By Jeff Allen, Contributor
It’s a frosty Saturday night in the Lower Mainland and the shortened NHL season has officially begun. I’m pumped about the evening’s festivities, for which I’ve scored a front-row ticket at the door. Tonight I will experience a truly revered Canadian tradition, one I’ve sorely missed for far too long; and no, I’m not talking about hockey.
I’m a wrestling fan from way back, but a confessed newbie to the local independent scene. I am here to partake in the pageantry of crushing blows and humiliating defeats. I will revel in the trash talk of bad guy “Heels” and the righteousness of good guy “Babyfaces.” Tonight we are promised a “4-way New Westminster street fight” and I can only imagine the carnage and chaos that will ensue.
I would estimate there are about a hundred fans here at the Sapperton Pensioners Hall in New Westminster. It’s a small venue, but ample for the crowd. At least one performer will bang his head against the ceiling jumping off the top turnbuckle. However, it is not the size of the venue, it is the size of the show, and ECCW delivers a big one. If the success of a wrestling show is dependent on the sheer enthusiasm of its fans, tonight’s program is an unqualified success. The crowd here is boisterous to say the least.
So who is cheering and jeering ringside? The simple answer is everybody. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact demographic in attendance; there are babies, parents, kids, elderly ladies, and a contingent of young dudes who wouldn’t look out of place at a Japandroids concert. At one point, a cluster of villainous wrestlers is knocked flat into the seating area like bowling pins by a human torpedo known as King of the Yukon (or is it his partner Azeem?). The heel manager, who is decked out like an Amish pimp, gets the worst of it and remains sprawled on the floor. I suppose it serves him right for taunting that mother with the baby earlier in the evening. ECCW fans aren’t so much spectators as they are participants. There is a sense of community here. Everyone seemingly understands the rules. Shakespeare be damned, this is the ultimate in live theatre.
Tag team champions, The Riot, successfully defend their belts in a fast paced match to kick off the show. The crowd is then treated to a battle of the sexes pitting Pacific Cup champion Bishop, against Coquitlam’s own, Nicole Matthews. It is a spirited affair. Of course the piece-de-resistance is the street fight, which involves craniums getting whacked with street signs and metal chairs. It is absolutely delightful. At one point the action extends to the parking lot outside the building, seeing half the audience running for the exits. In the end, the masked character known as Cremator claims victory by pinning a beaten and bloodied Moondog Manson. I bump fists with the new ECCW champion in a congratulatory manner as he exits the squared circle. My inner 12-year-old is doing cartwheels.
Vacating the hall, I can’t help feeling I got the better end of the stick this evening. I was privy to a two and a half hour wrestling extravaganza as Canuck fans everywhere were treated to a disappointing home opener. While half the city is left to ponder the state of Vancouver’s goaltending situation, I ask myself only one question: will Manson get his revenge?
ECCW’s next event is February 9 at the Russian community centre in Vancouver.