Author's Note: I don't know much about wrestling, so I used a glossary online for the wrestling terms. I hope you'll forgive me if my descriptions are a little off. Hope you enjoy this piece of silliness!
Period Drama Cage Match
Welcome to live blog coverage of the August 2012 Period Drama Cage Match. Before the match begins, let's start with a little background on our competitors, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.
Lady Catherine, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, comes to us from Kent, where she lives with her daughter at Rosings Park. She is the favorite today and anonymous sources agree that she is "a nasty piece of work" and a formidable opponent in spite of a recent disgrace. Lady Catherine was only a few months ago bested in Hertfordshire by a hitherto unknown young woman, who has since married Lady Catherine's illustrious nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy. In spite of this setback at the hands of her future niece, however, our fearlessly arrogant favorite surely still has a few tricks left up her sleeve and cannot be counted out.
Challenging Lady Catherine is Lady Grantham, who hails from Yorkshire. Her home is the dower house at Downton, which is the seat of her son, Lord Grantham. Despite being a few years our favorite's senior, Lady Grantham is no pushover. She specializes in barbs, and is evidently always on hand when a bit of sarcasm is required. The Dowager Countess has until a few years ago been a largely unknown quantity in this field, but this blogger would bet a hundred quid that regardless of the result, Lady Catherine will by no means escape this encounter unscathed.
Well, lords, ladies and gentlemen, the match is about to begin, so we'll take you down to Centre Court at the All-England Club in Wimbledon, where a great crowd has gathered to watch the action. The combatants are preparing to enter the cage, which has been equipped with a system of high fidelity microphones that will allow the spectators to hear any remarks made by the two antagonists. And for all of you reading from your computer at home (or work), we'll do our best to relay as many of them as we can.
All is quiet as the two ladies enter the ring, Lady Catherine in gold satin and black lace, Lady Grantham in cream linen. Their ladies' maids assist them in and close the doors. The match begins.
The antagonists start to circle, sizing one another up. They are similar in size and bearing, both very elegant and - Oh, de Bourgh has made the first move with a Kesagiri chop! Grantham takes the hit, but stays on her feet, quickly turning and executing a back kick. De Bourgh stumbles back and falls on her bum. Grantham advances. She takes a running start and leaps, but de Bourgh rolls out of the way just in time to avoid the body press. Both are back on their feet in seconds.
"Were you attempting a Big Splash?" de Bourgh asks contemptuously, with a palm strike to Grantham. "Very shoddy work, Violet. You've had poor training. I suppose I shouldn't expect anything better from someone with such low connections."
"Low connections, you say?" Grantham backs away for a moment before unleashing a punishing battering ram on her opponent. Things are heating up! "I don't think you know much about me if that's what you believe."
De Bourgh is a bit dazed from the headbutt, but she is a woman on a mission and she takes a run and...she clotheslines Grantham! Ladies and gentlemen, this is a record-breaker in the Dowagers Division! Grantham is down on the mat and de Bourgh takes her moment to crow over her. "Oh, yes, I know all!" she barks. "It says a great deal that an attorney from Manchester addresses you as 'Cousin Violet' and even more that you allow it!"
De Bourgh has the upper hand. It is only a matter of her finishing the job. But she makes no move to pin her opponent's shoulders. Why does she delay? Will Grantham get to her feet? She's trying, but the fall has winded her a bit.
"And your granddaughters!" de Bourgh continues. "I've heard the stories - don't think I'm ignorant of them! The eldest hardly deserves to be called Lady Mary after she has - oof!"
Grantham strikes with a violent kick to de Bourgh's shins and jumps to her feet as though she were suddenly decades younger! It seems she may not have been winded at all, but just biding her time. The banter ceases now as Grantham unleashes a series of wicked moves on her adversary. A European uppercut! A bell clap! A 360 and a discus elbow smash! Somehow de Bourgh is still on her feet, but she won't be able to take much more of this. A crane kick from Grantham and de Bourgh is off balance; a bionic elbow finishes the job! Grantham wastes no time pinning de Bourgh to the mat. It's just a basic pin, but it's incredibly effective. The count begins. One...two...
And the dressing gong rings! What timing! What excitement! Grantham immediately releases her captive and stands up, attempting to right her rumpled clothing as she exits the cage. As she and her maid retire to the locker room, de Bourgh's maid enters the cage to help her mistress up from the mat. De Bourgh struggles to her feet, but refuses the maid's arm, leaving the cage on her own power, head held high, the servant following in her wake. The crowd is in an uproar.
Lords, ladies, and gentlemen, if you are new to Period Drama Cage Match competition, you may well be wondering what has just happened. Well, Lady Catherine de Bourgh has just benefited by good luck from the timing of the dressing gong, a special feature of this competition which I will now explain. As you might imagine, fine ladies like Lady Catherine and Lady Grantham prefer to present as unruffled an appearance to the world as possible. Under the circumstances of a match like this, the contestants get a bit disheveled, so the dressing gong is rung partway through the match and the ladies retire to their dressing rooms to change their clothing, have their hairstyles repaired, and take some light refreshments in preparation for the rest of the match.
