A Scar is born
Matthew "Scar" Haugen kneels in the middle of a wrestling ring preparing for battle.
The gangly 20-year-old knots the laces of his dirty navy-blue sneakers and then gathers up several weapons. He grabs a battered kendo stick and throws it into an aluminum trashcan, along with several other tools of destruction, including a Teflon frying pan and a six-foot length of steel chain.
Instead of trunks or a singlet, Scar sports a pair of black Dickies cinched by a studded punk rock belt. A Tee shirt covers an abdomen crisscrossed with the scar tissue that inspired his moniker.
Hunting for other implements of violence, Scar is struck by an idea. "I'm gonna wrap up a steel chair in barbed wire," he says, a devilish grin taking over his gaunt face. The Phoenix resident unravels the spiked fencing material from a 50-pound spool he purchased from a local Home Depot and weaves it around a folding chair.
But a man keeping watch nearby tells Scar to dump the augmented chair. Too risky, Mark Morrone tells him, and Scar scraps the potentially dangerous weapon.
A few moments later, Scar tests Morrone's limits again. He asks if he can "blade," making shallow cuts to his forehead with a razor so that blood will ooze out while he exerts himself.
Anticipating that he'll be shot down again, Scar bellows, "I haven't bladed in two fucking years!"
But his protestations fall on deaf ears. "Don't do that," Morrone says flatly.
"Fuck you!" Scar replies with a sneer.
Morrone is the owner of the fledgling Phoenix-based South Western Wrestling Federation, and Scar is one of his most hyperactive stars. The skinny dynamo is particularly anxious to get some practice today after three months out of action. Two other jobs, college classes and breaking up with a girlfriend had dominated his time away from the ring.
Like others who wrestle in the 18-month-old organization, Scar is a veteran of several local, short-lived grappling ventures. The SWWF and other outfits like it operate somewhere just above the level of untrained teenagers recklessly trying out pro routines in their backyards and far, far below the stars on television doing those kinds of moves for large money.
Some of the groups promise solid training and occasional money. One claims to help wrestlers gain a real shot at wrestling's big time, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), which operates such television shows as RAW and SmackDown! But the majority of the Valley's aspiring pro wrestlers grapple in anonymity, risking their health every time they enter the ring.
Perhaps none risk so much as Scar.
One of the most aggressive local performers, Scar probably shouldn't be wrestling at all. By the age of seven, he'd gone through 29 critical surgeries, and today he continues to carry a potential medical time bomb in his abdomen. But his complicated health history has also left him, he admits, with a taste for pain.
"I've done so much stuff that I thought could end my career, but here I am, I'm still fucking here. I don't know anybody who's had the same situation as me, of all my medical conditions and wrestled," he says.
"People think it's fucking nuts . . . but I've found something I love to do."
And others are beginning to take notice of Haugen's sheer masochistic abandon. In a documentary filmed two years ago and scheduled for release on DVD this fall, Scar is called a "backyard legend." Scar's featured on the movie's promotional materials, and he traveled to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April as a guest of the filmmaker to help drum up attention for the project, which is enjoying limited runs in L.A. and New York theaters this summer. Scar is hoping the attention will help him gain even more local fame as an extreme, pro-style wrestler. His mother just hopes he doesn't end up dead.
With Morrone's objections finally out of the way, Scar's "anything goes" three-way match is set to begin.
On one side, he's faced by dapper Doc Fairday, the alter ego of 23-year-old Casey Goslin, who affects the manner of a "refined Southern gentleman." He's so refined, he rarely goes for the kind of stuff Scar revels in. "I won't do the extreme stuff with razor wire, fluorescent light bulbs and mousetraps like Scar [does]," says the 6 foot 1 inch, 233 pound behemoth. A corrections officer at the Black Canyon Juvenile Institution Addition until recently, Goslin says he prefers wrestling to his day job because, "if I get a chair thrown at me in the SWWF, I can throw it back." Clad in a formal three-piece suit and knee-length waistcoat, he tries to give the impression that he's just stepped off a plantation.
