Gaining a hold | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Gaining a hold

An indie wrestling venture is gaining local momentum and garnering national attention. Chuck Teed flips for Wrestling with Reality.

Fight impressarios Sarah Dunsworth and Harold Kennedy realize wrestling. photo Jamie Smith

It’s a classic wrestling ending. Two wrestlers climb the ropes at a slow, dramatic pace. Once they’re balanced at the top, the stronger of the two hooks his opponent over the shoulder and proceeds to deliver the Spanish Fly, a high-risk maneuver where both wrestlers perform aerial flips simultaneously before crashing hard on the matt. A third wrestler tries to break the count from outside of the ring, but it’s too late. One-two-three, the crowd roars, and it’s over.

This didn’t happen at a WWE Pay-Per-View. The spectacular finish was one of the main attractions at Maritime Cup 3, which took place at the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Centre on June 2. Featuring performances by wrestlers Brody Steele, Wildman Gary Williams, Duke MacIsaac and Trash Canyon, the event drew 800 fans, making it Halifax’s largest independent wrestling draw in years. The folks behind the show—Harold Kennedy and Trailer Park girl Sarah Dunsworth—are currently putting the finishing touches on August 18’s Wrestling with Reality card with partners Peter Smith (AKA Steele) and Rick Doyle (AKA Canyon).

“I’d love to see 800 more people, but realistically I’d be happy with 500,” says Kennedy about this week’s event.

While Kennedy is relatively new at coordinating wrestling events, his love for the game runs deep. An avid fan, Kennedy developed in 2001 as a way to sell wrestling tapes and keep people in touch with the Maritime wrestling scene. His first foray into promoting—the original Maritime Cup—took place in 2003, and its success spawned two sequels and garnered support from the local wrestling community.

“The wrestlers love it,” says Kennedy. “Instead of wrestling at bars for 50 people, they’re getting to wrestle in arenas for over 800. They’re generally excited and grateful.”

Tony Armstrong agrees. An up-and-comer with over 250 matches under his belt, Armstrong made the finals at Maritime Cup 3 and will wrestle MacIsaac at Wrestling with Reality. “It’s great working with veterans who were around when wrestling was a career for some people, especially in front of a huge hometown crowd,” he says.

The crowds aren’t complaining either. Maritime Cup 3 was the Wrestlemania of Maritime indie events, with appearances by John Dunsworth and Pat Roach from Trailer Park Boys and performances by Blackout 77 and the Pink Velvet Burlesque troupe. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but it’s paying dividends.

“I’ve been to every WWE show in the area over the last 15 years, and while we don’t draw as many fans, they’re just as lively and just as loud,” Kennedy says confidently. “The fans go to see a quality production, and they’re not going to get that anywhere else.”

Wrestling With Reality is Kennedy’s and Dunsworth’s first event outside of the Maritime Cup Series, as well as their first partnership with Smith and Doyle. “Peter’s been around for nine years and knows more about wrestling than anyone else in the country,” says Kennedy. “It’s great to be able to gain some of his knowledge because I’ve only been around a short time.”

A new wrestling promotion featuring many of the Maritimes’ best grapplers, Wrestling With Reality is also a television show that follows the lives of Smith and Doyle in and out of the wrestling ring. The series, which has generated the interest from The Fight Network, has three episodes in the can, and this weekend’s show will be home to the fourth.

“Wrestling with Reality is the official promotion, but it was the television show that spawned it,” says Kennedy. “They had the idea for the show, but in order to fund it they decided to run wrestling shows. Sarah’s got all kinds of connections with TV and everything, so having her on board is tremendous. She makes life so much easier.”

If all things fall in place—audiences stay hot, and networks stay interested—Wrestling with Reality has the potential to make the Maritimes one of North America’s hottest independent wrestling territories.

“The Maritimes was once one of the hottest places to wrestle in the world,” says Kennedy. “If the right people are involved and the right promoting is done, the Maritimes could once again be the territory to wrestle in.”

Wrestling with Reality, August 18 at the Halifax Forum, Windsor at Almon, 7:30pm, $12 - $10, advance tickets at Pro Skates, 5222 Blowers and Junk and Foibles, 1533 Barrington

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