Monday, October 7, 2013

31 Days of Halloween - Phantom Troublemaker Behind the Scenes of MCW at Fright Fest

When I first heard several months ago that Monstrosity Championship Wrestling was going to be running shows at Six Flags Over Georgia’s annual Halloween celebration I experienced many emotions simultaneously – excitement, disappointment, surprise, reservation. I had no idea what to think initially, I just knew I wanted to make the absolute most of the opportunity.
The negative emotions I mentioned above – disappointment and reservation – came as a result of my Job. My Job interferes with my jobs a whole fucking lot. But it’s the one that (almost) pays the bills, so it takes priority. Unfortunately the Job has a terrible schedule. I’ve talked about it before, but I have never clearly illustrated the full inconvenience of what I work, so here’s an example of one month of my schedule:

Sunday: off
Monday: 5PM – 5AM
Tuesday: 5PM – 5AM
Wednesday: off
Thursday: off
Friday: 5PM – 5AM
Saturday: 5PM – 5AM
Sunday: 5PM – 5AM
Monday: off
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: 5PM – 5AM
Thursday: 5PM – 5AM
Friday: off
Saturday: off
And then repeat the above with 5AM – 5PM for two weeks.

I know – you probably don’t even quite understand what you’re looking at right now. And once you do you’ll think, “Well, heck – you only work 14 out of every 28 days”. But the problem is that I work twelve hours, so the days that I do work are gone. I might as well not exist on those days. I leave the house at 3:45 and get home between 6:30 and 7 depending on traffic. I have to be in bed by 9 to get less sleep than I really need. And then on my first day off I am at ¾ speed at best because I simply haven’t slept enough or had anything to live for going on two-three days now.

And yes – of course I am thankful that I even have a job. And my Job pays me better than any other job I would be qualified for until I get famous. But it definitely fucks with my time. Both family and free.

So when I heard that MCW was going to be at Fright Fest I was totally stoked, but I knew that I wouldn’t be there every weekend and that meant that somebody else was going to be doing my fucking job.

I am the Host of Monstrosity Championship Wrestling. I’m not going to get too full of myself here, but I know damn well what I bring to the show. I love doing it and I know that I do what I do very well. I could be better and over time I will be, but for right now I’m pretty damned awesome. And I don’t want anybody else doing that shit. Not because I’m worried about being upstaged. It could happen. Somebody could come in and do a better job. Definitely. But they’re not me.

I want the shows to be consistent, I want to be at every one of them (which is impossible), and I want to be unquestionably identified as The Host. Lorne wouldn’t want somebody else running the mic at Caritas, would he?

I had to miss the last two MCW shows at our home venue, Club Famous, and it killed me. The first one was because I got called into work on my day off. The second was because I had lost my voice to Con Funk after Dragon Con. I also missed two podcasts that week.
But I knew there was just nothing I could do about missing some of the MCW shows at Fright Fest. On top of my Job issues, October is just generally a busy month for the Troublemaker family. Our Wedding Anniversary is the 15th, Lil’ Troublemaker’s birthday is the 27th, Halloween is – well, you know. And on top of all that we have the usual parties, haunts, and whatever else to try and get to. And, of course, putting together content for this very site.

Once all of the variable shook out, it looked like I was going to be at the shows on 9/27, 9/28, 10/12, 10/13, and 10/26. A disappointing few, but I was determined to make the most of them. And at least I would be there for the opening night on September 27th.It was very important to me to make the first couple of dates and make an impact so that the boys would really know it when I wasn’t there. I didn’t take the audience into consideration. These were going to be Six Flags patrons who were looking to sit down for a few minutes. We wouldn’t be putting on wrestling shows, we’d be doing exhibitions. No storylines, no character progression or anything. Just a few matches a day featuring monsters fighting wrestlers.

Oddly, my biggest concern going into Fright Fest was my wardrobe. I feel very strongly about looking a certain way when I am performing. I wear suits to MCW because that’s what a ring announcer needs to be wearing. But this was a different kind of show. I felt like I needed something much more costume-like. As you learned last month I know a few people that make costumes, but MCW doesn’t exactly pay well and I budget very tightly. So extra cash for a custom costume was pretty much out of the question. As usually happens when I’m in a corner, the thing that just popped into my head ended up being absolutely perfect. I’ll get to it in a minute.