Also joining the fray will be Outrage, the ghetto-fabulous thug persona of 21-year-old David Aleman, a longtime opponent who's wrestled with Scar countless times since their amateur backyard days of a few years ago. "You could have a flaming-stick-in-the-butt match and Matt would do it," he says of Scar. Outrage is escorted to the ring by his 20-year-old girlfriend, the lovely Brandi Galvan, who goes by the stage name "Man-Killer B." Both are dressed gangsta style, in baggy jeans, red bandannas on their heads and red short sleeve shirts fastened by their top buttons over their T-shirts.
Outrage goes for Scar first, but the wiry wrestler reacts with the frying pan to Outrage's skull, hitting the gangsta character with a loud thump.
When Doc Fairday then enters the ring, Scar rushes over, mutters "How you doing, Doc?" and administers his signature move, the "Scar Drop." The maneuver has Scar forcing his opponent's head under his armpit, hooking his arms and falling backwards, driving Fairday's head into the mat. Only an expert would notice that Scar protects Fairday's cranium by taking the full impact of the move when he lands on his back.
Scar then circles over Fairday like a predator, holding his kendo stick and taunting him. "Get up, sonny!" he yells. Fairday begs Scar to spare him and asks for a time out.
"Fuck time outs!" Scar responds before cracking him over the head.
But Fairday gets revenge when he whacks Scar with the trashcan and then stuffs him headfirst into the receptacle. "Get in there, boy. That's exactly where you belong!" he taunts in an approximation of a Southern drawl.
Scar eventually wins the match, but not before enduring even more abuse from Fairday and Outrage. Afterwards, he lies on his back in the ring, grasping his neck with both hands, groaning in both pain and bliss.
"Oh boy, my anti-drug is wrestling," Scar grunts.
The SWWF debuted in January 2002, with a show at the Pioneer Living History Village in north Phoenix, and besides Scar, Outrage and Doc Fairday, the organization is made up of such colorful characters as the mysterious Suburban Ninja who hails from the "Far East" (of the Valley, that is), and the 6 foot 5 inch monster Havok, who weighs in at a hefty 333 pounds. In total, 13 men wrestle for the outfit.
Keeping things in check is Morrone, who acts as a watchdog to ensure that his wrestlers at least make an attempt at safety. Besides his ban on blood, Morrone has forbidden potentially paralyzing moves such as the pile driver. Glass and objects that shatter on impact are also verboten in favor of metal chairs or garbage cans, which simply bend.
Those rules, Morrone hopes, will give the SWWF some credibility and counteract the impression that it's simply another backyard amateur affair. Morrone's financed nearly everything himself, including the secondhand wrestling ring that gives SWWF matches a professional air. His wrestlers work for free and even pitch in occasionally to help cover expenses.
Morrone's put on six shows so far, which included standard pro-style wrestling fare as well as the hardcore stuff Scar is known for. Turnout has grown steadily, with 210 fans attending the last event -- "Tortured Souls" -- in October. But by then, the SWWF had gone deeply into debt. No live events have been held since that time, but Morrone is hoping to maintain things with "Rampage," a 30-minute TV program to air on Cox's public access channel in the coming weeks. The first three episodes will feature highlights from past events, but future shows, Morrone says, will contain footage of new matches. Scar and the other wrestlers say they believe the SWWF will survive, and are training for the eventual resumption of live gigs. Meanwhile, they aren't the only show in town. A few months after the birth of the SWWF, local wrestlers Robert Gallo and Steve "Navajo Warrior" Islas started Impact Zone Wrestling, a rival group with more emphasis on solid training and traditional moves.
The nationwide popularity of pro wrestling has declined sharply in recent years, but Phoenix remains a major market for it. Each time the WWE rolls into town, fans pack America West Arena for the spectacle. Arizona has been so good for business; the WWE will be holding "SummerSlam," its second-biggest pay-per-view event of the year, at America West Arena in August. The WWE's popularity, however, hasn't translated to much real success for local groups that employ wrestlers like Scar.
But that hasn't kept him from dreaming of the big time.
