In 2017, Ernie Boch Jr (Jacob Nathan) and Sully Banger wanted to have a wrestling party that would shock and amaze local fans, and Providence Wrestling Party was born. But due to their ardent passion and the fantastic reception, the events continued. So while the name sounds like a single entity, it still accurately describes each event. Nathan explains the logic simply. “The parties kept happening and so we decided to give it a name.”
Every few months in the Black Box theater at as220, mayhem is contained while spectators are riled into a frenzy watching bodies hurled thought the air straining in a sweaty challenge of might. Sully and Jacob maintain a frothy enthusiasm as this progresses, despite the personal time each event requires. Nathan breaks it down, “Building a ring, hanging lighting, a full live band with entrance cues, writing the show, working with over 20 performers and referees to stage the production. Many, many hours are spent in a bar or my living room planning each show.”
A community arts center may seem an odd choice for a wrestling match, but Nathan appreciates the chance as220 took and sees it aligning fairly well. “As a community curator at AS220, the non-profit organization has been phenomenally supportive of this insane venture. It’s really our home base, which has allowed us to be able to run events consistently. It’s great for professional wrestling to be recognized as art and theater by them. In terms of the aesthetics, the Black Box is incredible. The lighting and vibe of the room makes for a one-of-a-kind wrestling as part theater, part basement punk gig, part improv, part comedy, part combat sport, part cabaret, completely frikkin’ insane experience.”
The two organizers still are excited each time an event is executed. Looking back, the boys feel pride and wonder. Nathan reflects, “We’ve worked with so many talented wrestlers and tried out so many different ideas. We really want our shows to be unique, weird, theatrical, funny and just playing dumb sometimes. Over the years I think we’ve grown into being comfortable trying out some insane angles like a choose-your-own adventure fantasy dungeon RPG match, or invaders from Space France speaking through a computer translator trying to take over a very high and lazy earth on 4/20, or a pizza delivery guy interrupting a match and getting involved and then getting fired for being late for his deliveries and then getting a job as an electrician and then interrupting the next month’s match to fix the lights. You know… stuff like that.
“From the get-go the promotion sought to be a safe and inclusive space and we aren’t tolerant of any hate speech, discrimination or macho bullshit that unfortunately can characterize some other parts of the wrestling world. Now that we’ve been running for a while, I think wrestlers have grown to understand that goal further and take that mindset with them to other locker rooms, too. They are part of setting the tone here.”
The next of PWP’s upcoming event will take place on September 1. That day’s event is a continued tradition for crowds to absorb themselves in gritty anticipation. “September’s show is a tournament called the Gansett Cup to determine the number one contender for our Providence Championship. It’s the third time we’ve held the cup and it is one of our signature events. There will be shenanigans and fierce competition for such an illustrious prize. Confirmed participants include the meta-human-super-villain who was built in a lab ‘Insane’ Dick Lane, The ‘Golden Girl’ Corrine Mink, The Notorious and spoiled AJ Phoenix, and the ever smooth Foxy Calvin Campbell and more.”
If this all sounds crazy and overwhelming, well, you may be correct. But you should still come and attend and be absorbed into the frenzy! “You’ll be able to jump right in to the experience without any prior knowledge. Expect to be standing ringside VERY close to the action. Expect a live band playing the ring music. It might feel a bit like a basement punk show, but the people fighting are doing so consensually and for your amusement and bewilderment.” And what does Jacob Nathan and Sully Banger want in return from a crowd? “To party, party, party, party. Yell! Scream! Bring a sign! Just don’t touch the wrestlers or say busted stuff. Not a good idea.”