As [Expletive] Up ended a thunderous set at Rock & Roll Hotel on Monday night, frontman Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham guzzled water from a Super Soaker and then spat it out over his head, producing a geyser of mist. Then the shirtless behemoth roared. The reference was unmistakable. He was doing Triple H.
Triple H is, of course, one of the most popular professional wrestlers in the WWE. There would be more wrestling talk very soon. As his bandmates took a quick breather before the encore, Abraham — the sweaty and hirsute frontman of the Toronto hardcore sextet — remained on stage and asked how many members of the audience had been at the Verizon Center the previous weekend for WWE’s Capitol Punishment pay-per-view event.
The question was greeted with almost complete silence, but I had to give a holler. I was there. I’m a fan of professional wrestling — what can I say? Not a huge one (anymore), but if there’s a pay-per-view in my town, you can probably find me there arguing with little kids about the merits of Rey Mysterio .
It was no surprise that Abraham talked about wrestling. He’s long been on record as a big fan, which is not entirely surprising for someone who looks like he’d eat a turnbuckle . I was glad he mentioned it, too, because all through the show I’d been coming up with ways in which the band’s performance reminded me of an episode of “Monday Night RAW.” Find out how after the jump...
1. Cheap heat
One of the easiest ways for a wrestler to get a “pop” is to pander to the crowd by saying good things about the city he’s in. Abraham did this a many times on Monday. Maybe he meant it when he said “I thought I had a great time last night but tonight is the [expletive] best!” or when he kept saying how much he loved the Rock & Roll Hotel and Washington, D.C. But this is a man who is well-versed in the quickest and easiest ways to get people on his side.
2. Clean-shaven = more likable
Abraham recently ditched his pretty thick beard for a few days of stubble. So what, right? Except this is one of the most standard ways tell fans when you turn from being a “heel” (bad guy) to a “face” (good guy). When Hulk Hogan went evil and became Hollywood Hulk Hogan, all of a sudden he had a dark beard in addition to his walrus-like mustache. When C.M. Punk established himself as a WWE fan favorite he was clean shaven. Now he’s a bad guy with a thick beard. [Expletive] Up’s new album “David Comes to Life” is the band’s best and most popular to date. It’s getting good reviews and gaining them new fans. Is it just a coincidence that now is when Abrhaam decided to present his cleanest face to the world?
3. No more big “bumps”
Making it to the top in the wrestling business is no easy task. Getting “over” (becoming popular) usually involves doing ridiculous and insane things during matches (“bumps”), many of which can lead to serious injuries. Last time [Expletive] Up played Rock & Roll Hotel, Abraham was taking vicious bumps left and right. He poured hot candle wax all over his body. He was bleeding. He was giving piggyback rides. It was the equivalent of one of those tables, ladder and chairs matches that leave fans chanting, “Holy [expletive]!” It’s always entertaining, but the reality is that the true “main eventers” rarely rely on such stunts. Natural charisma and the ability to tell a story within a match are viewed as more admirable skills than simply being able to jump 25 feet from a ladder through a table. With “David Comes to Life,” [Expletive] Up has reached that level. Abraham only ventured into the crowd once during this show, and he didn’t need to. The material was good enough — no gimmicks necessary.