In contrast to the cartoonish style of most televised wrestling in the mid 1990s, Extreme Championship Wrestling, an upstart organization, showed intense and bloody matches with wrestlers wielding objects like staple guns and cheese graters. The long tradition of good guys ("faces") and bad guys ("heels") was dropped in favor of more realistic, and less showy, story lines. ECW's wrestlers also didn't all look like finely toned bodybuilders. You didn't have to be a sculpted, 6-foot 6-inch muscle-bound freak to climb the organization's ranks.
Around the country, viewers like Scar were inspired by ECW to try out violent matches in their backyards. (ECW's heyday was short-lived however; it ceased operation in 2001.)
"ECW pretty much influenced me to get into the whole wrestling thing," Scar says.
He held impromptu matches with friends in garages and backyards that were "just basically hardcore brawling," he says. Body slams collided with hockey sticks and trashcan lids, and real punches were thrown. And Scar began to realize how much he loved the pain.
He had a high tolerance for injury, he found, after spending a childhood filled with needles and hospital stays. "Every time it hits me it's kind of like a turn-on or something. It satisfies me. It's my addiction," he says.
Scar was born with a respiratory system so damaged, doctors only gave him a 50 percent chance of survival. The infant's lungs acted as if he was still in the womb. Fed antibiotics and other drugs through an umbilical catheter, the newborn spent his first seven weeks in the intensive care unit. His lungs eventually healed, but the intense regimen of drugs had a severe side effect: a loss of 85 percent of Scar's hearing.
"Life was more important than hearing," Scar's mother, Stephanie Haugen, says as she flips through a family album that documents her son's ordeal.
But the Haugens' nightmare wasn't over. Three years later, Stephanie says she was horrified when, one morning in 1986, blood began gushing from her son's mouth. It was like the infamous pea-soup vomiting scene in The Exorcist, Stephanie says. Close to death, young Scar was airlifted to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
The umbilical catheter that had saved his life as an infant proved to be the source of another problem: a blockage to a key vein in Scar's liver, which provides 75 percent of the organ's blood. The blockage had caused a backup of blood along the circulatory systems of the stomach and intestine. Blood had also been forced into paper-thin veins lining the lower esophagus. Physicians had believed Scar would outgrow the condition, but instead the veins had ruptured, causing blood to flow out of Scar's mouth. The boy was so critical, Stephanie recalls, the doctors dubbed him "the nightmare on the eighth floor."
After two months of treatment, Scar recovered. But over the next three years, the situation repeated itself as the blood vessels would rupture again, leading to hospital stays just a week or several months after the last.
Eventually, Scar's surgeon constructed prosthetic shunts in the veins around Scar's liver to restore proper circulation. Three months later, the shunts failed. So the physician created an effective bypass through a different set of veins. Scar's spleen was also removed, leaving him with a lifetime susceptibility to infection.
Each time Scar was rushed to the hospital, death loomed. His mother remembers being told several times to say her goodbyes to her son.
Scar remembers "traumatic" and "horrible" moments of being drugged and immobilized after his surgeries so he could heal. Visiting hospitals today, he says, triggers flashbacks of the trauma, so he avoids them whenever possible.
Adjusting to school after his legacy of surgeries was difficult. He was held back a year, which made him a social outcast to classmates since he was a year older. He had few friends and was teased unmercifully because of his hearing loss. Scar could read lips fluently, but his parents wanted him to use a hearing aid, which brought more taunts.
"I wish sometimes I could take a fucking drill and just drill out my ears," Scar says, explaining that he'd rather be completely deaf so he wouldn't have to ask people to repeat themselves.
In his adolescence, Scar looked for a way to channel his frustrations over being a school oddity. He tried football his freshman year at Horizon High School, but quit after half a season.
The sport, he says without irony, was "too dangerous."
In the documentary The Backyard, director Paul Hough found that many of the amateur wrestlers he met were the misfit sons of shattered homes. One set of brothers in Nevada enacted an elaborate three-part blood fest because, said one, he found it the only way to relive the "love" he felt being savagely beaten by his now missing father.
