Imagine forgetting everything that is happening in the world and escaping to a place where people pummel each other in theatrical and over the top ways for a few hours.
That’s exactly what Campbell River’s 365 Pro Wrestling league is offering. The league held two shows over the weekend a the Willow Point Lions’ Hall and has other shows planned for later in the year. Although the pandemic has made it difficult to run a live entertainment operation — strict audience numbers make it difficult financially — promoter Mike Becherer and the team see it as a fun distraction to the hard times, and a great way to promote the growing indie wrestling scene in Campbell River and beyond.
“The hardest part is paying rent for the hall, paying the wrestlers, paying to advertise the show, and only allowing 30 people to come. It’s very difficult financially,” Becherer said. “I feel because we’re doing it, we’re getting a lot of people to watch our product, and getting some eyeballs on us and letting people forget everything going on in the world for a minute. It’s worth it.”
Though the crowds are currently capped at 30 people, Becherer said that hasn’t stopped the wrestlers from being at the top of their game.
“They work so hard. They work as if there’s 300 or 3,000 people here. That’s the really cool part about the roster right now. Nobody phones it in because there isn’t a big crowd. They know everyone who comes pays money, even more than they usually pay if it would be a full crowd,” he said.
“They work so hard for them and for the camera,” he added. “Everything’s online so, just like I’m trying to reach people, they want to be seen by other promotions and other people so they bring them in to promotions and get to go even further than this. They want those clips as well.”
The wrestling matches are broadcast on Shaw TV and online, which Becherer hopes will build an interest in indie wrestling within the community and in the world in general. While 365 Pro Wrestling does have some other events on the calendar for this year, including a feature on Dec. 5 promoting their student wrestlers, they have been looking to social media to build up hype for the sport. To that end, they run a weekly podcast, a Youtube Channel, and a Twitch channel where people can watch the matches live from home. The wrestlers themselves are also on social media, promoting their matches and personas online.
Indie wrestling in Campbell River is a small scene, but it’s a scene that’s growing. The wrestlers themselves are just getting better and better, Becherer said. The evening show included a 60 minute match that ended in a draw, something Becherer says is “unheard-of today.”
“People were like standing up at the end, which is amazing. It’s great to see a standing ovation for both guys, even though it was a draw after 60 minutes. It was really nice,” he added. “The night show was our best show … for sure. I was super thrilled, because I was seeing the bans and stuff coming in and I was worried that we couldn’t do shows anymore. We’re just trying to keep some kind of live entertainment going in this time.”
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