Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – left: Anna Rexikova being attacked on the operating table. Right: Sailor Boy performing a flip throw on Pirate boy.
All photos: Tim Bruening

Wild Photos of an Absurdist Wrestling Show

"Two of my cameras didn't survive the event because I kept being showered in beer, fake blood, goo, and fake MDMA."

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.

In July, photographer Tim Bruening attended Rock & Wrestling, an epic amateur wrestling show that’s been held annually in the St. Pauli neighbourhood of the German city of Hamburg for the past 20 years.


Every year, local wrestlers face off in a series of matches to the sound of some good old-fashioned rock’n’roll. The fighters meet up in advance to get ready for the event. Most have known each other for a long time, and their fans keep coming back, too – think of it as a real community affair.

We caught up with Bruening to learn more about the absurd stuff he saw at this two-day event.

VICE: Hey Tim. Why would people want do this?
Tim Bruening:
For fun. I think it brings the fighters a lot of joy to come up with their characters and develop a background story. The costumes alone can be very elaborate.

The group also trains together before the shows. They choreograph everything, think up stories for the fights. They even elaborate how the characters relate to each other – are they friends or foes?

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – shirtless man wearing yellow shorts and sunglasses, screaming while holding the ring's ropes


Which costume was the best?
I can't answer that question – it's too hard. I will definitely never forget the giant “Loony Lobster” or Bento the Robot.

Which match did you think was the most spectacular?
Anna Rexikova against Dottore Umberto Gucci was unbelievable. They had a killer choreography: Dr Umberto Gucci, an Italian plastic surgeon, performed a surgery on Anna Rexikova to suck out her fat, which he planned to inject into her breasts. But that didn't go as planned. Her boobs exploded and everyone was splattered with goo. 


Anna Rexikova screamed in pain, then they played a metal song with strobe lights, and suddenly she stabbed the doctor with a scalpel. He fought back, but eventually, she managed to throw him onto the operating table, breaking it. She won the fight. That was very impressive and brutal.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – someone in a red and orange lobster costume stending inside of the ring as the crowd cheers on

Loony Lobster's costume was quite impractical in terms of hand to hand fighting.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – woman lying down on an operating table with a white, milk-like substance splattering everywhere on top of her

The surgery didn't go well – Anna Rexikova's boobs exploded.

Did anyone win in the end?
Yes. Some cards were handed out to the audience with a list of all the fighters, but they could also vote for the referee or for the singer of the “wrestling anthem” – yes, the show has its own anthem. In the end, Irene the Siren and the Flute Kid won.

What was your biggest challenge in photographing the show?
It was difficult to protect my cameras. Two of them didn't survive the event because I kept being showered in beer, fake blood, goo, and fake MDMA.

Hold on, fake MDMA?
Flute Kid got quite beaten up during their fight. But then, they busted out a fire extinguisher filled with “MDMA” – flour and paint, I hope – which they sprayed on their opponents. All of a sudden, their enemies got very into each other and didn't want to fight any more. Flute Kid won the fight.

Scroll down to see more photos:

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – woman painted in light blue with a shiny, fin-shaped headpiece, lime green eyelashes and blue fishnet gloves, wearing a black an white onesie with writings on it and showing off her trophy and belt in front of the dj set

Irene the Siren gloating after her win.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – person in a purple ski suit and grey jumper spraying a group of men that locked in a sweaty embrace inside the ring as the crowd cheers on.

Flute Kid's victorious move.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – Woman wearing a pink crop top, mermaid leggins and orange sneakers, holding a trident on fire and getting ready to jump from the corner of the ring

Atomic Bomb getting ready to fight.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – Man in a blue nautical onesie being latched on across his shoulders by woman in a punk crop top and mermaid leggins

Atomic Bomb's attack leaves Sailor Boy speechless.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – Woman performing a bridge on top of man in a nautical onesie, and pinning his arms above his head

Saylor Boy's tooth got accidentally knocked loose during this scene.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – woman painted in light blue wearing a silver gown, blue fishnet gloves, goggles, a shiny teal hair piece and a beach floaty around her belly

Irene the Siren's fighting outfit.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – blond woman strapped to a table as an arm makes an incision on her body.

Anna Rexikova on the operating table.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – blond woman wearing tattered clothes with a T painted in white on her face and fake blood splattered all over her, wielding fake intestines over her head inside the ring as the crowd cheers on

Anna Rexikova wielding Dr Umberto Gucci's bowels

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – man in a blue onesie with an anker on it performing a brainbuster drop on a tattooed man wearing black jean shorts

Sailor Boy and Pirate Boy flying through the air.

Rock & Wrestling, Hamburg – fighter in a bright green costume with silver accents kicking another fighter wearing a robot costume

Robot Bento and Comrad Nuclear Meltdown kicking each other's asses.