“Bad fish. Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycocks. This shark, swallow you whole. No shakin', no tenderizin', down you go.” – Quint “Jaws”
There is a moment in every disaster film when someone cries “Fire!” or “Earthquake!” or “Shark!” or “Global Warming!” or you know whatever the appropriate thing to yell is. And almost invariably that person is ignored. Frequently because that warning is inconvenient. Like in “Jaws” where three different people give a warning: Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw). In a moment of pure small town venality, the town council ignores their warnings because paying attention to them might ruin the town’s tourist season.
In Greek myth, they tell the legend of Cassandra, the Trojan prophet who predicted the siege of Troy and the fall of Troy. It was her tragedy to always be right, but never to be believed. So we can call that moment when the messenger delivers the prophecy a Cassandra moment.
This is a Cassandra moment. Right now as we speak, we are heading for disaster. We are like a centipede tap dancing on a volcano. I tell you Captain, she’s going to blow! The problem you see is our Hardcore Hero, from the Ancient Green Hills of Two Mountains, the Green Phantom.
I know I can hear you whispering, “Llakor is off his rocker.” “Does anyone have Llakor’s meds?” “We always thought Llakor was strange…”
But I tell you, the signs are there…
“It's a fire. All fires are bad.” – Chief O’Hallorhan “The Towering Inferno”
Let’s start with one of the greatest moments in the Green Phantom’s professional life and one of the worst at the same time. March 27th, 2004, Know Your Enemies. Green Phantom has just returned from a try out with Ohio Valley Wrestling, a huge compliment to his skill and professionalism. He gets a thunderous ovation. There is only one fly in the ointment. A 350 pound fly to be exact: Dru Onyx. The Green Phantom was scheduled to feud with Onyx, revisiting what many old school fans of the IWS consider to be the best feud in IWS history... only this time with Onyx as the villain and the Green Phantom as the hero.
Dru Onyx is busy wrestling across town with rival promotion CWA. IWS management does everything that they can to arrange the schedules, going so far as to offer to Dru Onyx to come in early and cut a pre-taped promo to play during the show. As time goes on however, it becomes increasingly obvious that Onyx is simply not interested in coming back to the IWS and making the Green Phantom look as good in this feud as the Phantom made Onyx look the year before.
Or as I bitterly put it back stage, “Dru would rather rule in hell, than serve in heaven.”
Some say that the feud between Dru Onyx and the Green Phantom made the IWS. Most say that it made Dru Onyx. Personally, I think there is room to say that the feud helped both. I think that Dru benefitted slightly more than the IWS did, but I don’t think that the benefits were one sided. To this day, I think that a feud between the Green Phantom and Dru Onyx would make for a great series of matches that fans would pay to see en masse.
(This would be where some people would pick up the phone and call me a big fat Onyx mark. And yes it’s true. I am a big fan of the Bajan Bomber. So much so that someone once tried to get me in trouble with Manny by telling him that I was quote “Sucking Onyx’ cock online to get him back into the IWS.” At the time, I was standing five feet away from Manny. The shit disturber in question had no idea what I looked like. I nearly did a spit take that would have sprayed Coca-Cola all over Stevie McFly.)
In any case, regardless of the reason, the Onyx/Green Phantom feud never happened. The Green Phantom got screwed.
The Green Phantom got screwed.
Memorize that phrase. You’ll need it later.
“How many people have to die before it'll be cost effective for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you…” – Dr. Don Francis “And the Band Played On”
“The first punch he broke my nose. The second punch or it might have been the third he cracked the orbital bone around my eye. He punched me harder than Onyx ever tagged me. The only guy who has ever punched me even close to that hard was the Arsenal, the fucking hairy midget. Actually, fighting the Arsenal was good preparation for fighting this dumb hairy bastard. So, my eye is swelling shut, and there is blood pissing out of my mask like water out of a faucet. And at this point, I realize that this is not going to be pretty, this is not going to be scientific, this was going to be a fight to the death.”
