The growth of pro wrestling in the Foothills took a major step forward on Thursday.
‘The Walking Weapon’ Josh Alexander, a decorated pro wrestler and former Impact world champion and x-division champion, called it a rewarding experience to give back at shows like CanAm Wrestling’s Slammed event, Jan. 27 at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
“Personally as a Canadian wrestler from Toronto I built my whole brand internationally on being a Canadian wrestler because I grew up watching guys like Bret Hart,” Alexander said. “And you come back to Calgary and it’s pretty much the birthplace of the Hart family, there’s such a rich history of pro wrestling here.
“Being able to compete here and try and make the wrestling scene here grow a little bit that’s my way of giving back to the stuff that got me in pro wrestling at the start.”
Alexander has worked with CanAm on seminars over the past couple years, but this most recent tour is his first with the promotion.
“Number-one, I got real lucky with the warm weather in the middle of January coming to Calgary, but it’s been awesome,” he said.
CanAm has hit southern Alberta locales from its base at the Back Alley Nightclub in Calgary to Chestermere, Strathmore, Medicine Hat and now a couple visits to Okotoks.
It’s been a chance for the wrestling superstar to reconnect with fans both old and new.
“It’s a lot of kids, a lot of people trying to come out and enjoy wrestling for the first time,” Alexander said. “You just have to hope that you give them a good show and that they’ll want to come back and that the seed can grow.
“There’s a lot of pro wrestlers out there, a lot of really good talent in Canada and they need places like this to wrestle so getting on these tours, going town to town and building their name is the stuff that’s going to make them successful.”
The Jan. 27 show featured tag team matches, a battle of women’s world champions Kat Von Heez and Angelica as well as a triple-threat match with Alexander, ‘The Zombie Killer’ Mentallo and ‘The Canadian Crusher’ AJ Sanchez.
The main event saw fan-favourite ‘The Cheetahbear’ retain his CanAm world heavyweight championship to the delight of the raucous Okotoks crowd.
“It’s an incredible locker-room that we’ve got,” said CanAm CEO Otto Gentile. “Everybody had an incredible match as you guys saw. I can’t thank everybody enough.”
Gentile called the Okotoks crowd one of the best the Alberta promotion has enjoyed seen since the start of the pandemic.
“Tonight went incredibly, I can’t thank the paper enough, can’t thank the radio station enough,” Gentile said. “Who knew that a little bit of advertising would get a crowd like this to an event that we’ve been trying to push for the last two months.
“Absolutely incredible, I can’t thank the fans enough from Okotoks for coming out and enjoying the event. I hope they all had fun and by the sounds of the screams of the kids they certainly did.”
For Alexander, his passion for the sport blossomed before getting a chance to see it live.
“I never thought it was possible, never knew it existed, I just thought what I was watching on television was the only thing,” he said. “I thought that was far out of reach for me being from small-town Canada in Ontario.
“Then 2005 came around, the Internet was a thing and you could Google things and I found out there was a wrestling school not more than an hour from where I was going to university and I just wanted to go and touch the ropes and see what the ring felt like. I had no intention of training, but they made me get in the ring, it set the hook and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
“It’s been 17 years since then, it’s taken me all over the world, it’s given me a family and it’s my passion now and given me the reason to make myself the best I can possibly be.”
The CanAm wrestling crew will be back in short order with the next Okotoks show set for Feb. 24, back at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
“I’m looking forward to coming back next month with a bigger and better crowd,” Gentile said. “I guarantee you we will keep bringing exciting stories to the Okotoks area and exciting talent from all over Canada and the world.
“We try to switch it up so we don’t get boring so there’s always going to be some new faces, there’s always going to be the regulars as well, but you never know you might see a couple surprises here and there.”
For more information follow @CanAmWrestling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or contact Gentile at 403-369-3677.