Fear and Loathing in Collinsville: In Search of the "Real" Randy 'The Ram' Robinson
And while Rourke is no longer manhandling "heels" inside the square circle, Butcher remains a very real wrestler (well, as "real" as you get in the choreographed world of pro rasslin') with the underground outfit known as Ring of Honor.
Last Friday the wrestling franchise pulled into Collinsville and I had to see for myself if Ring of Honor is as wild and gory as it's been portrayed on the silver screen.
Ring of Honor doesn't have a cable TV deal, and full-length fight clips are almost impossible to find online. Instead, ROH has grown primarily due to the word-of-mouth enthusiasm of hardcore wrestling devotees -- 600 of whom showed up for Friday's match in a convention-center multipurpose room perhaps better suited for hosting wedding receptions and trade fairs.
First impresson: The real-life ROH is far from the nightmarish matches portrayed in Rourke's Oscar-nominated film. And sadly for sadists, Necro wasn't in Collinsville (he was fighting in Japan), and no other wrestler bothered to bring a staple gun.
|ROH fans parking lot it during an intermission.|
"(Lynn) has had some life experiences like Randy the Ram, right down to the stripper," Greenblatt gushes before going to find Lynn in the strictly off-limits "backstage" area. Lynn, on the other hand, isn't so quick to compare himself to Mickey Rourke's character, but says there are similarities between "The Ram" and ROH wrestlers out there.
"Now I'm back. I've wrestled in front of 35,000 people in the Superdome in New Orleans and just this past year I've wrestled in front of 30 people. So it all does come full circle."
During his match, the second-to-last of the night, Lynn is treated by the fans like the war horse he is -- "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" they shout. It sounds like the call of the Jerry Springer Show, but has the heart of 500 males in full-on "bromance."
|Ric Flair will sign a photograph of himself covered in blood for $30. Smiles are free.|
Flair later took to the ring during a staged confrontation with ROH champ Nigel McGuinness. The champ questioned Flair's abilities as a husband. Flair, meanwhile, shot back: "Ladies of St. Louis, the Nature Boy is out tonight!," he announced before letting out his trademark "Wooo!"
"I think it's just the tip of the iceberg," Hero says of the movie involvement and mentions that ROH recently signed a deal with broadcaster HDNet.
Hero -- whose nickname is "That Young Knock-Out Kid" -- has a signature move called the "Mafia Kick" and he is more than happy to show it off prior to his match.
"I just rear back and fuckin' kick the guy right in the face," he says as his leg rises high into the air.
Like Lynn, Hero works an interview camera easily -- though not as easily as he works up his fans. During his introduction later in the night, Hero and his tag-team posse parade down a metal ramp to the bass-heavy beats of hip-hop music. After dispatching his opponents in a long and melodramatic battle, a triumphant Hero struts his way back to the locker room.
The losers follows a few minutes later, showered in boos. A teenager in a Zelda shirt (who's been enthusiastically leaning over the barricade all night) gives one of the vanquished a hard, backhanded smack on his bare chest. The crowd gasps, awaiting a response.
"I'll fuckin' kill you!" says the sweaty wrestler. The kid spits back in the wrestler's face, and the wrestler, who's had enough, just walks back up the ramp and disappears behind a door.
Another day, another paycheck inside the Ring of Honor where -- just like The Wrestler -- not every ending is a happy one.