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Welcome to Hoodslam

by Stacey Leasca

Inside the Oakland Metro Opera House, the floors are sticky and the air is hazy with several kinds of smoke.

As if on cue, hundreds of people raise their middle fingers at a muscle-bound bro standing on stage in ripped jeans and an orange wig, while he pours a bottle of Jack down bystanders’ throats. Welcome to Hoodslam.

The first Friday of every month, the haggard venue is home to this amateur wrestling event that, after five years, is blowing up on the Oakland scene. It’s loose and wild, a homegrown shot of adrenaline that doesn’t just appeal to typical wrestling fans.

On a recent Friday show, the thousand-proud throng of screaming, middle-finger-throwing fans also included hipsters, the wrestlers’ moms, bikers and several guys in suits. They’re here to witness a spectacle of body slams, extreme attitude and outrageous behavior at an event that can only be described as performance-art athletics.

Pro wrestling has been a part of American history for more than 150 years. In its earliest days, it was seen as a legitimate sport, albeit featured at carnivals. Wrestlers created not only their own culture, but also their own lingo.

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