From Hardcore to Ringside, this is the story of establishing the Regina indy wrestling territory as it is today.
I walked into the hardcore wrestling ring building on a January night in 1997. It was dirty, cold, concrete and unapologetic – I felt like I was in heaven. As a rebellious grade-nine-kid, I was desperately looking for a place to fit in. This was day one of my journey from hardcore to ringside.
The ring building resembled an emptied-out autobody shop, with an old boxing ring in the middle. On the tall, white garage door in the eastside of the room, there were thick, sharpie-marker autographs from the wrestlers who called this building theirs. You can see the shop where it all started in this old commercial found on an old VHS tape.
Buster Brody, Massive Damage, Todd Myers and Rex Roberts explained how the ring fit together and how it was torn down. I was there to learn. They needed some form of ring crew and my brother and I would be that crew.
From mid-to-late 1996, Hardcore Wrestling ran shows from their garage. At the most, 50 fans could pack into it. By January 1997, they outgrew the garage. I would be ring crew for Hardcore Wrestling’s first big event at the Exhibition Auditorium – a Regina venue made famous by countless Stampede Wrestling events in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Hardcore Wrestling quickly established its stars. Among them was 400-pound Crusher Carlson, the Roberts Brothers and Sammy Sadistic. But it was Dark Angels who were the alpha tag team in the young wrestling promotion.
Buster Brody – with his buzzcut, and big-man frame – teamed with Massive Damage – a former body-builder, whose long, stringy hair usually covered just enough of his face to get a glimpse of the violent expressions peeking through.
I set up and tore down the ring before and after the show. Sometimes, I’d travel with the crew for out of town shots and do music and security as well. When the choice was wrestling or high school, I chose wrestling almost every time.
Infamous Bunkhouse Battle Royal
Hardcore Wrestling had a hell of a run. The Bunkhouse Battle Royale was a defining moment for the company. The stipulation was that each wrestler brings a weapon of his choice to the ring.
Ten minutes in, I was literally being splattered with the blood from any one of the 15 guys in the ring at the time. The woman sitting near me who brought her teenage son, got up in disgust and left. Massive Damage was carving somebody up with an oversized corkscrew. Road signs, chunks of wood, steel chairs and all kinds of other shit was laying in a mess on the ring mat.
It’s rumoured that a health inspector came to the Bunkhouse Battle royal due to concern for public safety.
It’s rumoured that a health inspector came to the Bunkhouse Battle Royal due to concern for public safety. By the end of that match, there was nearly as much blood as whitespace on the now blood-stained, canvas.
Death of Hardcore
Despite nearly two years of success, eventually, crowds began to dwindle. Wrestlers began to get frustrated. Some of them walked away from the company – some, the industry. Scott Wheatly, the promoter, didn’t have a lot of options.
Nearing bankruptcy, Hardcore Wrestling attempted to change its brand. At the end of 1998, with new bookers, the company re-launched as Wild West Wrestling. It would only put on two events before folding. Its final event saw the company crown future-WWE superstar TJ Thunder (AKA Test) as its last champion.
But in the summer of 1999, former Dark Angel Buster Brody (AKA Charley Hayes) created World of High Impact Pro-Wrestling (it later became High Impact Wrestling). I trained to wrestle and debuted with this crew. Charley Hayes, booked and promoted for High Impact until December 2012, when he sold the company.
Birth of Ringside
With the new ownership of High Impact Wrestling, some of the talent wanted a change of scenery, and the seeds of Ringside Wrestling were planted. In 2014, Ringside Wrestling had its first event.
Thryllin’ Dylan (THAT’S ME!) debuted for Ringside Wrestling in October 2017. I departed from High Impact Wrestling after 17 years of matches with them. And Ringside Wrestling hasn’t been the same since.
Right now, High Impact Wrestling and Ringside Wrestling run shows in Regina and surrounding areas consistently. I’m proud to have been there when the Regina scene was being established and I’m still thrilled to be part of it 22 years later. Thrilled to have been on the journey from hardcore to ringside.