A wrestling show held Friday evening provided a great example of how performer demographics are rapidly shifting away from bodybuilders and models and towards nerdy kids who grew up watching them.
Kidd Bandit, a non-binary cosplayer and Twitch streamer billed as “the protagonist of professional wrestling,” participated in a “devil’s playground” match against fellow indie wrestler Drexl at Prestige Wrestling’s Nonstop Feeling on July 22. The hardcore confrontation featured all the bloody excitement one would expect, but Kidd Bandit brought an endearing, pop culture flair to the performance that’s captured the internet’s attention.
The match opened, for example, with Kidd Bandit writing their opponent’s name in their “Bandit Note,” a play on the manga and anime Death Note. If you haven’t read or watched the source material, this was basically an inspired bit of trash talk predicting Drexl’s demise.
Don’t worry though, Drexl eventually ripped the page with his name on it from the notebook and stapled it to Kidd Bandit’s head. I’m not 100% sure if that negates the curse but it was pretty brutal.
At some point, Kidd Bandit also dropped Drexl onto thumb tacks with their version of the One-Winged Angel, a move popularized by All Elite Wrestling superstar Kenny Omega that’s named after Sephiroth’s theme in Final Fantasy VII.
The highlight of this match, however, came when Kidd Bandit unveiled a secret weapon: a barbed wire-covered version of Kingdom Hearts’ iconic Keyblade. After spinning the improvised weapon around like Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, Kidd Bandit naturally used it to assault Drexl, a legal tactic in the no-holds barred format.
The violent sequence culminated with the anime-inspired wrestler diving over the top rope and posing near a fan sign reading, “Kidd Bandit sold this seat.”
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kidd Bandit won the match.
While the recent news surrounding Vince McMahon makes it easy to fall out of love with WWE’s old-school approach to professional wrestling, it’s always nice to be reminded that that’s not all there is. Kidd Bandit and their contemporaries in the independent wrestling scene represent a breath of fresh air in the industry, one that’s quickly becoming too hard to ignore.