Winnipeg Pro Wrestling debuted on Dec. 6 with a sold-out show called Sherb Your Enthusiasm at the Sherbrook Inn. Its second show, also a sellout on Feb. 28, was called Barrcade at the Sherbrook. The Free Press gets a ringside seat and talks to the lifelong wrestling fans who started WPW.
Who is WPW?
WPW is Devin Bray, TJ Stevenson, James Korba, Adam Giardino and Ben Kissock. We’re lifelong wrestling fans who share different perspectives on a very complex art form.
How and why did it start?
Starting a wrestling promotion is something we talked about for years but never thought was possible. We basically just wanted to present wrestling in a different way to a different audience and build on the already strong scene in Winnipeg.
What do you attribute that success/reach to?
We’ve been lucky with our first two shows selling out. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why but we think the venue, the neighbourhood and the wrestlers we’re working with as some of the reasons why we’ve been so hot, so fast.
We spend a lot of time on our graphics and our social media and obviously that’s the easiest way to reach folks these days.
We used to put on the WWE pay-per-views at the Handsome Daughter (down the street from the Sherbrook Inn) and they were consistently packed, so we knew the people in this area wanted to see live pro wrestling.
We all come from a live-event background as well, whether it’s music or podcasting, so we have a lot of support from the different art scenes in the city.
WPW strives to be an inclusive, pro-feminist, pro-LGBTTQ, anti-racist and sex positive wrestling promotion. We have a lot to learn and a lot to work on, but the fan support we’ve gotten so far shows us we’re on the right track.
What are the other organizations in the city and is there room for all?
PCW (Premier Championship Wrestling) and CWE (Canadian Wrestling’s Elite) have been running shows for more than 15 years very successfully and definitely kept live pro wrestling alive in Winnipeg.
CWE is the No. 1 touring brand in Canada today and PCW is where global star Kenny Omega got his start.
There’s definitely room for us all! We’re not trying to step on any toes, we’re just trying to do things our way.
Are all the wrestlers local?
About half the wrestlers are local; some came from Oakland, Los Angeles, Edmonton and Regina. We want to bring in wrestlers from all over North America, wrestlers the audience may have never heard of or have been itching to see in person.
We believe that Winnipeg is the wrestling capital of Canada, several of the top stars in the business have come from here and there will be more to come over the next few years.
What’s next for WPW?
More shows! Different obscure venues, an emphasis on women’s wrestling and building on our commitment to expanding the fan experience, whether it’s through the talent we book, the house rules or the sponsors we partner with.