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By Gert-Jaap Hoekman
It was blood, sweat and flames at the launch of the first AWF/e-tv Slam in the Good Hope Centre on Thursday night.
While a host of African wrestlers did battle in the ring at the All-African Wrestling Federation event, the real drama was happening on the roof where one of the airconditioners had caught fire, causing panic.
It happened after the second fight when the audience was asked to evacuate the building. The evening, until then, had been uneventful, but things were hotting up - on the roof that is.
Spectators were assured that firefighters had it all under control. But Quraysh Patel of e-tv was not happy with the help received from disaster management.
"It was just very amateurish," he said, standing on the roof of the Good Hope Centre. "There was nobody to help or assist us. No official gave me a clear sign when the danger was over."
But Will Nicol, the assistant divisional officer of the fire brigade, managed to calm Patel down.
"The audience was never in danger. Don't worry.
"Airconditioners suck dust in and therefore occasionally can catch fire. But it was not a big thing," Nicol said.
Once the audience was allowed back in the wrestlers tried to keep the fire burning in the ring.
The blood was real. Shaun Koen, one of the event's organisers, had promised nothing would be fake, so this reporter decided to establish the truth for himself backstage after the match and found that Koen had been right.
Skull, an impressively big man, got hit on his head with a plastic chair in a spectacular six-man tag-match. After the match, Skull had a hole in his head and the blood was real. But he just sat there, smiled and said: "Man, I love this stuff!"
Seven fights were planned for this first major South African wrestling event. Cape Flats-wrestler Nizaam Hartley took on Frenchmen Terry Middoux, who entered the arena to Tina Turner's Simply the Best.
But things did not go well and the bout ended with both wrestlers being disqualified.
Before the event Koen had assured the public that the AWF was not going to be a cheap WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) rip-off, but "wrestling is wrestling", he added.
So anyone who regularly watches WWE didn't get to see anything remarkably different.
The fights were entertaining, with several spectacular moves, but it was all just a little slower, less smoother and less athletic than that usually seen on television.
Didn't Ultimo Wulf, one of the wrestlers, look a lot like the original WWE Rey Misterio?
But the fact remains that whatever the African show-wrestlers did, the crowd loved them.
AWF returns to the Good Hope Centre on July 8.
Koen will then take on Middoux.