First I had to get to Six Flags.

I hadn’t been to Six Flags since the day after my wedding eight years ago and we were both so exhausted then that we wandered around for a couple of hours and then went home. Before that I bet it had been a decade since I visited the place. So all of my memories of Six Flags were from my youth. I wasn’t sure what rides were there now, I didn’t know exactly where we’d be in the park, and I had no clue what security or anything else would be like.
When I arrived at the Employee Entrance a very nice lady gave me a temporary parking pass (so that I wouldn’t have to stop and explain who I was every time) and told me how to get where I was going. I had to follow a winding road back to the Axis Arena in Gotham City.

Side Note: If you think the fact that I am spending several October weekends working in Gotham City isn’t giving me a massive nerd-on then you obviously don’t know me very well.

On the way back to the arena I passed a few spots where old rides and parts of the park had been abandoned. It was both creepy and awesome.

I parked behind a warehouse with a huge Bat Symbol on the side and saw Mr. Monstrosity – the boss of MCW – walking out to his car. He filled me in on what he and Professor Morté had been doing all day and we headed into the arena.

Side Note: These two guys are awesome. I’ve mentioned my high opinion of Professor Morté and his work ethic in the past. And I’m stoked that I’m part of the vision he and Mr. Monstrosity have for the company.

I was surprised to discover that we had a full backstage facility with two dressing rooms, two restrooms, air conditioning, a water fountain, a refrigerator, and other amenities. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but this was a pretty amazing step up from our normal backstage area. Oh, and there was a Batmobile parked out back:
I hadn’t even picked up a mic yet and this was already an amazing experience.

Then I saw the stage we would be performing on:
Holy. Shit.

This was an arena. Obviously not, like, a huge arena. But an arena nonetheless. And I knew that thing wouldn’t be full all month, but just to have that much space to perform in… Whether we drew 20 or 2,000 I was going to be giving it my all.

After a brief and only partially successful struggle with some props that had been looted from the Six Flags junkyard – I think they used to be part of the entrance to the Mindbender – it was time to start getting ready. I had the foresight to try out the sound system before showtime and much to my surprise it was functional and ready to go. The sound wasn’t great near the ring, but it was loud and amazing out in the bleachers. This is easily the most my voice has ever been heard and I fucking loved it. A far cry from the very first MCW show where I was shouting at people in line for Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse without the aid of a sound system.

I had four masks with me and just one costume. While I would love to have a new one for each show, that would be a lot of stuff to bring and I literally cannot afford that kind of dry cleaning bill. And again – we would be lucky to hold people through one match, let alone an entire hour. I doubted we would get too many repeat visitors across shows. I mainly changed masks because I thought the boys would get a kick out of it. Anyway, here’s the look I settled on:

Not bad. Part ringmaster, maybe a little Doctor Who-ish. That shirt, by the way, is a Donald Trump shirt. I got it at a thrift store and it is my favorite white shirt that I have ever owned. It’s very odd as far as the cut and design go. I use it with my Fourth Doctor costume because it has a great texture and is exotic enough to look slightly otherworldly. If I ever find any more like it for cheap I’ll buy ‘em. Another great thing about the get-up was that I wore boots instead of my usual shoes. I’ve got this pair of Grinders that are about 17 years old and are the best footwear I’ve ever owned (I know it seems like there’s a lot of hyperbole in this paragraph – but I broke out the good stuff for Fright Fest!). Way more comfortable than the zip-up disco boots I usually wear.

Our designated start time was 2 PM. I was waiting behind the curtain at 1:50. I won’t say I was nervous, but I definitely had a tremendous amount of energy flowing through me. There’s not much that’s more exciting than performing in a new place. For me, it’s totally empowering knowing that whatever the circumstances may be, somebody somewhere saw fit to put me in that situation. 
 
2 PM hit and I lifted the mic and started my spiel:

Six Flaaaaaags Fright Fest (with a little growl in “Fright Fest”)!
Are you rrrrready for Monstrosity (as I said “Monstrosity” I threw back the curtain and started striding toward the ring, being as big as I possibly could) Championship WRESTLING!?!?!?!?

The crowd popped pretty good. I had seen how many people were out there before I stepped out, so I didn’t expect to be knocked over by a response. I continued on about MCW and probably didn’t put out as much shtick as I could’ve, but I felt like we probably needed to get to the wrestlers sooner than later. Talking is fun, but what people really want to see is a werewolf punching the fuck out of a zombie.

