The air was ripe with the scent of beer, pizza, and sweat as East York’s only professional wrestling league returned Oct. 1 at the Slovenski Dom on Pape Avenue.
Since arriving in East York two years ago, Greektown Wrestling has grown into a community, evidenced by the excited spectators many of them wearing local wrestling paraphernalia.
It is a community-driven show that can entertain both families with kids and drunk 20-year-olds, Channing Decker said.
Decker and Trent Gibson, two East York residents who make up the duo The Fraternity, started the league in 2015.
The Fraternity, whose personas are an exaggerated stereotype of frat guys, are well known in the local pro wrestling community. Many audience members were dressed in gear depicting their logo and seemed to know The Fraternity’s signature chant “F-4-E” meaning fraternity forever. In the final match when Decker defeated Josh Alexander, the crowd burst into the frat-guy chant “Olé Olé Olé” popularized at other sporting events.
Hosting the event was Mike (Nug) Nahrgang, 43, a commentator on Sportnet’s Aftermath, a weekly show that recaps WWE events. Nahrgang is also a part of the Canadian sketch comedy troupe the Minnesota Wrecking Crew and for him, the best part of wrestling is “the funny stuff … because nobody gets hurt, nobody goes through a table and nobody takes thumb tacks in the back,” he said.
The match between wrestlers Space Monkey and Joey Janela was a no-disqualification match, which means it allowed for the use of props: bananas were smashed, an aluminum garbage can was destroyed and a wrestler left the ring with thumb tacks embedded in his back — to the delight of the audience.
Omar Rahman, 29, a fan and friend of The Fraternity brought his wife, brother-in-law and three young cousins to their first live wrestling event. During intermission, Rahman’s young cousins excitedly took pictures with wrestlers in costume.
“The energy, the atmosphere, a whole diverse group of fans that come in [and] enjoy themselves” Rahman said, explaining his love of live pro wrestling. “They really get to know the wrestlers in and out. It’s great.”
During matches, wrestlers often perform outside of the ring, interacting with members of the audience. At her first event, Rahman’s wife Moitry, 27, was accidentally bumped on the head when a performance overflowed into the crowd. While she wouldn’t say being a part of the match in that way was exciting, she did say it would not deter her from coming back to another Greektown Wrestling event.
Helping out as one of the sponsors of the event were Dave Ocho, 32, and Josh Ortiz, 26, the hosts of East York wrestling podcast “Ocho and Ortiz.”
“I think it’s great there’s wrestling here right in Greektown now,” Ortiz said.
“I’m a huge fan of Colt Cabana — I never had a chance to see him live before now,” Ocho said. He was highly anticipating Cabana’s match against Jock Sampson and it did not disappoint. “They put on a great show for the fans.” he said.
At Sunday’s match, proceeds from two raffles went to the John Howard Society on Danforth Avenue to aid in the rehabilitation and re-integration of community members who have had, or may be at risk of, trouble with the law.
“They do not only so much for the community, but travelling across Ontario and the US, they’re putting in work and I’d really like to see Greektown grow for these guys,” Ocho said of Decker and Gibson.