Wrestling promoters hope to attract a wider audience to Winnipeg rings

Wrestler AJ Sanchez at CJOB. Twitter

An upstart group of local wrestling fans are aiming to bring tights n’ turnbuckles to a wider audience, by combining elements of athleticism, stand-up comedy, “weird Winnipeg feel” and unique characters to the ring.

With their second promotion taking place Thursday night at the Sherbrook Inn, the team behind Winnipeg Pro Wrestling (WPW), are hoping to continue to change the public’s perception of the typical wrestling audience with a second sold-out show.

“It’s our second sell-out, so we’ve been very fortunate to have the fans take to it,” promoter James Korba told 680 CJOB.

“I think it’s changing. Wrestling has become really cool to watch again. I feel that wrestling’s an art form, and like any art form, it appeals to different people.

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“Our crowd, for example, a lot of them haven’t watched wrestling before, but they’re entertained by it.,” Korba said.

“We’re giving opportunities to the wrestlers to reach a new crowd and new fans.”

Far from the bright lights and multi-million dollar spectacle of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Korba said WPW is continuing in the decades-old tradition of wrestling’s independent circuit – something that can be a physically demanding career choice for the men and women who don their tights every night.

Wrestler AJ Sanchez, known as “The Canadian Crusher”, said independent wrestling isn’t necessarily a full-time job for everyone who participates, but it definitely requires full-time effort.

“Seventeen years of wrestling, at least 100 matches a year, it takes its toll,” he said.

“I’m a large guy, so even falling and getting up, it takes a toll. The travel often has more of an effect on your body than actually being in the ring.”

Sanchez said renewed interest in wrestling isn’t surprising – what he does is, at its heart, a form of storytelling.

“You definitely need to have some talent inside the ring, but it’s a very character-driven business, so having something that can connect to the fans is very important,” he said.

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“It’s no different from watching a movie, or even reality shows. They’ve laid out their story that they want to tell, and wrestling is no different.”

WPW’s event features Sanchez alongside Tyson Dux, “The Canadian Hercules” Tyler Colton, “The Zombie Hunter” Mentallo, and wrestling phenomenon Joey Ryan as a guest general manager.

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