The Wrestlepalooza Experience

Twin Cities Media said it best.

The best kept secret in Minnesota is F1RST Wrestling, an independent pro wrestling organization out of Minneapolis which puts on a unique blend of Rock and Wrestling. On Friday June 28th, F1RST Wrestling will be exploding onto First Avenue with Wrestlepalooza XV. Wrestlepalooza is so much more than just a show…  It’s a party! It’s a concert! It’s burlesque! It’s an experience! F1RST WRESTLING brings Pro Wrestling to a new level in Minnesota. They won’t make outlandish claims or silly promises about changing Pro Wrestling as you see it. F1RST WRESTLING promises the fans of MN wrestling the best possible show each and every night!

Twin Cities Media

F1rst Wrestling is bar-none the best wrestling company in Minnesota. As said in the quote above it’s the best kept secret in wrestling. Unfortunately I was never able to attend any F1rst event, let alone Wrestlepalooza before this weekend.

F1rst Wrestling has recently sold out most of their shows. Wrestlepalooza has sold out almost every year. Luckily I was able to get two tickets before this years sell-out.

The night started with me driving half way to the event before remembering I forgot the tickets. After doubling back and grabbing the tickets, my friend Jack and I were on our way. Jack has never attended a wrestling show before and didn’t want to know anything going into it. We both were experiencing Wrestlepalooza for the first time.

Doors opened at 7pm, we got in line at about 7:15 and the line was still about 60 people deep. By the time we got into Minnesota’s most famous arena First Avenue, we were offered free Zubaz headbands. The whole venue was standing room only, except for the lucky few VIP’s that got a fantastic balcony view. There were lucha masks for $1, Zubaz for $10 and booty shorts for $2. 5 different areas to get drinks an easily accessible merch table and in the center of it all was the ring.

As Jack and I walked around looking for our spot for the night. We decided that even though every place accessible to fans had a great view of the ring, we were going to the balcony to stand behind the VIP area. There was music going on before the show and the energy was already palpable with the crowd singing ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell.

The evening started with a video package showing local wrestlers working at a brewery, which bled into hype videos recapping the current feuds that are taking place. A rematch between Jessicka Havok and Kimber Lee, as well as former champion Darin Corbin attempting to wrest away the Uptown VFW Championship from current champion Orange Cassidy. Then the Wrestlepalooza XV hype video got the crowd in a frenzy.

John Maddening was the MC and ring announcer for the night. Dressed in a gaudy suit with spiked blue hair, this instantly gave off a punk rock feel. Arik Cannon made his way to the ring to kick off the first match. He had a surprise opponent, none other than Mike Quackenbush. To say I was excited would be an understatement. Quack is a folk hero in independent wrestling, and being able to watch him perform live gave me legitimate goosebumps.

The match was scientific and filled with great wrestling. The crowd reacted to monkey flips and reversals. When Cannon broke a submission by biting the ropes, I couldn’t believe the crowd noise.

After the event happened, Jack said his favorite moment of the night was when Quack had an abdominal stretch on Arik, Cannon reverses it with a hip toss. From my memory, Quack lands on his feet, hits the ropes and as smooth as smooth can be, reapplies the abdominal stretch. The crowd popped and Jack screamed. I knew them and there this night would be one I’d never forget.

After the match ended, Cannon grabbed the mic and told the crowd how much Quack meant to him and how lucky Arik was to wrestle Mike. It was a special moment.

After that there was a six man match that featured 5 Minnesota wrestlers and a surprise appearance by Swoggle. The crowd was hottest for Wildcat and did the “meow” chant a bunch. A fun spot in the match happened where Wildcat heard a mouse under the ring, caught it and offered it as a gift to his partner Thunderfrogger. Swoggle added a lot to the match as well and the crowd was really enjoying themselves.

Up next was a Wrestlepalooza first. A Drag performance by Mistress Victoria Deville. To my delight, the crowd rejoiced in the performance and after Victoria was done, people were throwing money into the ring! The love every performer got that night was amazing.

4onthefloor performed a couple of songs and I’m pleased to say most of the crowd stuck around and showed them love as well. After their second performance, they went to the ring to do a 5 second pose. That’s when Darin Corbin showed up and Ginger Snapped one of the band members. Darin was rightfully booed for his asshole behavior.

Darin Corbin was supposed to face off against Orange Cassidy, but when Corbin heard that the championship wouldn’t be defended, he said it wasn’t worth it and left. Joey Ryan entered the ring and asked Orange if they could wrestle each other. Cassidy took the championship out of his backpack and it turns out we would see a championship match!

I’ve never heard a louder reaction then when Joey and Orange played their greatest hits. The sunglasses, pockets and dick touching were happening in succession, there were smiles all around and Jack leaned over to yell “This fucking rules so hard”. Someone whose never watched wrestling got it right away and loved every minute of it. I can honestly say that after the Quack/Cannon and Ryan/Cassidy Match, wrestling gained a new fan. He was snapping some stuff throughout the night and all of the comments on his story were people asking where he was, and to invite them next time. It was outstanding.

Darin Corbin ended the fun when he inserted himself in the match. But that was only temporary because Corbin played his role so well, that everyone got louder than before, reacting to the lollipops, penis flips and Canadian destroyers. Orange walked away with the victory leaving Corbin seething.

The next match was the hardest hitting match of the night and an all out war. Jessicka Havoc and Kimber Lee left it all out there and I wasn’t able to get much video because I couldn’t take my eyes off the action. The match ended with a top rope tombstone piledriver that made the woman next to me audibly gasp and hold her chest. To have a match with Joey, Orange and Corbin beforehand. A match that has spots that are supposedly killing the business. To have Jessicka and Kimber follow that match with a balls to the wall fight, and the crowd to bring the same energy to each match, really shows that wrestling is a medium full of genres, and that night, every genre was just as good and as respected as the one before it. It brought out so many emotions in me, that we were all here and we were all here for everything.

Queenie Von Curves came out to give us a tremendous burlesque performance. When the tassels went spinning the crowd went wild.

The main event was Airwolf and his brother Angel Dorado, The Flip Brothers vs. The Lucha Bros. vs. Ethan Page and Josh Alexander, The North. The match was non-stop and loaded with crowd pleasing spots. The Flip Brothers ended up gaining the victory in a match that represented all of North America.

After the show was over, it seemed like no one wanted to leave. The merch lines were 40 people deep, everyone was smiling and I couldn’t put this event over enough.

There is already a group of 5 people wanting to go next year with myself and now Jack being the only wrestling fans. This is a one of a kind entertainment experience and I for one would like to thank Arik Cannon, F1rst Wrestling, all the wrestlers and the fans in attendance for making this one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Below is a clip video off the videos I took that night.

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