The Swamp Stomp,
January 24th, 2004
Our ongoing role as unofficial patrons of pro-wrestling in Arizona has taken us to some unusual places: skating-rinks in Tucson, high-school gyms, and downtown Mexican dives where you ask if they have any aspirin, and are told, “The person that sells the pills isn’t here at the moment.” This is why Saturday night saw us at the Swamp Stomp, a bar on Scottsdale Road, for an evening of, and I quote, Midget Mayhem.
Immediately we heard of the event, we were all systems go, though our attempts to buy tickets in advance were prevented by the vampiric presence of another pimp-bastard-ticket-agency, with their “convenience fees”, “service charges” and rules preventing even the venue from selling direct. But I have ranted about this elsewhere, and anyway, nothing could spoil our anticipation at the prospect of watching little people hit each other over the head with trash-cans.
To enhance the experience, alcohol is essential, of course. We’ve seen this kind of thing sober – the “minis” are a staple of the Mexican lucha libre TV shows we watch, Chris frantically trying to provide a running translation for me – and it’s amusing. But those who say, “I don’t need to drink to enjoy myself,” clearly haven’t been to midget wrestling. So our teenage son ‘offered’ to drive us there and back – quotes used advisedly, since initially we had to use the “You do remember who’s paying for that car?” gambit as leverage.
We rolled up half-an-hour before the scheduled start, ready for the heaviest session since our post-wedding party in London. The first thing we discovered, to our (and particularly Chris’s) delight, was that the venue was non-smoking. A personal “Well done” to the management for this, which almost guarantees we’ll be back there, in preference to places which leave you feeling like Hurricane Higgins’ ashtray [the whizzing sound you hear is that metaphor hurtling above non-UK readers’ heads. Higgins was a professional snooker player, almost always seen with a cigarette in one hand – and often, another in his mouth…]
Almost immediately, we discovered a fellow midget aficionado, though in deference to his status as one of the veterans in Arizona’s best-known pro-wrestling federation, we’ll withhold his name here. We agreed that said federation needed to expand and include midgets, forthwith.
The Swamp Stomp is the kind of place where customers get up and dance on the bars, usually encouraged by the MC. Potentially, this could be enormously irritating and/or tacky (see Coyote Ugly – or rather, don’t), but there was such a good-humoured spirit present that you couldn’t avoid getting swept up in the carnival atmosphere. I even got bought a beer by a complete stranger, in apology for his having to squeeze past me to get to the bar. After a decade of London pubs, where surly aggressiveness is part of the culture (and that’s just the staff), this was a shock.
They were also handing out raffle-tickets for various challenges – first person to show them their belly-button piercing, or wearing brown shoes – and Chris acquired one, somehow managing to convince the MC she had some grey hairs. Well, we were probably a decade plus older than the average attendee, and had fewer tattoos and piercings. Chris got all motherly in the ladies’, helping one over-indulged customer sober up – with miraculous results, we spotted her five minutes later, squirting another syringe full of alcoholic jelly into her mouth. Like I say, it’s that kind of place.
The warm up was some Midget Limbo outside on the patio, in which they acted as the stands for the poles. We had, by this time, firmly established ourselves at the bar, and felt disinclined to lose our spot, so opted to sit that one out, and wait for the hardcore wrestling. It was hardly a chore, between the bartop dancing, the people-watching, and the steady consumption of alcohol. Chris seemed to think the vodka was watered down, but without going into details, it’s safe to say her position on that had changed by the end of the night. By about 90 degrees. 🙂
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for arrived: Puppet and Mad Mex stepped onto the bar-top and began to brawl. Fortunately, it was wider than average, but even so, it wasn’t the kind of surface onto which I would like to be thrown. From there, they eventually headed off into the crowd, the fight continuing, and were lost from view – when you’re four feet tall, this tends to happen quite easily. We went back to our drinks, imagining the entertainment over.
But, lo! What was this? A good 20 minutes later – though concepts like “time” were becoming steadily hazier by now – back came the deadly duo back through the place, still going at it hammer-and-tongs. Up onto the bar in front of us once more, Puppet caught Mex across the head with a garbage can lid, then tossed him inside the bin itself and pounded away some more. Finally, Puppet got the three-count for the win, to the cheers of the crowd. We left soon after, having seen all we needed to see, despite the victor’s inquiry, “Who wants to get drunk with midgets?”
Let’s be clear about this: even in our (by now, fairly drunken) condition, we felt nothing but enormous admiration for Puppet and Mex. They have what society perceives as a “disability”, and could easily sit around, waiting for government handouts, demanding concessions like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires cubicles for shower-dancers in strip-clubs to be wheelchair accessible. Some may call it demeaning, but their life lets them tour the country, brawl, get drunk, dance with women on bar-tops, and get paid for it.
What single man wouldn’t want to trade places with them?
[For more info, check out the Midget Mayhem website]