The Beers Are Real, the Fights Are... Dry

The bone-crunching action is coming to Re-bar.

Jackson Lowe (aka Chas Roberts) would have you believe that the SSP Arena (the club King Cobra on Capitol Hill) holds half a million people. He'd also have you believe that the stage is 10 stories high (actually 5 feet), the ladder is solid steel (it's aluminum), and Mr. Fitness has the physique of Mr. Universe (he doesn't). Lowe is the frenzied announcer of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling (SSP). At Chronic Pain V, one of the organization's two signature events, Lowe's exaggerations grow exponentially as the empty beer cans pile up. But it's all in good fun. And it's all for the crowd. At Chronic Pain, the beverage of choice is almost exclusively cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Throughout the matches, a hail of shiny tall-boys rains down on the competitors. Those beer cans speak volumes: A well-placed empty is more poignant than a hoot or jeer—and much more satisfying. And at SSP events, the theatrics are just as important as the wrestling. During one match, Draven Lawless steps into the SSP Arena as the Pacific middleweight champion. His challenger: Master Blaster, an air-guitar superstar. Their duel is a ladder match. The idea is simple: the title belt is looped around a pipe in the rafters. Whoever gets it wins. There's no tap-out, no three-count pin—just the belt. At the outset, Blaster and Lawless push, pull, slap, and body slam one another onstage until the fight spills into the crowd. Lawless slams Blaster's head into a table—made of solid steel!—upending chairs and sending beer cans everywhere. The crowd roars and the fight returns to the stage. Toward the end, Blaster lays prone on the floor, wheezing, as Lawless pulls out a piece of plywood wrapped in barbed wire. Setting it between two metal chairs, he drags Blaster to the ladder and tries tossing him over his shoulder onto the barbed wire. But Blaster reverses the maneuver, landing Lawless firmly on his back and sending the crowd into a frenzy. The tables turned, Blaster drags the ladder on top of the now-motionless Lawless before launching off a chair for a climactic body slam. "Oh my God!" Lowe screams. "Slammed under a ladder of [here the crowd joins him] solid steel!" With Lawless out cold, Blaster ascends the ladder and claims victory amid a renewed volley of beer cans. He is the champion—at least until Bloodsport, the other main event held in October. Until then, the running script continues May 7 at Re-bar, where SSP will hold its next event. And while the winners may be decided beforehand, that doesn't mean the matches aren't competitive. "Everybody wants that favorable script," SSP co-founder Nathaniel Pinzon says. "It's hard to keep 30 guys happy when they're not necessarily all friends."

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