A wild variety of absurd fun
Bringing together pro wrestling, live music and burlesque performers, there's no other event like Mondo Lucha at Turner Hall. Photo Gallery by Lacy Landre.
Needless to say, going into my first Mondo Lucha, I wasn’t quite sure what to exactly to expect. The event made its Milwaukee debut in 2008, bringing together pro wrestling, live music and burlesque performers into a unique variety show of sorts. The show has always made a point of featuring local bands, in the past featuring such acts as Maritime, John the Savage and the Scarring Party.
I arrived right as the intro video started, and immediately the first match began. It didn’t take long for the energy level of the room to rise, and soon the entire audience was cheering their heroes on, passionately counting down the knockout in unison. The fights featured both local and national fighters, with fighters like Mustafa and Matt Knicks. A definite highlight was Zach Gowen, the “world’s only one-legged wrestler.” With many of the audience members unfamiliar with Gowen (myself included), the removal of his prosthetic leg was received with uproarious cheers. His fast-paced, acrobatic fighting style was incredible, making him easily one of the tournament’s best fighters.
The event featured some rather unlikely cameo appearances from local Milwaukeeans, most namely Cedar Block‘s Brent Godhe and The Pabst‘s Marc Solheim. Their brief cameos in the ring brought out the theatrical and dramatic elements of pro wrestling, with the “outsider” quickly leaving the ring by way of brute force. The final fight featured all of the participants in a free-for-all setting, one of which was Shockwave the Robot—the most realistic looking robot I’ve ever seen. Throughout the event, I kept hoping to see some destructive behavior, which I finally witnessed, with fighters throwing around a pair of folding ladders. Plus, some guy standing next to me crushed a half-empty tallboy on his head, you know, just because. Perfect. This was just like Nintendo 64.
Also featured were national and touring burlesque performers, whose tasteful music choices and intricate costumes provided a nice contrast to the rest of the evening. A small group of four, known as Mondo Lucha Dancers, made a few appearances throughout the show, and reminded me of the Fly Girls in the best way possible. Milwaukee’s beloved sons of synth The Fatty Acids also performed, bringing short but high energy sets to the Turner Hall stage.
After the final fight, I came to realize that even with my limited knowledge and experience with wrestling, I still managed to overall have a relatively enjoyable experience. And even though there was a noticeable lack of the Insane Clown Posse, their absence was hardly missed.