If Sexxxy Eddy hadn’t famously drunk his blood in his match against the Arsenal, during the Tournament of Death 3, the match that every one would have been talking about was Necro Butcher vs. the Green Phantom. At the time and even afterwards, people were hailing it as the “Death Match of the Year”
A follow-up feud seemed natural. With only one problem. It would probably be easier to declare that Necro Butcher was some form of endangered ape and have him imported to the Granby Zoo than it would be for him to actually make it across the Canadian border. I suppose he could have a shave and a hair cut, but that would sort of defeat the purpose. The fact is, while US border guards are quite prepared to let a blood-spattered self-declared assassin enter the US as long as he leaves behind his bloody chain saw and katana, Canadian border guards on the other hand have standards. Besides if Sandman can’t make it into Canada, what chance does Necro Butcher have?
Once again, a natural feud for the Phantom was killed. Once again, the Green Phantom got screwed.
“Establishment gonna fall down and go boom.” – Dr. Ruth Leavitt “The Andromeda Strain”
Coming back to Montreal from the Tournament of Death 3, the Green Phantom began gearing himself up for a feud with the then IWS champion, Kevin Steen. We had already had a brief preview of the possibilities of this match-up earlier in the year during Tournament of the Icons when the two men met in a submission match which was astonishingly good given that the Green Phantom is not what one would consider a submission wrestler. But the Phantom smartly used his brawling to set up submission moves.
To get the feud going, the Green Phantom was scheduled to team with El Generico to face Kevin Steen and his bodyguard Franky the Mobster in a tag team match during Body Count, August 21st, 2004. At a critical point in the match, the Green Phantom prepared for his trademark rope dive where he charges, jumps from a chair, springboards from the top rope and leaps onto his opponent. In this case, a moment’s distraction caused the Green Phantom to miss the top rope entirely, sending him crashing to the outside and fracturing his arm.
A feud for the IWS title with the most talented wrestler in Canada came to a crashing end. The Green Phantom got screwed.
“The last chunk of ice that broke off was the size of Rhode Island. A lot of folks would say that was pretty sensational.” – Jack Hall “The Day After Tomorrow
December 2004, Season’s Beatings. The Green Phantom makes a surprise return to the ring, He isn’t medically cleared to wrestle, so he can’t participate in his trademark “Christmas Tree Death Match”, but he can be the Special Guest Referee for the IWS Title match between challenger Pierre Carl Ouellet and champion Franky the Mobster. PCO gets pinned by Franky, but is convinced in his own mind that he got his shoulder up at TWO! Protecting his still healing fractured arm, the Green Phantom rolls out of the ring as PCO goes berserk, handing out clotheslines with “Dat Blue Ting” like they were candy samples. He even knocks out IWS President Seska who... once she regains consciousness... suspends PCO. Rather than appeal his suspension or serve the time, PCO picks up the phone and calls his good friend and former locker room confidante Savio Vega. PCO and “Dat Blue Ting” begin a very successful tour of Puerto Rico.
The possible feud between Quebec wrestling legend Pierre Carl Ouellet and IWS legend the Green Phantom is aborted. The Green Phantom got screwed.
“Paracutin... 1943, a Mexican farmer sees smoke coming out of the middle of his cornfield. A week later there's a volcano a thousand feet high. There's no history of anything until it happens. Then there is.” - Rachel “Volcano”
Fast Forward to January 28th, 2005, Praise the Violence. The Green Phantom has had a good run. He has started and ended a feud with the hulking Tomassino conclusively beating the big man on several occasions despite the annoying interference of Tomassino’s cockroach like manager, Joey Soprano. In addition, the Green Phantom was able to compete and win his traditional Christmas Tree Death Match at Season’s Beatings after a year’s absence caused by his injury. (Beating both Tomassino and damn near killing Sexxxy Eddy.) All of this leads to a title shot against IWS champion, EXesS.
