Winnipeg’s own Chris Jericho once professed on national television that he knew 1004 wrestling moves, four more than the opponent he was taunting, the legendary Dean Melenko.
It’s uncertain whether Brandon wrestling fans will see a “moss covered, three handled family grudunzle” or a “Saskatchewan spinning nerve hold”, but expect plenty of high-flying excitement April 24 when the Canadian Wrestling's Elite (CWE) invades the Great Western Roadhouse.
It’s been 10 years of wrestling excellence for “Hotshot Danny Duggan”, also known as Daniel Warren, the man behind the Winnipeg-based CWE. They are celebrating with a cross-Canada tour which started in Winnipeg last month, headed west to British Columbia before coming back east with a final stop in Toronto – their first venture into that lucrative market.
Warren has loaded up the card for this tour. The event is headlined by Psicosis, the luchadore-style grappler who has amazed fans for 30 years, including high-profile runs in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling, AAA (in his home country of Mexico), and World Wrestling Entertainment.
“This tour is really a culmination of the support we’ve gotten from Canadian wrestling fans,” said Warren from – where else – the road. “Their love of professional wrestling got us here. This is the largest tour we’ve ever operated as a company, going from Vancouver to Toronto.
“And Brandon’s been a staple of that the last two years,” he added. “Four years ago we gave it a try (in Brandon) and it just wasn’t working. But then we struck up a partnership with Canad Inns and took one last swing, and we hit a home run. We’ve been coming back for two years and it’s usually sold out with loud and enthusiastic fans.”
The rest of the April 24 card will be sprinkled with a variety of larger-than-life characters, including seven-foot giant Alex Ace of Spain. Other European talent making their CWE debut includes Norman Harras of Germany, Austria’s Martin Pain and Belgium’s Robin Lekime.
“There are some top-notch Westman wrestlers on the loop. And they’re going to be going at it against some of the top wrestlers from around the world.” – Daniel Warren, CWE promoter
The projected card also features some female matches on the card. As anyone who follows the WWE knows, the women’s division has never been as deep or talented. Could the future Natalya Neidhart (granddaughter of the late famous Calgary promoter Stu Hart and daughter of Hall of Famer Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart), Charlotte Flair (daughter of living legend Ric Flair) or Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts star turned WWE superstar) step into the ring in Brandon?
“If you look at Wrestlemania (which was held on Sunday), it was headlined by the women’s championship match and that’s something I never thought I’d see,” says Warren. “Women used to be presented a different way, but we’ve had this revolution of women who’ve grown up watching professional wrestling during the boom period, and now they want to learn the craft and compete just like the guys.”
There will also be some local Manitoba talent in the ring. Souris native Vance Nevada, who is also known for his writing and historical research into the wrestling genre, will get the chance to tussle extremely close to home. He says this tour by CWE is really reminiscent of an older era of wrestling, when regional promoters would take their show on the road, barnstorming as many communities as they could.
“Wrestling has historically been regional,” says Nevada (born Vern May) in a CWE press release. “But what we’ve seen in recent years is that the regional circuits have been reduced to monthly standing engagements in a single city and there aren’t many opportunities for a wrestler to make a living or really hone their craft under the present model.
“The CWE tour taking the show on the road is like the golden era of Canadian wrestling where talent is hitting the road to test their mettle.”
Other Manitoba wrestlers scheduled to be in Brandon are hometown product “First All Star” Brian Rich, and “Jacked Jesus” Tommy Lee Curtis, who grew up in Reston.
“There are some top-notch Westman wrestlers on the loop,” noted Warren. “And they’re going to be going at it against some of the top wrestlers from around the world.”
Wrestling could be entering a new golden era. The WWE is as profitable as it’s ever been. Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestling has improved under the guidance of Winnipegger Don Callis. And a new wrestling organization is just forming, with two massive stars from Manitoba – Kenny Omega and the aforementioned and ageless Chris Jericho – forming part of the nucleus of All Elite Wrestling.
“When wrestling is doing well across the board, it trickles down to everyone,” notes Warren, who started wrestling in the early 2000s. “Over the last four or five years, we’ve noticed the crowds are getting larger and larger, and now it’s very rare when you see a small crowd. The WWE is always going to be the ‘Disney’ or ‘Coke’ of professional wrestling, but they don’t always appeal to all wrestling fans. That’s why you see things like Ring of Honor selling out Madison Square Garden last night. People are hungry for something else.”
And as for the recognition of all this great Manitoba talent, Warren says it’s about time this province gets recognized as a great wrestling region.
“Winnipeg has always been a jackpot of talent, but because of our location, they are not always seen,” says Warren. “When you have guys like Kenny Omega with the run he’s had, and guys like Chris Jericho, more wrestlers from this region are getting noticed. And that’s always been the goal of Canadian Wrestling Elite.”
General admission tickets are $18, while VIP tickets go for $23. The doors open for VIP ticket holders at 6 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. for everyone else. The first match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
For tickets, visit cwetickets.com, and for more information on the event visit their Facebook page or visit cwecanada.net.