TORONTO — With so much hype over the young Mexican star El Hijo del Vikingo, the decision to head out to the Demand Lucha show in Toronto’s west end was an easy one. It would be, after all, a very different vibe than his AEW debut in the large FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.
But I came away from the Parkdale Hall doing a cartwheel over Jack Cartwheel — as did the whole frenzied audience.
The main event, after some card scrambling, since the promotion’s Premier champion Gringo Loco, and Brian Cage were both unable to make the booking, the main event became a Triple Threat Match: Jack Cartwheel vs El Hijo del Vikingo vs Speedball Mike Bailey.
Phew. It was Example A of why it’s pointless to try to recap matches move by move these days. It flew by in a jiffy, but it started out gymnastically.
Cartwheel, who lives in Sacramento, California, does exactly what you’d think — cartwheels. He does them in the ring, to lead into high flying moves, whenever needed. It’s truly something to watch, and it also is infectious. He got the referee to do a cartwheel, then his opponents … though Bailey used the opportunity to kick Cartwheel and establish himself as a minor villain in the match; then after the show and much of the crowd had gone home, a couple of fans did them for him or talked about their own gymnastic experiences.
The cartwheels were over too, big time, and notable since there were no death-defying dangers while doing them.
There were plenty of those in the match itself. From 10 feet away, I found myself holding my breath as El Hijo del Vikingo climbed onto the ring post to jump off, or cringed as he slipped on the second ring rope, but quickly corrected himself, before launching himself again (and again). There was a moment where he took the action into the crowd, fans and chairs scattering, but instead of racing back to the ring, he stood on a chair, basking in the exaltation.
Live wrestling magic at its finest.
By now, everyone should be familiar with Speedball Mike Bailey, an Impact star after years on the indy scene. He brings a video game mentality to his moves, crisp and hard-hitting as they are. After the match, he told SlamWrestling.net that he’d faced both Cartwheel and El Hijo del Vikingo previously in GCW, in singles matches, and in various tag team situations.
It was obvious that the adrenaline was still pumping through his veins.
“I think that wrestling in 2023 is by far the best it’s ever been, like by far. We’re seeing some high flying maneuvers, the envelope has been pushed, and we’re seeing things happen in a ring that we have never seen before,” Bailey said. “Jack Cartwheel and Vikingo, both of them are doing every match, day in day out, every time they’re in the ring, they do something that has never been done before. … We’re in such exciting times. It is exciting for me as well. It’s amazing for me to be part of it.”
Cartwheel had the crowd eating out of his hand, and not just because he had family in the audience. It turns out his mother was born in Toronto, so he’s a dual-citizen, not that he told that to the packed house featuring a fun collection of hardcore fans, Parkdale hipsters, and lucha enthusiasts.
He credited his opponents — and the cartwheel — for the pops.
“You’ve got Speedball and you got Vikingo who are like, so f—ing over everywhere, and this my only third time wrestling here,” said Cartwheel. “I was really nervous on how I would be received. But everyone can connect with the cartwheels. You were able to do it since you were a kid. So it’s a little cheat code.” (Watch for an interview on him in the coming weeks.)
As for El Hijo del Vikingo, I did try to interview him, but he begged off, citing lack of English (“thank you” and “sorry” he knew). But I came away impressed from more than just the moves in the ring. Sure he signed shirts and 8x10s like everyone at the merch table, but if a kid came over, he made a special effort to make them feel welcomed and insisted they get a signed photo, for free. Classy.
Here are the rest of the results:
- Los Medicos fought to a no contest with Level-X. Medico Uno was hurt at some point and the referee did the “X” sign, bringing out plenty of help to get him out of the ring and into concussion watch. “It was a freak knockout but we got him seen by doctors and he let us know late last night that he’s back to normal,” reported Demand Lucha promoter Jordan Matthew Marques. “Medico Uno will be taking some time off until his doctors give him the thumbs up.” It was surreal since the whole gimmick is based on doctors and orderlies. Level-X gets inspired by a Pikachu doll, and a boot of Pikachu by Los Medicos into the crowd was truly villainous.
- Sam Adonis used brass knuckles to defeat Toxin
- Jody Threat defeated FredDIE. Threat is a true fan favorite here, and the crowd just eats her up. She retained the promotion’s Openweight championship.
- Mega Medico with Nurse Nova Kane defeated Green Phantom after a DVD into a door
- Seraphis defeated James Runyan in a Door Match (Someone explain to me why the match before the Door Match ended with someone going through a door, please)
- Jack Cartwheel defeated El Hijo del Vikingo and Speedball Mike Bailey. After the victory, Cartwheel challenged Gringo Loco for a future Premier Championship match in an interview with special guest in-ring announcer Jenni Santana (daughter of Tito Santana).
Demand Lucha (demandlucha.com) announced two upcoming events:
- Boom Shaka Lucha on Sunday, July 23 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, featuring Effy vs Bryan Keith and Gringo Loco vs Bendito
- Demand Lucha vs House of Glory on Thursday, August 24 at Parkdale Hall in Toronto featuring Black Taurus, IMPACT! Champion Alex Shelley, Amazing Red, Aramis, and Sam Adonis
TOP PHOTO: Jack Cartwheel on the microphone at Demand Lucha on June 29, 2023, in Toronto, Ontario, at Parkdale Hall. Photo by Greg Oliver