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Highest Art: The Life-Altering Virtuosity of Facade

The independent wrestling scene is replete with enough spring-loaded daredevils, Evel Knievels in a Snake River ring, that the idea of grappling trapeze becomes less cutting edge. It gets to the point where John Q. Hairgel, packaged in bland trunks or boot-cut ‘indy pants’, is flavorless outside one or two feats of agile wonder. Beyond that, the one-trick pony blends in with the scenery, a Sphinx moth in the wrestling wilderness.

No one would accuse eight-year veteran Facade of being an absent-minded template. Imaginative nicknames like “The Neon Ninja” and “The Aerial Arsonist” indicate an assault of not only fists and feet, but of hues and shades. His style, both physical and expressed, is not merely a means to an end, but rather surrealist presentation, an eastern-shored Morris Graves, invoking mysticism in a very physical artform.

At first glance, Facade goes to great lengths in defining his image. Colorful bandit-masking and ziti-thin blonde dreadlocks combine to frame the locked eyes of a determined adversary. Add a karate gi and baggy, boot-tucked pants, and Facade is a Mortal Kombat fighter come to life, minus the capacity to rip out the still-beating heart of his unfortunate foe.

“When I first started, I was known as “The Bomber” Michael Facade, wearing all black with Ninja Tabi boots, and I barely talked,” remembers Facade of his early days in the business. “The next stage in evolution, the “Suburban Terrorist”, was more into hardcore wrestling, and I updated the image a little, adding a little bit of color and camouflage. What you see before you today, the “Neon Ninja” now known as just FACADE, is bright, vibrant, colorful, and not afraid to speak his mind, a stark contrast from the early days.”

Facade’s literal expression comes from spray-painting on fan signs of encouragement, making him a Sub-Zero/Banksy hybrid. However, his tagging and actual speech are merely faint buzzing compared to his work between, and above, the ropes.

A prism of color in blurring motion, Facade continues on the trails of spectacular disaster in the whirling traditions of Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, and AJ Styles. Each of those names blends typical wrestling, however much does vary, with eye-popping innovation. Facade’s popped more eyes than any combination of the Three Stooges, with YouTube confirming any tall tale that bears his label.

A quick keyword search of ‘Facade wrestler’ on the video site brings up a trove of his matches, as well as handfuls of videos featuring one particular move. How does a top-rope Northern Lights suplex strike you? Or a 450-degree double clothesline on two opponents?

How about this coup de grandeur: with the opponent leaning forward, he steps over his shoulder, then hooks his wrist and head (similar to a cobra clutch without the cross-hold), and then backflips, javelining the opponent’s head into the canvas.

An absolute ‘get’ for Cirque de Soleil’s Masochist division, Facade’s matches feature more springboards than it does eye blinks, but damned if you can look away from his works of art, his blood and sweat as his acrylics and oils.

“There’s definitely more than meets the eye,” says Facade of his offense. “Facade, by definition, is a persona; a wall or front. Everyone has their own walls or persona they put on, everyone has their own facade. Much like graffiti, professional wrestling is about showing off, creating art, and my arsenal of moves are my palette. I feel like attention to detail is important and that is very lost in the storytelling of today.”

The art of wrestling where wrestling is art? In a world where art is subjective, not every stroke of the brush or turn of the nozzle is understood. Such is Facade’s unorthodox style, an expressionist rant punctuated with the plummet of an opponent.

If Facade’s wrestling is a self-articulating statement, each image on the figurative canvas a carefully-selected stroke, then his brawl with Sabu at Extreme Rising’s “Unfinished Business” on December 28 was less a mirror match than people realize. Although both cut through the air with a self-disregard rarely seen outside of the suicide-inclined, there lay a subtle difference.

For Sabu, the blemished skin and aching bones are scars of war, worn with near unfathomable pride. Each was earned not in a statement of self-emphasis, but as much a Machiavellian ‘ends justify the means’. He’ll hurt himself to hurt the opponent more. If Sabu were any sort of artist, he’d be the unconsciously abstract.

“Wrestling Sabu is always a crazy experience, and this time at the ECW Arena was the most intense of all,” Facade related. “Going into it, I knew I wasn’t going to get the crowd reaction I normally get because it *is* his house. To start it off, as soon as the match started, he put me in a headlock and my contact fell out! I found it and held it in my mouth and then put it back in my eye!”

Temporary blurriness was the least of Facade’s concerns. The match ended up a throwback to Sabu’s chaotic displays of yore, with nary a mistake in spite of the stunts performed. For Facade, he ended up a character actor in an avant-garde ECW production, taking Sabu’s trademark abuse (steel chairs, a wooden shank to the scalp that drew blood) as many before him have. Facade kicked out of one Arabian Facebuster, a sign of the faith held in him, but not the second. After the carnage ceased, Sabu raised the youngster’s hand, in essence ushering him onto his rarefied platform.

Facade is far from done filling the Extreme Rising gallery with original works. For him, a man under a literal facade, it’s the reconciliation of a dream.

“I would like to leave a mark on everyone, earning and keeping the fans respect,” he says in full yearn. “I want to be remembered as someone who started out as a kid going to ECW shows in the Pittsburgh area, and was inspired by all the crazy things I had seen. My style is a direct embodiment of that.”

Inspired by the work of others, absolutely. But one look at Facade’s body of work would lead no one to dare call him a copycat.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Justin Henry

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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