Earlier this year, when the Mountain Goats were getting ready to release their great wrestling-themed album Beat The Champ, I took frontman John Darnielle to his first pro wrestling show in 35 years. He didn’t want me to put any details in the story, but he was getting ready to get his hair cut into a mullet the next day so he could make a video for first single “The Legend Of Chavo Guerrero.” Well, the mullet is great, but it’s maybe the 12th most awesome thing in the video. For the clip, director Scott Jacobson has made everything look like a grainy old wrestling broadcast, and the video’s cast lip-syncs Darnielle’s lyrics. That cast includes comedy figures like Rob Corddry and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster, as well as indie wrestlers like Joey Ryan and Ray Rosas. Darnielle gets to riff on CM Punk’s famous pipe bomb promo, and he also sells some punches from Ryan. And the video also features Chavo Guerrero, Sr., the subject of the song and Darnielle’s childhood hero. Guerrero is 66 and still spry enough to throw a bodyslam. This video absolutely rules, and you can watch it and read some words from Darnielle below.
I consider myself pretty decent with words, but I don’t think I can find the right ones to say what a profound experience it was to hear Chavo say “any time, brother” over the phone from his home in Arizona, and to meet up with him in L.A. and get stories from him about his dad Gory and about the old days at the Olympic, and to finally shoot this video, in which he rescues me from a certain beatdown even though my character’s playing the heel. I don’t wanna stand between you all and and Scott Jacobson’s awesome video much longer, but before you go check it out, please join me in raising a glass to Chavo Guerrero: champion not only in name but in his word and deed, and now a friend. The video features Chavo and me and Rob Corddry and Jon Wurster and Peter Hughes and was the most fun thing to make, as you’ll see, and not telling you all that I had actually met and worked with Chavo Guerrero has been total torture for the past month-plus, so please: enjoy!
Beat The Champ is out now on Merge, and it’s awesome.