Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling has entertained bar patrons in the Pacific Northwest for 6 years with its lampoons of World Wrestling Entertainment.
The cast includes Ronald McFondle, a raunchy rendition of a the iconic hamburger peddler who finishes off opponents with a lewd gesture and a vainglorious fellow named Deevious Silvertongue who looks like a cross between David Bowie and Liberace.
The characters grapple on foam padded stages, or at least they did until the Washington State Department of Licensing classified the show as “sports entertainment,” meaning the SSP had to post a $10,000 bond, hire medical personnel to monitor events, and buy a regulation wrestling ring.
The SSP, which has no money to speak of, plans to appeal the ruling but has halted matches in the meantime.
“It’s a bunch of grown men and women in costumes pretending to be professional wrestlers,” David Osgood, the league’s lawyer told the Wall Street Journal. “It is to wrestling as ‘West Side Story’ is to actual gang relations.”
To which department spokesperson Christine Anthony countered that pro wrestling “is just as much theater as these guys claim to be.” The department considers the WWE to be sports entertainment and requires it to have a license to perform in the state.
The smackdown was prompted by a fallout involving the league and The Banana, one of its characters. Apparently, Paul Richards, who played The Banana, left the league upon hearing of plans to sideline his character.
The league had named Lucas Keyes to be The Second Banana, a sidekick to The Banana, and planned to have The Second Banana betray and then defeat The Banana.
Richards stormed off rather than lose his status as the top banana, according to the Journal.
That might have been the end of it, but then Richards found out that SSP members were ridiculing him behind his back, so he notified the licensing department that he believed SSP was violating the law.
In his appeal, Osgood will argue the ruling threatens everything from jello wrestlers to actors engaging in a sword fight in “Hamlet.”
“We’re in ‘Looney Tunes’ territory here,” he told the Journal.