Photo by Tenaya HillsMinutes before their recent show at Chapman University's Irvine Lecture Hall, members of the World Wrestling Confederation (wWc) gathered in a nearby computer lab. While they adjusted feather boas, applied makeup, taped wrists and fingered their two-by-fours, co-creator Tim Hegarty reviewed safety details ("Don't get anybody fucking killed") and read a quote from comic artist Julie Short: "Take something you love, tell people about it, bring people together who share your love, and help make it better. Ultimately, you will have more of whatever you love for yourself and for the world."
For two and a half years, the 20 Chapman students who parody the world of pro wrestling have aimed to share their love of the sport. "The joke behind it is how serious Steve [Gnall] and I are," says Hegarty. "It's taken up pretty much all of our time."
Back when both were members of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, Hegarty and Gnall were already obsessed with wrestling, their Monday nights of beer drinking and TV wrestling soon transmogrifying into weekend parties followed by living-room death matches. "We'd start doing it after some people left," Hegarty says. "We'd say, 'I'm going to kick your ass at 2:30.'"
Those drunken matches became elaborately scripted affairs. Characters emerged, alliances formed, matches were filmed. The wWc was reality, as clearly evidenced by a brilliantly choreographed, two-hour performance on May 7.
Underneath black-and-red banners, 75 family members, girlfriends and students watched the members of the wWc spar on a set designed to mimic the frat-house living room. Pun-happy announcers began the night with a musical chairs round (to the Footloose soundtrack) that pitted "The Pastor of Disaster" against characters "3-D McGee," "The Invisible Man" and "Warren S. Thompson." ("Warren S. Thompson" won—barely.) A female event, a "three-way dance" between a pirate, an Irish ninja and an alien (no contest due to the alien's illegal use of a ray gun), and a ladder match preceded the main event: a culmination of a bitter feud between "Hulk Holden" and "'The Starman' Ric Starr in the fight for the wWc World Heavyweight Title."
Hegarty graduates this summer, and whether the group survives, the strange legacy won't soon be forgotten at Chapman, which seems to be the wWc's idea.
"If there's some connection between the wrestler and the fan," says Hegarty, "the [fan] never wants to see them go. That's why wrestlers retire 50 times. It's both the fans and the [wrestler] not wanting to stop giving the fans what they want."
"The thing I love about wrestling is that there's no finality," adds Gnall. "These characters go on forever."