It was dark, I was 15 miles outside of Orlando, I had half a tank of gas, and I was wearing sunglasses. And an Afro.
Last Saturday night was my turn yet again to represent the Afro-Squad
at an independent professional wrestling show. For years, the Afro-Squad has been one of the galaxy’s premier fan gimmick organizations. You could almost say the Afro-Squad and pro wrestling have gone together like cheap wine and Taco Bell. Trust me, once you get past the low budget stigma, it’s not a bad way to spend a night.
I have to be honest here. I’m the new guy in the Afro-Squad. Like I said, they have been around for a while. They have been involved in pro wrestling, crazy photoshops, and amateur movies, all in an attempt to foil the omnipotent bugaboo they call “The Man”. Yet like all great supergroups, there have been a few line-up changes along the way. Officially, there have been two Snowmans, two KrazyMans, and now a Jordi (I really should find a funky handle.). Unofficially, I’m probably one of nearly 5,000 in the Afro-Squad Army, a ragtag gaggle of non-practicing pimps, pornstars, practical jokers, and pro wrestlers. Which brings me back to why I was just outside of Orlando in beautiful Altamonte Springs, Florida.
For those not familiar with the geography of Florida, Altamonte Springs is a suburb of Orlando. That’s it. There is nothing special about Altamonte Springs. As a matter of fact, if you wanted to be environmentally correct, there is quite a bit wrong with Altamonte Springs. It is one of Florida’s many urban sprawl cities, destroying natural Florida one subdivision at a time. But for my purposes, Altamonte Springs is home to the Eastmonte Civic Center, the venue of choice for the night’s festivities.
Not to use the slightest bit of hyperbole, but Saturday night’s wrestling spectacular had every right to be festive. For 10 years Southern Championship Wrestling
had entertained the masses throughout Central Florida. Yet now, on their 10th Anniversary, they were closing up shop. Saturday night was the end. The end of their elaborate plans, of storylines and slobberknockers, pinfalls and promotions. Needless to say, butts were in the seats, and faces lined the walls when seats could not be found. SCW’s final event was a big deal to a lot of people. So of course the Afro-Squad had to be in attendance, represented not only by myself, but also by the afro-clad Bryan Maddox
That’s the thing about pro wrestling. It’s easy to be involved. It’s easy to feel like part of the show. Whereas some people work concessions, others boo or cheer, the attractive walk ring cards, and the legendary ring bells, the Afro-Squad heckles. We put on our afro wigs (except AfroBoy, his is real) and our cheap sunglasses and we become masters of the heckling art
. You might even say the transformation from mild mannered fan to fanatical heckler is worthy of the label “Heckle and Jekyl”. But don’t say that, someone might think you are old. Does anyone remember Heckle and Jeckle
Anyway, there I was in the Eastmonte Civic Center. Thanks to a mishap with Google Maps, I arrived shortly after the first match, but right on time to see the entrance of Mexican stereotype Ben Deho. Being the upstanding internationalist, Mr. Deho immediately sparked the ire of the crowd with his anti-American rhetoric. So of course I responded with a “You love tacos” chant.
The next recipient of the Afro-Squad’s attention was SCW superstar Slick Sleazy
. Mr. Sleazy, a true gentleman and a scholar, goes back a ways with the Afro-Squad. Earlier this year, in a prior SCW event, Sleazy, a promoter of raw, unbridled sexual deviance, was among the Afro-Squad’s top targets of hecklization (that might not be a word, by the way). At the Eastmonte Civic Center neither heckler nor hecklee (also possibly not a word) forgot their role.
The moment Sleazy made his entrance, I immediately yelled “You still suck!”, and began laying into his loud green wrestling attire. Sleazy, recognizing my afro’ed persona, gave me a few choice words and, once in the ring, taunted me with several semi-homo-erotic hip thrusts. Unfortunately, our battle of wits was sidetracked by Slick Sleazy’s mohawked and tattooed opponent, the vicious Tribal, who due to the fact that he may just cut his own head with a weed whacker, was also the subject of several Afro-Squadian comments.
Here I must admit my most embarrassing moment of the evening. After Slick Sleazy pinned Tribal, I walked to the aisle railing with the intent of peppering Mr. Sleazy with some farewell insults before he went backstage. Unfortunately, Sleazy engaged in an unexpected counterattack, snatching my afro and sunglasses from my visage. Ashamed, I fled to a far corner of the arena, leaving the victorious Sleazy with a trophy to go along with his victory. Thankfully, a kind ring worker recovered my cherished accessories.
Learning a temporary lesson in humility, I stayed relatively quiet through the next three matches, letting other members of the crowd jaw with the parade of heels and faces. Then Aaron Epic
entered the ring area.
Like Slick Sleazy, Aaron Epic was a favorite Afro-Squad target from prior events. Also like Sleazy, the illustrious Mr. Epic was known for taking action against certain afro'ed hecklers. This pattern would continue unabated.
Prior to learning his ring moniker, the Afro-Squad used to loudly refer to Aaron Epic by the color of his wrestling trunks (“Hey Aqua Pants, you suck!”). Now knowing his name, my chant of choice quickly became “Epic Failure”. But of course, that wasn’t all.
Knowing I was in his head, I frequently told Mr. Epic to “Do Something!” immediately after he struck his opponent. Being told to “do something” apparently set Epic off as he motioned for me to come into the ring to settle our differences. Knowing the boundaries of performance, and also being a bit of a pansy, I told Aaron Epic to come to me, thinking he wouldn’t dare enter the crowd. But yet he came close, pausing in his battle with Nooie Lee long enough to roll out of the ring, lean over the railing, and feign spitting on me. Our war of wits settled to his satisfaction, he re-entered the ring and proceeded to win the SCW Light Heavyweight and Florida Heavyweight Championship. Which he would then lose five minutes later.
Following Slick Sleazy and Aaron Epic, the final Afro-Squad target of the evening was Mr. Robin Donahue, manager of SCW Heavyweight Champion Thomas Marr. With his semi-bald head, broken left arm, and consignment shop-bought suit, Donahue was an easy target. In a world where managers are supposed to create hostility and fan heat for their wrestlers, Donahue is one of the best. But even he is no match for the Afro-Squad as I took him apart, from his un-Bic-ed head to his cheap bowling shoes. The champ had to go it alone, as I was all in Donahue’s head from the second he stepped towards the squared circle.
With or without his manager, Thomas Marr concluded a great night of wrestling with a fantastic 30-minute match with challenger Slyk Wagner Brown. In a battle that spilled into the crowd, returned to the ring, went back into the crowd, and then back into the ring, Marr defended his title thanks to his mix of athleticism, grit, and determination, with of course a smattering of cheap shots and low blows.
Despite the comments, the insults, the jeering, and the jawing, as the night drew to a close I stood and applauded each and every wrestler as they gathered one last time in an SCW ring. SCW had a magnificent run as one of the best sports entertainment promotions in Central Florida. But now the past is the past and the show must go on. To the owners, operators, bookers, and brawlers of SCW, I give you my heartfelt thanks. Thank you for the great shows.
And to targets of Afro-Squad ire, I hope to see you again soon. Even you, Aaron Epic.