Local wrestling league prepares for smackdown
March 1, 2017 by Jayden Grieve, contributing writer
Wrestling was the most popular sport in ancient Greece. Thousands of years before John Cena captured hearts on the internet, near-naked Olympians tussled in the ring, exhibiting strength, endurance, and willpower. The excitement and adrenaline of this spectacle has withstood the test of time and has captured the hearts of folks far and wide… and in our own quiet town.
The West Coast League of Lady Wrestlers is, as it sounds, a collective of women who have been enthralled by the sport. Last year, for the first time, they held the wrestling show Garden City Smackdown, and it’s coming back this year.
The event will be a wrestling event, no doubt about it: the league has a wrestling ring, there will be areas for people to sit and stand while watching the matches, announcers on stage behind the ring, and half-time shows.
“The wrestlers can be quite interactive with people in the front row, but if you’re not involved, you’re not involved, there’s the lovely safety of that,” says Fraea Blanchard, one of the event’s participants, known as Fraea the Banshee in the ring. “We’re really into promoting safe spaces and respectful events and stuff like that.”
Blanchard says that the wrestlers come from all sorts of backgrounds; some have never performed before and several, like Blanchard, are burlesque performers. Blanchard says that the group has worked very hard to ensure that the event will be safe and fun for both the performers and the patrons. The event will have “safer space” staff, who will be there to support anyone who feels overwhelmed by the sort of violent nature of the event.
“If something brings something up for someone, it’s really important for us that we have people there that know how to provide a safe experience for them if they need to talk about it and address anything that comes up,” she say. “Violence is something we need to keep on as a community because it looks different for everyone, and I think it’s something we’ve all experienced.”
Despite the careful planning, Blanchard, who was an extra in the first annual smackdown, says that the last year’s event went smoothly, and she expects the show to be fun to watch, and exciting to participate in.
“I really love seeing different types of people doing different types of things,” she says. “I think, especially, there’s something extraordinary about wrestling. Some people compare it to, ‘Oh, you guys are like superheroes.’”
With their own bits, skills, and methods, each performer has developed their own persona, and Blanchard says she’s excited to see everyone rock it.
“I really like how everyone embraces the differences in people in such a creative and supportive way, as well as embracing some political satire,” says Blanchard. “Having the combination of satire and playfulness is super important during these times.”
Garden City Smackdown
7 pm Friday March 10
7 pm Saturday March 11 (sold out)
$16 advance, $20 at door
19+, Victoria Edelweiss Club Hall
108 Niagara Street