What was that? Was that a trainwreck? Or was it a mashup that pretty much perfectly represented what we all are, and also what we need, in terms of entertainment? Because the vibe was one of hyper-irreverence, and the tone was often profane, but also edgy-jubilant. That was an appropriate blend for a partitioned world which is dealing with the carnage of a pandemic in tiers, with some places knee-deep in the shitstorm and others transitioning capably into the new phase of life.
I didn't adore all of it, but it's a day later, and I'm still thinking about what I saw and heard Saturday night, on the Triller Fight Club pay per view event, which, it turns out, wasn't merely a “boxing PPV” but was instead warped Woodstock well suited for these trippy times.
Emcee Pete Davidson, the 27 year old Staten Island, NY comic who is a featured player on Saturday Night Live, a couple times referred to the trippiness of the affair, which went on for about a half hour before we saw any boxing. Like being on LSD, he mumbled at one point, before admitting, for real or not, that he was in fact at that time on LSD. And if you came in with a certain POV, in a head space that was welcoming, then you didn't have a brown acid trip, and you enjoyed the hijinks for what they were. And if you weren't expecting a flurry of eff bombs in your face, and weren't grooving on performances by the Black Keys, Doja Cat, Saweetie, Major Lazer, Snoop Dogg or Snoop Dogg's super group, Mt. Westmore, with Ice Cube, Too $hort and E-40, maybe you turned it off, or watched till the end, when Jake Paul's right hand lobotomized Ben Askren long enough for the ref to call for a stoppage, at 1:59 of the first round, and vowed, “Never again.”
Ryan Kavanaugh is the main driver of the Triller Fight Club vision, and I think it's fair to say he's OK with both.
If this ain't for you, there is plenty of stuff out there made for your tastes. But the almost four hour festival, held indoors at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, resembled, arguably, what Lorne Michaels was wanting to do at NBC in 1975, with Saturday Night Live.
Think I'm going too far out on a limb? OK, but hear me out…. because there is heavy overlap between how Michaels was thinking in the latter portion of the middle 1970s, and Kavanaugh's recipe which he has been cooking up in the last few years, and refining in the last six months.
The first SNL got plopped into laps on Oct. 11, 1975, with George Carlin hosting, and with a cold open that had John Belushi succumbing to a mock heart attack, and Chevy Chase shouting “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” to a few million people who had no idea what was to come, or what drugs these people were on.
I happen to think Davidson is a natural born comedian more than Chase is, so I was laughing aloud a few times as he ricocheted around the arena, poking his stick with a hypnotic congeniality at the headliner Paul, purists and conventional minded fight fans.
You had to time your bathroom breaks just right not because you might miss a quickie KO off a mismatch bumfight scrap, but because Oscar De La Hoya might show up in a most merry mood, and butcher Steve Cunningham's nickname without a care. Because you might have missed the cringey tomfoolery of reefer smoke being blown at Al Bernstein, who worked the fight call with Ray Flores, Mario Lopez, Snoop and Crimefaces.
I screamed “Oh shit” when that right hand from Jake Paul Tasered Askren and I went back and re-wound some of the skits on Sunday, to hear again some of Davidson's top lines.
Bottom line, judging by the fact that the program snagged 1.45+ million PPV buys, and clogged up Top 20 trend-lists, on Twitter and other social media platforms, this all isn't going anywhere. You might think too many barriers were broken in the taste and decency departments, but I dig eff bombs, and I'm buying in, harder.
Here is the release which went out, from Jerry Milani/Triller PR, synopsizing a G rating sumup of the scraps.
ATLANTA, April 17, 2021 – Internet sensation Jake Paul proved he has some boxing chops as well, scoring a first round TKO over former Bellator and OneFC Championship champion Ben Askren tonight at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The thrilling finish completed a standout night of boxing and entertainment that saw several outstanding matchups as well as world-class musical acts performing for a live Pay Per View audience worldwide.
Paul landed a straight right hand that felled Askren midway through the first round. Though Askren got back on his feet, the referee called the fight at 1:59. “The PRBLM Child” runs his record to 3-0, all victories by knockout.
Other winners in the featured undercard bouts included Regis Prograis of New Orleans (26-1, 21 KOs), who won a technical decision against Ivan Redkach (Shostka, Ukraine); Steve Cunningham of Philadelphia, who toppled MMA champion Frank Mir of Las Vegas by unanimous decision; and Joe Fournier of London (now 9-0 with nine KOs), who stopped music sensation “Reykon” (Andres Felipe Robledo Lodono) with a third-round TKO.
Earlier in the evening, two other undercard bouts went the distance, with unanimous decisions going to Brooklyn’s Junior Younan (15-0-1, 10 KOs) over Jeyson Minda of Quito, Ecuador; and Quinton Randall, Houston (8-0, 2 KOs) against William Jackson of Cincinnati.
The evening included performances by Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Doja Cat, Saweetie, Diplo, Major Lazer, and the exclusive world premiere of the hip hop supergroup Mt. Westmore (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Too $hort and E-40) performing for their first time ever together. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bert Marcus will lead and direct the creative storytelling for the Triller Fight Club event.
In addition to being a co-owner, Snoop also provides strategic counsel to Triller Fight Club, helping to select fighters and musical acts for the show-stopping events.
An entertainment expert who has successfully maneuvered through a range of projects in a variety of different fields, Snoop secured his spot as a fan favorite during Triller's first sporting event, Tyson vs. Jones.
Triller Fight Club, April 17, 2021
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Jake Paul, Cleveland (3-0, 3 KOs) def. Ben Askren, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (0-1/boxing, 19-2-0, 6 Kos/MMA), cruiserweight, TKO, 1st round 1:59
Regis Prograis, New Orleans (26-1, 21 KOs) def. Ivan Redkach, Shostka, Ukraine (23-6, 18 KOs), super lightweight, technical decision
Steve Cunningham, Philadelphia (30-9-1, 13 KOs), def. Frank Mir, Las Vegas (0-1 boxing, 18-11-0, 14KOs/MMA), heavyweight, unanimous decision
Joe Fournier, London (9-0, 9 KOs), def. Andres Felipe Robledo Lodono (“Reykon”), Envigado, Colombia (0-1), light heavyweight, TKO, 3rd
Junior Younan, Brooklyn (16-0-1, 10 KOs), def. Jeyson Minda, Quito, Ecuador (14-5-1, 8 KOs), super middleweight, unanimous decision
Quinton Randall, Houston (8-0, 2 KOs) def. William Jackson, Cincinnati (13-3-2, 2 KOs), welterweight, unanimous decision