Writer and illustrator Toby Morris finally answers a question that’s been keeping him up at night.
There are a lot of things wrong with this world, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s false claims of glory. Like wearing fake war medals, it’s delusional and disgraceful. Case in point: There are several businesses in New Zealand that claim the title of King – most notably Burger King, Liquor King, Storage King and Salmon King. You might be able to make a case that they’re kings of their respective realms (King of the burger world, king of the liquor scene etc) but I would say that sounds more like they should be mayors or chiefs. Heads of department maybe. There can only be one King. Or Queen while we’re at it – why are all these businesses that are trying to pass themselves off as rulers reaching straight for King while Queen is right there?
So how to resolve this impasse? Well, if we’re going to be medieval macho-fest about it we’ll have to settle it the old old old fashioned way. Today we’re going to pit these four self-described Kings against one another using the unified rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Three five-minute rounds, no headbutts, no shots to the groin. Three judges score each round from a possible 10 points based on effective striking, grappling, aggression, and ring control. We’ll have a round robin opening round where all contestants match up, with five points given for a win, two points for a draw and one point for a no contest. The top two fighters will then face off for a five-round championship battle and we can finally crown the true king of kings.
The marquee headline name and a heavy betting favourite. A populist and outwardly magnanimous ruler for more than 25 years, Burger King has withstood challenges from rivals before (clowns!) and come through as a jovial yet hard hitting favourite among his subjects. With 48,000 outlets nationwide, Burger King has tremendous reach, and with his strong sauced meat flavour and flair he brings a crowd pleasing style.
But questions have been asked about his current fitness. After years of BBQ bacon double cheeseburgers and deep fried onion rings between bouts does he still have the stamina to go all the way?
Here are two true things: 1. Psycho-strength 2. Drunken masters (Pool category).
In assessing any hypothetical fight, an important factor to consider is the relative psycho-strength of the two combatants. It’s a completely different factor to actual physical strength or fitness or technique; in short it’s a measure of the capacity to lose your shit and go full hog wild. So that’s real. Secondly, we all know the feeling of hitting the perfect level of drunkeness for optimum pool playing, the perfect combo of looseness and confidence. There’s a small window between being drunk enough to forget how bad you are at pool, and not too drunk that you forget the principles of geometry. So that’s real too.
What’s not real is the combination of these two phenomena. There’s a misconception, probably promoted by the Jackie Chan Drunken Master films, that being drunk will let you tap into some instinctive primal rage and flow that will make you a better fighter. That’s rubbish.
Liquor King is one of the longest ruling monarchs but his glory days of cultural dominance seem to behind him. Yes he was immensely popular in his day but a changing cultural landscape and rumoured substance abuse issues have old LK looking like he might have seen better days.
Salmon King comes into the match-up as an unheralded wildcard entrant. In fact, you might not know about Salmon King as a business, but I do, so he’s on the list. There’s a space in my brain that could potentially be filled with me remembering how to spell rhythm or remembering who the Minister for Primary Industries is that is instead permanently filled by remembering that the office for Salmon King is in Fitzroy Street in Ponsonby. That’s unfortunate but here we are.
You might wonder if Salmon King is a human who is king of the salmon, or a salmon who is king, and in fact, if he is a salmon (he is), whether he a King Salmon who is the king of salmon. That could be true but it’s a species-ist assumption – he’s a human sized Sockeye and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s a man of the people, or a fish of the fish to be more accurate. An even handed and democratic modern leader.
You might also assume that a fish would not survive the rigours of a 15 minute MMA battle on land against elite King humans but you’re wrong again – Salmon King has a state of the art reverse scuba mobile water circulation apparatus and a specially designed exoskeleton that gives him legs to walk on. A dangerous underdog. Don’t sleep on this fish.
One cool thing about growing up is shifting our goals. What we desire most evolves: Where once I dreamt of owning plentiful transformers or water pistols, I now enjoy deep satisfaction at being rich in power plug multiboxes and singlets. Along the way one thing that has skyrocketed in value in my life is storage. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that but what I’m really trying to say is that trash and/or treasure both need to put somewhere and not in a big stack in the corner of my bedroom.
Storage King might not have the big name headliner name recognition but he’s a dependable and disciplined competitor. His reign over the storage realm has been marked not by grand gestures or vulgar displays of power but by a solid work ethic and exceptional organisational skills and among the storage community he is deeply respected for his even-handed steady approach.
Plus, storage! The guy has Rob Liefeld pouches for days. Who knows what he is keeping in there: snacks? medical equipment? There have been concerns raised over how his cardboard armour will hold up under heavy sweating, but storage is a long game, and the king will have endurance and patience that will serve him well.
Burger King vs Liquor King: Liquor King comes out swinging but gets rocked early. LK slips and Burger King pounces, scoring a first round knockout.
Storage King vs Salmon King: Cagey first rounds with both finding their range. Salmon King is slippery but Storage King is relentless – showing stamina to keep pushing the pace. The fight goes the distance – and Storage King wins in a narrow points decision.
Burger King vs Salmon King: Burger King is tiring. Salmon King is on the offensive and lands more blows but can’t get the killer hit. BK is looking wobbly by the end but fight goes the distance and BK wins in a questionable split decision. The crowd is not happy at all.
Liquor King vs Storage King: Liquor King throws up the canvas before the fighters have even touched gloves. Storage King wins by disqualification.
Burger King vs Storage King: Burger King is feeling the effects of three fights in a row and is looking gassed. Plus the crowd has turned on him after the previous dubious decision. Storage King is workmanlike and dispatches him with shots to the body 35 seconds into the second round.
Liquor King vs Salmon King: Liquor King has had a kebab and a big glass of water and is looking somewhat revived, but Salmon King is still mad about the previous fight. He gets LK to the ground and wins by submission with a leg lock.
Final points tally
Burger King: 10
Liquor King: 0
Salmon King: 5
Storage King: 15
Burger King vs Storage King: Burger King is on his last legs. Can he dig deep and avoid a repeat of the first match up between the two?
Burger Mayor, Liquor Chief and Salmon Boss you tried and failed. Arise, Storage King: the one true King.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.