Sunday, July 2, 2017

An ode to Johnny Danger

Last night Johnny Danger wrestled his final PCW match. Brian Blaze defeated him in a last man standing match, Geter came out to make the save during Blaze's brutal post-match beatdown, then Danger's wife, son, and father joined him in a post-match embrace as the crowd cheered him. He took off his Danger City Demons vest and laid it in the ring symbolically. My son looked at me with tears in his eyes. He leaned into my shoulder crying as I hugged him.

This beautiful moment was spoiled by a first time PCW attendee who said to me "People talked up this Johnny Danger like he was some big thing. I just don't get what the hype is about." I wanted to hit him, to scream, "You have no idea what you're talking about." Instead I smiled, and tried my best to explain, "What he lacks in wrestling ability, he makes up in character." How could I explain to a guy who'd never attended a PCW show until yesterday the summation of 5 and a half years of a wrestler's career? How could I explain how much Johnny Danger had touched the lives of the Platinum faithful? None of that could be communicated through one street fight.

In 2012, I'd entered my third phase of wrestling fandom, and my son, Ian who was 4 at the time was just as obsessed as I was. My mother told us about a wrestling show running in Porterdale, and thought it'd be fun for us to take Ian to see it live since he was crazy about watching it on television. The show was run by a small independent company called Platinum Championship Wrestling, and none of the wrestlers were household names. We googled youtube footage to find out about the show, and the only wrestler who had video of his matches in Porterdale was Johnny Danger. We went into our first show cheering wildly for Johnny Danger, because he was the only person we knew by name. At the time he was part of a heel stable with Quasi Mandisco, and they called themselves The Priority Males.

At the next show, Ian and I made fan shirts for the people we liked since the wrestlers didn't have pre-made fan gear for sale. Ian asked for a Johnny Danger shirt. It turned out that Danger's wife was a teacher's aide at Ian's school and she recognized Ian from his pre-k class. She asked Ian if he wanted to meet Johnny Danger, and took a picture of Ian wearing his fan shirt.

Ian's love for Johnny Danger continued, and I made him yet another shirt. Later that summer, the priority males beat Supernatural. Another child in the audience started crying, and his mother looks at Ian and says "Your friend over here isn't crying." Ian smiled at both of them and proudly stated, "My team won." The priority males were still comedic heels at the time, but Ian had already found a hero in Johnny Danger.
Danger didn't become the heart of PCW until he finally left the Priority Males at Sacred Ground Chapter 3, when he entered the Platinum Royal to his own entrance music. Danger could be dismissed as a comedy act, but he was committed to PCW, to the fans, to doing what was right. He embodied the characteristics of a hero, someone the kids could look up to, someone everyone in Porterdale loved.

Danger faced adversity many times, but always prevailed. Quasi Mandisco got him banned from the building with a restraining order at one show, but Danger found a way around it by competing under a mask as the Platinum Crusader for months. When Mandisco tried to unmask him, it turned his brother Devlin Valek was under the mask. Valek and Danger reunited as The Danger City Demons, and quickly became Porterdale's favorite tag team. They finally realized their dream winning the Tag Team Season at PCW's Sacred Ground Chapter 6.

When the Cornerstone invaded, leaving Danger laid out, cutting off a chunk of his hair, the audience cried. When Danger had a hair vs. hair match with Stephen Platinum for revenge, we cheered as Danger cut off Platinum's locks, throwing pieces to waiting audience members. When the Danger City Demons finally ran off the Cornerstone at Sacred Ground 7, we cheered the banishment of the evil Stephen Platinum. It was a new beginning.

 It didn't matter that Johnny Danger couldn't do a 450 splash from the top rope. It didn't matter if he wasn't a great technical wrestler. It didn't matter if Larry Goodman never understood his popularity. What mattered was that the people of Porterdale rallied behind his rock and roll charm, his humor, and his infectious personality. Whenever PCW needed a hero, Johnny Danger was there to face the villains, fight evil, and kick ass.

My son found a hero at the age of 4 at a time when he needed one most. My family found a place at PCW, new friends, a place to belong, when we really needed one most. There's no way to explain that to a first time attendee. There's barely a way to explain it all to someone who knows us, who's attended the shows from the start. It is safe to stay that Johnny Danger is at the center of our PCW fandom, and even though he might not wrestle again, he's still the heart of PCW.