I grew up in the 80s. That seemed to be the height of professional wrestling. Everyone loved it. Rock stars were at the ring. Wrestlemania was a huge event that people gathered far and wide to watch on something back then called “Pay Per View”.  Hulkamania ran rampant and we all said our prayers and took our vitamins.

As I aged, I stopped watching wrestling. It was “too silly” and in fact, for a while, was downright nasty with blatant sexism and overt racism.  No thank you, I can do better for entertainment.

As my partner Sarah is planning adventures for me to open my mind and try new things, I rolled my eyes when she suggested I attend a live wrestling event.  It was not even the big wrestling like the old WWE, but a local promotion. I said “meh”, but, in the spirit of this column, Jenn is to try new things, I am Jenn so I guess, let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

The wrestling event is called C4 and is held at an event hall in little Italy.  I went ready for anything, but with a lot of cynicism over what I was about to experience.

I’ll reflect later on my personal enjoyment of it, but can say that the wrestling fans did not just come to watch wrestling but to EXPERIENCE wrestling.  This was the most interactive, audience participation event I have ever seen!

First, they introduced a referee and everyone started booing.  Wait, what?  We are booing the person who was there to keep people safe and to bring order to fighting.  Why are they booing?  I soon discovered it is because the referees in wrestling are quite ineffective, have trouble with counting consistency and seem to not really do or say anything when doors, chairs, wrenches and more come into the ring. They are mostly eye candy and the crowd hates them!  Booing the referees is part of the wrestling experience.  That said, I love an underdog and I yelled “I LIKE LAW AND ORDER, GO REF!!”

The matches started and some were interesting, but I can divide the matches into three separate categories:

  1. Bad guy (heel) versus good guy
  2. Good guy against good guy

Bad guy versus good guy was the most matches. One wrestler actively booed and one is the hero. In these matches, the bad guy only “wins” if they cheat and the good guy wins on honour and talent.  

Good guy versus good guy are what I’d like to call, VERY LONG MATCHES.  As they are crowd favourites, these seem to be technical wrestlers, great athletes as such, really showing off their abilities, for a long time. Every time someone was “down for the count” they’d fend off losing again, and they’d keep on going.  Audience would even chant for them to keep going.  I have to be clear, I did not enjoy these as much, I do like the drama matches and grudge matches a bit better, but there is NO denying these folks are athletes.  They bounce, jump, run, FLY FROM TOP OF RING and really, it is all quite impressive.  My favourite was The Hotstepper, who danced his way in the ring and had a lot of flare and style. He lost his match to another good guy, who then gave him the finger and I thought “how can you be a good guy and a jerk at the same time”, but then again, it’s the worst of wrestling.

Then there is ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE AND I’ll talk more about those two matches later.

One interesting thing I did NOT expect was to see women wrestling men. This has evolved since I was a kid.  When I was a young lady, the way women were involved in wrestling was woman on woman, usually one match if that OR they were “valet”, personal escort of the wrestlers.  If a “heel” wrestler then they helped them cheat and if they were say, Miss Elizabeth (RIP), they’d be put in a chair and have two wrestlers have a match and she was the prize. So, women wrestling men seems to be an evolution. The woman who wrestled three men WON and she was four feet tall at most!

I want to go back to the crowd. When I say they were into it, I mean they were INTO it.  They knew all the wrestlers, all the chants and they know when someone says MOVE, you MOVE, because often the matches come into the crowd!

Such is ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE matches.  These were the last two matches and they were the most intense things I have ever seen, and not to spoil the ending of this column, but I really enjoyed it!

The first one had three “good guys” come out.  One was PUFF, a local favourite.  A very large fella who owns his size, and was likely one of the most loved wrestlers there.  No fat shaming here, he was their hero!  The three good guys went to the ring and began pulling chairs into the ring, wrenches and eventually a door.  If I were the ref personally I’d look under the ring before a match, but again, BOOOO ref!

Then music came on and three BAD guys with their manager, a tiny man who clearly is not a wrestler but was the leader of these three bad guys. The bad guys jumped into the ring, there was no bell and EVERYONE started fighting.  The fights were rarely in the ring. In front of us, behind us, it spilled everywhere. I did have concern someone in the audience could get hurt, but clearly the security team knows what they are doing.

The bad guys pummeled the three good guys. One good guy even “hid” in a chair in front of me while his partners got beaten up.  I told him he should help his friends out.  There were garbage pails used to fight. I could not keep up to what was going on but enjoyed the energy.  It was pure chaos and fun. Audience members kept shouting, pardon my swear, “Holy shit.  Holy shit” because so many cool things happened.  In spite of it being chaotic and energetic, there was clear talent and skill.

Eventually the bad guys won, not sure if it was through cheating, and really, is it cheating if the match starts off with chairs and doors?  Also huge shout out to Preston Hardware who must be a sponsor or something as the audience chants their name when a door comes out!

They all eventually left and I thought that was it, but it was not! The championship title was up for grabs and someone named Cecil (not Sea Salt which is what I thought folks were chanting) was fighting the villain and current champion who had a valet, who yep, helped him cheat and win.  When their match was done, he kept his championship and said that no one was good enough to challenge him and then the local boy, Junior Benito, came out and the crowd went HYSTERICAL! They clearly want to see a match with him and hopefully they get what they want.

So did I enjoy it?  Yes.  

Will I go back?  Also yes.

Here is what I like about it:

  • Being able to yell and shout things out. I do not get to do that in society. I WANT to. I’d love to go to a movie and as the nazis are about to do something awful yell “BOOO”, but I’d get kicked out of the theatre, and I have to say nazis are worse than some of the wrestling villains.
  • The athletic prowess. No matter what size or shape, these folks have skills and use them. At any moment something could go wrong and they could get injured and it is a testament to their skill and ability. So from purely that angle, it is enjoyable.
  • The chaos. I normally do not like insanity, but man, being able to cut loose and experience adrenaline just from WATCHING something was quite fun! I cannot think of the last time a movie had my heart rate going, but they sure did!
  • The bravado. Listen, I like the silliness of it all. The bad guys booing. The heroes. The crowd. It was an amazing escape. Would I like my life to be like this 24/7?  No, but once a month could I enjoy this, absolutely.
  • Eye candy.  No matter what your preference, man or woman, big or small, there is going to be someone hot and sweaty to look at.

I have to commend the promoters of this show. They keep a tight security for their talent, keep it racist and sexist free and truly entertained their fans.  Even though it’s fighting I’d also consider it family entertainment. Perhaps not toddlers, but 8 years up I’d see them enjoying it, just as we did when we were kids.

I am thankful for the experience.  They announced their next show on October 21 and I actually said “aw crap, I can’t go as I’m out of town” and Sarah smiled because she knows that when I try new things, I’ll often enjoy them and that she had found a new wrestling fan.

So Let’s get ready to rumble!  I recommend C4 wrestling and follow them here on FB!  If you attend a show as a result of this recommendation, please come back and tell me what you thought, and I will likely see you there in November!


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