But there is symmetry here. The Special Guest Referee in the match is Pierre Carl Ouellet who made his return to the IWS on Devil’s Night, October 29th, 2005 and lost his shot at beating EXesS for the IWS title, December 3rd, 2005 during Season’s Beatings. The question became against whom would PCO hold the biggest grudge? The man who had cheated him of the IWS title in December 2005? Or the man who had “cheated” him of the IWS title in December 2004? Or could PCO hate both men and call the match straight down the middle?
Well, PCO was about as impartial as you can be and still be completely and utterly biased. He kayoed the Green Phantom with a thunderous clothesline with “Dat Blue Ting” and then power bombed EXesS into next week before leaving the ring to another ref charging in from the back. Unfortunately for the Phantom, EXesS landed with the tip of his boot over the Phantom’s prone body, leading to the unconscious IWS champion pinning his kayoed challenger.
Yep, you got it. Say it with me: the Phantom got screwed.
These are the blips on our seismograph. The little tell-tale mini-quakes which predict the eruption to come. But to explain how I know that the eruption is coming, I need to explain a bit how the Green Phantom came to be, in an origin that can only have happened in Quebec.
The Secret Origin of the Green Phantom
“What they're planning to do. They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet... their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on... and we're next. Nuke 'em. Let's nuke the bastards.” - President Thomas Whitmore “Independence Day”
Are there any Doctor Who fans in the audience? This is relevant, trust me. You remember how they used to run Doctor Who in segments usually on the weekend? And it always worked out that that last weekend when they were going to show the conclusion, that you ended up being dragged by your parents to visit friends or cousins or something. This was in the years before VCRs understand, so if you didn’t see them on TV live, you had to wait until they replayed that serial, months maybe years later. Sometimes the friends that you were visiting had no TV because they were Fucking Hippies. Sometimes, there was a TV, but man try convincing your parents to let you stay in to watch TV when you had just made a five hour car trip to visit relatives. (Most of the time though, at least in my family, my cousins were just as desperate as me to watch the good Doctor.) And if you managed the impossible and got the TV turned on at the right time during a “visiting weekend” it INVARIABLY turned out that they got a different PBS station than I got in the Laurentians, and that they were not only watching a different Doctor Who serial, they weren’t even watching the same Doctor as I was. (This is how I discovered that there were other Doctors than Tom Baker by the way.)
Something very similar happened with El Santos in Quebec only on a much more fucked up scale.
See, in Quebec, we have a regular broadcast channel called TQS, commonly referred to as the “Mouton Noire” of Quebec TV or for the non-Francophones out there the “Black Sheep” of Quebec TV. One of the traditions of TQS is a little something they call “Bleu Nuit” which is a Saturday block of soft-core pornography that usually starts around 11 pm. Understand, you didn’t, still don’t, need cable or a satellite to see TQS. Rabbit ears were fine. In fact, in the Laurentians, we got better reception from the French TQS than we did from the local English CTV station, CFCF-12.
(Keep in mind here that in Quebec, people were disgusted by the Super Bowl “Nipple-Gate” because they didn’t see ENOUGH nipple.)
When I was about 11, the Green Phantom would have been about six, but being a precocious lad, like me, he managed to be alone in front of the TV for Bleu Nuit. Of course, we had other reasons than the nudity and sex. We wanted to see the wrestling. Because in an odd programming experiment, the warped geniuses at TQS had purchased a massive quantity of old El Santos movies and were playing them between their two pornographic films. And they had decided to cut the El Santos films into fifteen minute chunks, so that they became serials. The pattern, in other words, was soft-core pornography (of variable length) followed by El Santos serial, followed by slightly harder soft-core pornography. (The first film would usually show tits but no bush. The second movie would usually show bush but no penetration.)
Now, the second thing to explain is the dubbing. There are three different companies that do dubbing of films into French. There is a Quebec firm which is brilliant. There is a French company which is quite good. And there are the Parisian prats who are GAWD-AWFUL.
(As an example of how good the Quebec firm is I present exhibit number one: Lance-Frappe, the Quebec version of Slap-Shot. The story is the same. The visuals are the same. The number of jokes is multiplied by a factor of ten, because the Quebec firm basically gave the picture to a group of Quebec comedians and told them to go nuts. It is essentially the Quebec version of Caddy Shack.)