This break gives me an excellent opportunity to interview the spectators. The Downton box is filled with the Dowager Countess's family members and some of their servants. The de Bourgh box is not so well-filled, and Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy are conspicuous in their absence. We attempted to speak to a Mrs. Jenkinson, companion to Lady Catherine's daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, but she was much too occupied trying to revive her charge. The poor young lady seemed quite overpowered by seeing her mother's altercation with Lady Grantham. A clergyman called William Collins was attempting, without much success, to aid Mrs. Jenkinson. We moved on to the Earl and Countess of Matlock, brother and sister-in-law to Lady Catherine. Lady Matlock seemed a bit disturbed by the spectacle. "I've never seen such a display," she said. "I suppose I should admire my sister-in-law's...determination, but don't you think this is all, well, rather vulgar?"
Moving on to the Downton box, we find a more enthusiastic audience. Lord Grantham, indeed, looks very grave, even a bit disconcerted, but he will say nothing against the match or the combatants. The rest of the family speaks in excited tones about the Dowager Countess's near victory. Of course, we naturally wish to speak to some of the people Lady Catherine spoke of - Lady Mary Crawley and the cousin from Manchester.
"Lady Catherine is a fierce opponent, but I think Granny has more nerve than anyone I've ever known," Lady Mary Crawley observes. "Even if she is defeated, she won't stay down for long. She'll be right back at Downton in a trice, crossing swords with Cousin Isobel."
The young man sitting beside her laughs. "You are right about that, Mary. Cousin Violet is a formidable adversary, inside the cage and out. And yes, before you ask, I am Matthew Crawley, the dreadful middle class cousin you've heard about just now."
Centre Court at Wimbledon boasts a capacity of 15,000, so obviously there are other spectators than those who are related to today's combatants. Let's venture into the stands and hear what some of the other observers have to say.
"I came all the way from Leeds for this and it was worth the trip!"
"My sister laid a bet in Vegas on Lady Catherine, but I don't feel confident she'll win this one. Seems it could go either way!"
"The best Dowagers match I've seen in years!"
Well, everyone, it appears we'll be getting underway again soon, as the rivals enter Centre Court again with their ladies' maids. The crowd quiets down as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Right Honourable Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, make their stately way to the cage once more.
Lady Catherine wears a bronze coat and an impressive matching bonnet trimmed with a great many feathers.
Lady Grantham is dressed, appropriately, in violet, with a matching hat topped with grapes.
As before, they are assisted into place by their maids, who then close the cage doors and retreat to wait until they are needed again.
As soon as the doors are closed, Lady Catherine takes the offensive with a lariat takedown. Grantham gets up immediately and launches a high knee. De Bourgh performs a flawless legsweep followed by a vicious armbar. Grantham kicks and knees de Bourgh until she is released, then completes a chickenwing on her opponent. Now a profusion of chops and holds on both sides, as the two warriors continue fighting for minutes on end without rising from the mat. We've seen only legal moves so far, but some spectators may be wondering if that will continue.
Oh, de Bourgh has scrambled away and gotten to her feet! Grantham does likewise and they circle one another, each trying to catch her breath. A hush comes over the crowd
as we all wait to see what happens next.
De Bourgh speaks first, to the surprise of no one present. "Don't think I am finished with you, Violet Crawley. The subject of your family's many disgraces is not closed. What of your successor, Cora, Lady Grantham, the American? Can there be much worse than an American daughter-in-law, an American countess?! Oh yes, there can! Your granddaughter Sybil, with her political ways and her-"
"Is that all you can talk about, you stupid woman? Since we are speaking of my family, I must tell you that you remind me of one of my late husband's relations. Until today I was quite sure that a nastier woman than my late sister-in-law never drew breath, but now I'm not certain."
"I will not be interrupted!"
"Oh, I think you will." And Grantham lifts de Bourgh over her head and - oh, good Lord! A gorilla press gutbuster! De Bourgh is on the mat again and appears to be incapacitated! Grantham is upon her adversary in a moment, holding her down and the count begins!
Wait! De Bourgh has pulled an enormous hatpin from her bonnet and stabbed Grantham between the ribs! Shrieks erupt from the Downton party, but Grantham doesn't move.
"You've miscalculated, Catherine, although your poison-tipped hat pin may be a first in this arena. You must know that no English person would ever dream of dying in someone else's house. What makes you think I would oblige you by dying in Wimbledon? In front of 15,000 people?"
The crowd goes mad, shouting and cheering. Pandemonium erupts in the two boxes. After a few more seconds, the Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, gets to her feet. She calmly pulls out the hatpin lodged between her ribs and without a backward glance walks out of the cage door held open by her waiting maid. Mrs. Isobel Crawley, who seems to have slipped through security, follows Lady Grantham and her maid into the locker room. I'm told she has some medical knowledge.
Well, I don't think there's much more to be said after that barnburner! Lords, ladies, and gentlemen, this is John Watson, signing off. Thank you for reading.
Post Script: This blogger apologizes most sincerely to both Lady Catherine and Lady Grantham for some instances of improper address. I am reminded by Debrett's that Lady Catherine, being the daughter of an earl and widow of a baronet, should be referred to as Lady Catherine or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but never Lady de Bourgh or just de Bourgh. Likewise, Lady Grantham may be properly named in several ways, but should never be called simply Grantham. This blogger assures the two distinguished ladies, as well as his readers, that he meant no disrespect, but was forced by the speed of the action to shorten the names of the competitors in order to keep up with the match.