MONDO LUCHA! celebrates fifth anniversary in high-flying style at Turner Hall
Lucha libre wrestling, sexy ninjas, and cross-dressing goat men from outer space.
Over the course of four years, MONDO LUCHA! has treated Turner Hall to an eclectic annual event that rolls top-notch wrestling action, local music, burlesque dancers, and lighthearted storylines into one somewhat subversive yet deeply satisfying package. Saturday night, the Milwaukee-based lucha libre variety show celebrated its fifth anniversary with three hours of rock ’n’ roll, nipple pasties, and a cross-dressing goat man (spoiler alert: from outer space) doing battle with a hipster strongman en route to the heavyweight title match.
The raucous evening started innocently enough, as MONDO LUCHA! co-creators Andrew Gorzalski and Jay Gilkay welcomed the audience (following a dance number by women dressed as sexy ninjas, of course). Introductions out of the way, the executive producing pair brought out the first tag-team match of the night—Matt Cross (aka M-Dogg 20) and the 400-pound behemoth Mustafa against high-flying heels Zero Gravity. After the match concluded with a double choke slam compliments of Mustafa, Turner Hall got steamy when the first of three burlesque performers shed layers before finally giving way to the musical stylings of young Milwaukee glam rockers Tigernite.
After the band’s song was over, the wrestling-burlesque-Tigernite formula repeated. Noted amputee pro wrestler Zach Gowen (“robot” partner Shockwave by his side) took on a pair of implicit Middle Eastern wrestlers. The latter tag-team’s portrayal was less than subtle in its cultural insensitivity—one jumped atop a Persian rug from the top rope, landed on his opponent, and prayed—but it was absolved when much of the crowd chanted “U-S-A, U-S-A” at the dancing robot facing the spandex-clad stereotypes. Gowen (who has no left leg below the knee) was also very impressive. Unlike the common phrase, this one-legged man excelled in the ass-kicking contest, as he and Shockwave defeated their evil opponents who had the gall to practice their religion freely in public.
Following Shockwave’s enshrinement into the MONDO LUCHA! Hall Of Fame, the beautiful Sweet Pea showcased her below-the-belt pasty. One Guns N’ Roses song later, she yielded the floor (upon which she’d just yielded nearly all her clothing) to the Pabst Blue Ribbon-slamming gutter punk Arik Cannon and his snot-rocketing partner in crime, Dysfunction. Facing off against an inaudibly named (and, frankly, not that interesting) pair of good guys, the heels overcame ring girl betrayal, audience chants of “Fuck your mohawk!” and a throng of two-counts to retain their title. During the melee, the anti-mohawk chants were transformed to rhythmic cries of “HO-LY SHI-IT!” when the wrestlers jumped off the top rope and landed clear into the seating area.
After another Tigernite song, a vaudevillian clown act, as well as a song and (semi-nude) dance number from Miss MONDO LUCHA! herself, it was time for the main event: the heavyweight title match. Challenger El Chivas Blanco, adorned in fishnet stockings, a Kerri Strug-like gymnastics onesie, and a lipstick-smeared goat mask was forced to fight a gauntlet of opponents before even getting the opportunity to wrestle for the belt. Starting with the previously noted hipster strongman, Chivas disposed of wrestlers with a myriad of moves (usually related to groin-grabbing or dry humping) to finally get a shot at the belt.
El Chivas Blanco’s shining moment came when he—sticking with the theme that bucking common gender roles is apparently funny—kissed his opponent on the mouth before jumping from the top rope with him and taking the title with a definitive pin. The honor prompted video correspondence from Blanco’s home planet, which ordered him to return home immediately (a la unpopular Itchy & Scratchy character “Poochie”). Tigernite then played the crowd off with a MONDO LUCHA!-inspired number.
While some broad characterizations skated the line of good taste, MONDO LUCHA! once again proved to be a one-of-a-kind source of area entertainment. The variety show champions the idea of “Defending Milwaukee,” and, in the process, makes Milwaukee a slightly more interesting place to be one night each year.