Photo essay

A family night at the ring

Wrestlers put on a show in Lower Sackville

Professional wrestlers brought their sport of spectacle to the Sackville Heights Community Centre on Saturday, for an evening that was all about family.

The show, called Winter Warriors, was billed as a family event. It was put on by the wrestling promotion company North Pro Canadian Wrestling, founded in January by Eric Ducet.

Ducet, who was born in New Brunswick, has wrestled professionally for over 16 years. He said North Pro drew in around 800 fans for its first show in Moncton, but he expected a smaller crowd for the show in Lower Sackville.

Wrestlers prepare before their show begins.   Lane Harrison
Wrestlers unpack merchandise to sell to fans of all ages.   Lane Harrison

“We’re hoping to get maybe 100, maybe over 100, which is a small crowd for us,” Ducet said, as he prepared the community gym for Saturday’s show.

“But we’re building something. We’re helping our guys, we’re not losing any money, and truthfully, I made a promise to our guys and our guys made a promise to me that I would basically put on as many shows as possible, and they would give me their best.”

Fans enter the Sackville Heights Community Centre before the wrestling show starts.   Lane Harrison

Once the gym was filled, Ducet became Markus Burke and stepped into the ring with the rest of the wrestlers.

Wrestlers enter the room to start the show.   Lane Harrison
Markus Burke during his match at the Sackville Heights Community Centre.   Lane Harrison

The Burke character is an homage to Ducet’s uncle, Leo Burke, a wrestler from New Brunswick who had a successful international career in the 1980s and 90s.

“It was a tribute to him and he gave me the name too. I asked him for it, and he was more than happy to give me that name. And Mark was just my dad’s name,” said Ducet.

A wrestler rests on the rope during his match.   Lane Harrison

Family ties run deep in the wrestling community in the Maritimes. Kasey (The Wild One) Williams, one of the top-billed performers at the event, got his name from an uncle. Gary (The Wild Man) Williams was known internationally in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

To embody the Wild One character, Williams draws from his family history.

“We’ve got a lot of Viking blood in us. So I just kind of took the stories that have been told over the years and smashed them up into a character,” he said.

Kasey (Wild One) Williams greets a young fan during the show’s intermission.   Lane Harrison

Williams, a father of four, is introducing his children to the family business.

“I’m a single dad who raises them on his own,” Williams said. “Last year was the first year that I let them come out and start watching stuff, start getting involved in the shows. They enjoy it. They like seeing their dad kick other people’s asses.”

Going to wrestling shows is a regular occurrence for many children at Saturday’s event. Many got their picture taken with their favourite wrestlers.

Young fans pose for pictures in the ring during the show’s intermission.   Lane Harrison

“I’ve been going to shows for the last 10 years,” said Doug McGowan, a 19-year-old from Spryfield who is training to become a professional wrestler.

“I actually started with one of my friends. He took me, and then I convinced my mom to go and she fell in love with it. We’ve been going to every show ever since,” said McGowan.

Big T takes a moment to address jeering fans before his match.   Lane Harrison

Parents and children alike were invested in Saturday’s performance, loudly cheering or jeering during every match.

A young fan holds up a sign during a match.   Lane Harrison

The night concluded with a tag-team battle between the heroes and villains of the night.

The Wild One, a Sackville native, was the last man standing.

Kasey (Wild One) Williams celebrates with fans after the main event at the Sackville Heights Community Centre.   Lane Harrison

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