Arik Cannon on combining punk and wrestling at First Avenue

Wrestler/Promoter "The Anarchist" Arik Cannon
Wrestler/Promoter "The Anarchist" Arik Cannon
Lucian Mcafee

First Avenue isn't particularly foreign to colorful costumes and unpredictable fast-paced action, but this Saturday's Pabst Blue Ribbon-sponsored Wrestlepalooza is shaping up to be one of the most unique nights in the venue's history. The F1rst Wrestling promoted event is combining lightning quick lucha libre wrestling action, live burlesque and the punk rock stylings of Madison-based recent Fat Wreck Chords signees Masked Intruder together for one 18+ spectacle that's unlike any other hybrid event we've encountered.

And yes, Mayor RT Rybak follows the promotion on Twitter. We spoke to wrestler/promoter Arik Cannon (who you may recognize from MTV's "Wrestling Society X") about where the idea to combine wrestling, burlesque and punk rock came from as well as why First Avenue is ideal for such an event.

See Also:
A F1RST timer's guide to F1RST Wrestling

What made you want to start F1rst Wrestling?

The reason I got into promoting wrestling was because things had kind of grown stagnant. There was too much of that old school flavor. It's not that we plan to change wrestling or anything, but we wanted to take the old school flavor and throw a new twist on it.

And that new twist being the musical elements?

Well, we've been doing shows at First Avenue for a few years now. The guys are a little smaller, the action's a little faster and I might even say it's a little more violent. But, with this show specifically coming up on Saturday, we wanted to twist the arm of that old school wrestling a little bit further. Now we have burlesque performers coming in and a live band as well.

F1rst Wrestling started in 2007. Was the idea to eventually expand into the live music element the plan from the start?

No, this is actually something new I wanted to try. I think it will create more of a wrestling show for people who don't like wrestling. I feel like wrestling's got such a negative spin on it all the time, you never hear anything good about it. I thought, maybe, let's change it. Let's not promote a wrestling show, but promote an event that anybody who wants to come in for a night on the town can enjoy. It's a party with wrestling and burlesque. I can't imagine many people thinking that doesn't look like fun.

What is it about First Avenue that makes it such a good venue for wrestling?

It's not a high school gym. It's not an armory. That's where that negative connotation for indie wrestling comes from. First Avenue is an iconic, infamous building in downtown Minneapolis and it creates a whole new aura and a whole new level of importance just because it's at First Avenue. We've got the two levels so there's no bad seat in the house and the sound is amazing in there. We try to utilize the venue to its fullest capabilities.

What made you decide to add the burlesque elements?

Well, I've been on other shows in other parts of the country that are similar to this and I thought "man, this looks like such a headache to deal with. I'm glad I'm only participating." But I thought, what the hell? Let's give it a try and see how it goes. So far, it hasn't been the monster I thought it was gonna be but there seems to be a lot of buzz and people seem interested in it.

What was the deciding factor in introducing Masked Intruder to the show?

I saw Masked Intruder open up for Teenage Bottlerocket at Triple Rock and I was hooked instantly. I thought their stage presence and the way that they interacted with the crowd was just a piece of the puzzle that was missing. I think anybody that enjoys good music is going to like the stuff that they do on stage.

Given how diverse the wrestling/music/burlesque line-up is, has there been any resistance from any of the performers?

There hasn't been. Everybody's pretty excited about it, especially the wrestlers. Anytime we can get in front of a big crowd, that helps. I think that's true of any performers, the louder the crowd is, the more we want to put into it. Especially from the wrestling aspect, the guys are super excited about it and the small interactions I've had with [burlesque performer] Queenie Von Curve, she can't wait!

F1rst Wrestling presents Wrestlepalooza at First Avenue on Saturday, January 12 with Masked Intruder, Queenie Von Curves, Musette The Mistress Of Mischief, Sheik Ariya Daivari, "Playboy" Pete Huge and "The Anarchist" Arik Cannon
18+, $18, 8 p.m.

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