Three guesses as to who got the El Santos contract. The dubbing is ATROCIOUS. It is listlessly read by a group of mumblers who sound like they were force-fed Valium before the taping sessions began. The translation is also obviously literally translated by someone who apparently wasn’t even looking at the film as they were translating. UGH. Oh and Parisians are convinced that they are the only people who speak “proper” French. No one outside of Paris can figure out what the hell that they are saying even when they raise their voice above their normally strangled grunting.
Finally, just to make the situation that much more frustrating, I’m guessing that the guy who inserted the tapes at night at TQS was either a sleep starved University student or a stoned out of his mind Hippie. Possibly both. I know this because not only were the EL Santos serials played out of order, sometimes we would get chapters from a completely different El Santos movie or we would get the same chapter that had been played the week before repeated. Poor El Santos would go from fighting Frankenstein’s Monster on his own to fighting a colony of werewolves with the help of Blue Demon to being suspicious of Mil Mascaras while they checked out an invasion of body snatching UFOs, all in the space of three weeks.
To sum up. The El Santos serials were played out of order. The dubbing was atrocious and incomprehensible. Plus, we had no idea when the hell the damn things would be on, since it was dependent on how long the first movie would be. In short, we HAD to watch the pornography to get to the wrestling. OK. Admittedly, that was not necessarily the worst thing in the world that could have happened, but it explains a lot, both about the IWS and the Green Phantom.
“Get the hell out of there now, before it's too late!” - Harry Dalton “Dante’s Peak”
It is from this feverish swamp, this midnight blend of bad French, nudity, sex, sweat, masks and monsters, that the STOMP was born. What is the STOMP you ask? El Santos lived the STOMP. Bruiser Brody understood the STOMP. Ron Garvin practiced the STOMP.
When Jim Morrison sings about “Texas Radio and the Big Beat”, he is singing about the STOMP. When Tom Connors puts down a hard piece of wood so that he can sing about fighting on a “Sudbury Saturday Night”, he is quite literally STOMPing the song. When Michel Pagliaro sings “J’Entends Frapper” (literally translated “I Hear Knocking”) he is singing about le STOMP.
The STOMP is the heart of the Green Phantom. It’s why the IWS fans understand; it’s why *I* understand: You don’t fuck with the Green Phantom. You say the Green Phantom got screwed? That can happen once, maybe even a few times, but at the end of the day, there is a universal truth that boils out of the Ancient Green Hills of Two Mountains: You don’t Fuck with the Green Phantom. It’s something that we whisper to newcomers to the IWS locker room. It is the first lesson that we teach to rookies. It is the accepted wisdom passed from one broom boy to the next like blind bards passing down homeric triptychs to their apprentices: You don’t FUCK with the Green Phantom!
At which point, I’m sure that there is at least one brave soul out there willing to ask: Why not?
The Green Phantom will FUCK you up.
According to Katherine Monk, writer of “weird sex and snowshoes... and other Canadian film phenomena” one of the distinctions between the US and Canada is that Yankees believe in conquering nature, Canadians believe in surviving it.
“If Dante’s Peak had been a Canadian film, no townspeople would have waited for an evacuation order: people would have picked up sticks and high tailed it out of town at the mere mention of an eruption because as real survivors, we are naturally worst case scenario thinkers. Those who were foolish enough to stay behind would surely pay the ultimate price for their stupidity.” - Katherine Monk
You know that other part of the Cassandra myth? It is the curse of knowing the future, but not being able to convince other people of what you can so clearly see.
Citizens of Pompeii, do as you will. Me? I’m packing. I’m picking up sticks and I am high tailing it out of here. You can call it cowardice if you like. I call it survival.
Big second for For Whom the Bell Tolls for Taker. Bring back the Dead Man with a little less of the supernatural gimmick and up the psycho face stabbing killer quotient and it could be the coolest, most fitting, and expensive to license entrance ever.