I remember the World Wrestling Federation Attitude Era well. In fact I’m still getting over the moment The Rock besmirched William Regal at thanksgiving in 2000. It was a golden age when wrestling was in-your-face and packed with big characters putting their bodies on the line in the name of entertainment. Darius Davies brings a lot of that Attitude Era swagger into his free show, but unfortunately a combination of shallow material and a lack of real audience connection mean that this act falls some way short of its potential.
Could be onto a winner but as things stand now he’s in danger of being counted out.
Early on we are given an insight into the effect professional wrestling had on the young Davies, who bonded with his Gran in front of the UK’s own distinctive brand. He gains laughs from those in the audience who remembers greats such as Shirley Crabtree, aka Big Daddy, and the legend that was Kendo Nagasaki. Ah cultural appropriation... things were different back then.
Davies also explains wrestling was a way to make friends in difficult situations, and that an open call from the WWE offered him hope of a glittering career in sports entertainment. The footage of Davies’ audition tape for this open call is another early success. The effort displays a level of the kind of ineptitude which comes from a mixture of youthful energy, ignorance and blind hope. Davies’ live narration highlights the video’s flaws to good effect.
Unfortunately after these early peaks the laughs become more sporadic as Davies goes on to evaluate the accusation of fakery levelled at professional wrestling before getting into his own fairly low-key flirtation with a career in the ring. These sections feel a little laboured and overlong. A section on Booker T’s behaviour both in the ring and on the mic has a lot of promise but is too drawn out to have any impact; a strangle hold where a dropkick would have been more powerful.
The niche nature of the material also proves problematic. A crowd of hardcore wrestling fans would doubtless have the kind of energy Davies could thrive off but Fringe audiences are a mixed bunch so struggle to connect to much of what the comedian has to offer. If Davies could work the material to match the energy he puts into the performance, and the enthusiasm he has for professional wrestling, then he could be onto a winner but as things stand now he’s in danger of being counted out.