The Current

Watch Vancouver pro wrestlers teach Matt Galloway how to run, grapple and bump in the ring

The Current's Matt Galloway laced up his sneakers and stepped into the ring at Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling's training facility in Surrey, B.C., to learn about the local wrestling scene firsthand.

'Wrestlers are the closest thing real life has to superheroes,' says wrestler Scotty Mac

Left to right: Miles Deville, Shareef Morrow, The Current's Matt Galloway, Scotty Mac and Draven Andrews at the Lion's Gate Dojo in Surrey, B.C., the training facility for Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)

Just off the King George highway in Surrey, B.C., an unassuming brick warehouse sits, giving no hints to the unusual work environment inside: a cold, stark room dominated by two wrestling rings.

This is the Lion's Gate Dojo, where professional wrestlers from Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) train and prepare for their shows across Western Canada.

The Current's Matt Galloway laced up his sneakers and stepped into the ring for a crash course in how wrestlers run, grapple and bump around the canvas, guided by 20-year wrestling veteran and ECCW co-owner Scotty Mac.

The Current's Matt Galloway laced up his sneakers and stepped into the ring for a crash course in how wrestlers run, grapple and bump around the canvas, guided by 20-year wrestling veteran Scotty Mac. 4:28

ECCW opened in 1996, and over the years grew to become one of Canada's most recognized independent wrestling organizations.

Some performers currently in the U.S.-based juggernaut World Wrestling Entertainment, including Kyle O'Reilly, Tyler Breeze and the Singh Brothers, either got their start or spent parts of their early careers with ECCW.

Training sessions at ECCW typically start with stretches, including a set of 100 squats. Galloway may have joined in at squat No. 91. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)
Mac (real name Scott Schnurr) is a 20-year veteran of professional wrestling and co-owner of ECCW. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)

Mac says that independent wrestling has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to smaller companies' ability to promote their shows to a wide audience online.

In years prior, "it was really, really difficult to make a living in pro wrestling if you weren't working for Vince McMahon," he said, referring to the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Galloway locks in a collar-and-elbow tie-up with Miles Deville. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)
Galloway gets comfortable in a side headlock. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)

Now, promotions like ECCW enjoy a healthy regular audience performing in venues with audiences of a few hundred to 1,000 people, including at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.

"It's like the difference between … seeing U2 in the Rogers Arena, or Coldplay or Nickelback — you know, the guys with the machine behind them, or seeing your favourite indie band at the Commodore [Ballroom]," he said.

Galloway returns the favour with a headlock on Mac. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)
Galloway learns how to fall in pro wrestling, known as 'taking a bump': hit the mat on your back with the widest possible surface area, smack the mat with your hands and tuck your chin to protect your head. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)

Mac's love affair with pro wrestling began on his eighth birthday, when he went to see his first live show. The evil foreign tag team of Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik faced off against the heroic British Bulldogs in the main event.

"I think it was the combination of the the big personalities and the theatrics and the costumes," he recalled.

"Wrestlers are the closest thing real life has to superheroes because we intentionally suspend our disbelief and get emotionally invested into what most people are seeing as someone doing something that most people can't.

"And it's a magic that you can't find anywhere else."

Draven Andrews, left, and Shareef Morrow take a moment's rest to watch the other action in the ring. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)
Galloway takes a short break from running the ropes to talk to Scotty Mac. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC)

Mac bristles somewhat at comments about wrestling being "fake" — because, he says, most fans have long moved beyond that debate.

"The people that hate wrestling, it's like they really think that all those people sit in the audience are all stupid and are believing everything they're watching. They don't love it because they believe it. They love it because they appreciate the performances," he said.

"You want to put on a performance that even if every audience member has watched every 'Secrets of Pro Wrestling' video ... they're so emotionally invested … because of the two characters and the believability on our faces and in our reactions, that they completely forget about it."


Written by Jonathan Ore. Produced by Matt Meuse.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.