After months of legal wrangling, diva-like demands and outright chaos, the long-awaited KFAN Battle Royal took place Sunday afternoon in front of an incapacitated crowd at US Bank Stadium.
The event, which was prompted by a question posed to The Common Man Dan Cole by his interim producer Brandon Mileski during the '5 Questions' segment of Cole's midday progrum, was nearly cancelled multiple times due to contractual, personality & logistical issues.
Originally planned as a charity event, tepid ticket sales prompted event-organizer 'LIl B' to offer free tickets to callers, e-mailers, tweeters, the homeless, vagrants and, eventually, to people simply walking down the street. In a last-ditch effort to fill the 70,000 seat stadium, interns were instructed to smash the windshields of nearby parked cars and leave tickets on their dashboards.
Nearly all KFAN on-air talent initially declined to participate in the event, dismissing it as a publicity stunt to prop up sagging ratings, but a year of heckling, goading, belittling, prodding, browbeating, trash-talking and overall morale-draining by Cole toward his coworkers created a workplace environment so toxic that the once-reluctant personalities were now seemingly eager to inflict physical pain upon one another.
While the event was scheduled for 4pm, doors opened to the public at Noon, in hopes that concession sales would offset financial losses caused by low ticket sales. By 2pm, the attendees were clearly intoxicated and when ring announcer Mark Rosen entered the ring at 4pm, the crowd had taken on the aspect of a drunken mob.
The raucous crowd and lack of security clearly unnerved Mr. Rosen, whose fake knees began to tremble as he announced each participant, one-by-one.
The first name called was afternoon drive host Dan Barreiro, who days earlier threatened to pull out of the event if a canopy wasn't erected outside US Bank Stadium to block the afternoon sunshine from entering the building. Barreiro, also known as HI-FI, strode to the ring wearing an ensemble consisting of Bermuda shorts and a black mock turtleneck as 'Let's Get It On' by Marvin Gaye echoed throughout the stadium.
Perhaps paying homage to his childhood hero Andre The Giant, Barreiro stunned onlookers with his athleticism and flexibility by deftly jumping onto the ring apron, then stepping over the top rope and into the ring. He then did a backflip, nailed the landing, and menacingly shook his fist at the crowd.
While Barreiro calmly stood in the corner with his arms folded, Rosen announced the next combatant and Meatsauce emerged from the tunnel as 'Crash Into Me' by the Dave Matthews Band emanated from the sound system. Wearing what he would later describe as a very rare, very exclusive and very expensive pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes, very expensive Lululemon shorts, a very expensive Luluemon t-shirt and an old, worn-out Hartford Whalers baseball cap, Meatsauce walked quickly to the ring, his gait resembling that of a Sasquatch.in a hurry.
Although he made it to the ring apron without difficulty, getting into the ring seemed to confuse Meatsauce, who, perhaps mistaking the shiny red ropes for giant pieces of licorice, attemped to chew his way through the ropes and into the ring. Noticing this from across the ring, Barreiro, the consummate Southern Gentleman, walked over, sat on the middle rope, then lifted up the top rope, thereby creating an opening for Meatsauce to log roll into the ring.
Rosen shook his head in utter bemusement and called out another name. Seconds later, the smooth sounds of Bill Withers filled the arena as Paul Allen emerged from the tunnel, wearing a Hickey Freeman suit, Helga Horns and purple face-paint. As he slowly, deliberately walked to the ring, head bobbing to the music, he playfully tickled the sides of spectators with seats facing the walkway leading to the ring. When some of those being tickled began to get agitated, Allen hurried to the ring, waved to the crowd, and stepped inside.
Rosen then announced another name: The Common Man Dan Cole. Women in the crowd craned their necks toward the tunnel, hoping to get an early glimpse of the Radio Romeo as a song by Eric Burden & the Animals filled the arena, but Cole never emerged. Rosen again called his name, the stadium spotlight focused on the smoke-filled doorway, but there was still no sign of Cole. The crowd began to get restless, if not concerned. Suddenly, there was chatter about the building, the crowd began to gasp and point toward movement in the stadium's rafters. Then, as the crowd pointed and the women swooned, Cole, wearing a pink fairy costume connected to an intricate network of cables and wires began to descend from the stadium ceiling. Barreiro, Meatsauce, and Paul Allen stared at Cole, who was smiling and enjoying the attention, as he landed gently, gracefully even, in the middle of the ring. It was an impressive entrance, considering that Cole arrived to the arena 3 minutes before the event was slated to begin. After disconnecting himself from the apparatus attached to his fairy costume, Cole pointed to Barreiro, Meatsauce and Allen, said 'loser, loser, loser', then pointed to himself and said 'winner.'
While the women screamed, fainted and exposed their breasts in reaction to Cole's entrance, Rosen called out another name and Brandon 'Tenna B' Mileski strutted to the ring to a 1990s Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony song. He was adorned in a robe fashioned out of a yellow plastic tarp, covered in random numbers. His hardscrabble upbringing in Maple Grove seemed to be the impetus behind the Gangsta Rap walk-out song and indignant attitude. As he made his way to the ring, drunken spectators, seemingly aware of his aversion to all varieties of lettuce, began to pelt him with heads of Romaine, Butterhead and Iceberg letttuce. By the time he slid in a panic under the bottom rope and into the ring, Mileski was covered in shredded lettuce and looked as though someone had dumped a 50lb bag of Spring Mix on top of him.
Wondering where it all went wrong, Rosen then called Eric 'Nordo' Nordquist's name. Instead of entering the arena from the locker room, he was sitting in the 5th row, where he'd spent the prior 3 hours, drinking with the assembled crowd. After slamming his beer and those of fans to his immediate left and right, Nordquist unsteadily rose to his feet, removed his shirt, and staggered bare-chested into the ring.
