OTTAWA – Four years ago, a young man passed away way too soon from cancer. Since then, his friends have made a commitment to honour his memory with a fundraising wrestling show every year. Saturday night was the fifth edition, and bolstered by stars Ultimo Dragon, Roderick Strong and 2 Cold Scorpio, they raised $24,300.
Since the first show, they have raised $84,000.
These are just awesome numbers when you think of it. We’re talking about independent wrestling in Ottawa here. Yes, it’s the nation’s capital, but Capital City Championship Combat’s (C*4) doesn’t have a national television deal or access to mainstream media.
In the end, the main goal is making sure their friend, Phrank Morin (who wrestled as Stinky the Homeless Guy), won’t be forgotten.
Fighting Back: Wrestling with Cancer is a team effort, relying on C*4 promoter Mark Pollesel, wrestlers Player Uno and Stu Grayson, Inter Species Wrestling’s promoter Michael Woods, and event and fundraising coordinator Stephen Gibson.
Not only did they raise a lot of money, but the wrestling — not necessarily the most important thing in those kind of events — was as good as it could be.
In the main-event, former WCW Cruiserweight champion (among many other titles) Ultimo Dragon teamed with the Super Smash Bros. (Uno & Grayson) defeating the team of Pinkie Sanchez and EYFBO. Prior to the show, many of the 400 fans in attendance stayed in line for more than 30 minutes to get a picture, an autograph or even a mask of the Japanese veteran. When he got out for his match, he was received with a huge welcome from the fans and once announced in the ring, by the traditional streamers.
“The crowd was insane for Ultimo Dragon,” said Pollesel. “Right until the end of the night, he was still over, which was awesome.”
Besides Dragon, PWG champion and Mr. Ring of Honor Roderick Strong was one of the most celebrated performers, defeating local star Mathieu St-Jacques in probably the best match of the night. As well, WCW, WWE and ECW veteran 2 Cold Scorpio showed that he still has it, defeating Michael Von Payton but even better, making people dance. As well, local wrestler Jonathan Rukin won the Fighting Back Invitational tournament.
“I think it was bell-to-bell the best Fighting Back event so far. Although it went a little late, I think the matches flowed much better than previous years,” added Pollesel.
The real main event happened at the very end of the evening when ring announcer Éric Charron announced the amount that had been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The fundraising occurs throughout the year at C*4 events. There are also different initiatives with ISW and at other various events in town. People donate items for silent auction. Others are making cupcakes. Wrestlers jockey to be on the show, driving in from Toronto or Montreal.
“Half of the money’s total came from a worldwide audience of gamers, participating in newLegacyInc’s 24 streamathon, which included Vince Russo’s participation. That event took place over the 24 hours coming before Fighting Back,” said Pollesel.
“CM Punk tweeted about it!” he added.
Even WWE’s Kevin Owens, who wrestled at Fighting Back in previous years, sent a few goodies for the silent auction, such as a ring-worn signed t-shirt of his.
All in all, it was a perfect evening. Good matches, great crowd and a lot of money raised. Pollesel will announce a final number later this week on the event’s website, www.Fighting-Back.ca.
“It’s the most stressful event of the year for me, but it’s all worth it at the end,” concluded Pollesel.
Somewhere, somehow, Phrank Morin is looking down at his friends and he is beaming with pride.
Pat Laprade has been going to almost every Fighting Back event and it’s always one of the shows he looks forward to. He’d like to personally thank and congratulate Mark, Stephen, Nic, Marc, Mike and everybody involve for making this possible and so successful.