The Algonquin Commons Theatre played host to masked villains, heroic underdogs and death-defying stunts when Capital City Championship Combat (C*4) brought its brand of professional wrestling to the school on Oct. 2.
Headlined by a high-flying match between performers Matt Angel and Stu Grayson, the show also saw international wrestling star Colt Cabana return to Ottawa and take on the villainous Evil Uno.
Dozens of audience members crowded around the ring, getting up close and personal to the action before them. Having more in common with movie stage-fighting and gymnastics than the combat seen in the UFC, the performers worked together to tell a story and delight the crowd. When Grayson performed a backflip off of the bottom railing of the ACT, Angel reached his arms out to catch him before both men collapsed to the ground, writhing in mock agony whiles fans watched in awe.
Owned and operated by Mark Pollesel, the Ottawa-based organization has been putting on shows for 11 years. In that time, they have been a stepping stone for popular performers such as the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Cesaro. The promotion has also been a friend to the Canadian Cancer Society, having helped raise over $160,000 since 2011.
“I believe that C*4 has set a standard in this city,” said Pollesel. “Ottawa is not a wrestling town, never has been a wrestling town, and it’s cool that we’ve kind of built an indy scene in the city.”
A lifelong wrestling fan, Pollesel got his start in the industry in 2004. Having recently graduated from Algonquin’s scriptwriting program, he began working with a local indy organization. By 2007, he had begun promoting his own shows under the C*4 name.
“I had started helping with another local promotion, but I wanted to do my own thing,” said Pollesel. “Because as much energy as I was putting into other people’s things, I would have rather do it for myself and build something up. In 2007 I launched C*4. We started with maybe 100 people in the crowd, and now we a regular show at St. Anthony’s Hall is 400 or 500 people. I hope it continues to grow, and I hope people more people continue to take a chance on us.”
Luckily for Pollesel, it has never been a better time to be an indy wrestling promoter. With international promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Mexico’s Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, North America’s Impact Wrestling and the United States’ Ring of Honor, among many others, there is a huge demand for wrestling that opposes the streamlined, big-budget product that the WWE offers.
While the WWE churns out a product that still attempts to appear like a legitimate competition, modern professional wrestling fans know the difference between what is real and what isn’t, says Pollesel. They aren’t here to watch a legitimate fight; they’re here to watch colourful good guys overcome dastardly villains in over-the-top fashion, suspending their disbelief as grown men in tights fly through the air like superheroes.
“There’s two types of people in Ottawa: C*4 fans and those who just haven’t been to a show yet,” said Pollesel.