It seems surprising, then, that Scar is the product of such a radically different environment. His mother, Stephanie, is a teacher at Horizon High School. His father, Mark, is principal of Navajo Elementary School in the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Neither seems thrilled about Scar's career. But Stephanie says that when her son became an adult, he was entitled to make his own decisions.
Mark Haugen says he was apprehensive, but after watching Scar and friends in the family's backyard, he was reassured by the cooperation and practice involved. "I was from the beginning determined that if Matthew wanted to do this I'd support him 100 percent and that's what I did. At some particular point, I started enjoying watching Matthew enjoy himself. Because . . . I didn't get a chance to really see him smile and enjoy himself much when he was growing up."
It's little different, he says, than if Scar had taken up another contact sport, such as martial arts or football. But Mark admits he worries that Scar might injure himself or die.
After trying out their first moves in backyard matches, Scar and his friend Outrage made their first step toward organized wrestling in 1999 on a trip to Tucson. Scar had learned about Ryan Van Horn and his circuit, High Impact Wrestling, through the Internet, and Van Horn invited the two wrestlers down to see a match. The two ended up entering the ring themselves, and Van Horn was impressed enough to ask them to join.
Van Horn also sent some of his HIW men up to Phoenix to take part in the events Scar was setting up here.
Before long, those contests were expanding outside backyards. Scar says they attempted one match at a construction site, using chain-link fencing as a steel cage, but a vigilant security guard prevented it from happening. Some shows took place in actual rings, however, including two in 2001 at the Madison Street Boxing Gym.
In Tucson, meanwhile, Van Horn had sought out the guidance of local wrestler Ron "Section 8" Sutherland III, who charged Van Horn and his HIW recruits $600 each to receive six months of schooling from the big-time pro. Basic moves came first, such as headlocks and arm bars, followed by "bumping," or learning how to absorb the force of a fall. Van Horn in turn passed on what he had learned from Sutherland to Scar and Outrage, and they have considered themselves "professional" wrestlers ever since, even though neither had ever made a dime at the sport. (Since then, Scar's earned a pittance in the ring. A recent match, for example, brought him a $20 payoff.)
Scar says he didn't need any training for how to take a club to the head. Pain was just something he tolerated better than other wrestlers. He says that before matches, he asks his opponent how hard they want to be hit. "I'm not just going to be a fucking psycho and swing as hard as I can, but if they tell me they want me to do it, then I'll do it," he says.
In addition to his signature Scar Drop, the wrestler also performs Russian leg sweeps and various suplexes, as well as aerial moves, or "high spots." There's the "Corkscrew 450," for example, a twisting flip off the top turnbuckle landing him on an opponent's midsection with his back or leg.
Scar says he likes to hear cheering, but boos -- known as "heat" in the wrestling business -- also please him. He's known as a "tweener," a wrestler who's neither a face or a heel. Matches are like dances, he says, where he and his opponent have mapped out a few sets of holds ahead of time. The promoter predetermines the winner, and Scar and his foe will decide how the match should end. A referee, keeping an eye on the time, secretly cues the wrestlers to start that final sequence with an instruction to "go home," or end the contest.
Despite all the preparation, Scar says that most of the action is improvised. Wrestlers subtly whisper instructions to each other while they have each other in headlocks, and sometimes he has to remind them to whisper into his right, or good, ear. Outrage says he's learned which side to talk into.
"We're not idiots, like a lot of people think," says Van Horn, who continues to invite Scar to wrestle in Tucson shows put on by HIW. "The style of wrestling we do, people think we don't plan it out, but actually the whole match is planned and whatever you see has already been planned out a month ahead."
Van Horn says he's impressed by the punishment Scar takes in HIW matches, including having a plate glass shattered against his skull.
Such is par for the course in the Tucson matches. At a show in April, one wrestler clubbed an opponent on the head with a beer bottle, while in another contest a wrestler pounded an opponent with a baseball bat covered with thumbtacks. Blood is also frequently spilled at shows where participants blade or are accidentally cut from hard shots from weapons. Clips of that kind of action have been finding their way into videos traded on the Internet, and the HIW's reputation as a hardcore outfit is growing.
