused. However she responds with “come right in”. Success! Turns out we randomly found the after-party.
Again, I don’t recognise any celebrities other than Big Brother’s Fitzy. So we eat free pizza and drink free beer until the early hours before heading home.
Saturday, Jan 19th – Sydney/Gold Cost
Early flight out to Gold Coast for a nice 4 day stay in Surfers Paradise. It is only just sinking in at how insane this trip has been and should continue to be. One of my favourite bands of all time Every Time I Die are on the flight with us, so we had a chat and being the wrestling marks they are, said that they would come and check us out. I mark out inside. In front of me on the flight is a skinny Australian with bad tattoos (not that I can talk). Seemed nice enough. We leave the airport and everyone is pointing at him. I didn’t think the tattoos were THAT bad.
We successfully collect the vans and after a sweet dive along the coast, arrive at the Hilton in Surfers. The tattood Aussie is out front surrounded by pre-teen fans. Turns out he is known as ‘360’ and is kind of a big deal. I tell my girlfriend. She gets angry that I don’t know who he is. I still maintain that I’d rather listen to Joe Rogan talk about mushrooms than listen to any form of shitty Aussie hip hop.
The rest of the day was pool, beach, pool.
Sunday, Jan 20th – Gold Coast
Big Day Out Round Dos! Expecting the lavish arena that we were greeted with i Sydney, I was a little surprised to see the ring setup on a non-descript hill. But I can’t complain, any large avenue to perform is an absolute blessing. We go and checkout Every Time I Die who destroyed as per usual, though was a little embarrassed at how pathetic kids’ moshing skills have become. I know Big Day Out has lost its punk/metal influence but these kids were looking less like Ralph Macchio and more like Hilary Swank.
I had the opportunity of wrestling a long time friend, trainer and influence of mine in TJ Perkins. I never would have imagined that the time would come in Gold Coast dressed as luchadores. Also spotted the ETID lads in the crowd which was super cool. I am a full fledged ETID mark and proud.
I wasn’t too keen on the band line-up coming into the tour but in between sessions I got to see Death Grips, Sleigh Bells and Bloody Beetroots which was cool. But enough of that, time for another after-party. Myself and Shane made it certain that we would never miss one of these parties. I think we both share the same values of milking free stuff for all it’s worth. It’s safe to say that we were probably the Loosest On Ground at all 4 of these ventures.
This time, a few notable faces decided to come out and hang. Another photo opportunity with Donald Glover was a little more pleasant. He turned out to be a really cool dude. We also had a good chat with Jordan from ETID who decided that we would need to take him for a workout at 9am the next morning. After texting about my giddiness to some close friends, I look up and Shane is on the other side of the bar with a barman standing on his shoulders. Again, Loosest On Ground for sure.
Monday, Jan 21st – Gold Coast
11am comes. I guess it’ll be no workout with Jordan. We figured he wouldn’t remember our drunken conversation anyway. That or he was sitting on his bed for hours waiting for that phone to ring. Oh well.
Again, this day consisted of pool, sleep, pool. This also became the night when we were introduced to Willie Mack’s alter ego ‘Don’t Give A Fuck’ Jones. DGAF Jones is a big proponent of break-dancing in full saunas and proclaiming that he “don’t give a fuck.”
Tuesday, Jan 22nd – Gold Coast
Off to Dreamworld which a couple of the guys and former EPW cameraman Chad. We take the visitors to hug koalas, feed kangaroos etc. etc.
Wednesday, Jan 23rd – Gold Coast/Adelaide
As happy as I was to return home for a few days, leaving the Gold Coast was depressing. We get back to Adelaide, check in to my room that I wouldn’t be staying at. Find out that there are no free cookies, so leave to go back to reality for 24 hours.
Thursday, Jan 24th – Adelaide
Normal life. Boo urns.
Friday, Jan 25th – Adelaide
Hit the surf in the morning and then off to the Showgrounds for Big Day Out #3. There really is nothing like performing in your hometown. I had the opportunity of wrestling with Cassandro and a couple of other Mexican wrestlers which was a 1st for me. I truly learnt a lot about the lucha libre style in that 1 match alone.
I decided that with catering running for lunch AND dinner, I would grab several other takeaway plates to keep with me ‘on the road’. The salmonella risk was well worth it. Paying for food is silly.
No after-party in Adelaide. I guess Donald Glover can sleep easy tonight.
Saturday, Jan 26th – Adelaide/Melbourne
Off to Melbourne and straight to the venue. As expected, weather is shite. Classic Melbourne. Shows go well and we re-unite with Rohan and Nate which means that post-match tequila is on the menu. It also means that the after-party shall be huge. They issue most of the crew with ‘Team Australia’ Ultimate Fighter shirts.
The after-party is way too packed and Jordan from ETID completely kayfabes Shane. But I noticed Chris Lilley at the urinal next to me. Kinda cool I guess. I Hasselhoff a few free burgers and we make our way back to the hotel for a quick siesta before an early flight.
Sunday, Jan 27th – Melbourne/Perth
It kind of dawns on me that this trip is fast coming to an end, just as I am getting accustomed to the lifestyle. I’m super excited to get back to Perth though considering it was my 2nd home for about 4 years. I hadn’t been there for over a year so made sure to meet up with some old friends as soon as we arrived. Naturally I take Willie with me for the stories.
Ever since getting these Ultimate Fighter shirts, people everywhere have been pointing and looking at us constantly. Whilst eating our meal, a lady comes up and says that her husband is a big fan of us. At first I am impressed that indy wrestling is finally getting its dues. Turns out she, like everyone else, thinks we’re UFC fighters. Keep in mind that we have all been wearing the infamous green TUF promo tees for a couple of days now. I tell said lady that Willie Mack is actually Kimbo Slice. He plays along. Good times are had by all.
Monday, Jan 28th – Perth
The temperature is back up and naturally I am back doing double duty in the full body spandex. But first I go side stage for Every Time I Die which was awesome. Such an incredibly fun band.
It again was a great crowd throughout the day, although our 8pm directly clashed with Red Hot Chili Peppers. So to make the session more fun we draw 2 random wrestlers names out of a hat and as per the ‘end of tour’ tradition we must act like those wrestlers for the duration of our match. I was given X-Pac and Earthquake. For the lucky few who abandoned RHCP to see Lucha VaVoom, I’m not sure how it would have looked to see luchadores doing Wolfpac signs and dropping Earthquake splashes. EPW’s Gavin McGavin was also booked for the session which was a really cool way to end the tour.
Perth after-party begins well as pretty much all of the bands are there. Tom Gabel is at the booth next to us. Still looks like a dude. Then at around 1am the bar tab closes. This means the night is over. I look for a filthy kebab place but it’s Monday night and a public holiday so I settle for trail mix.
Tuesday, Jan 29th – Perth/Adelaide :(
Home. I hate goodbyes. The douchebag next to me on the flight had his elbows in my ribs the entire way. I’ve never wanted to headbutt someone more. Welcome back to reality.