It’s been a year since the tragic passing of “Sweet and Sour” Larry Sweeney. If you’re not familiar with the man’s work—and, to be honest, I wasn’t until a year ago—Sweeney was the best kind of indie wrestler, a dude who was great at all aspects of the craft, able to speak intelligently and wrestle compellingly, a guy who very clearly loved what he was doing. Though he was a career heel, it’s next-to-impossible to not love Sweeney back. His gimmick, if you want to call it that, was brilliant—a throwback to “Hotstuff” Eddie Gilbert and other territorial champions who were too cool for their territory and their opponents, who ran huge super-stables in an effort to put as many roadblocks between himself and his opponent as possible.
I came to know who Sweeney was in the worst possible way, having really just gotten into independent wrestling. If you’re a hardcore fan who just watches WWE, you hear whispers about guys like him. Their quotes pop up on message boards, they’re rated higher than you’d expect in a community-updated video game, they’re ranked pretty high in the yearly Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500. My foray into indie wrestling was a conscious effort to rekindle my love in something I’d become very jaded about, and Ring of Honor’s Revolution: USA, my second indie show, started with a ten bell salute for Sweeney. In the year that’s passed since, I’ve become fairly well acquainted with his work. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t watch it under better circumstances.
The match itself: While not quite indicative of what Larry Sweeney (or Eddie Kingston, for that matter) are capable of, it’s certainly enjoyable. There’s an odd Project X-ishness surrounding this match—perhaps not what Sweeney or Kingston are doing, which is as old school and awesome as wrestling gets, but certainly in the crowd, in the atmosphere that they bring to the makeshift ring. A frat party’s an odd venue for a wrestling match, but Sweeney and Kingston work through all the oddness—the fans standing two inches from the ring (I love that the referee requests five feet of space), the makeshift strap duct-taped to their wrists, the fact that they’re wrestling at a frat party—and deliver something that’s worthwhile and unique. I’ve seen college crowds at wrestling events, and while this one is obviously a little different, most of them come expecting to laugh. These guys, with their Dixie cups and background beer pong games, expect that, too. Instead, they’re awed by the violence. And there’s a lot of violence here, because that’s how Sweeney and Kingston’s idols would do it, even in a backyard. For that matter, even if it was against a little kid.
I would continue writing about the merits of this match or Sweeney or Kingston, but that can wait. For the moment, further chatter is unnecessary. Just watch the videos.