As cheesy as it sounds when spoken by Michael Cole, Fantasy warfare come to life – the slogan promoting the Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg match at this past Sunday’s Survivor Series – is a pretty fitting way to describe what most wrestling fans would love to see happen.
The more you divulge into the history of the industry, you more you think of fantasy matches that you would love to get played out. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Kurt Angle. CM Punk vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Bruiser Brody vs. The Undertaker. Daniel Bryan vs. Dynamite Kid.
But with the ever changing landscape of indie wrestling, where the promotions work more often with each other than against (including, of late, the WWE), we’re starting to see more and more fantasy matches actually materialize before our eyes. This year has seen such match-ups as AJ Styles vs. John Cena, Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet, Cody Rhodes vs. (insert name here), Will Ospreay vs. Vader, Dalton Castle vs. Chuck Taylor. But this past month, Ontario, Canada was home to the greatest fantasy match-up of all time.
When Joe Hendry faced off against Joey Ryan for SMASH Wrestling, the Toronto-based indie promotion rapidly becoming Canada’s answer to PWG and the Great White North’s best independent promotion, during the company’s 4th Anniversary Tour, on a mild evening in London, Ontario.
A little back story.
I’m part of a tight knit group of wrestling fans here in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. This past labour day weekend, a few of us went on a Wrestlecation – a vacation roadtrip to watch wrestling – when we drove over 10 hours to Easton, Pennsylvania to watch this year’s CHIKARA King of Trios. An amazing experience. We decided to make this a routine and not a rarity.
One of the guys in this entourage, Blake Hellheart, is a huge fan of comedic wrestling. We share a mutual appreciation for Douglas Adams and Monty Python and other absurd things. He is a CHIKARA fanatic and over the past year or so has been introducing me to tons of great comedic moments in wrestling. One such introduction was new UK promotion, WCPW, and their resident Local Hero, Joe Hendry. With a musical penchant for creating some of the funniest parody entrance themes in wrestling history, a smirk and smile that is as charming as it is conniving, and a solid ring psychology to work any opponent, Hendry has quickly risen in the ranks of WCPW – he recently faced Kurt Angle at the company’s first PPV – and is one of the breakout stars from Glasgow’s influential ICW. When SMASH Wrestling announced they were bringing over Hendry for their 4th Anniversary Tour of 3 shows in London, St. Catharines and Toronto, we were sold immediately.
Sadness was hit when Smash Champion Mark Haskins had to relinquish his title following a real life injury that has his career in jeopardy. But those tears of sadness became tears of joy when his replacement was quickly announced as the greatest genital combat competitor of our lifetime, Joey Ryan. And not only that, the perpetrator of the penis plex himself, the smarmy blowpop toting, shaft strong King of Dong Style would be facing the Local Hero.
Now many of you are probably already reaching to exit from this article. This is a dream match? This guy is on drugs. And while that may be the case, keep in mind that these are two very different men in different stages of comedic wrestling. Ryan is an indie legend. Not only is he currently starring in Lucha Underground and had stints in TNA and ROH, but he also happens to be one of the co-owners of PWG, who hold the annual Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA) every year. A 16-year pro, he’s trained under Brian Kendrick and Daniel Bryan, and is one of the most sought after performers on the independent circuit. It’s amazing what a man can do with a little penis work.
Joe Hendry, on the other hand, is still making his mark. Made from girders out of ICW and trained by Big Damo, Robbie Brookside and Mikey Whipwreck, Hendry has only been wrestling about 3 years. While he’s been growing a cult following in the UK, he’s only just broke the North American indie ethos in the past year with his high visibility on WCPW’s YouTube show, Loaded. His comedic and musical talents are equal parts of his show and it’s making this lovable heel more face the more he goes on. Joe was so unsure of his popularity in North America that he didn’t bring any merch when we approached him the first night in St. Catharines (where he lost to another UK wrestler, legend Jimmy Havoc). But a helluva nice guy (hopefully he remembered to print some 8×10’s off on the Sunday).
Joey Ryan entered the ring first at their matchup in London. With his trademark perfect coiffe, that beautiful 70’s porn moustache and speedo-esque attire, he gave away his blow-pop, straight from his mouth, to one lucky fan in the crowd. He laid back upon the ropes and waited for his Scottish adversary, in the two’s first ever encounter.
The video screens lit up and the music started. Hendry had actually spent the afternoon in the parking lot before the show and made a special entrance parody for his match vs. Ryan – a parody of Sisqo‘s “Thong Song” (revisioned as “Dong Song”) – much to the delight of the few in attendance who knew who he was. Surprising decent showing for the Local Hero, but the crowd was clearly in Joey Ryan’s corner.
The match was a solid 15 minutes or so, with some brilliant comedy pacing from both men. Ryan tried incredibly hard to get a visibly shaken Hendry to touch the source of his power, but Hendry actually managed to avoid it the entire match – although the referee did inadvertently touch it and get consumed by its magnitude.
Like this year’s match-up from PWG Bowie that saw veteran funny man Chuck Taylor facing off against one of the brightest comedic talents in the industry right now, Dalton Castle, this match-up featured one of the up-and-comers going head to head with one of the pioneers. It was like Donald Duck vs. Daffy Duck in a piano off from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Surprisingly, Hendry got the win – without having to touch the famous Ryan’s manhood – but the crowd didn’t care, even if they didn’t know him. They did now. The match was a brilliant stage play, a sketch comedy routine that had the audience laughing and smiling and enjoying wrestling the way they used to as kids. Only this time, they were chanting “Grab his dick” instead of “Rocky! Rocky!”
So remember to check out the listings of your local independents – or even the ones within driving distance. Because with the interconnectivity of the indies now, we’re getting to see some of the world’s best talent in our back door step, many of whom are ending up in bigger promotions, on TV, or even at Wrestlemania.
Fantasy Warfare doesn’t have to be the 2k17 sponsored dictations of the WWE. They are happening all the time. Catch one before you regret it.
And yes. I was the one who took Joey Ryan’s blowpop.
In my mouth.