Our love of live entertainment started from a very young age where I and my Aunty would travel across Cardiff to attend wrestling events. The famous Aunty Chris and myself would make the journey every couple of weeks to attend Celtic Wrestling shows that was organised by one of her close friends in work where fans were totally engrossed by the outlandish characters and impressive action sequence unveiled before their eyes. Wrestling critics will make the argument that everything a wrestling fan sees on a show has been rehearsed and planned so that the performers are not actually fighting one another but instead almost working together to perform a dance. Even as a child I knew that the action we were watching was staged but the careful choreography and over-the-top characters seemed to always draw myself (and the rest of the audience) into the world being created right in front of us. The theatrical side of wrestling has always being a highlight for me personally which has clear influences on how in later life we have become obsessed with theatre! Despite not staying as up to date with the TV shows or live events as I would like, I am still a huge wrestling fan so much so that I was lucky enough to be in the audience of the historic first-ever Welsh-based WWE pay per view which followers can read our thoughts of at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/09/04/wwe-clash-at-the-castle-experience-review/ which was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience that were are incredibly proud we were able to take part in!
During the global lockdown period, we made a name for ourselves by reviewing recordings of new musicals (as theatres were closed down) but since then unfortunately we have had our Facebook page hacked and then removed and which means that the community we spent months trying to create has since disappeared. This is a polite reminder that if you have not already liked/followed our Facebook page then you can do so at https://www.facebook.com/RhysReviewsoffical as we begin to re-introduce our new Musical Monday series! It seemed surreal when our love of wrestling and musicals combined together through the production of the first-ever fully immersive pro-wrestling musical “The Last Match” and I just knew this would be the perfect opportunity to bring back our album reviews. The premise of this show is that it is presented live from venues (not theatres) and would showcase a creative fusion of live wrestling and classic theatre which is reflected in the creative team working on his project itself. The show has received creative support from the likes of six-time WWE women’s champion Mickie James, the record holders of both the single longest tag title reign and the most combined days as reigning tag champions demolition and the hall of fame member Brutus the Barber Beefcake as well as including the current impact wrestling and NWA wrestler Matt Cardona (previously known as Zack Ryder.) These iconic wrestling personalities are joined by a plethora of theatre creatives to create a unique experience that appropriately reflects the world of wrestling and also the world of theatre!
The recording of this musical is comprised of only eight songs which covers just over thirty minutes and I assume this is due to the inclusion of wrestling when performed live. One of my favourite songs from this album was simply titled “Kayfabe” which was only around a minute long and tried to explain some of the more niche wrestling terms to audience members who were not aware of the before. The rapidly spoken word segments aimed to define the roles of faces/heels, value of signature moves, the classification of foreign objects, the idea of a monster, the explanation of cheap heat and what a botched move is etc which is a clever way to include those fans who are not avid wrestling fans. Due to the number only being a minute or so long this is not too distracting for existing wrestling fans but those who need the explanation can learn a lot in this very short time. I also thoroughly enjoyed the more emotionally driven number “Thirty years” which explores the backstage elements of wrestling which are often ignored. The performer of this number managed to perfectly capture the emotion of years in the industry and missing family but being empowered by the call of the audience. It must be tough having to always be an over-the-top personality and having to perform on days when you aren’t mentally in the right space but this number seems to suggest the value the audience can have! I can imagine this song taking place behind the curtain before a wrestler begins his entrance due to the emotional nature of the song and I would be interested to see how they split the venue in order to stage such a scene. Having a more vulnerable and honest number within this show is so important as people often forget that behind the characters in wrestling shows are real-people who face many of the challenges us everyday people have to go through and so we should be more compassionate and kind to those in the entertainment industry! It was very clear that the song “I’m awesome” was a nod to the catchphrase of current WWE wrestler The Miz who has had a storied history with Matt Cardona who performs this number. The former intercontinental champion plays the show’s villain Alexander Swagger who takes this moment to discuss how much better he is than everyone in the crowd. To end this album we have “when it all falls down” which is a beautiful number that talks about the more emotional side of wrestling. The number builds up and draws back beautifully with the two voices working flawlessly together!
Overall, this is a unique and exciting musical that brings together two of my greatest loves Wrestling and musicals! The team of experienced wrestlers and musical theatre experts have collaborated perfectly to create a one-of-a-kind experience that celebrates not only the world of professional wrestling but also pays homage to classic musical theatre. The album itself is fairly short but I hope that is due to the live wrestling elements included when performed in venues and I can already imagine how certain numbers are performed which is a clear sign of great musical direction. The numbers themselves are fairly rock-inspired with make sense as the show is about an action-packed industry! I would rate this musical 4 out of 5 stars!