Anyone who has watched professional wrestling can at least appreciate the physical discipline that goes into the spectacle, even if they don’t appreciate the spectacle itself. But despite all the hard work that goes into stepping into the ring, claims Andrew Ellison, the tough part of the business is in organizing events. “You have to have some street smarts because you’re not just dealing with wrestlers. It’s important to know how to deal with people. You can get what you want if they get what they want,” he says.
Ellison should know a little something about both sides of the entertainment world, as the Concordia University graduate has been wrestling for the last 16 years, and promoting events for over 10 years. “There are good things and bad things about both sides. Organizing you get to control and dictate what happens. Wrestling is a lot less stressful and seems like the easy part,” Ellison says.
For the former sociology student, the attraction to wrestling developed at a young age, much like it does for so many 10-year-old television junkies. Ellison was fortunate enough to see some of his idols in action when he would wait in line for hours for a chance to watch live tapings of “Superstars of Wrestling” at the CFCF studios. The only difference between Ellison and most of those other kids is that he decided to make wrestling a bigger part of his life. “I like the excitement. There’s the whole drama and glory of it,” he says. “My friends and I used to teach ourselves how to wrestle. One day we would train and the next day we would wrestle. But the other guys did it more as a hobby.”
Now, at the age of 34, Ellison has been able to see how professional wrestling has evolved over the last couple of decades. Although he speaks of today’s major wrestling markets with the proper amount of respect, he insists that his preferred style is that of the old school. “I think people are fed up with watching a guy talking on stage for 20 minutes. We already know that it’s staged, you should try not to insult the audience, everything has to be done for a reason,” Ellison says. The fact that he credits Montreal native, Dino Bravo, as his favourite wrestler is a testament to his more traditional wrestling values.
While acknowledging the fact that professional wrestling is a staged event, Ellison nevertheless stresses the importance of giving the audience the best show possible and trying to make them forget that what they’re watching is actually an act. “It’s important to understand the psychology to it all,” he says. “You have to put something over to the people. You can’t go in there thinking that you’re number one and you have to work with the other wrestler.”
All that passion led Ellison to start-up his own wrestling organization when he was 23-years old. With World All-Star Wrestling (WAW) he combined the entertainment value of wrestling with something just as personal and important to him. “It (WAW) combines entertainment and fundraising. Wrestling is something that people are interested in and won’t get fed up with easily.”
Ellison is currently preparing for his biggest fundraiser to date, which will take place next Saturday (Nov. 20) at the Cavendish Mall. Proceeds from that show will go to the YMCA in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. “A lot of people help after they’ve been affected by something but my thinking is why wait? People do good things when they decide to get involved,” he says.
Although the Cavendish Mall is a suitable location for Ellison’s current endeavor, naturally he has hopes of expanding the reaches of the WAW and organizing shows at larger venues in the future. He even goes so far as to suggest potential in holding an event in one of Montreal’s traditionally less welcoming venues. “The Expos aren’t playing at the Big O anymore. If it was good enough for Sugar Ray Leonard, why not?”
But for the time being, Ellison seems comfortable building up his reputation one show at a time and possibly bringing his show to Concordia at some point to help raise funds for the athletics department.
“I’m always looking to the next show to be the biggest one. I’ll do shows of any size so long as we’re able to maintain the quality. So long as the integrity stays then we’ve done our job.”
Doors Open for
“The Brawl in the Mall”
at Cavendish Mall on Saturday Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
Tickets cost $15 and proceeds will benefit the NDG Y.M.C.A. and West-End Sports Association.
Scheduled wrestlers include Abdullah the Butcher, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Max Moon.