On May 10, 2024, the Livonia, Michigan Elk’s Lodge hosted Horror Slam: Crimson Mask, and Brad McFarlin and I were in attendance among the bloodthirsty crowd, ready for some hot Friday night ultraviolence. While I’ve been in the Livonia Elk’s Lodge a number of times before, most often for trading card shows, this was my first Elk’s Lodge Horror Slam show. As a matter of fact, I was a Horror Slam virgin, but I was excited for my first time, and the evening did not disappoint. 

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After a pre-show fatal four-way “VIP match,” won by the mischievous Jeremiah Goldmain, with the quick assistance of JJ Escobar, the ring announcer welcomed the crowd to “the basement of the universe,” and introduced the first match of the evening, a tag team open challenge issued by the Detroit chapter of the Kobra Kai. The Horror Slam tag team champions, Kobra Kai, made quick work of their competition, who I don’t recall even being formally introduced, then they issued another challenge, which was answered by the familiar tune of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality,” and two masked, anonymous wrestlers, who put up a slightly better fight than the previous challengers, but were still dispatched by Kobra Kai. 

After this, the announcer introduced Dread King Logan and Sean Tyler of The Purge, who were each brandishing weapons of their choosing. Right off the bat, Logan involved folding chairs, and Tyler brought out a crowbar, of all things. Each competitor took turns wailing on each other with various foreign objects, but rather than a deathmatch, I would call this more of a hardcore match, since weapons were allowed but surprisingly neither wrestler drew blood. In the end, Logan took the win, and the crowd was happy with the result, but neither man was disliked, and Tyler was also cheered as he left the ring.   

Next up was a singles match between Atlas Hytower, who I’d seen wrestle a couple months ago against Chuck Stein for Pro Wrestling All Stars of Detroit, and Ohio’s Brandon day, who was making his Horror Slam debut. I was curious if this match was going to result in any blood, because when I previously saw Hytower versus Stein, the Horror Slam Death Match Champion, they kept it family friendly, but this was Horror Slam, where blood isn’t just acceptable, it’s expected, if not demanded. Nonetheless, Hytower and Day worked a solid, hard hitting, but blood-free match, and the crowd reaction was mixed. This was a good, traditional wrestling match, but when Day pinned Hytower, and the ref counted to three, the audience booed Day.

I was a little surprised that the Horror Slam matches, so far, had been pretty appropriate for most ages, aside from some colorful language and middle fingers, but then some light tubes began to be scattered around the ring, and I knew it was time for some blood. It was time for the “Humble Yourself Rookie Challenge,” in which Horror Slam promoter Breyer Wellington came out to a shower of boos, to which he responded by screaming profanity-laced insults at the audience, then he introduced his decades-long friend, partner, and Detroit indie veteran N8 Mattson, then he challenged a Horror Slam rookie to come out and “humble yourself.” 

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N8 Mattson humbling a “rookie.” Photo by Brad McFarlin.

Well, the call to be humbled was answered by a “rookie” who got beat upon by both Wellington and Mattson, but not without getting in a few good licks himself, especially when he took a staple gun to Wellginton’s head and assorted other body parts, and the audience finally got some blood, when the back of his shaved head got opened up, which left a small pool of red on the Elk’s Lodge floor. In the end, the duo of Wellington and Mattson was too much for the rookie, and he got humbled when Wellington pinned him in the middle of the ring, but he clearly won the adoration of the crowd. 

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Breyer Wellington getting “humbled.” Photo by Brad McFarlin.

After this, the announcer called for an intermission to clean up the ring and get set for the first of three death matches, and after about a fifteen minute break, it was time for JJ Escobar versus the Horror Slam Heavyweight Champion, Tommy Trainwreck. The array of weapons and objects laid out for this match was rather insane, including toy plastic bats covered in Legos and thumbtacks, and a literal wall made of glass tubes. Escobar was introduced first, and he came bursting out with a weedwacker in hand. I’ve seen numerous pictures and videos of Escobar, who wrestles in a white ski mask, but this was my first time seeing him live in action, and I was looking forward to it. Next, the champion, Tommy Trainwreck was introduced, and the crowd erupted for him. This was clearly a match the Horror Slam crowd was excited to see, and they ghoulishly chanted, “We want blood! We want blood!” 

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Some various deathmatch “toys.” Photo by Brad McFarlin.

