Real Deal Pro Wrestling at El Gran Mercado


It was Saturday afternoon in the arena at El Gran Mercado, and the young woman next to me was maniacally snapping photos and cheering on her father, a bald, tattooed, grizzly pro wrestler named Hatchet Jack. He was in the wrestling ring with five other guys, competing with his partner, Pitbull, for the Real Deal Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship (they lost).

El Gran Mercado's a swap meet frequented by large families, so it's not unusual to hear kids yelling for their parents. But things like "KILL HIM, DAD!" are more common on Saturdays, when Real Deal Pro Wrestling holds its weekly matches for a measly $1.

It's more than worth it. The show I saw on Saturday cost $2, but that was because it was the "Legends Show," and several veterans of pro wrestling, including Tony Hernandez, Eddie Lopez, and The Lumberjack, were there to be honored and mingle with fans. (Alas, former WWE stars the Honky Tonk Man and Kobo B. Ware were advertised but didn't show). The card included five matches, including a battle royal, and a main event, six-man match featuring current RDPW Champion Outrage.

Even if you're not a fan of pro wrestling (and I was, especially in the 1980s Hulk Hogan era), there was enough peripheral entertainment for anyone. Going to a live pro wrestling event -- especially if it's a grassroots, local promotion -- is a cultural experience. In three and a half hours inside the modest concrete arena, I watched men in tights crack each other over the heads with metal folding chairs, drowned in a Marlboro cloud next to a chain-smoking elderly lady, ate some delicious ham, and stepped in the dog poop left by one fan's incessantly yippy chihuahua.

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