‘Great North Wrestling’ At Hawkesbury’s Robert Hartley Arena… Old School, Baby, Totally Old School.

Gabriel Landriault

We’re always looking for events to shoot photos at… so far, over the past few months, we’ve shot the Vankleek Hill Agricultural Fair, the Vankleek Hill Gun Show, the Hawkesbury River Festival, the Hawkesbury Street Festival, and the 2014 Victoria Day Weekend in Vankleek Hill thing.

So when we found out Great North Wrestling was coming to the Robert Hartley Arena in Hawkesbury, we knew where we wanted to shoot next. And we managed to score some ringside tickets and a media pass… because that’s just how cool we are.

And, holy crap, what an incredible show it was… these guys were insane. Pro-wrestling, on TV, is all about the near miss. You don’t have to watch too hard to see the guys letting up on each other, or the hand whiffing by another dudes face, and dude falling back ten feet like he’d been shot by a grenade launcher.

But on Saturday night, at the Hartley Arena, in front of about a thousand or slightly more fans, 20-24 guys, and two women, smacked the crap out of each other for almost four hours.

…the guy on the ropes is Great North Wrestling (GNW) Canadian Champion Hannibal “The Animal”, the guy on the ground (and in the submission hold) is New Japan Pro Wrestling World Champion “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles.

These people punished each other… there were no mats outside the ring. When someone hit the floor, they hit the concrete slab of a hockey arena. When someone else jumped from the top rope onto the person who just hit the floor, they were landing on a guy who was laying on the concrete pad of a hockey arena.

…don’t get me wrong, nobody was seriously injured — the object of pro-wrestling is not to hurt your opponent, it’s to put on a great show for the crowd. And there was (surprisingly) no blood, so the professionals were exceptionally professional about what they did. But I was moving around the edges of the ring for the entire event, and when someone went through a table, they went through the table. There were no cutaways. There were no balsa-wood fake outs.

Honestly, this was the most fun I’ve had shooting an event in a long, long time.

And I shot a lot… this could be the first part in a 60-part pro-wrestling series of posts, because by the end of the event I had shot more than 1,900 photos (most of these are from the main event). The lighting was horrible… which is always the case when shooting in a hockey rink around here. It was a little better than shooting in the Vankleek Hill Arena, but not much. The lighting guy working for GNW did what he could, but I had to fight to get what I could. The main problem, of course, is these guys move around a lot. So low light, plus fast movement, means lots of blurred action shots.

So, by the mid-point, I was saving my shots for the moments when everyone froze in the ring. It was weird how watching pro-wrestling as a kid helped me find some decent shots… basically, if you know wrestling, you know the guy is going to bounce off the ropes three times before hitting the other guy.

Everything about these guys was fantastic… so many thanks to Devon Nicholson, GNW’s promoter, for helping us out with the tickets. Now I just have to figure out how to send him 300 photos.

Facebook ImageVankleek Hill Photos copyright

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