Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Into the Cage 6 - Thunderforce

I'm already hardened to this lifestyle that combines road trips, violence and Rocket Queen. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't change it for the world but, like everything else, it quickly becomes about efficiency and routine.

This past weekend I drove down to Andover to work at Into the Cage 6. As far as domestic shows go it's fairly standard but they're moving in the right direction with the matchmaking/presentation.

The fights were entertaining but the drive home was arguably the part of my night that required the most focus. Dave was staying in Reading with his family so I drove home alone after the show and got to my door at around 3am.

I drank a few cans of some sugar free energy drink that tasted like a cross between Vimto and Vinegar and crushed up some pro plus into them for good measure. It reminded me of the start of Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1:53) somehow and, not wanting to make the experience seem artificial, I obliged by blasting out some late eighties hair metal to keep me awake.

This epistle already feels less celebratory than my previous few. It's nothing intentional. I think it's because I'm reading so much about Richey Edwards at the minute. His whole situation, personna and vanishing is just so fascinating to me. I think that a big part of me never got past being 19 and going to Chicos dressed as Nicky Wire.

One of the best things about the Internet is how quickly you can revisit things and the wealth of transcribed interviews and videos available. You can only imagine what Richey would have made of it. I regularly spend hours watching videos of people completing old arcade games on one credit, gigs from 20 years ago and the old protect and survive videos about how to deal with the threat of a nuclear assault. Something about the futility of those videos fascinates me.

Why Thunderforce?

There's something predictable about 16 bit games, not in a bad way, that means you can expect certain aspects but never be prepared for them. If you ever played the later Thunderforce games you'll realise just how this works. Those things are bathed in heavy metal synth done through the screaming Sega sound chip.

Anyhow, the point was that when you heard that crazy music start you realised all manner of shit was about to go down. Big solo meant boss music and boss music meant it was time to die unless you knew the attack patterns.

There was a scene in Andover, following a close fight, where I almost thought that something crazy may have happened. In my head, for a second, I almost heard the boss music start to prepare me for the incoming carnage.

As it happens it didn't but I still got that rush of adrenaline that I always used to get when the level music faded out on Super Probotector and the haunting tones of the boss music started.

Great fights and an enjoyable evening for the most part but, for the record, if you really thought it was 5-0 then you don't deserve my fucking attention.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Cage Warriors 47 - Sonic Blastman

I'm not one to throw around the obvious and the cliche when they're not required but I feel justified by writing what I'm about to write.

Cage Warriors 47 was the most intense show I have ever worked in my entire life.

It was my seventh show for Cage Warriors and before I got there I was faced with arguably the shortest flight on record.

The event took place in Dublin and as soon as I was afforded the opportunity on the plane, I put on my headphones and my Ipod picked me Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The song finished and as it did I saw a shape enter my peripheral vision. It was the stewardess telling me to take my headphones off as we were preparing to land. I've had good cups of tea that last longer than that flight but I'm certainly not complaining you understand. It made a nice change.

We got to the hotel, which was nice in an understated kind of way, and found out we'd be staying in an adjacent house because there was a wedding this weekend at the hotel.

It'd be Dean, Rich, Tony and myself which, as it happened, was a perfect cocktail for tea, trash talking, the occasional coffee for Dean and all kinds of merriment.

The fight night came round fast and as soon as the first bout started I could sense something different. The crowd, although still growing, was gloriously vocal and I truly wasn't prepared for what was to come.

David Bielkheden vs. Cathal Pendred was almost like a fight from a karate film with how back and forth and fully crazy it turned out to be. Rosi Sexton vs. Aisling Daly somehow followed it with an equal level of intensity but when Conor McGregor walked out I honestly thought something off the charts was going to happen.

Dave Hill fought very valiantly but McGregor's 209 antics and aggression were a little too much for him to take and he soon was forced to tap to a tight rear naked choke.

Then this happened.

Photo by Dolly Clew/Cage Warriors
I've never ever seen a place erupt like that in a very short time before. I've seen many displays like that but not for a second was there a sense of danger in these proceedings; there was nothing but intense celebration from the Irish fans.

This wouldn't be a weekend recap however, without a bullet point list and a niche videogame link so here's both for you good people.

  • The mental game is so overlooked by some people in mma but I'm fast realising that it's probably the most important part of the whole puzzle somehow. It's like having a 1000bhp engine but no clutch. You can't translate that power and ability into anything without it.
  • If you're all about The Young Ones metaphor in that house then I think I was Rick Mayall, Dean was Vivian, Tony was Neil and Rich was Mike.
  • Train rides are really underrated somehow. If they weren't so expensive I'd do more of them.
  • I started reading my dad's book last night briefly. I really hope I've got that in me somewhere.
  • UN Squadron with anyone apart from Greg Gates is unfeasibly hard.
  • Conor McGregor has star potential. You meet some fighters and they've got that star quality and the stuff they do in the cage doesn't seem forced. He'll be huge, I can guarantee it.
Why Sonic Blastman?

As a kid growing up the noisiest machine in any arcade was the Sonic Blastman machine. You'd get crowds of would be tough guys surrounding it trying to hit that pad to get the biggest score, or headbutt it which I saw once, to impress whoever was watching. There was a special noise that surrounded that machine. It was crystal clear yet ear splittingly loud.

This Saturday when Cathal Pendred got up after David Bielkheden nearly knocked him out in the third round; my whole body shook as the Helix exploded into a crescendo of noise. It was like a tsunami of sound sweeping over me somehow.

It's hard to find the words sometimes to express how all of this adventure feels but I guess if I was to break the golden rule and end on a quote then I'd like to think this one sums it all up perfectly.

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”- Jack Kerouac