Miami’s Elizabeth Lang enjoys dressing like Catwoman, a supervillainess from the famed DC Comics Batman franchise.
It’s not everyday she can do that or even most days, but when Animate! Miami comes to town, she is in her element as are many others.
Elizabeth’s Catwoman cosplay fan page
Animate! Miami -- a three-day festival dedicated to anime, animation, cosplay, video games and comic books -- occurred at the Miami Airport Convention Center. A success, thousands enjoyed the activities, events and guests.
San Diego Comic-Con and others like it in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Orlando attract even larger crowds, some dressed in their favorite heroes and villains. Animate! Miami is a smaller version, but in the summer, the same organizers, led by Mike Broder, host its bigger brethren, Florida Supercon.
Florida Supercon has already outgrown the Miami Airport Convention Center, moving to the Miami Beach Convention Center from July 3-6.
Florida Supercon feature some of the animation and anime industries' biggest names, world-famous cosplayers, top comic book artists, comedians and entertainers. There will be hundreds of events, such as celebrity Q&As, costume contests, video games, comedy shows and more like Florida Super Championship Wrestling.
• That’s entertainment
Whether you watch “The Office,” “American Idol,” “Pawn Stars,” “The Walking Dead,” “Sunday Night Football in America” or “WWE Raw,” it’s television entertainment, available for your viewing pleasure.
Each person’s show watching tastes can vary. One person likes reality shows. Another sports. Someone else sci-fi. Nowadays, the options seem endless.
To take one form of entertainment and mix it with another can make for an interesting cocktail.
• Introducing Florida Super Championship Wrestling
Each evening at Animate! Miami, FSCW showcased professional wrestlers (men and women) in cosplay -- competing as cartoon, comic book and video game stars -- to coincide with the Animate! Miami theme. The show is geared more toward anime, comic books, manga and video game fans than those interested in pro wrestling. You do have some cross-over, but for the most part, they pack the hall to watch their favorites or least liked face off in a new FSCW ring.
Who would win? Captain America or Green Arrow? Link or Cobra Commando? Chun-Li or Black Cat?
FSCW can answer those questions, delivering some fun battles and dream matchups.
Each wrestler becomes the character he or she is portraying. It is wrestling’s old school mindset, character based, through cosplay.
For Chun-Li (from the Street Fighter series), it’s an easy transition because Leva Bates, who portrays Chun-Li, is a huge anime fan. She knows the characters, bringing the look, talk, traits and powers to the show. When introduced, she enters dressed like Chun-Li and runs around the ring with a trophy for winning Street Fighter. Just after the bell rings to start the match, she yells, ‘Round One, Fight’ while getting into combat position -- fists up -- as in the video game.
Others, who want to connect with the crowd, will do their homework, like Bates.
It’s not about the high spots (moves). It’s about cosplay, becoming the character.
The audience revels in those characters and costumes and special powers. The wrestling is good, but attendees watch for the characters, their appearance and antics. Cosplayer Elizabeth Lang is not a wrestling fan, but she watched and enjoyed it. So many others did, too.
YouTube video interview with cosplayer Elizabeth Lang
Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Like any wrestling show, it’s knowing your audience and entertaining it.
FSCW is wrestling with cosplay, and at Animate! Miami, it works.
YouTube video interview with cosplayers Freddie and Julie
YouTube video interview with cosplayers Justin and Robert
YouTube video interview with cosplayers Ashley and Rolando
YouTube video interview with cosplayers Frank and Pedro
YouTube video interview with cosplayer Christine
• FSCW Animengles
FSCW champ Link (from the Legend of Zelda), accompanied by his cute fairy companion, Navi, uses a Megaton Hammer to destroy the opposition. Instead of hammering the opposition on the head, ala Triple H, Link just bangs the mat with the magical hammer, and all those in the ring become battered and drop. That’s his character, and the Animate! Miami fans know, cheering wildly.
Link is Florida indie wrestler Aron Agony, and Navi is his girlfriend, Doris.
Cobra Commander, the lead villain in the G.I. Joe series, is the main antagonist in FSCW. Commander (Marco Salvino) speaks evil throughout the show as the crowd hails his heelish Cobra group or jeers it. Like him or not, he does get bonus points for having the sexy (fake gun holding) Baroness, dressed in black leather, by his side at all times. His England-accented sidekick Major Bludd can work a mic, and the Commander’s lackeys, the comedic Henchmen/minions, are following orders to land a spot in Cobra.
