The local wrestling crowd missed the action in the squared circle.
Northland Wrestling has been back for two full cards since its return in the spring. The first one drew well over 400 fans, the most ever for a Northland Wrestling card.
For Dann Pigozzo it was a relief after COVID-19 effectively shut things down for two years.
Pigozzo says the two years were tough, but he never thought the end was coming for his wrestling operation.
He says he adapted to the situation.
“Perhaps there may have a been a chance that when I came back, I would not be running Northland. During COVID I opened a wrestling school, so I was training students (and continue to). If Northland ended, I thought, I may continue to train students and run student showcase events. However, that was a fleeting thought and I’m back, 100 per cent with Northland.”
Pigozzo had one show during the lockdown period, but it faced restrictions.
“Taphouse One was held in August of 2021 with an audience cap of 100 people. That was the only wrestling we have had since February of 2020.”
The first restriction-free card was held in June of this year and Pigozzo was a happy camper.
“Reloaded was the name of the first show and we got 425 people at the Granite Club and that was the best number we ever had.”
The wrestler and wrestling promoter says that number is more impressive when compared to some other provincial markets.
“A company in Ottawa that used to draw 700 fans to its shows is now getting about 250. People down south were reporting 50 per cent less attendance than they normally would get.”
Pigozzo now has plans for this market and surrounding ones.
“Right now, I’m working on our next show, something in November. We are booked to be in Valley East Days in September.”
Northland continues to add wrestlers to its roster. Some of those are local stage actors transitioning to a different kind of performing.
Pigozzo has open arms for new talent. “I just put the word out that I was looking for a second class of students. Clayton Windatt contacted me and said he was interested. We will give anybody a chance. They (the actors) came in and it was wonderful to have them aboard. Each, in their own way, has some promise. They have enriched the shows a lot since they came in.”
Pigozzo says independent operations like his have a bright future.
“In many ways it is thriving now, there are new companies in Ontario opening. There are all kinds of Indy (independent) promotions opening all over the States. There are enough of these types of companies out there that can give people a chance to make money from wrestling.”
He also wants Northland Wrestling to be a good community partner. The wrestling organization donated $1,000 to the North Bay Food Bank after its last card.
“I always wanted to do something with the North Bay Food Bank since Northland started. The Food Bank is one of the most tangible things you can do to help and it’s local. Sometimes you can give to charities and not see where the money goes. For me to give $1,000, I know that is going to go a long way.”
Pigozzo is getting prepared for Northland’s next show, which is just outside of Sudbury in September. The next North Bay show will likely be in November.