Behind the scenes of a professional wrestling match — hint: it's scripted

Vicious punches on the dance floor, broken furniture and sweaty bare-chested men: if it sounds like the set-up for an unusual performance, that's because it is.

The Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling is taking over Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom this weekend for a dance floor brawl, complete with a wrestling ring set up in the ballroom.

Co-owner Jeff Duncan, also known by his wrestling name, "The Natural," says there's a lot more choreographing behind a fight than some may realize.

"I call it art, I call it entertainment," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling/Facebook

By day, the 35-year-old is a special needs educator at a North Vancouver school.

By night, he puts on his Moonshine Mafia, redneck persona who isn't afraid of yelling at the audience and manages the fights.

'Not a real sport'

Before a match, he collaborates with the wrestlers — who he describes as performing artists — to settle on a scripted story line that'll be presented throughout the fight.

"It's my job as a promoter to give them a platform to tell that story," Duncan said.

"When we get to the time of the match, I'll just give them who the referee is, what the time is and who wins."

Yes, he repeated, the winner is predetermined.

"[2019] called, this is not a real sport," he said.

"However, if you come to the Commodore and you want to get lost in the moment, we will absolutely lose you in the moment like a movie does, like a play does."

That doesn't mean the pain of being thrown around isn't real, though.

"It's not a trampoline under that ring: it's boards, it's cables," he said. "It hurts a lot, but there are also things that you do when you're training, so it hurts in the places where you can recover and not break a bone."

Clare Hennig/CBC

Blood, sweat and tears

In a world where viewers can watch any sport online with the click of a mouse and a city with seemingly endless entertainment options, Duncan said it takes some creativity to draw in an audience.

"We know that we have to evolve what we present," he said.

For some audience members, the lure is the storyline. For others, it's the shock value.

"They want to come for the 'blood and guts' — well, not really blood. We don't do blood anymore," Duncan said. "A guy jumping off a ladder and falling through a table? Fans love that, especially when they're four beers in."  

The ECCW Ballroom Brawl 11 is running Friday and Saturday night at the Commodore Ballroom.