Bobby Sharp soars across the ring in a recent �battle.� High-flying action like this can be expected Saturday night at Festival Hall.

Wrestlers plan for slam-dunk championship tournament

Eight Western Canadian wrestling champions will battle it out to win a title in Red Deer on Saturday.

Eight Western Canadian wrestling champions will battle it out to win a title in Red Deer on Saturday.

The Canadian National Wrestling Alliance (CWNA) is holding its national championship tournament on Saturday at Festival Hall at 4214-58th St., starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending around 10 p.m.

Vern May, president of the wrestling alliance based in Central Alberta, promises it will be a good family-friendly showdown.

“They’ll compete for the chance to become the first unified champion for the country,” said May on Thursday.

Historically, wrestling has been a very territorial industry so champions usually stick within their own areas to compete, says May.

So this show is different, he said.

It will include heavyweight champions from Vancouver, Edmonton and Moose Jaw, Sask.

In order to be a heavyweight, the man must weigh at least 99 kg (220 lbs).

Previous events in Red Deer have brought out a wide cross section of spectators.

As a parent himself, May said this event won’t include things that would cause embarrassment to anyone who brings their children.

“For the long-time wrestling fans that remember the old days of wrestling, they really enjoy this show too,” said May. “Let’s tell the story through the action in the ring.”

The wrestling association has been holding events across Western Canada since the end of August.

It will have held 16 events by the time it finishes on Oct. 13 in Kelowna, B.C.

It has also signed with a wrestling group in Ontario so that matches can occur there in the fall.

The association will debut next spring in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“So we’re very busy. It’s just that people aren’t aware of it like they were of the television presence of Stampede wrestling 20 years ago.”

Bruce Hart, son of wrestling patriarch Stu Hart, is trying to resurrect Stampede wrestling in Calgary to the status it once was many years ago when it used to appear on television.

May said he thinks “competition is good.”

He said his biggest concern is that Stampede wrestling may venture into communities where his association is trying to get established.

The CWNA has been doing web-based television and it has a library of matches and interviews through www.rdtv.ca

“Crowds have really been receptive,” added May.

“Traditionally, summer was always a dead time for wrestling in Western Canada, so a lot of wrestlers would go to the East Coast. This year, I don’t think there was a week off.”

May is hoping that Central Albertans will support wrestling at events such as Saturday’s championships.

“Community response is really what allows us to continue in these kinds of markets as opposed to Calgary or Edmonton,” said May.

Cost to attend Saturday’s event is $15 in advance through www.ticketweb.ca or at Full Spectrum Kustoms at 6758 52nd Ave. Cost is $20 at the door. A family will pay $55.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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