Shock and awe

What do you get, when you cross Jimmy Havoc, a cheese grater, and a group of fans who are largely unaware of the intricacies of his career?

The promotion: WCPW

The show: Built to Destroy

I guess you could say that I lost my deathmatch virginity at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. I’d never seen a straight-up, one on one hardcore match live, until this.

I am, however, familiar with Jimmy’s body of work… and last night, Jimmy’s work was etched into his body, fresh off a tournament of death victory that his face lights up talking about.

There are parts of his matches that I watch on TV, in the relative comfort and safety of my own home, from behind splayed fingers. My face grimaces more than his, my eyes permanently scrunched half-shut so that in a heartbeat, I can make it all disappear.

I went into this show with my once-scrunched eyes wide open… this is his art. I knew bad things would happen in that ring. But not everybody did…

They say the anticipation of pain is often worse than pain itself; hard to say if that’s the case from the sanctuary of the crowd.

The blood came thick, and fast, and a swaithe of ringside fans didn’t have a second to adjust to the reality presented to them. That these two men, Jimmy Havoc and his opponent Primate, weren’t messing around.

With pulses racing and jaws dropping, pair after pair of widened eyes stared at the superheroes before us; leaning forward, leaning in, shock and awe, disbelief.

I know my face has looked that way a hundred times, and I know it will a hundred times more. Hell, it probably did in that moment.

The commitment in — and around — the ring, to moves and actions which incur pain, is so far beyond engaging that the word doesn’t at all do it justice.

This isn’t pain that lasts for a split second or a minute after. This is damage they’re inflicting on one another. I’ve seen people in A&E with fewer wounds.

But what I couldn’t help staring at were the faces in the crowd, witnessing this for the first time. I relate to them. I understand the weird juxtaposition that can affect the human brain when it watches activities which it recognises as dangerous, being undertaken as a form of entertainment.

It’s like a series of tiny brain short circuits.

You don’t want to look.

You can’t look; equally, you can’t look away.

Decent human beings don’t want to watch other human beings hurt each other this way… do they?

Is this bad? Am I wrong?

There were lots of hands covering those faces at ringside. Hands covering mouths, covering eyes. People actually averting their eyes, physically turning half-away from the ring…

Can you guess who is ‘shock’ and who is ‘awe’?!
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