Featuring Pro Champion Dominic Garrini, Kevin Ku, Arik Cannon, and former WWE Superstar Ariya Daivari
By John Showalter
Is there a more wholesome American pastime than watching people hit each other with folding chairs and slam each other through tables? There is no denying that professional wrestling has been drawing crowds for years with its over-the-top antics and larger-than-life characters. Several wrestlers have even broken through into big Hollywood productions, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena being two prominent recent examples. While World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) may be the best-known pro wrestling organization nationally, that does not mean there aren’t scores of smaller leagues drawn by the siren call of body slams.
One of those pro wrestling organizations is Timebomb Pro Wrestling, founded by its owner Eric Morrison in 2018 in Grand Forks, who also handles “most of the behind-the-scenes stuff.” Prior to founding Timebomb, Morrison had been a longtime booker of hardcore punk shows in Grand Forks. “When I quit my band I trained as a wrestler,” said Morrison. “I found out it wasn’t for me.” Morrison was still passionate about pro wrestling though, so instead of being a wrestler he found his calling in promoting wrestlers instead.
The first matches under the banner of Timebomb were small affairs at Ojata Records in Grand Forks that didn’t even incorporate a ring. Morrison had gotten this idea from a wrestler and promoter named Casanova Valentine, who arranges shows in New York, after he saw him in a documentary from Vice. The starting roster only consisted of four or so wrestlers who Morrison had recruited from other wrestling leagues and organizations in the area, such as the now defunct Fully Loaded Wrestling.
Word of mouth spread from there and from those humble beginnings the core roster for Timebomb snowballed into an impressive 15 or 16 wrestlers, enough to have a full night consisting of at least six matches. The roster contains a mix of more cartoonish, over-the-top characters and serious athletes, which Morrison feels is important in any lineup of wrestlers. “We’ve turned a corner on becoming a more legitimate company,” he said.
“Independent wrestling is on a bit of a boom,” said Morrison. He pointed out that in major cities like Chicago or Minneapolis there are “tons” of wrestling leagues. Timebomb has had a show in Minneapolis itself (to a sold-out crowd no less) as well as locally at the Aquarium and Sanctuary Event Center. “There is a pretty big crowd who enjoy wrestling in Fargo.” The next show, on February 24th, marks their first return to Sanctuary since the pandemic, which put Timebomb Pro Wrestling (as well as countless other things) on hold.
One might wonder what being a wrestling promoter entails. Of course, safety is a big concern. Even though matches are largely choreographed (sorry to burst the bubble of anyone who still believed it was all 100% real) there is still a very real chance of getting hurt. One of the biggest concerns of both Morrison and the wrestlers of Timebomb is damaging the venue and/or the crowd. They have to work together to make sure that they can put on an action-packed show but still have a minimal chance of collateral damage. Injured audience members or a trashed venue are both financially damaging and bad PR that can limit future opportunities for booking shows.
Of course, there’s also the matter of booking shows, recruiting talent, and creating publicity for the organization. These sorts of things are par for the course for any kind of promoter, from music to wrestling. Another aspect of promotion unique to pro wrestling is “kayfabe.” For the uninitiated, kayfabe is the “drama” aspect of pro wrestling, determining the story of a season, in which wrestlers have rivalries, who is the “heel” aka the bad guy. It’s okay to boo and hiss, these are all parts of kayfabe, which is arguably as much a part of the appeal of pro wrestling as the wrestling itself. Morrison tries to have the stuff mapped out at least six months in advance.
Timebomb has also featured guest wrestlers in its shows. If there are two places where pro wrestling is taken as seriously as in the U.S., if not more, they are Japan and Mexico. One of Timebomb’s shows at the TAK Music Venue over in Dilworth, MN featured Minoru Suzuki, a huge name in wrestling in the Land of the Rising Sun. There have also been luchadores, or Mexican masked wrestlers booked at shows. One show got canceled because of COVID and was going to have a lucha libre (the Spanish phrase for pro wrestling) theme.
As for what the future of Timebomb holds after the upcoming show, Morrison had this to say. “We’re always trying to grow our audience and keep building a consistent fanbase.”
IF YOU GO
Timebomb Pro Wrestling presents Here to Stay
February 24, 2022, 8 to 11:30pm; Tickets start at $10
Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave N, Fargo (701) 404-9006
September 14th 2022
May 18th 2022
March 16th 2022
July 13th 2021
June 15th 2021
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