May 25, 2011
Wrestling in Nunavut a real 'life experience': SuaveKayfabe still lives in the Great White North
By SEBASTIAN SUAVE - For SLAM! Wrestling
Life is about creating moments and experience. We are all accustomed with the comforts of routine that we often fail to exercise the initiative to do something different or special. For myself, there was a time where I did everything I could to avoid giving my dream of becoming a professional wrestling a chance.
Eventually, I grew a pair and now I am making life-long memories in an environment I love with a passion.
However, even the greatest joys of life can turn dull with routine. As much as I love wrestling in front of the same crowds with the same group of peers, the ultimate goal is to create "life experiences" through my passion. I want to create experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life with a bright smile. Thus far, my two prior trips to Iqaluit, Nunavut with Maximum Pro Wrestling (formerly BSE) are amongst the top highlights of my life and I am about to do the five-day trip yet again.
Where? To my surprise a lot of Canadians are not aware that we added a province/territory to our country in 1999, carved out of the east end of the Northwest Territories. It is really up north and it is freaking cold! The territory is primarily compromised of Inuits followed by aboriginals and non-aboriginals. Another note about the population is that they are some of the friendliest and welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Upon arriving at the very bright yellow airport (so the pilots can actually see it) we were greeted by a friendly staff and some of the locals who would be assisting us during our stay. Our second time around we were greeted with smiles and hugs as if we were family that they have not seen in a while. We stayed at an inn where the local kids would often be roaming looking for the wrestlers. It was nice to enjoy some kayfabe as I was smeared with some innocent hatred for being a jerk in the ring.
Now our trips take the course of five days for a reason. We are not in Iqaluit just to perform in front of a roaring crowd of passionate fans. We are there to make a difference in the community and amongst the people. After settling in for a bit we made our way to elementary and high schools in different towns for speaking engagements. As much as some of us would like to believe we are everyday people, we were heroes and role models to these kids. It's a humbling experience the way these kids would look up to you despite being a relative stranger. During these speaking engagements we would share personal experiences in and out the ring that could positively affect their lives.
We made similar trips to hospitals and a correctional youth centre. We would exchange stories, ask each other questions and they would all take pictures with Brent Banks' Arctic Championship belt. The officers at the correctional service even let us ride their snowmobiles on their driving course. I was as cautious as a five year old riding a bicycle for the first time until my adrenaline kicked in and I tore it up at 10km/hr! Okay, I eventually sped up to a respectable speed.
Continuing, we did some media work with radio stations and television networks including the CBC studios in Iqaluit. My favourite media moment was when one local radio host solely focused on trash talking me as opposed to doing his job. I still wonder why I did not slap him silly.
After several other community efforts and fun tours, the event days came about on the Friday and Saturday. These events were packed with 800+ loud fans who cheered, stood up for hours and even threw their hats in celebration when Brent Banks defeated Tyson Dux for the Arctic Title. They swarmed the autograph line-ups and bought about anything -- even offering money for clothing and your water bottle. Not to mention the interviews. A babyface couldn't talk with getting swarmed with love and I couldn't get mine done because I was getting punched in the leg while getting my hair pulled.
I loved every second of it. It felt nostalgic in a way to have people be behind every moment -- be it a punch, a bodyslam or a verbal cheer/taunt. In the end, both nights ended with kids swarming the ring and many of the locals saying their goodbyes. The next morning we made our way back at the airport where some locals were yet again saying their goodbyes and some even crying. It is easy to laugh at such events but I cherish them and do not take them for granted for a second. We made a difference in these people's lives and they did the same for us. I will forever embrace the "life experience" of travelling to Nunavut for the rest of my days while looking forward to the next visit. This is the kind of stuff I live for.
P.S. Kudos to Maximum Pro Wrestling (and BSE in the past) for their outstanding community efforts. Closer to my Toronto home is Tigerfest 2011 in Milton on Saturday, June 4th -- details at www.tigerjeetsinghfoundation.com.
Sebastian Suave is a Toronto-based wrestler, and a graduate of the Squared Circle Wrestling school. He can be emailed at email@example.com.