That first night was a tad shaky – as any big production in a new environment is going to be – but it was electric. The crowds were all season pass holders who were stoked to be in Six Flags on a special night. All of us working for MCW were stoked to have this amazing new venue to perform in. It all came together to create something truly awesome. 
 
It would be absolutely criminal of me to not mention two guys that strapped in and made it all work – Rick Michaels and Simon Sermon. I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the amount of professionalism I saw in those two that first Fright Fest weekend. Not at an office job, not at a fast food joint, not at retail. I’m not blowing smoke here – Rick and Simon are two of the classiest, most professional people I’ve ever worked with. I have a huge respect for all of the men and women that actually get in that ring and go, but those guys are legit.

Speaking of men and women of the ring, I got to work with a lot of new people over the weekend, and that was a thrill, too. I love being able to introduce new people and see what they’re going to do in the ring. I’m not going to call out everybody here, but there was a ton of talent I hadn’t worked with before and it was cool. And cooler than cool was being able to introduce DCW legend Reverend Dan Wilson and the Devil’s Rejects. That was some shit, man. The Devil’s Rejects is one of my all-time favorite movies, so getting to growl that into a mic in front of an arena full… well, an arena… was awesome.

Friday was totally exhausting and I got a bit dehydrated, but on Saturday I brought a water bottle and had the timing down a bit more so that I could get backstage to recoup a bit. It’s not like I’m out there wrestling or anything, but I do try to put a lot more into my performance than just saying some names into a mic. I was running around the arena starting chants, getting in and out of the ring, and my personal favorite – acting like a total chickenshit.

Phantom Troublemaker is terrified of wrestlers. If one so much as comes near him, he gets nervous and hides behind a ref or backs away or whatever. Despite the fact that I’m a good bit taller than most of the guys I work with, the point is that they’re tough, scary fighting men and I’m just an ego with a microphone. I want to do anything I can to put them over. So if one walks over and asks for the mic, I cower and thrust it out towards them like they were a tiger after a steak I’m holding. Stuff like that.

It was during one of these moments of cowardice that I fucked myself all up.

It was maybe the third show on Saturday. There was a tag team match and I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was. It was about time to bring it home when something happened that I felt the need to overreact to. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I want to say something to do with Dark Mon because we had kind of been doing bits all weekend. But anyway, I flailed around and backed away from whatever it was, felt my left ankle catch on something, and had plenty of time to think:

What the fuck is that? Crap, I can’t do anything with my left foot. I can’t get my right foot over there to catch myself. Wow – my left foot is really stuck. Shit – I guess I’m going to fall down right now. Fuck”

And BAM I hit the concrete. I had two terrible concerns that happened at exactly the same time: the first was that I was going to tear my coat up. The suit it came with was fairly expensive and it’s a pretty nice coat that – with the advent of this costume – I have realized I can get a good bit of mileage out of. But it isn’t the most durable fabric in the world. I landed hard – really hard – on my left knee and elbow (and kept going down – my whole body hit). I thought for sure there was going to be a big hole in that elbow. There wasn’t and this still amazes the fuck out of me. I did find a couple of small abrasions around the hip pocket, but they aren’t apparent and definitely aren’t holes.

Second, at the same moment I was thinking about my almost certainly ruined coat, I heard a pretty solid “thunk” and was positive it was my phone and that my phone would be shattered. But I looked down and it was the Six Flags mic. It had simply slid out of my pocket and I’ll tell you right now – judging from how that thing looked when I got it, that is not the worst thing that has ever happened to it.

