BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
As the lights of Queens Boulevard began to dim and store owners pulled down their metal gates on the night of July 10, a diverse crowd began to assemble at the Elmhurst Elks Club to watch costumed monsters square off in a ring as Boston-based wrestling sensation Kaiju Big Battel roared into town.
Kaiju (Japanese for “monster” or “mysterious beast”) features an ever-changing roster of giant, costumed, out-of-this-world creatures facing off in battles that are part Japanese sci-fi, part American pro-wrestling. The battleground is littered with monster movie props, including cardboard and foam skyscrapers upon which the monsters delightfully stomp and destroy.
The Friday night crowd that gathered to watch the late-night spectacle ranged from twentysomething guys and pastel-haired teens to the after-work crowd and young children, eager to see monsters and aliens smashing cardboard cityscapes and each other.
The audience was led into the Elks Club through the Jolly Corks lounge, where club regulars and newcomers sipped $3 pints of beer from plastic cups amid the wood-paneled hunting lodge walls.
Once inside, fans had the chance to purchase postcards, pins and posters of their favorite Kaiju heroes. Uniquely named treats such as “Ebola Cola” and “Danger Cakes,” Kaiju’s take on the classic Hostess cupcake, were also available to hungry fans.
The crowds cheered as the Kaiju crew began setting up homemade Styrofoam and cardboard buildings crafted from recycled boxes in the ring. Colorful MC Anthony Salbino, clad in aviator glasses and a sailors cap, kicked off the tournament.
Kaiju villain Dr. Cube entered with his posse of square-headed henchmen. He revealed a new, unnamed creation to fight crowd favorite and Kaiju sage Dusto Bunny. At first, Dr. Cube’s creation had Dusto Bunny on the ropes, slamming him onto the mat in a cloud of talcum powder and despair. But Dusto Bunny battled back to win the match and earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
Kaiju alien Steam Powered Tentacle Boulder came out to talk to the crowd but was interrupted by Dr. Cube. SPTB slammed Cube to scare him, earning him cheers from the crowd.
Kung Fu Chicken Noodle, an alleged former factory worker-turned-soup can, paired with French Toast as the team “Soup and Waffle.” The duo is the current Kaiju Double Danger Tandem Title Champions. They beat Dr. Cube’s creations Tucor and Hell Monkey in a hardcore match that allowed foreign objects, namely old Guitar Hero controllers. MC Salbino led the crowd in chants of “Soup! Soup!” as Kung Fu Chicken Noodle won the match.
Kaiju hero Sun Blaster, a good guy with an old game controller for an arm, beat his opponent by using the controller to take over his body.
The next match saw American Beetle, a patriotic space bug, face off against Gambling Bug, a bankrupt developer from a laundromat in Denver. American Beetle was led to victory with chants of “USA! USA!”
The headline event was a title match between reigning Kaiju champ Silver Potato and Cycloptopus, a furry, one-eyed green demon with red lobster claws for hands. Silver Potato was the early crowd favorite, handing out slices of pizza from Costco. The crowd cheered “Pizza!” and “Po-ta-to!” as he entered the ring.
Dr. Cube and the yellow spiked alien Unibouzu interfered on behalf of Cycloptopus, but Silver Potato used his pizza box to defeat his opponents and retain his belt and title.
After the tournament was over, the audience was invited to take home pieces of the shattered cardboard and foam skyscrapers as mementos of their wild night watching aliens and monsters duke it out in Queens.