Out of the mouths of babes

The promotion: Target Wrestling

The location: Central Carlisle

The audience: families

I didn’t go and watch live wrestling as a child. I watched a little World of Sport at my mother’s request, then went into WCW and eventually WWE. It was the late nineties before I had my first taste of live, in-person action.

I’ve also never been one for characters who were… um… ‘not human’, for want of a better phrase. I was all Shawn Michaels and Flyin’ Bryan, not El Giante and Undertaker. But I appreciate I am in the minority there.

At Target, we were graced by the presence of a monster known as Medallion. He’s a big, heavy-set, gentleman wearing a lot of black — through still displaying plenty of body hair — and an intimidating, ‘fly’-style black mask covering both his face and eyes.

He moves in a slow, slightly lumbering way around the ring; he walks from his neck and shoulders, in a way that really reminds me of the old World of Sport style of being a bad guy.

And my, is he a bad guy.

The clues were there: he is dressed all in black, the traditional colour of the bad guy. You can’t see his face. He’s carrying his medallion — which looks rather like an oversized, spray-painted Connect Four piece on a length of chain. A weapon in waiting, if you will.

But we didn’t need any of those clues to know he was a bad guy. All we needed was the crowd of kids, standing on a half-podium.

“FAKE ME-DA-LLION! *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*”

Over, and over, and over again.

Now, when I get caught up in chanting — and I do it a LOT — I am a general chanter. I chant almost as if I am singing and dancing to myself. Even when it’s bad, it’s got a certain… rhythm, no?

These kids? They meant it. They didn’t sing it, they spat it directly at the big burly man in the ring.

He paid them little regard, at first, as he took control in the match. They wanted his attention, and he wasn’t going to make it that easy for them to get a payoff.

Their ringleader, a girl with her hair in bunches, looked to be about nine years old and she had more vitriol in her voice than any bad guy in any Hollywood blockbuster I’ve ever seen. And as the boys around her started to get a little quieter, her voice rose above them all, proud to continue to point out that Medallion’s medallion was, indeed, fake.

“FAKE ME-DA-LLION! *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*”

There was almost a pause in the chanting, which is — naturally — the perfect time for Medallion to acknowledge its existence. He marched to the side of the ring the children had congregated at, and towered over them, standing on the bottom rope and leaning closer to them in anger; intimidating, but weakened by his own attitude. The volume ramped back up, the voices in strict unison once more, never abating, a simple chorus:

“FAKE ME-DA-LLION! *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*”

“You’re rubbish, you are!”

“FAKE ME-DA-LLION! *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*”

He protested, he got a little cross, he stalked around the ring in a faux-huff at his inability to silence this choir of tiny little voices of dissention, and he played them beautifully. They were engaged, immersed in this magical land where they had some power over the big, bad man in front of them.

They had the ability to put him off his game with their words, and to have an impact on him just like he was having an impact on them.

It was simple, it was textbook, and it was beautifully innocent.

And his medallion? Fake.