Kong: Skull Island is finally arriving this week (get your tickets here)! We're celebrating with a week of articles in honor of cinema's most famous ape.
Wrestling, for many, is an underappreciated art form. Inside the squared circle, politics clash with pop culture, shiny muscles, and more spandex than seen in the Tour de France. The pageantry, theatrics, and athleticism that comes along with the greatest show in sports entertainment has spawned a cultural phenomenon loved by cultures all across the globe. Whether it’s the mainstream giant of WWE, the cutting edge performances in New Japan Pro Wrestling, or the traditional flair of Mexican Luchador, it’s safe to assume that professional wrestling is a cultural fixture with the power to unite people around the world.
Some may cry that wrestling is “fake,” but fans have long since been aware of the pre-determined nature of the sport. Unlike basketball or hockey, the thrill of professional wrestling is less about the result, and more about the story. Wrestlers are more than just powerful athletes, they’re true performers not unlike carnival folks. They’ve spawned catchphrases that have become pop culture staples, and can boast being the start of the current highest paid actor. Wrestlers take inspiration from a wide variety of sources ranging from Joey Ryan’s oiled-up version of Magnum P.I., or Tyler Breeze’s modern portrait of Zoolander. With such a variance in style and presentation, wrestling federations have to discover new and unique ways to stand out. Enter: Kaiju Big Battel.
A group of students from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts bonded over a love of Ultraman and united to make a monster suit and a short film to showcase it. Co-founder Rand Borden created a slew of kaiju suits, and The Revolving Museum in Boston booked the gang to beat each other up as kaiju monsters amongst a recklessly assembled cardboard city. That’s right, live action kaiju wrestling. Guys in rubber monster suits beating the crap out of each other for your entertainment. This performance art piece soon turned into a phenomenon, and thus Studio Kaiju was born. Best known for its live tournament style performances, the star of the studio, Kaiju Big Battel, is a humorous combination of music, video, wrestling and performance art.
Kaiju Big Battel is more than just a wrestling show with guys in spray painted foam; it’s a live action love letter to the films and comic books that inspired the genre. Its official description calls it “a modern conflict of epic proportions,” surrounding a story of “evil villains, menacing alien beasts, and giant monsters threatening to destroy the planet earth.” Costumes are often repurposed from existing materials like a knock-off Power Rangers helmet, and the world of Big Battel has an entire mythology in which the characters exist. Keeping not only with the Big Battel mythos but also the kayfabe of wrestling, if a character fights to the death and loses, the kaiju monster will die canonically, with little to no chance of returning. So while professional wrestling may be predetermined, it’s in the arena of Big Battel that the lives of your beloved fighters can literally hang in the balance, figuratively speaking.
The success of Kaiju Big Battel has lead to Kaiju Manga, an online arcade-style game, action figures, DVDs, and even their own “Hell Monkey Hot Sauce.” This phenomenon has even become somewhat of a bucket list for many professional fighters with wrestlers like Drew Gulak, Necro Butcher, Rodrick Strong, Leva Bates, and Sami Callihan as just a few of the world-renowned performers to don a kaiju suit. Professional wrestler or long-time staple of Big Battel, everyone that puts on a kaiju suit and transforms into one of the thirty-five (or so) creatures to step into the ring, breathes life into the monsters that are slowly being replaced by computer images in the cinematic world.
Their gimmicks are categorized among aliens, mutants, avengers, and more - any means necessary to save humanity from the nefarious Dr. Cube and his evil creations. Whether it be his masked henchmen or the evil born in his mad laboratory, Dr. Cube will stop at nothing short of world domination. It’s up to a few brave souls to transverse the cosmos and save us all. Especially if that help comes in the form of twin Plantains in a tag team. Yup, that’s a real thing. The beauty of Kaiju Big Battel is it doesn’t wait for you to boo or cheer or worry about who’s going be in whatever tournament six months from now. It’s like stepping into a world where Super Inframan is someone you can get an autograph from. Each match is delivered to matter in the moment, at every moment.
Kaiju Big Battel offers the perfect blend of comedy, absurdity, and physical WTFness. If you can’t enjoy yourself watching shoebox skyscrapers being squashed then why are these masked crusaders even bothering to save the galaxy for the rest of us? It’s perfect fun for kids, casual wrestling fans, freaks and weirdos too. It’s even better live. So get out there. Support your intergalactic warriors, and not just the ones Hollywood puts on the big screen.