wrestlemania: backyard edition
I watch the public access channels once in a while. It frightens me to see what my Long Island brethen are up to. But I say if you know your enemy, that makes him less dangerous. On public access my enemies are the little old lady with the flowered hat who has sued every municipality between Queens and Montauk, the cover band that uses 70's-era special effects and the backyard wrestling crew.
Surely you've heard of backyard wresting (not to be confused with Backyard Baseball)? It first came to light for me in May 2002 when a mother was angered that the town was going to make her take down her son's wrestling ring.
We're not talking high school wrestling here, with full and half nelsons and homoerotic grabbing of crotches. We're talking WWF style wrestling. Pile drivers and such. It wasn't so much the thuds and crashes that bothered the neighbors of the Minutillos of Babylon, Long Island. It wasn't even the applause and screams and shouts. Well, maybe it was a combination of both. But when you mutliply that by the sound system and add in the P.A. annoucements, the play-by-play, the electronically amplified obscenities and the hard rock entrance songs each wrestler was introduced to, well, you can see how the neighbors might have been a bit perturbed.
Me, I would have lit the damn thing on fire one night. Maybe even while there was a match going on. Minutillo was lucky that her neighbors aren't as mean-spirited as I. They went the legal route and tried to get the town to force Minutillo to take down the ring.
[A] neighbor, Patricia Rodriguez, comments, "All we hear is cursing and boom, bam, boom. Where's the quality of our life?"
A peeved Rodriguez videotaped some of the wrestling action, which in Gootman's account included "bash[ing]…with a folding chair," "crashing into wooden boards," and an "assault…with a metal garbage can." Rodriguez delivered the tape to the local government and the Babylon town board unanimously outlawed wrestling rings and boxing rings in residential areas.
Which, of course, made them dictators.
Ryan Perry, 18, told The New York Times: "The Taliban, they banned sports in the country of Afghanistan. If you want to ban this, you're similar to the Taliban regime."
Ah yes, moral relativism rears its ugly head again. According to Perry, if the town council wants to keep people from turning the neighborhood into an Extreme Wrestling venue, they must be facists!
I'm all for protecting the privacy of what you do in your own yard. However, when what you are doing infringes on your neighbor's right to a peaceful dinner or their right to not have to hear Metallica as background music to the cacaphony of folding chairs slamming over the backs of teenagers, a line has to be drawn.
Of course, this mother thinks she's doing a good thing for her kid. She's keeping him off the street, she's giving him a hobby, she's giving him a safe environment ot play. Now, keep in mind that these "kids" are all 17-20 years old. And they don't just wrestle. They dress up. They have capes and tights and glitter and ridiculous nicknames. They do interviews and talk in that Randy "Macho Man" Savage voice. It's like Dungeons and Dragons on testosterone.
Soon, poor Mrs. Rodriguez and her neighbors will be serenaded once again by the sounds of emotionally stunted boys beating the crap out of each other with props.
Neighbors thought the spat about Marie Minutillo's backyard wrestling ring ended after the Babylon Town Council unanimously voted in May 2002 to outlaw wrestling rings in residential neighborhoods.
But District Judge Patrick J. Barton ruled last week that the Town of Babylon's ban on wrestling rings does not apply to Minutillo's since hers existed before May 7, 2002.
It will be the bigger, louder, more abrasive version of the wrestling league John Minutillo formed. Instead of the old 16x16 ring, they've got a 20x20 ring ready to go.
I don't mean to trample on anyone's right to have a hobby or perform maniacal skits in tights in their backyard, but if these were my neighbors I'd be loading up the pellet gun.