Hoodslam is rooted in Oakland style and pride, and that's intentional. But Khandaghabadi wants it to get bigger. "Definitely bigger."

"I don't think Hoodslam could have been born anywhere else. But I hope it's bigger than just Oakland," he says. Hoodslam went on the road last year; they did shows in L.A. and Las Vegas. They went well, and Khandaghabadi thinks the formula could apply elsewhere pretty easily. "It's about freedom, and it's very organic." Khandaghabadi gets up and stretches out.

"Overall, Hoodslam comes from a good place. We really just wanted to perform. It's about enjoyment, it's about performance." He pauses, and laughs. "Fuck the fans!"

Dark Sheik, Scott Rick, and Rick Scott.
Dark Sheik photograph by Gabriel Hurley. Stoner Brothers photograph by Godofredo Vasquez.
Dark Sheik, Scott Rick, and Rick Scott.
Broseph Joe Brody, Drugz Bunny, and El Chupacabra.
Godofredo Vasquez
Broseph Joe Brody, Drugz Bunny, and El Chupacabra.

We're three hours into tonight's anniversary Hoodslam, and it's been an epic one. Virgil Flynn III defeated Drugz Bunny in a mind-blowing match. Big Van Faber and El Chupacabra just won a shocking victory over Russian Lover Zangief and Ultragirl Brittany Wonder — we thought Wonder had it when she executed a textbook perfect flying twerk move into her opponent.

The crowd is a pulsing mob of men and women of all ages; many of them are from the East Bay, but a growing number seem to be coming from San Francisco, San Jose, and everywhere in between.

Cameron Clarke, 24, is here for the second time — he lives in Albany, and is drawn to the "darker side of culture" that Hoodslam explores.

"What I always disliked about the WWE was how glamorized it was," he says. "Here, it's super punk. I like the emphasis on the dark, the grunge... and that they have fun with it."

Kelly Justin Wilson, 30, is here for the first time, and notes that the vibe isn't nearly as intimidating as it could be. "It's in a warehouse, it feels like it could be illegal, like it's crossing a line," he says. "But it's not just about the fighting, and the music. It's a party, and it's welcoming. Everyone has their everyday life, and this is the catharsis."

As the final match begins, the long-awaited face-off elicits cheers and boos. Suddenly, it's all over: Juiced Lee defeats the Dark Sheik and is now the holder of the Golden Gig.

The crowd is on fire. "This is real!" they chant. "This is real!"

It's close to 1 a.m., and the audience has become a living, breathing body of manic energy. They move as one to the deafening reprise of the "Hoodslamthem," and everyone is singing along. "Hoodslam! Are you motherfuckers ready?" Broseph yells as he sprays the crowd with a mouthful of whiskey. "Rocking Oakland, California!"

The crowd has witnessed something absurd together, and everyone believed in its absurdities.

Soon, the wrestlers and members of the Hoodslam fan club will head uptown to the Victory, where the Hoodslam after-party happens every month. Then the wrestlers will go back home, back to work. Until next month, at least. By day, you might be loading boxes, waiting tables, chasing your kids, delivering pizza. But by night, you can be a ninja, or a gangster, or a Chupacabra.

That transformation, and the effect it has on the crowds, is what gets Kirsch — Broseph — so excited about these first Fridays.

"Hoodslam is fucking magic. I'm sorry! Hoodslam is something to make you believe in magic again," he says. "That's why we say, 'This is real.' It's that feeling the fans get, the feeling the performers get. The performers give the fans every ounce of energy, and the fans give it back tenfold, and that is real. It's as real as it gets."

Hoodslam "#America" is Friday, July 4, at 8:30 p.m. at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, 630 Third St., Oakland. $10, birdswillfall.com.

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