The match between Escobar and Trainwreck was every bit insane as it was hoped to be, with the two men exchanging blows with a plethora of light tubes, which filled the Elk’s Lodge with the smell of “spooky dust,” and they spent a considerable amount of time outside of the ring, brawling throughout the Elk’s Lodge audience. At one point, Escobar got knocked down into the lap of a young attendee in the front row, who got to leave with a very special souvenir, his sweatshirt stained with Escobar’s blood. In a particularly horrifying moment, Escobar pulled out a nail gun, but Trainwreck got ahold of it, and actually nailed the skin of Escobar’s arms to a wooden board, before Trainwreck put Escobar through the wall of light tubes. Still, Escobar wouldn’t go down for the count, and the men made their way back inside the ring. Trainwreck got Escobar up to the third turnbuckle, in an attempt to superplex him through a stack of light tubes, but Jeremiah Goldmain intervened, hitting Trainwreck with a light tube, allowing Escobar to push Trainwreck through the tubes. But after just a two count, Escobar retrieved his weed whacker, and used it on Trainwreck’s bald skull, then pinned him for the three, becoming the new Horror Slam Heavyweight Champion.         

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JJ Escobar nailed to a board. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

Perhaps needless to say, the Horror Slam crew needed another quick break before the next match to clear the area of debris, but after about ten minutes it was time for a tag team match. The first team introduced were Malcolm Monroe III (MM3) and “Thomas Oliver” Vendetta (Tommy Vendetta), two Detroit indie stalwarts who I’ve seen in action more times than I can count, and their competition this evening was Randi West and Mickie Knuckles, who were wrestling under the team name of Two Hookers and an Eightball.

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Tommy Vendetta and Randi West. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

From the jump, this match was complete and utter chaos, almost immediately moving outside of the ring, and from what I could see, West and Knuckles controlled the pace of the match, battering MM3 and Vendetta. The crowd moved and shifted with the in-ring action, so when all four wrestlers took the fight outside of the Elk’s Lodge, into the parking lot, most of the audience left the venue, as well, so when MM3, Vendetta, West, and Knuckles eventually came back inside, it took a couple minutes for the crowd to fully return. Even then, the battle continued outside of the ring, where visibility wasn’t exactly ideal, so I missed quite a bit of this match. In the final moments, Knuckles caused Vendetta to tap out, but I couldn’t see how. It’s funny, for something that was advertised as a deathmatch, I don’t think anybody in this match was bleeding, but the crowd didn’t seem to care, as they were fully invested in watching West and Knuckles beat on MM3 and Vendetta. 

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Mickie Knuckles and MM3. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

After one final break, during which the ring crew individually rubber banded light tubes across two sides of the ring, it was time for the main event. The first wrestler introduced was Dr. Redacted, who came out in blue medical scrubs. Redacted got a great reaction, especially when he stopped to pick up a kid from the front row and ran around the ring with him, then picked up a second kid, and did the same with him. Next up was Drake Younger, who received a mixture of cheers and boos. Finally, the Horror Slam Heavyweight Champion was introduced, Chuck Stein, with his barbed wire baseball bat and thoroughly impressive mohawk, and received a true, hometown, babyface response. 

As soon as the bell rang, Redacted lobbed a bundle of light tubes across the ring, directly into Stein’s face, sending him outside of the ring, and I was genuinely concerned that Stein could have gotten glass in his eyes. Redacted and Younger took turns sending each other into the light tubes rubber banded on the ropes. Forget about Chekhov’s Gun, most of these tubes didn’t last thirty seconds in this match. Stein returned to the fight, bleeding from multiple cuts on his face, and the three men did a solid job of incorporating traditional wrestling elements into a threeway deathmatch. As I briefly mentioned before, I’ve seen Stein wrestle in a non-deathmatch, and he is a skilled performer. 

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Drake Younger spiking Chuck Stein. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

Like the other matches before it, this match ended up outside of the ring a couple times, so there were moments when either I was a couple feet from the action, or the match was blocked from my view, but either way, the Horror Slam crowd was loving it, and even received a couple “This is awesome!” chants. In one brief, amusing moment, after taking some light tubes to the dome, Younger got knocked into the front row, where I could hear him breathlessly say to the guys now sitting next to him, “I’m too old for this shit.” 

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Dr. Redacted and Drake Younger. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

Most of the in-ring violence involved light tubes and doors, but near the end of the match, it looked like some long pins got involved, but it was difficult to see from my angle, and then out came the gusset plates. I’ll admit that there’s certain items used in deathmatches that disturb me more than others, and gusset plates are one of them. So, near the climax of the match, Younger had Redacted’s bald head sandwiched between two gussets, and Redacted had Stein’s shaved head sandwiched between two gussets, and my stomach churned a little. 

younger redacted and stein

Younger, Redacted, and Stein with gusset plates. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

In the final moment of the match, Stein pinned Younger with a surprise roll-up, the bell rang, and Stein retained his Horror Slam Deathmatch title. 

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Stein pins Younger. Photo by Brad McFarlin.

Overall, this was an extremely entertaining night of professional wrestling, with a quality mix of matches. I enjoyed seeing some local favorites, as well as some wrestlers who traveled for the show, and the crowd was red hot the whole night, whether they were popping for light tube spots or heckling Horror Slam owner Breyer Wellington. It was great to see such a full, lively house at a local independent show, so close to home, and I’ll definitely come back to Horror Slam.