The HIW and Van Horn, who wrestles as "Chaos," are featured prominently in The Backyard. In one segment, describing the thrill he gets from the bloody action in the ring, Van Horn gushes, "It's like go-downtown-gay-bashing!"
It's one of the more disturbing things said in a very disturbing film. Young Arizonans drive each other into piles of thumbtacks, scrape barbed wire across foreheads, and even light each other on fire. (Says Scar, when asked about Van Horn's homophobic utterance: "That's just Ryan, he's my friend . . . I mean I can't just hate him if he hates gay people, you know.")
But perhaps the strangest moment in the movie is a brutal contest between Scar and a California 17-year-old who goes by the name "The Retarded Butcher."
The two are seen clobbering one another with fluorescent light tubes, and Scar is tossed onto a tray of thumbtacks. The match concludes with the intervention of the Retarded Butcher's horrified mother, who witnesses her son's hobby for the first time. Besides stopping the match, she's seen tossing the remaining tubes over a fence.
Scar says he still had a good time, but claims the mother "owes me two light tubes."
Scar can rattle off a catalog of injuries, including a broken ankle, fractured wrists and fingers, a dislocated shoulder and a screwed up neck and back. He considers any wound, no matter how severe, to be trophies of his experience.
Because of his aversion to hospitals and doctors, however, Scar tends to treat his wounds himself. After fracturing his ankle during a match in June 2002, he secured it with athletic tape and hobbled around for six weeks until it healed.
His mother worries that his lack of a spleen puts him at serious risk of infection from the kinds of injuries he gets in the ring. Scar has been cut after being hit with fluorescent light tubes and falling on thumbtacks, but he treats them himself, self-medicating with antibiotics.
His mother's concerns were justified in May when Scar spent four days in the hospital. He'd developed a serious infection after digging a splinter out of his left hand with a straight pin and didn't seek treatment until his hand swelled up later. Doctors administered powerful antibiotics and made incisions on his hand to drain massive amounts of pus. Scar says he had run out antibiotics and forgot to refill his prescription.
His physician, Dr. Robert Ziltzer, tells New Times that Scar continues to be susceptible to infection because of his lack of a spleen and his tendency to avoid medical treatment until absolutely necessary. Scar's also at risk, Ziltzer says, because the veins in his abdomen remain dilated, and a serious blow to that region could result in internal bleeding, the need for transfusions and surgery.
The wrestler says that he has some limits, such as refusing to perform a move from an extreme height, such as off of a roof or the top of a steel cage. And he's also mindful of his abdomen, using an arm to shield it when taking certain falls or being hit by weapons.
Stephanie, his mom, says she doesn't have the nerve to watch him wrestle, but admits that she's curious. (Scar's older brother, Corey, has warned her for her own good not to watch The Backyard or see Scar wrestle. So far, she's complied.) She'd rather that he just gives it up. "God, I wish he'd stop this. I wish he'd see that he can't afford to do this, but at the same time I understand that he's got to decide those things [for himself] and I'm not going to decide it for him."
Mark Morrone, the SWWF owner, says that his wrestlers hold practices three times a week, honing their skills to keep injuries down. Yet the young organization has already experience one serious accident: a wrestler named KobrA broke a leg so seriously doctors needed to insert a rod to heal the wound.
"Obviously, we're not certified trainers. Anybody and everybody knows that, but we do what we can to pass on the knowledge of what we do know and safety is first and foremost," says the 27-year-old Phoenix resident. "It's just safety -- be careful and don't do something stupid."
But that's hardly the recipe for a careful program. "Somebody's going to get hurt sometime doing this," Mike Knox muttered while watching the SWWF's last public event in October.
Knox, 24, is a wrestler and head trainer for Impact Zone Wrestling, another Phoenix-based circuit and rival to the SWWF, which puts more emphasis on safety and practice.
On a Friday night, trainees at the IZW's west Valley school run through a strenuous warm-up of somersaults and bumping. After a half hour, many of the rookies and more experienced wrestlers are covered in sweat and steal a few moments to chug water from clear plastic jugs around the perimeter of the ring.
