I watched the chanting crowd dodging the spit being spewed from the ugly face of the wrestler in the ring, as they eagerly absorbed themselves in a live version (albeit smaller) of the WWE. A few elderly men, who were previously in the higher seats of the small arena, moved down to the floor level and indulged themselves in some ranting and raving at their favourite foe. Interestingly enough, the crowd favoured the “bad” guys and the so-called “good” guys switched their role accordingly and gave the frothing crowd their limp and defeated heroes as a sacrifice to the stone-throwing throngs; further enraging the spectators until even I gave in to my primal urges to bellow out a few hoots of discouragement.
Yep, wrestling mania had reached the far north, where half-naked men in tights are a rare sight.
But these wrestlers were all heroes. They had come through many pains and tribunals to reach out to the youth with a message to never try drugs or to give up on them. One man was enraged with the rampant drug use in the inner city of Winnipeg that had trapped his own children. His courageous mission to stop the sale of drugs in the schools were met with small successes, one at a time, until drugs were not part of the youth scene and lifestyle. I saw that this message did not go unheard and people nodded their heads with appreciation, knowing that they were not alone in their own personal struggles with keeping their families clean and sober.
Back in the ring, some rather small people (I don’t like the terms dwarf, midget, elf or height deprived) avidly evoked laughter in all ages, and secretly the new fans of wrestling favoured their tiny heroes. They (the little people) obliged knowingly by ganging up on the referee, who nobody noticed as being part of the show, until some buttock biting got his attention.
The bad guys, meanwhile, continued spitting into the enraged fans, just missing their targets and thereby avoiding a health scare of no small proportion, and creating a new hate list in many people’s minds (note; anyone who dresses up without a mask is bound to have a few known enemies).
As the chanting grew louder at each passing minute, I had to explain to my little one that, no, they were not hurting each other, and yes, you can yell as loud as you want to.
The elderly men, who had come down from the stands to join my relative safety circle of 50 feet from the ring, were just as rabid as the women, who surprisingly were some of the loudest hooters and cat callers. I recall a few incidents at closing time, when the same women were cheering and jeering on some besotted fools in a ringless, no holds barred match, in a not so distant past, but that’s another story worthy only of small mention.
To many of the small children who attended, the event was another chance to run about unhindered by their engrossed parents. The concerned wrestlers reminded the minders of their parental duty and care for their little ones, so that they won’t be flattened by a flying tiny wrestler or a rejected referee. I barely noticed, as I surprised myself with my loud taunting and objective negativity. But I knew that everyone else felt the same way.
As adrenaline-driven fans grew rowdier by the minute, I knew that this natural high would be remembered vividly by many, unlike the ingested, injected or inhaled high that the north is used to. Remember, fighting something for a just cause is better than just fighting inner demons the morning after.