Disco is alive and well and standing next to the curtain entrance inside the Alice McKay building at Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
Like a proud parent, Maple Ridge resident Nathan ‘Disco Fury’ Burke oversaw the characters who battled inside the squared circle during a June 9 All Star Wrestling (ASW) show.
‘Disco Fury’s’ pro wrestling career came to an abrupt halt as a result of injuries he suffered from a pair of car wrecks, but he’s still deeply in the mix as co-owner of ASW, along with his business partner, Surrey resident Mark Vellios (a.k.a. ‘Gorgeous’ Michelle Starr).
Burke and Vellios have ‘day jobs’ as long shoremen but their passion, their baby, is ASW, an independent promotion with shows usually running every two weeks at the Alice McKay building.
They started ASW a decade ago with a family-friendly ideology, and a zero tolerance for alcohol.
“I learned a lesson 15 years ago when I was wrestling in England,” Burke related. “I asked (the promoter) ’Why don’t you have more vulgarity?’ He answered, ‘see out there in the crowd? There are 1,200 people and half of them are kids.’”
The primary audience at ASW shows are kids with families and fans of the traditional, old school wrestling, a tribute to the days of the 1970s incarnation of NWA All Star Wrestling that featured such legends as Don Leo Jonathan, Rick Martel, and the late, greats Roddy Piper, Playboy Buddy Rose, Gene Kiniski, and Master Sgt. Al Tomko.
The philosophy behind today’s All Star Wrestling is in sharp contrast to World Wrestling Entertainment’s ‘Attitude Era,’ which at the time pushes many boundaries, before the WWE switched back to a more politically correct format.
On a similar vein, quite literally: very little to no blood is spilled during ASW shows.
“We do the very minimal hard core (matches),” Burke said. “Blood is very minimal… very rare.”
But working within these boundaries doesn’t take away from the excitement of the matches, Burke notes.
Burke admits that pro wrestling is looked upon as a niche from of entertainment, saying “some people get it and some people don’t get it.”
But he and Vellios believe if catering to families opens a whole new dimension.
“If the kids see it and they like it, their parents will bring them,” Burke added. “If it’s too violent or too vulgar or too provocative or too riské, then the parents will say, ‘I don’t want my kids watching this.’”
And the fans, ranging from ones who have been going to ASW shows from their inception to newcomers, are coming out in droves.
“To be honest it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Burke said. “In the last year-and-a-half we’ve seen, I would say, a good 40 per cent new fan base coming out. We always see somebody new. We’re running every two weeks and it’s not slowing us down. The crowds keep getting bigger.”
Current ASW stars include Trans Canada Heavyweight champion Mr. India, tag team titleholders Devastation (Pain and Suffering), Cruiserweight champion is Cobra Kai, and second generation grappler Bambi Hall, who holds the women’s belt.
Vellios and Burke also run another company, Girls Gone Wrestling!, that includes as many as 20 female wrestlers.
Burke can only see the independent circuit growing, and is steadfast in his belief that the future looks bright.
“My son is 15 years old and he is already going into the ring,” he said. “The future is on his shoulders.”
Marking a milestone
ASW is holding its 10th Anniversary Show on July 7 at the Cloverdale Agriplex.
The show features WWE Attitude star Gangrel, Tommy Dreamer, Rob The Giant, the UFC’s Tom Lawlor, Loose Cannon Kenny Lush, and others.
Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.allstarwrestling.ca or call 604-710-0872.