My cousin and her friends regularly participated in "backyard brawling", which took place on the property of one of the wrestler's homes. He lived there with his alcoholic father, who only mowed the lawn when he was sober, so the backyard was usually overgrown and covered in garbage and pieces of wood and glass left over from a previous match.

The group called themselves "GCW" or "Gore Core Wrestling". They didn't want to be like the wrestlers on television; they wanted to be more extreme. The ages of the wrestlers ranged from fourteen to twenty, but the younger members were treated just as brutally as the older, stronger members. I was fifteen when I was first introduced to this sport, when my cousin invited me to the commentator's house for the first big match of the summer. Everyone there was dressed in black, wearing shirts advertising Korn, Insane Clown Posse, Coal Chamber and other such angsty metal bands. I was wearing a blue tank top and short shorts, my hair in pigtails and a clueless expression on my face.

I sat in a chair on the sidelines with the rest of the spectators and wrestlers, fascinated by what was going on around me. The commentator had put the stereo on repeat and ICP's "Fuck the World" was played over and over for five hours, with the definitive line: "If I only could, I'd set the world on fire." In the middle of the yard was a picnic table, upon which stood a huge ladder. Next to the picnic table were two folding chairs set a few feet apart, and a board resting on the seats. I watched in awe and disgust as one of the wrestlers climbed the picnic table and the ladder, and then jumped towards the chairs, landing on the board and snapping it in half. A boy sitting next to me sighed in relief and turned to me to say, "It can get bad if the board doesn't break. That really hurts." I nodded at him and kept watching.

Over the next few hours I witnessed several strange, interesting and dangerous events:

  • One boy throwing another onto a board covered with at least 50 upturned tacks.
  • One wrestler beating another with a huge, heavy wooden spoon which the group had picked up at a garage sale.
  • The use of molotov cocktails.
  • Beating each other with long fluorescent light tubes, until they finally smashed into bits all over the ground and each other.
  • Burning the American flag and beating someone with the flaming remains.

My cousin was videotaping all of this, and group members who couldn't make it to matches were often called over to the commentator's house for a viewing of the last match.

Since moving away I have heard that the matches have gotten even more extreme, even going so far as lynching one member (he lived; it was his idea). The worst accident that has occurred so far happened to my cousin's boyfriend, whose face was horribly scarred after the commentator (his best friend) smashed a mirror into it.

I thought I would share this experience after having read Mitchevious's writeup, because he painted a much friendlier picture than what I've witnessed. Not every group becomes as extreme as GCW, but it does happen, and I'm not sure how the law deals with these situations. I heard that a cop pulled over by the house one day and watched the brutal fighting. Everyone stopped and started yelling out, "PIG! PIG! COME AND GET US, PIG!" but the officer did nothing, and eventually drove away.