Body slams and pile drivers: Inuvik duo brings pro-wrestling to the Arctic

Wade Blu Gruben and Dez Loreen are behind Totally Arctic Wrestling. They're recruiting people from all over the Northwest Territories to put on live shows with local talent as well as bring 'first-class' wrestlers up North.

'It's going to be the biggest thing to hit the North since oil and gas'

Wrestling superfan Dez Loreen, pictured at WrestleMania, says he will be wrestling under the persona Zane Matthew. Loreen is the co-founder of a new professional wrestling company in Inuvik. (Submitted by Dez Loreen )

From flashy outfits to back flips and big personas, professional wrestling can be over-the-top entertainment. But what would it look like if it took place in the Arctic?

That's something Wade Blu Gruben and Dez Loreen are hoping to find out in the Beaufort Delta region.

The duo is behind Totally Arctic Wrestling, a new professional wrestling company based in Inuvik, N.W.T. They're recruiting talent from all over the Northwest Territories to put on live shows and are also looking to bring "first-class" wrestlers up North.

"We're bringing entertainment, it's going to be funny, it's a little bit of drama," said Loreen.

The wrestling superfan has many roles: comedian, filmmaker, emcee and town councillor. But he said it's all been leading toward this project.

Dez Loreen, left, and Wade Blu Gruben, right, are the faces behind a new pro-wrestling company in the Arctic. (Submitted by Dez Loreen)

"This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time," he explained. "A lot of people say 'oh you know, when we were teenagers we wanted to be wrestlers.' And it's like hey we all did right? But why can't we be?' So here we are."

About 20 years ago, Loreen said a pro-wrestling match was well attended in the region, but he noted it can be costly bringing wrestlers up north. He hopes by developing a wrestling scene locally, they can put on shows more often.

"Wade and I just wanted to wrestle, we just wanted to do this on our own and if there's an audience great but you know we're going to do it regardless."

Professional wrestlers are known for their colourful monikers and characters. Famous examples include the Undertaker, the Rock, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. 

Loreen will be hitting the mat under the persona Zane Matthew, who he describes as the "cocky heel" or bad guy in a "David versus Goliath sort of story."

"He's the guy that knows he's better than everyone else, he's here for one reason and that's to be the best. He's not here to make friends."

Totally Arctic Wrestling plans to hold its first wrestling camp in October. People will learn the basics of pro-wrestling, including fundamental moves, mic skills and how to work a crowd from experienced wrestlers with Big West Wrestling in Kelowna, B.C., Loreen said.

"It's going to be the biggest thing to hit the North since oil and gas."

Gruben and Loreen are also developing characters for a digital wrestling show titled Proving Ground, which is expected to take place in November.

Listen to Dez Loreen as Zane Matthew promote Totally Arctic Wrestling to CBC Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis. 0:54


Written by Emily Blake, based on an interview by Loren McGinnis, produced by Mark Hadlari


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