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Arts, Sports & Culture

Pittsburgh's newest indie promotion aims to prove that anyone can Enjoy Wrestling

AJ Small - AJFoTo-0515.jpg
AJ Small
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Courtesy of Enjoy Wrestling
Willow Nightingale takes on Effy during an episode of Enjoy Wrestling's Canned Heat series.

Pittsburgh’s newest indie wrestling company will debut in front of a live audience Friday. Owners of Enjoy Wrestling hope to shepherd in a new chapter in the city’s long love affair with wrestling by bringing in a diverse roster of athletes.

The company’s first in-person event, "Night Moves," will take place at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory on the North Side.

“We want to show Pittsburgh that wrestling is for everyone,” co-owner Taylor Gregg said. “Our mission is to create a product that appeals to both lifetime wrestling fans and folks who have never watched a match, all while creating a safe and inclusive environment for talent and fans alike.”

Enjoy is owned by Gregg, her husband Maxx, Kurt Hackimer and Scotty Swemba, all lifelong wrestling fans. After Maxx and Scotty worked together doing commentary, graphics and video for FEST Wrestling in Gainesville, Fla., they wanted to start something similar in Pittsburgh.

Enjoy Wrestling will bring athletes from all races, genders and sexualities to Pittsburgh, Maxx Gregg said. Viewers will notice more women, people of color, trans and non-binary athletes than are typically featured in wrestling events.

“Other organizations were kind of just, you know, 'We have a women’s match,' and it checked their box and that was enough for them. But we personally [think] it doesn’t have to stop at one match,” Gregg said.

Enjoy has also featured mixed-gender matchups. Gregg expects some folks to take issue with mixed-gender battles, but “I think everyone knows what to expect when they come to pro wrestling. It’s not like we’re watching people have a bar fight.”

The organization has strived to be inclusive of LGBTQ wrestlers, announcers and fans. A non-binary wrestler is featured in the Night Moves main event. Max the Impaler will challenge Enjoy Wrestling’s reigning champion, MV Young. Other athletes featured are openly queer.

Friday’s event will also bring talents from a variety of other backgrounds to Pittsburgh. Enjoy owners hope the roster will help them make their own space for live wrestling in Pittsburgh, a debut almost two years in the making.

Enjoy raised nearly $8,000 with an IndieGogo campaign in 2019 with plans to hold the company’s first live event in May of 2020. After the pandemic delayed most large-scale events, the foursome produced an episodic web series called "Canned Heat" for fans to watch the company’s wrestling on YouTube.

“We essentially wanted to get some work for wrestlers … and we wanted to present something to the world because we were chomping at the bit to exist,” Maxx Gregg said.

The nine-episode series was received well by wrestling fans locally and from afar. According to Gregg, it wasn’t exactly profitable, but he said it was worth it.

“Wrestling is very expensive to put on,” he said. But “I’d rather lose X amount of money before [cheapening] our production quality.”

Some athletes use popular music during their entrances, which triggered YouTube censors and prevented them earning ad dollars from the live streams.

But season two of "Canned Heat" was almost entirely supported financially by sponsors and fans.

“That definitely kind of cemented the idea that there’s people in the area that wanted to see our version of wrestling,” said Gregg.

“Season one we used all of our own money and we knew we were going to burn a hole in our pockets… [but] to have season two funded from sponsors and fans really sealed the deal,” that they were onto something, he said.

Tickets for Night Moves have sold well, according to Enjoy owners. And some fans are cashing in on tickets they held on to from 2020.

There’s much for them to see, including the newly-signed All Elite Wrestler Lee Moriarty taking on Darius Lockheart; a hair versus mask match between Ziggy Haim and Edith Surreal (the winner takes either a piece of the loser’s hair or her mask); and a battle for the FEST wrestling championship between reigning champ Effy and Billy Dixon. Plus an eight-person tag team match.

While other local indie promoters have hosted events in nearby towns, Enjoy Wrestling is committed to hosting its future events in Pittsburgh. According to Gregg, the company’s next tournament is still in the planning stages.

Night Moves starts at 7 p.m. Friday in Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory Hotel on the North Side. Limited tickets will be available at the door.