Goku (from the Dragon Ball manga series) battled The Riddler (from the DC Comics Batman series). Goku loves sport fighting and eating. Riddler brought pizza boxes to the ring, distracting Goku, who grabbed a pizza box. When a happy Goku opened the box, it was empty, and the prankster Riddler attacked the disappointed and hungry opponent.
Frank Stone as Black Atom and Didi Marcunez as Mary Marvel joined forces in a very formidable villainous combination. Alexa Aurin as Princess Daisy (from the Nintendo Mario video game franchise) made her wrestling debut with Luigi in her corner. Of course, Luigi gave Daisy a yellow star to batter the opposition. Luigi is indie wrestling referee Chuck Aurin, father of Alexa.
Johnny Vandal got a big pop as Deathstroke (DC Comics supervillain with sword), and The Beast transformed into Lobo (DC Comics interstellar mercenary and bounty hunter). Joker (Adrian Morales), who actually wrestles indies as Joker on the indies, was an Animate Miami crowd-pleaser. Snakemaster Jeff and his snakes appeared, posing for photos with attendees.
Seth Gregg worked well calling the action with ring announcer Blake Chadwick. Senior referee Bruce Michaels did his usual good job.
• FSCW’s origins
Through Mike Broder, the founder of Florida Supercon and Animate! Miami, FSCW was born with Marco Salvino (Shawn Prime/Cobra Commander), Adrian Morales (Joker) and Benny Meltzer (Joey Saint/BJ Murdoch) involved in the inaugural show in 2009.
Years ago, Broder spotted an eclectic group, Kaiju Big Battel, and thought it would be a cool addition to his show.
KBB’s performances are parodies of professional wrestling and the tokusatsu kaiju kaiju eiga films of Japan. The Battels are presented in the style of professional wrestling events, with the costumed performers playing the roles of giant, city-crushing monsters similar to Godzilla and Gamera
Broder contacted KBB in 2006 and 2007. They are based in Boston and required a few of $8,000-$10,000. That kind of money was over budget for Broder, so he opted to create his own type of wrestling show -- more cosplay oriented.
“I really started to want to make it happen in 2008,” Broder answered via email. “I met Benny [Joey Saint] through Sandy, my fiancee, who owned a comic book store War and Pieces [in Davie]. Benny was training at the time and said he would love to be involved and make it happen. He brought me to Rusty [Brook’s] wrestling school [in Hollywood], where I started meeting the boys. [Benny] was friendly with Marco, and Marco was really the first guy on the roster, after Benny. Marco totally got what we were going for, and the rest is history.”
Ben Temples, Broder and Salvino are running it these days. The show has evolved since 2009 including FSCW trading cards, but the premise remains.
• A 20-Year Mindbender
Veteran indie grappler Flex Magnum is an integral part of the Cobra entourage. He’s wrestled hundreds of indie shows in Florida during his 20-year career, but nothing compares to wrestling as Cobra’s Dr. Mindbender against Florida legend The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan during the Florida Supercon in July at the Miami Airport Convention Center. During the show, Flex was also involved in a spot with WWE Hall of Famer G.I. Joe Sgt. Slaughter.
If an indie wrestling show draws a couple of hundred people, that’s adequate. FSCW at Florida Supercon in July attracted thousands.
The number watching -- coupled with Sullivan, Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan -- made it a special night for Magnum as well as others who indie wrestle.
Check out some of FSCW trading cards
• Cosplay goes to the dogs
Lil Kara Adelyne and her mom, Tracey, created a way to combine Kara's love for dogs and cosplay into one. Kara dressed as Joker's girlfriend Harley Quinn to help promote dog rescue (www.OneByOneDogRescue.com) during the Florida Super Championship Wrestling show at Animate! Miami at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
Kara, who is 5-years-old, also cosplay as Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl among others. She was not happy Joker lost his wrestling match during the FSCW show at Animate! Miami. Who’s booking this?
Kara (via mom) has her own website (www.MiniHarleyQuinn.com) where she promotes the dog rescue program through cosplay and attends events like Animate! Miami where they distribute her cosplay cards for the cause.
YouTube video interview with Mini Harley Quinn and Tracey
Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)