"The only thing on the level is mountain-climbing."
- Eddie Quinn, Montreal wrestling promoter
For several months now, I've travelled throughout the Ottawa Valley and up to Northern Ontario promoting my book about Larry Kasaboski and the history of old time wrestling as we once knew it.
I've made stops from Wilno to Ottawa to Sudbury and many centres in between. Wherever and whenever there's been an opportunity, I've gladly gone to discuss the book. I'm starting to feel like the well-known, glad-handing Ottawa politician, who it was once said, would attend the opening of an envelope.
To say the least, it's been an exhilarating ride and I've taken more than a few bumps at book stores, libraries, museums and cafes. But that's the reality of selling books in today's marketplace; you strike when the iron is hot.
It was inevitable that sooner or later I would make my way to the Mecca of the marketplace, namely a professional wrestling show. I will be afforded that opportunity on Friday, May 30 at the Petawawa Civic Centre when Capital City Championship Combat-C*4 brings pro wrestling back to the Valley after a considerable absence.
For sure, the rasslers are coming back to the area and most wrestling fans I've talked to are eagerly awaiting their return. For me, it will be deja vu all over again. Once a regular at rough and rowdy local shows, it's been a long time since I've seen the dust fly off the canvas while excited fans cheered on their heroes and booed the villains.
Wrestling night has always been a night of pizzazz, panache and punishment. There's no longer any pretense that it's real. So wrestling's not on the level... so get over it.
The game is pure entertainment and the more entertaining, the better for local, action-starved fans.
I've always compared a wrestling troupe to any theatrical group. Among them are good actors and bad actors. Some nights they shine, other nights they stink the joint out. You pay your buck and take your chances. If it isn't entertaining, you're not likely to go back.
Young Mark Pollesel represents the new breed of wrestling promoter. At age 24, he's a far cry from some of the cigar-smoking, carny-like promoters of the past, who when they weren't putting one over on the fans, were shortchanging their own performers.
Pollesel, who prefers to remain in the background, is only interested in putting on a good show for the fans. He's a federal government employee by day with aspirations to become a filmmaker and screenwriter. He helped promoters on other shows before striking out on his own.
Now he promotes shows under the banner of C*4 and he'll be the first to tell you that promoting wrestling shows is a slippery slope.
We mutually agreed that it would be a nice contrast between old time wrestling and the new style wrestling craze if I attended the show to sign copies of my book and discuss wrestling as it once was in the Valley.
But the main action will be in the ring featuring some of the more talented up and comers in the business today. They're not exactly household names, but what they lack in experience they more than make up for in determination and drive. And they bring a fresh approach to the squared circle.
This isn't a casual gig for some of these wrestlers. They are focused on making it to the big time and along with Pollesel, realize the importance of winning over the fans with an entertaining show. And that's why you're likely to get a more solid effort than what you see on the slick TV packaged performances.
Watch for "Mr. Wrestling" Kevin Steen
and "MVP" Michael Von Payton
to headline the show, though not against each other. They are currently involved in a hot feud but won't be tangling on this occasion. But who knows. These shows are loosely scripted and anything can and usually does happen, particularly when the promoter also happens to be a scriptwriter.
Names like The Flatliners, the Super Smash Brothers, Xtremo and Hallowicked may not mean much to you now, but by the end of the evening, new stars may be born.
But regardless of the abundant mix of mat maulers on this show, you will still be able to pick out your favourite villain along the lines of the once-feared Don "One-Man-Gang" Evans. And there's likely a crowd pleaser on the card that will put you in mind of Larry Kasaboski.
Among all the devastating dropkicks, errant elbow smashes and flying chairs, I'll be there.
Bell time is 8 p.m.
Review: Rassler From Renfrew a historical gem
February 28, 2008: New book comes to grips with wrestling in the Ottawa Valley
June 1, 2005: Northland Wrestling: The Golden Decade
Gary Howard is the author of The Rassler from Renfrew. He can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.