The school, located in an industrial park near 35th Avenue and Thomas Road, is where neophyte grapplers come up to three times a week to practice under the watchful eye of veteran wrestlers like Knox and IZW co-founder Steve Islas. Not afraid to practice what he preaches, Islas jumps in the ring and shows a student the correct method of bumping, advising him to "take your time and do it right!"
Intense supervision and instruction is part of an arduous training process, focusing on the defensive aspects of wrestling before anything else, with relentless drilling on bumping and protection. Islas says this philosophy, while monotonous, creates a firm foundation of safety but has soured some potential students who want to learn the flashier moves right away. IZW trainer Charles Campbell says the emphasis is crucial, because wrestling moves are potentially dangerous, even for experienced wrestlers. He cites the August 2000 in-ring death of Tony Nash, a 30-year-old Wisconsin independent wrestler with four months experience who broke his neck landing wrong.
"This business will tear you up. There's any number of things that can happen that can cripple you and kill you. That's just the way it is," cautions the portly 33-year-old, who's seen plenty of accidents in his 15 years in wrestling.
Two of tonight's turnouts to the open, no-cost workout include a pair of SWWF wrestlers: Steven Robertson, an 18-year-old Hispanic Glendale resident who wrestles as agile high-flyer "Steve Mental;" and Tommy Walker, a 19-year-old rail-thin tornado known as "The Showtime Kid." The pair comes to the school hoping for the best of both worlds -- they consider their weekly SWWF practices as "free time" to work on wilder moves they can't do at IZW. Walker says he enjoys the challenge at the school. "They don't put up with any stupid shit. I like that because that's how it's done in the WWE."
Following the two-hour constitutional, the wrestlers demonstrate their skills in several mini-matches as a part of IZW's "Friday Night Fury" show for the public. A dozen IZW fans who have paid $5 each, find room to sit on folding chairs amid dilapidated weightlifting equipment, while others lean against walls covered with posters for old wrestling pay-per-views and the 1989 Hulk Hogan bomb No Holds Barred. The spectators faithfully cheer or boo depending on who's in the ring.
The trainer, Campbell, says the appeal of the IZW for its small but growing number of fans is its "old fashioned storytelling," with consistent characters that don't change allegiances on a weekly basis. "You need to create larger-than-life bad guys that are consistently scumbags," he says. "It's important to remember that's what this business is all about: good versus evil."
Knox, who looks like a TV wrestler, with a shaved head, goatee and take-no-shit countenance, lays down the law as wrestlers gather after the show for his judgment. Even the veterans get a stern dressing down. One student is criticized for dangerously kicking his opponent near the kneecap and the head trainer suggests aiming for above or below the joint.
Staying healthy is a common struggle for wrestlers on any level. IZW co-founder Robert Gallo blew out his right knee in the ring in 2002 and couldn't afford surgery, so he just rehabilitated as best he could. The knee still gives him trouble. Campbell says that even if wrestlers can afford health insurance or get coverage through their day jobs, they often are walking wounded, having to work the next day or make their next gig. "They wrap it up, they tape it up, they shoot it up and they get back in there and they do what they have to do."
The IZW's more solid program of training and safety has gradually earned it what all independent wrestlers crave: recognition from the big leagues -- television's WWE. The IZW's wrestlers have landed tryouts with the federation, and they consider themselves lucky.
In June, four IZW men were asked to work "dark" (untelevised) WWE matches in Florida and California, a significant step on what could get them to the WWE's Louisville-based farm club promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and a $500 a week "developmental contract." In May, that's exactly what happened to IZW man Matt "Horshu" Wiese.
"When you get called back to come again you just look at it as a good sign, but you never take anything for granted," says IZW co-founder Steve Islas.
Despite that relative success, Scar says the safe-and-steady style of the IZW isn't for him. "I went to a few shows and all the matches are pretty much the same. Old-school wrestling. I'm not a big fan of it, but either way I hope IZW gets bigger so we can draw more fans to the scene," he says.
Spurning the IZW's more conservative approach, however, makes it nearly impossible for Scar to reach any higher than a fledgling organization like the SWWF.