Nearly fed up, Rosen barked out Justin Gaard's name, but was quickly informed by Dan Barreiro that Gaard was on a brewery tour in Omaha and would not be participating in the match.
Rosen then introduced the event's final two participants, Chris Hawkey and Cory Cove. The morning show duo walked to the ring hand-in-hand, Hawkey dressed in torn jeans, cowboy boots and a tight t-shirt, while Cove donned an all-black outfit, like a cross between a ninja and a morose, Gothic teenager. When he entered the ring, Hawkey attempted to wrest the microphone from Rosen's hands to perform an impromptu, country-infused version of the Star Spangled Banner, but had his hand slapped away by Rosen, who seemed eager to exit the ring.
With all of the participants gathered in the ring, referee Gregg Swedberg signaled to Chad Abbott, seated ringside and dressed as Darth Vader, to ring the bell. And the melee was on.
The first person eliminated was Cory Cove. The Maestro, as he's known, was on all-fours kneeling near the ring apron, inspecting the canvas for potential copyright information. Were there none, Cove planned to turn the Battle Royal concept into a board game, make millions, and retire from radio, so he'd have more time to watch television. Seizing on his prone opponent, Meatsauce scurried across the ring like a rabid animal and kicked Cove in the rear end, knocking him through the ropes and onto to the floor outside the ring.
As Meatsauce leaned on the ropes taunting Cove by telling him he'd lasted longer in the Battle Royal than he did in competitive poker tournaments, Hawkey approached him from behind, grabbed him by his Air Jordan's. and flung him over the ropes and onto the floor where he landed with a considerable thud.
Feeling invincible, Hawkey then popped what appeared to be a blue piece of candy into his mouth and began to chew wildly, his teeth looking as though he'd eaten a pint of blueberries. He then set his sights on Dan Barreiro, who was still relaxing in the corner of the ring, taking it all in. As Hawkey approached what he thought to be his next victim, Barreiro reached into the pocket of his Bermuda shorts, pulled out a piece of perfectly sliced deli meat ,slapped Hawkey across the face with it and yelled 'Not gonna work!'
As Hawkey, stumbled around the ring, blinded by the sodium in the cured ham, Paul Allen walked up to Hawkey and mercilessly tickled his sides until he could no longer take it and voluntarily rolled out of the ring, eliminating himself.
With Nordquist passed out on the canvas, The Common Man and Mileski, who are used to working together, took the opportunity to simply roll the inebriated producer under the bottom rope and onto the floor as the crowd erupted in laughter. Delighted, Mileski looked at Cole and said, 'Hey, great job!' Then, in the blink of an eye, Cole turned heel and turned on his producer. As soon as Mileski turned his back, Cole climbed to the top rope, balanced on the top turnbuckle then flew through the air like a member of the Wallenda family, before his feet landed squarely in his producer's chest, sending Mileski flying over the top rope and into a motionless, lettuce-covered heap on the floor.
And then there were three. Using a technique he perfected while playing pick-up basketball, Paul Allen spent the majority of the match conserving energy while his opponents tired themselves out. on the opposite side of the ring. While Cole glanced at Barreiro and Barreiro glanced at Cole, Allen was distracted by what he thought to be a member of the Minnesota Vikings in the audience. Overcome with giddiness and excitement, Allen stood on the middle rope and and invited the confused man over for dinner and a movie. Seizing on Allen's aloofness, Cole and Barreiro nodded at one another in unison then both charged at Allen. When they were about four feet away from their target, Cole and Barreiro left their feet and, milliseconds later, landed a double-dropkick into the back of Allen's head, the force of the blow nearly separated his eyebrow from his forehead and catapulted him into the 4th row, where he landed face first and out cold.
Cole and Barreiro both rose to their feet and deliberately circled the ring, staring at one another, cautiously sizing each other up. While they were circling, a bushy-haired man in the rafters wearing a scuba suit and giggling uncontrollably began to slowly lower a cable toward the ring. Cole had one eye on Barreiro and one eye on the descending cable. Cole then winked at Barreiro who in return began to drag his foot across the canvas, like a bull about to charge. As Barreiro lowered his head, preparing to attack, Cole grabbed the cable dangling from the ceiling and attached it to his fairy costume. When Barreiro charged, the man in the rafters, later identified as Monday Night Football Guy, lifted Cole out of harm's way. Enraged, Barreiro began to leap into the air and paw at the dangling Cole, like a kitten attempting to snatch a particularly annoying piece of yarn out of the sky.
The scene played out for 15 minutes. Cole, the maniacal Marionette, was smiling and laughing as Barreiro attempted, with no success, to swat him out of the air. Meanwhile, the attendees had grown bored and headed for the exits. Knowing Cole would never quit until he vanquished his opponent, referee Gregg Swedberg devised a plan to end the match. At 11:30pm, he lied to Barreiro and told him the Apple Valley-Duluth East High School boys hockey game was in its 8th overtime and that if he left right then, he might be able to catch the finish. Intrigued, Barreiro acquiesced, shook his head at Cole and stepped out of the ring. When Barreiro's feet hit the arena floor, Monday Night Football Guy lowered Cole into the ring and Swedberg immediately raised Cole's hand and declared him the victor.
A beaming Cole then left the ring, changed out of his fairy costume and into his Racecar sweater. Later, when trying to remember where he parked, he remembered that he'd left Monday Night Football Guy in the rafters, but also remembered that he had a tee time in the morning and that he had better get some rest. With that, Cole jumped into his 1994 plum-colored Cadillac, aimed it toward Woodbury and drove it home like