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Wrestling pandemonium took center stage Friday night inside Richmond’s HofGarden bar, where titans of the ring contested for glory in one of the coolest fucking spectacles seen in the River City in a long time.
Pro-wrestling at the Hof was an up close and personal event; with only a ring and some light barricades to separate fans from the orchestrated campaign of carnage that only Richmond’s finest could provide.
Kids were giving the finger, ladders and tables were used as weapons, and a plunger plunged: Where? Use your imagination. And of course, there was plenty of politicking as the event was headlined by Richmond’s very own righteous champion, The Progressive Liberal Daniel Richards who battled against the “One Percent” Logan Laroue – in an epic showdown for the heart and soul of #Murica’s future.
Hosted by PurePro Wrestling – the match-up consisted of five bouts – each having their own story and style – showcasing their bitter rivalries which floated through the air like palpable piledrivers.
In one of the headlining matches -Timmy Danger and Chris Silvio- took to the ladders, in total disregard of The Hof’s health and safety policies – while a three-on-three tag-team bout turned the venue into a hellish gladiatorial spectacle of flying elbows, knees, and body slams.
The night was a classic tale of heroes and heels, all decided by single elimination.
As the night wore on and the temperature inside The Hof climbed, the sellout crowd was left untamable, feral even. Those clustered around the ring shared sweat, cheers, and beers in the spirit of well-intended violence.
Only in the midst of this carnage could one talk portfolios and punches in the same breath. With sponsors from all over the city (including RVA Mag) coming together to support the match to benefit The Children’s Miracle Network, the esprit de corps among wrestler and fan was high. Yet some were just drawn in for the love of the spectacle.
Spectator Adam Penn had not heard about the event until the last second, drawn to the ring under the spell of curiosity and sheer luck. “I was walking along Broad and just followed the crowd in- now I’m here watching fucking wrestling,” said Penn.
The fire didn’t just come from the wrestlers either, the crowd kept it loose in a savage spasm of ringside enthusiasm. Vincent Mcmann, an ex-trainer for several of the wrestlers arrived early to get a view from the front and was excited at the turnout.
“This is great to see, most of these guys have jobs outside of this,” said McMann. “They do this just for the love of wrestling, and nothing makes them more happy than a packed crowd to share it.”
Obviously one of the most important reasons for those in attendance was none other than the event being local and 100 percent Richmond. And if there’s one thing more Richmond than your farm to table restaurants and craft breweries, it is wrestling. Fellow spectator Erica and her cast members took a break from rehearsal at Richmond’s Theatre Lab to check out the match.
“It doesn’t get this local,” said Erica. “The merchandise you buy is sold by the fighters themselves, not some website going towards whoever the next Rock is.” And she was right. Even after their matches, still sweaty and sore from the utter onslaught not five minutes before – many of the wrestlers mingled with the crowd and hung with their fans – who were hugely appreciative.
Yet it was the final match, which everyone braved the heat and humidity of man sweat to see: One of Richmond’s favorite sons, The Progressive Liberal Dan Richards versus “The One Percent” Logan Laroue.
Laroue took the stage first, not only addressing the struggles he faces as a ‘one percenter’ living in a “gated community, inside a gated community”, but also taunting the crowd about how “drinking PBR doesn’t make you interesting, it just shows that you’re poor.” The heckles and jeering reached a fever pitch as the crowd took on the persona of the rich boy we all love to hate.
Not long after Laroue’s patrician polemic, the people’s champion of liberal causes took to the ring – a worthy finale to a night of worthy finales. The Progressive Liberal stormed the stage wearing an Abigail Spanberger for Congress jersey, confronting Laroue head-on with his signature move the ‘liberal agenda’ – eventually emerging victorious after putting the villainous one-percenter through a table.
Spanberger even attended the event, along with the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County, who came to show support for the people’s champion who praised the city he loves as the match closed.
By the end of the night, the only complaint was that the event sold out and people had to be turned away. The size of the venue was small, but wrestlers and fans alike are confident events like this will bring on bigger and better venues, especially Richards. “You wouldn’t believe the number of people we had to turn away at the door- this is definitely a sign of something bigger,” he said.
He’s not wrong. Professed as a harbor of the misshapen, this city and his citizens have a lot to live up to. And for an increasing margin, wrestling is a way we drop the expectations and bask in the savage stupor of sacred combat.
Some of the best photos from the night can be found below:
Photos by Landon Shroder