It’s almost a week later and my knee is still sore, but I don’t care.
In short, that last weekend of September was one of the best ever. And I haven’t even gotten into Sunday yet (I will). The pure excitement of being part of such a big entertainment entity was unbelievable. I’m finishing this up on Friday night. MCW is tomorrow and I won’t be there and it sucks. But I have so much excitement about the fact that I will be back this weekend that it’s almost sustaining me in a way.
So if you’re at Six Flags Over Georgia this weekend, come to the Axis Arena in Gotham City at 2,3,4, and/or 5 to see mo0nsters, zombies, demons, and the best professional athletes on the planet go to WAR for your amusement! You’ve never before seen anything like
Monstrosity Championship Wrestling!
Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween
I’m changing the format a bit this year in order to more accurately portray SyFy’s schedule and also to preserve my sanity. I had the genius idea to cut and paste the schedule directly from SyFy’s page rather than typing it out in my own format. This has saved me an awful lot of time and also means that individual episodes are listed rather than blocks of programming like previous years. So what I’m going to do is provide commentary where I feel it is needed rather than posting next to every single entry. Don’t worry – you’re getting the same amount of hilarious, then kind of funny, then labored, then thoroughly disenchanted Phantom content. Just in a different way.
Like last year, I am covering the programming from the time this posts until the time of the next post. That means that on Fridays you are going to be treated to a shit-ton of this stuff.
Let’s do it!
Oct 7 10:00 AM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Dracula 2000
I mentioned Vitamin C’s pert breasts in Friday’s post. That was probably a bit cruel given that you won’t actually see them in the SyFy version. If you’re going to watch this turd, at least watch the Unrated version.
Oct 7 12:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Drag Me To Hell
Like I said before – I love this movie! It wasn’t terribly gory or profane, so it might be relatively intact on SyFy other than being interrupted by commercials every ten minutes.
Oct 7 02:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Psychosis
Oct 7 04:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Ninth Gate, The
I really hate when they just repeat programming within a couple of days. At least spread it out so my Halloween and rum-addled mind has time to forget you’re doing it.
Oct 7 07:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
I totally dug this flick. I doubted John C. Reilly’s ability to play any kind of sinister character, let alone the vampiric protagonist of this movie; but I am happy to say that I was dead-ass wrong. He is tremendous in this one. It’s a shame it flopped at the box office because I would have loved to see more. I think this was just too weird a premise for the average moviegoer.
Oct 7 09:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Dawn Of The Dead
This will, presumably, be the remake. This film is one of my main points when I am arguing in favor of remakes. Or, at least, defending them. Regardless of how you compare it to Romero’s original masterpiece (the peak of his career, if you ask me), it’s still a great zombie flick with one of the best casts ever assembled for a horror movie.
Oct 7 11:30 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Daybreakers
Not a bad vampire flick. I can watch it about once a year. It isn’t so good that I resent SyFy’s commercial breaks, and isn’t so bad that I want to change the channel.
Oct 8 01:30 AM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Prowl
This one is three years old, and I know I’ve written about it before because the stellar description on Wikipedia sounds familiar. Check this out:
"The film concerns a young lady named Amber, who dreams of escaping her small town existence. She therefore persuades her friends, Peter, Suzy, Eric, Fiona and Ray to accompany her to find an apartment in the big city, Chicago. Unfortunately, the vehicle transporting Amber and her friends to Chicago breaks down and as a consequence they gratefully accept a ride in the back of a semi driven by a "blatantly untrustworthy truck driver" named Bernard. However, Amber and her friends become concerned when Bernard refuses to stop and they discover that the cargo consists of hundreds of cartons of blood. Concern turns to panic and terror when Bernard "ends up taking them into an abandoned meat-packing plant that is now a training ground for a group of bloodthirsty vampires". The leader of the creatures, Veronica, wants them to learn how to hunt human prey and has coaxed Bernard into helping her. Amber and her friends attempt to evade the creatures in order to survive."
Oct 8 03:30 AM The Twilight Zone Stopover In A Quiet Town
Get back to New Year’s, Twilight Zone!
Oct 8 04:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 8 06:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 8 08:00 AM Deals From The Darkside Cat O' Nine Tails
If I can watch one of these OnDemand before Monday I will comment about it. If not, you will all know I am a big phony who is not truly dedicated to quality commentary about SyFy’s Halloween schedule.
Oct 8 08:30 AM Deep South Paranormal Till Death Do Us Part
Oct 8 09:30 AM Deep South Paranormal Got Them Lady In Black Blues
Oct 8 10:30 AM Deep South Paranormal Old Soldiers Never Die
When did this happen? There is no way I can address this iteration of the whole “ghost hunting” TV show nonsense without deriding the South. And given that I recently got all bent out of shape about people deriding the South I am not going to do that. But all of this is just complete bullshit. And that’s coming from somebody that does not dismiss the possibility of the paranormal. I think that weird shit can happen. I just don’t think any of these bozos on TV are ever going to document any of it.
-Phantom


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