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Winnipeg hosting Best of the West, HOF ceremony
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Tony Condello as a wrestler

As Canada Day quickly approaches, Winnipeg's wrestling fans are making their final plans to attend Rough House Rassling's Best of the West Pro Wrestling Showdown.

Best of the West, scheduled to take place once again in Osborne Street Village, in a beer garden at the Osborne Village Inn, near Winnipeg's downtown area, is a series of outdoor events that will take place over Friday and Saturday.

BOTW drew more than 3,000 fans this year, and with four events scheduled this year, there's hope that 10,000 fans of squared-circle action will come out to the unique event, which RHR promoter Marty Goldstein describes as being a throwback event.

"The outdoor aspect is really funny because it becomes more like a carnival show, since there are so many people watching out of curiosity," Goldstein told SLAM! Wrestling. "Our theme is to lay it out like old-style TV with small interviews and angles to get the people attached and then the action hooks them. It is a very family-friendly environment on Canada Day and a lot of fun."

Among those competing at BOTW are local favourites Bruiser Lexxx Bastien, Shane Madison and Manitoba legend Chi Chi Cruz. Joining this crew will be Edmonton's Massive Damage, along with some of his trainees from Monster Pro Wrestling. Goldstein believes that bringing in this talent will not only help the event by featuring "outside" wrestlers, but will help them as well.

"Cheech and I are so proud to be associated with Massive. It is very important firstly to get these young lions some mileage and experience, and in the case of the twins Chapel and Chase, they are from here so I am glad to help them visit their friends and family for the holiday," Goldstein said. "The local vets now can meet this new generation and test them a bit in the matches."

Capping off the weekend, however, will be the first-ever induction ceremony for the Western Canada Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. The Hall, which is located online at halloffame.prowrestlingcanada.com, will welcome three legendary promoters from Manitoba, including Tony Condello (WFWA), Ernest "Frenchie" Rheault (Central Canada Pro) and Walter Shefchyk (New Brand). While some might be surprised to see three promoters, rather than wrestlers, inducted into the Hall, Goldstein is quick to point out how important all three men have been to the continued success of wrestling in the keystone province.

"Tony, Walter and Ernie played a role with so many of the stars and journeymen. Manitoba wrestling would have been dead 25 years ago if not for those three," Goldstein said. "A lot of us would never have gotten a chance and this our way of saying thank you while they are still able to join us. People like Dave Pinsky and myself learned a lot about promoting and the wrestling business from them when we did their shows with guys like Cheech, Eddie Watts and so many others."

While the weekend is all about fun and enjoyment, there will be a serious side to the festivities as well. Goldstein will be distributing information on his campaign against backyard wrestling, a movement he hopes will stop untrained kids from being injured in the ring. "We are handing out pamphlets to explain to the public how they can help keep kids safe," Goldstein said. "The government, whether it be provincial or local, isn't doing anything to stop kids from getting injured when they set up their little 'shows', and they end up in the Emergency Room. Yet one of the goals of the recent Healthy Kids study in Manitoba was to reduce injuries."

Best of the West Schedule of Events

Friday, July 1

Event #1 12-2pm Main event - Junkyard dogfight
Western Canada Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction ceremony - 3:15pm.
Event #2 - Canada Day Finale 5.30- 7 PM Main Event Massive Damage vs. Chi Chi Cruz

Matches will also be staged between music performances until 5:30pm.

Saturday, July 2

Event #3 - 12-2pm Main Event TBD
Event #4 - 6:30-8pm Main Event TBD

Matches will also be staged between music performances until 6:30pm.

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.