Wrestlers hit mat for local outdoor show

Wrestling has been one in a long line of industries hit hard by COVID-19. Since the pandemic started, few shows have been performed in front of fans. Two of those shows were in the north July 4-5 - including one in Flin Flon.

The Flin Flon show was organized by Gatlin Church as a birthday party for his son, but all were welcomed to the July 4 show, held outside in his front yard.

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Talent from Winnipeg-based touring promotion Canadian Wrestling’s Elite (CWE) made the journey, joining up with Northern Empire Wrestling for the show in The Pas.

Danny Warren is both a performer and the owner of CWE. The promotion was forced to cancel a Canada-wide tour because of COVID-19.

“Promoting live events, it's a one night pony. Once that pony gets killed, you can't just shift it to another date and make those expenses back,” said Warren.

“You have to re-promote that whole date the same way you promote the first one. So there's a lot of money lost, it set the company back quite a bit. So we have to kind of scale back just a tad from where we were.”

Warren said extra precautions are being taken, especially at indoor events, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Both shows in northern Manitoba were held outside.

“The only major difference was being limited to the amount of people that we have to put into a building and making sure they social distance while they're inside that building,” he said.

“We have to be extra cautious with cleaning the ring between matches and social distancing in the locker room, opposed to the close proximity that we normally hold together in place of a locker room.”

With shows held in northern Manitoba over a weekend with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees, Warren and the other wrestlers found battling the elements tougher than the ring.

“I prefer to be indoors because I wouldn’t be dying of heat exhaustion,” Warren quipped.

A global pandemic isn’t the only event rocking the wrestling world. Accusations of sexual assault and misconduct have forced firings and suspensions from the smallest independent promotions all the way up to the biggest companies.

“There's many different ways you can look at what's going on, but I think [wrestling] is cleaning itself up, which is a necessary step to take,” Warren said.

Warren added the Canadian wrestling community, which has seen far fewer accusations, is tight knit and he works to keep the CWE locker room free from potential predators.

“We generally don't accept people we feel that are going to be trouble in our locker room or trouble for our business,” he said.

“If that's something that we sense, they're not going to be around too long. We try to police ourselves in that aspect.”

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