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The Midwest BrewHaHa is a Roller Derby tournament hosted annually by Milwaukee's Brewcity Bruisers. Brewcity is an WFTDA member womens' flat track league. 2013 was their fourth year in hosting this event, which was held from Friday May 31, 2013 to Sunday June 2, 2013 in the U.S. Cellular Area.

"The Cell" has a floor plan just wide enough for two regulation tracks to be taped out onto the floor. Long time residents will remember this venue as the Milwaukee Arena which was the original home of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. The venerable arena’s excellent seats with ample cushioning and high, deeply-contoured laminate wood backs were supurb for many hours of Roller Derby action.

My wife and I arrived around 1PM from Chicago and after checking into the Hyatt across the street, purchased a four pairs of $30 day passes for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to see the featured Brewcity bouts were only $17. I attempted to entice fellow noder jessicaj to take advantage of these tickets. Alas, she had softball to attend to and apparently so did the rest of south-eastern Wisconsin by the look of the crowd: over 95% of the attendees had obvious affiliation with the sport in one way or another. With Roller Derby nearing the ten year mark in its current configuration, it is still very much "the scene which supports itself," as an associate of mine put it. "The Cell" has about 10,000 seats and I would estimate that, at any given time, perhaps 8-15 percent of the seats were occupied.

There were thirty-four scheduled bouts scheduled for BrewHaHa, eight on Friday and thirteen on Saturday and Sunday apiece. Many of the bouts were "sanctioned" play between WFTDA member leagues. "Sanctioned" play refers to a bout which will affect the standings in the WFTDA power rankings. This may be a bit like how the BCS determines the rankings in collegiate sports. The results of the sanctioned play were as follows with 2013 power rankings as of April 30th in parenthesis.

    FRIDAY
  • (69)Old Capitol City Roller Girls 222 (93)North Star Roller Girls 142
  • (13)Arch Rival 441 (59)Pikes Peak Derby Dames 95
  • (27)Dairyland Dolls 266 (44) DC Rollergirls 121
  • (36)Brewcity Bruisers 235 (68)NEO Rock N' Roller Girls 202
    SATURDAY
  • (64) Paper Valley Roller Girls 154 (68)NEO Rock N' Roller Girls 186
  • (34)Cincinnati Rollergirls 331 (55)Arizona Roller Derby 127
  • (27)Dairyland Dolls 364 (69) Old Capitol City Roller Girls 137
  • (9)Windy City Rollers 244 (16)Detroit Derby Girls 123
  • (20)Ohio Roller Girls 387 (59)Pikes Peak Derby Dames 64
  • (36)Brewcity Bruisers 184 (44)DC Roller Girls 242
  • (53)Grand Raggity Roller Girls 230 (64)Paper Valley Roller Girls 199
  • (74)Suburbia Roller Derby 268 (117)Babe City Rollers 184
  • (1)Gotham Girls Roller Derby 330 (10)Minnesota RollerGirls 100
    SUNDAY
  • (53)Grand Raggidy Roller Girls 381 (117)Babe City Rollers 77
  • (34)Cincinnati Roller Girls 250 (53)Grand Raggidy Roller Girls 187
  • (13)Arch Rival Roller Girls 216 (16)Detroit Derby Girls 131
  • (10)Minnesota RollerGirls 340 (20)Ohio Roller Girls 102
  • (36)Brew City Bruisers 246 (55)Arizona Roller Derby 284
  • (74)Suburbia Roller Derby 257 (93)North Star Roller Girls 145
  • (1)Gotham Girls Roller Derby 349 (9)Windy City Rollers 76
The highlight of the tournament, in my opinion, was the feature Saturday matchup of Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-stars versus Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars. The very presence of New York's Gotham in the Midwest was an event in itself. The three time WFTDA champions have been undefeated, coming into 2013 BrewHaHa, since loosing in the finals of the 2010 Championship tournament. Their Suzy Hotrod is one of the sport's premier ambassadors and their Bonnie Thunders is such a dominating a jammer that ESPN called LeBron James "the Bonnie Thunders of the NBA."

Gotham's victory over Minnesota seemed like a blowout on paper, but if Bonnie Thunders were to be taken out of the equation, the score may have been much closer. Minnesota's blockers used excellent strength and teamwork to repeatedly shut down Gotham's secondary jammer threats in Suzy Hotrod and Slambda Phage. Minnesota had very strong jammers themselves but they were often frustrated by Gotham's own elite blockers. Nearing the end of the second 30-minute period, Minnesota jammer L'exi-cuter erupted into an emotional meltdown while failing to breach Gotham's walls, screaming and battering Gotham's unyielding backs and finding no mercy from their counter-blocking until the two-minute whistle.

In the end, the winner of this blocker's duel was the impossibly nimble Bonnie Thunders, whose ability silenced the shirtless and blue-painted Minnesota boosters in the stands and the mostly pro-Minnesota crowd. To add insult to injury, the announcers often seemed oblivious to anything besides Bonnie Thunders. They behaved as if there was no better place in the world to have their tongues up Bonnie's ass, oblivious to the crushing effect that her large share of the 330-100 deferential had on the crowd.

Gotham returned for the final bout of the tournament on Sunday night to skate against the ninth-best ranked Windy City Rollers from my hometown. Unfortunately, Windy City found themselves in the box too often. By my count of the penalty whiteboard, they amassed 43 penalties. In my opinion, the officiating was too aggressive and uneven, to the point where I believe it affected game play. Despite this, WCR did not seem to bring their A-game that night. The co-announcer of the bout, Rev. Norb, proclaimed at halftime they had given up five power jams, (when ones jammer is in the penalty box), which accounted for 109 points of Gotham's 189-27 lead at the halftime. With perennial WCR star Jackie Daniels sidelined with her ankle in a cast, Windy City suffered a lackluster loss, 349-76.

More unfortunate still for the home crowd, the Brewcity Bruisers All-Stars suffered two of the tournament's three upsets. The 36th ranked Bruisers seemed unable to keep themselves out of the penalty box in their 242-184 loss to the 44th ranked DC Rollergirls on Saturday. The same penalty trouble hurt the Bruisers in their Sunday bout against the 55th ranked Arizona Roller Girls' Tent City Terrorz. In a back-and-forth contest, the Bruisers finished on the bottom, 284-246.


LINKS!
Midwest BrewHaHa homepage
Womens Flat Track Derby Association homepage

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