As I poured over the official website for The Last Match, I couldn’t help but be sucked in by the big bright lights and flashy colors laid over a selection of old-school wrestling flyers. It was everything my little fanboy heart desired in an advertisement for a wrestling event! It was larger than life, and it already felt authentic!
“A ROCK MUSICAL homage to the Pro-Wrestling artform written for Wrestling fans by Wrestling Fans,” proclaimed the website! I couldn’t wait to get all the way involved with The Last Match, and I couldn’t wait to hear some of the music!
As fate would have it, I didn’t make it out to The Cutting Room on July 11th for the first official sneak peek performance of songs from the album releasing later this year. However, that didn’t stop me from loading up Spotify and jamming out to the first single on repeat for about an hour before I stopped and realized that this one five-and-a-half-minute anthem hooked me faster than the referee’s five-count! Much like the subject matter, professional wrestling, this musical production tells a solid story and leaves you begging for more before it’s over! I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the album to find out exactly what happened to Ben Vengence, the retiring ultra-star at the center of this dramatic rock and wrestling collaboration.
Ramin Karimloo, an international recording star in his own right, performs “30 Years” as if Ben Vengence was his alter ego and he’d put in the previous thirty years of blood, sweat, and grappling himself. It’s a soulful and heartfelt introduction to the character, his history, and the implications of the titular Last Match that the musical is centered around.
As I listened to the song for something like the eleventh time, I wondered if some more critical wrestling fans would accept The Last Match into the insulated world of pro-graps. Furthermore, I could only guess how fans of musicals would react to the spectacle that I grew up loving and adoring.
I asked Phil Blechman, a Co-Producer of the production with an established background both in theater as a writer, producer, and performer as well as in wrestling as a former writer for WWE Smackdown, for his take on mashing the two somewhat insular audiences together.
“Wrestling and musicals are two sides of the same coin — they are both theater. Male-dominated or not, humans want to see a compelling story with emotional and philosophical stakes that make them feel passion and empathy. Pro-Wrestling is just one way of telling those kinds of stories, as are musicals.”
“I think a wrestling musical like The Last Match will appeal more to a wrestling fanbase because it will not be hindered by the need to fill X hours of TV airtime leading to a PPV. So rather than watching weekly shows that have to extend segments of a story for long periods to pay it off at the PPV, The Last Match will take them on a journey from beginning to end with all the payoffs and big moments baked in. The journey will be exciting and satisfying; imagine if the 8-week build to a PPV and the payoff match were all tightly woven into 90 minutes. No fluff; just action-packed story and high-octane wrestling.”
He has a point! Wrestling can sometimes be a lot to take in, especially if you’re not already heavily invested. It’ll be interesting watching The Last Match go from beginning to end in an hour-and-a-half.
“I’m extremely confident,” Phil added, “that The Last Match will appeal to pro wrestling and theater fans alike, hence why I’m so happy to be a part of the production.”
That got me pondering. Authenticity is the one thing that can make or break an undertaking like The Last Match. So I asked Phil if we’d see any familiar faces involved in the production.
“Yes!” He was enthusiastic. “We already have Brutus’ The Barber’ Beefcake, Tito Santana, and Demolition on the producing team. ISPW owner Tommy Fierro is also on the producing team.”
Now they’re speakin’ my language! Most fans will know who Beefcake, Santana, and Demolition are. Those legends undoubtedly have a lot to offer in their as-yet unidentified roles in the production. That last one, Tommy Fierro, is a name that might not be quite as immediately recognizable to some wrestling fans.
Tommy got his start in wrestling by promoting his first show at the ripe old age of 16! He promoted several successful conventions and put together his promotion, the Independent Superstars of Professional Wrestling! After a stint in the WWE, Tommy has gone on to promote wrestling from the 80s on his social media platforms and the actual 80s Wrestling Con before getting involved with The Last Match.
I asked Tommy if he’d ever dreamed he’d find himself working on a musical after a lifetime in the wrestling business. “As they always say, never say never in this business. I surely couldn’t have imagined that, though!”
Tommy explained some differences between wrestling and theater and how The Last Match won’t be just another musical production. “Well, this type of show has never been done before,” he said. “It’s a Fully Immersive Wrestling event.”
“It won’t ever be in a traditional theatre. It’s a Live Wrestling event like any other house show or TV taping, and it will just tell a narrative story. So it’s really the world I already know!”
At this point, I’m practically drooling in anticipation of a musical.
That’s not a claim I’ve been able to make historically. As such, I had to find out where and when I could see this thing in the wild! As with most wrestling promotors, Tommy kept the details close to his chest. “I think you can count on that and a lot more,” he said.
“I have been involved in the wrestling business for 30 years this coming December,” Tommy said. “I can confidently say that this is the next big thing.”
I’ve learned in thirty-five years as a fan of professional wrestling that the next big thing is always ready and waiting right around the corner. That’s not to say everything that should happen does, but if the right people with the right mind for the business get behind a thing and strap a rocket to it, then the sky is the proverbial limit! Does The Last Match have what it takes to get over in the ever-changing professional wrestling landscape?
You’ll have to buy a ticket and see for yourself!
More information on “The Last Match: A Pro-Wrestling Rock Musical” is available at TheLastMatchMusical.com.
You can listen to Ramin Karimloo’s Thirty Years track below: