The rock n’ wrestling connection first occurred some 30 years ago, months before the inaugural pop extravaganza in the making known as Wrestlemania took form. For a quick history lesson, you simply need to watch the WWE‘s (then the WWF) “Land of a Thousand Dances” music video, followed by the Cyndi Lauper music videos for “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” and, of course, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” All of these videos had regular heavy rotation on MTV and Much Music in 1985, and all of them feature popular WWE stars of the time. So enmeshed were these properties that MTV and WWE even paired up for a cable network special in February 1985, “The War to Settle the Score,” attended by Andy Warhol.
Around this time, artist Alison Honey Woods was in grade one, and in addition to He-Man, Cabbage Patch Kids, and My Little Pony dominating her ebbing psyche, the WWE was also there as a noteworthy entertainment brand of influence.
Over the past three decades, the WWE continued to corner the strange netherworld market of wrestling and pop music. In 1986, Ozzy Osbourne appeared in the corner of The British Bulldogs at Wrestlemania 2, while 1987 saw the release of Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2. That year an Elvis Presley impersonator, The Honky Tonk Man, debuted in WWE, and cut a low-budget music video for his eponymous entrance song. Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, the WWE continued to market wrestling music to fans via theme song compilations.
Now, in 2015, Toronto-born artist Alison Honey Woods has completed directing the “Pride of Lions” music video for rapper Joey Stylez featuring Dragonette’s Martina Sorbara. The video was produced by her company Park Bench Films, which she founded with producer Pamela Cordeiro. Filmed in Toronto’s Tranzac Club, a hot spot for regular indie wrestling, the slick video features a slew of indie wrestling’s up and comers battling it out in the ring with the musicians safely in the mix, edited in engaging sequences that mimic the wrestlers’ impressive efforts. Shot in dramatic ambience of a small arena (it’s actually a bar mostly used for music shows, but you’d never know it), the sparse lighting for example gives the video an old-school live event vibe.
What’s the story behind the “Pride of Lions” video?
Martina from Dragonette knew I was looking to make my first music video, and she had a collaboration she had recorded with Canadian rapper Joey Stylez that Joey was going to be releasing independently. Martina and Joey knew that having a kick-ass video would be a huge for an indie release. Martina wanted to find some way to properly release it with Joey and thought maybe a video being in the mix would be a good selling point.
I heard “Pride of Lions” and immediately thought, This track is sick! It’s so tough and cool and sexy. I thought having Martina and Joey face off with one another somehow would be awesome, but fake fighting can look so lame, so I thought some sort of fighting club, gambling scenario would be cool. I pitched the idea to them and they loved it, so I went ahead and submitted a treatment and a grant application to MuchFACT for funding. We got the funding and shot the video in a day at a great old bar in Toronto called the Tranzac Club.
Can you explain the video’s concept?
Martina and Joey play these seedy characters who run underground wrestling matches. They meet alone, in a dark club, to bet on wrestlers in a royal rumble-style, four-chicks-on-two-guys match.
I love the aesthetic — the masks, the theatricality of it. It allowed me to play with Joey and Martina’s aesthetics too. And I love walking the line between real and entertainment.
There’s a scene where one wrestler, Ashley Sixx, punches Seleziya Sparxx in the face, and it’s right on the edge of uncomfortable — but you should see her real matches! I grew up watching the WWE, and lately I’ve been interested in the rise of smaller, alternative wrestling outfits like Hoodslam. I figured there had to be something going on in Toronto, and that if it had a decent following we’d get more publicity from their fans.
A little research turned up Superkick’d Wrestling, and the co-owner Ashley Sixx was awesome – he worked with me from the start to cast the wrestlers and choreograph the fight. The cast members were all amazing — we were especially lucky to have Jasmin (AKA Nhooph) Al-Areebi just before she was recruited by the WWE.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to continue to make music videos with my production company Park Bench Films (any bands reading this feel free to get in touch!). I’m working on a couple of short films and a micro-budget feature length horror film — oh, and I’m developing a reality television show. Us independents gotta hustle.