Gary Davis, vice president of corporate communications for TV's WWE, says his company is "adamantly opposed" to anyone inadequately trained trying to replicate the moves of their wrestlers. The WWE, he says, returns unsolicited videotapes of backyard exploits unseen.
"We're not interested in anybody who would be willing to put themselves in such great risk and will put their partners in such great risk. Our superstars have tremendous respect for their bodies. They understand the most successful match is the match in which they and their partner come out of the ring safely without injury, so they can perform another day," Davis explains.
He says that it's almost impossible to make the WWE on self-training alone. "I know exactly what [the WWE is] looking for," Davis says, "and it's not guys jumping off of roofs into burning tables."
It's a warm summer evening in late June as more than 60 bloodthirsty fans have gathered outside of Pepper's Cantina in Tucson to watch Scar.
The self-professed "King of Hurt" is taking on both Chaos and Zach "Wildthing" Porter in the sadistic "Double Hell Death Match," at HIW's latest blood fest, "Project Impact."
The crowd had already whetted its appetite for destruction with six other contests on the card, witnessing the HIW misfits assaulting one another with chains, handcuffs and flaming baseball bats. The action takes place both inside and outside of the HIW's makeshift ring, situated behind the bar upon patches of dirt and yellowing grass strewn with cigarette buts, broken tables and shards of glass from previous shows.
Although a few wrestlers bleed during the matches, nothing prepares the audience for the massive bloodletting seen during the evening's savage main event. The ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire on two sides and boards of fluorescent light tubes are placed on the ground nearby ready for the breaking.
Going into the match, Scar is ecstatic. "I can't wait for the fans to shit their pants or whatever. I want to just blow them out and give them one hell of a show."
The contest starts out plainly enough with Scar using suplexes and the Russian leg sweep to level his foes, but escalates as Van Horn and Porter dish out plenty of pain. Scar is flung against the barbed wire ropes and has his forehead raked across the spiked fencing material. Each time he connects with the wire, Scar hollers, "Oww, shit!"
Van Horn then proceeds to bust open Scar's forehead by attaching a dollar bill to his cranium with a staple gun, implanting several of the metal fasteners into his skin and leaving it awash in blood.
The most spectacular stunt of the 20-minute contest comes when Van Horn peels off Scar's T-shirt and powerbombs his exposed back through four light tubes, which shatter with an audible "pop." The assembled fans show their approval by chanting "H-I-W! H-I-W! H-I-W!"
"Fuck," says Scar, lying incapacitated on the ground amid shards of broken glass. His shoulders and arms are heavily lacerated, bathing his body in a river of crimson red and staining the white medical tape he wrapped around both fists for safety.
Scar attempts to crawl back into the ring on his hands and knees, visibly in great pain, but a group of HIW crewmembers carry him over to the makeshift backstage area and begin washing the blood away with bottled water.
Outrage and Man-Killer B are also on hand, having performed earlier that afternoon in a "Last Man Standing" match, and help care for their friend.
"Fuck water, fuck that shit," Scar says, resistant to their ministrations and eager to return to the match, which continues as Chaos and Wildthing bludgeon each other. Outrage and Man-Killer B are legitimately concerned for his well-being and urge him to remain.
"You're all fucked up, I have to take the glass out," says Man-Killer B, requesting he lay down so she can clean him up.
"It feels as though there's a million glass shards in my back. Get the shit out," Scar says. His friends proceed to pick out the glass impaled in his back with their hands and a pair of pliers. Meanwhile, Scar laughs maniacally and remarks, "Hey . . . that shit tickles!"
He says he isn't bothered about the possibility of infection. "I just have to take a shower and take my antibiotics every six hours." He's more worried with how the match came off. "Oh my God, did that look good?" he asks.
Outrage, who is busy pouring peroxide over Scar's shoulders and then wrapping them with bandages, reassures him, "It looked really good, dude."
Scar surveys his wounds and sees that his two opponents are also a bloody mess.
"Damn that looks beautiful," he says. "I bled more then anyone else, didn't I?"
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.