Kurt Sorochan has seen it all. From chauffering a stranded Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Owen Hart from West Edmonton Mall’s Zellers, to starting his own local wrestling conglomerate.
The Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA) has run the ropes in Alberta since 2001. As founder and promoter, Sorochan is the mastermind behind their rise in popularity and stature in the independent wrestling scene.
The crowds have been growing, and even stars in the industry have noticed.
PWA has featured big-name mainstream talent like AJ Styles, Cody Rhodes, and Lance Storm, while also developing their own superstars such as Michael Blais, Sheik Akbar Shabaz and Brett Morgan.
The craft portrays the age old story of the babyface (good guy) against the heel (bad guy). Some of the story lines are not always so black and white of course, and Sorochan believes the art of wrestling is more than just people beating on each other.
“A match is about telling a story, and it’s not always good versus evil. The movements and everything [the wrestlers] do in a match should be about telling a story,” Sorochan says. “I firmly believe everyone understands that it’s scripted, but these are athletic guys. They have to take care of themselves, they have to have a certain athletic look from the gym.”
Sorochan describes his wrestlers as part athlete, part stuntman, and part entertainer. The goal of the performer is to allow the audience to suspend their belief for a moment, and lose themselves in the performance. PWA’s longevity is due in part to their care in story lines, and making sure their fans get their money’s worth—every single time.
“Anyone can put on a wrestling show, but there have been so many companies that have come and gone already because there’s no continuity,” Sorochan says. “It’s a lot of work and a constant struggle to keep a consistent product at a certain level of entertainment.”
The fan loyalty has been apparent and growing continuously. When the association announced a Cody Rhodes performance in July, ringside seats sold out in 35 minutes.
“As a promoter, I have high expectations. I know how good our product is,” Sorochan says. “We’re never arrogant, we know what we offer but we’re always going to strive to be better. We’re always going to strive to get more people.”
Last summer, PWA broke their attendance record with over 800 people packing the NAIT gymnasium for their 15th anniversary show. One of their longtime performers, “The Original” Marky was working his way up for a shot at the PWA Championship, and the story line culminated in their biggest night to date.
The local performers have all benefitted from PWA attracting big name talent from larger wrestling organizations. Mainstream talent will work with the PWA roster, giving advice, seminars or share personal stories. Sorochan feels that’s important.
“Everyone we’ve brought in—whether they’ve given a seminar or not—you always want to ask for their advice, ask for their opinion,” Sorochan says. “I’ve learned so much from Lance Storm, because he came and crapped all over our one Night of Champions show, but you have to put that aside and take it as constructive criticism.”
PWA prides itself on the talent they’ve nurtured throughout their history. To Sorochan, having several attractions is always preferable to having one wrestler that everyone comes to see.
“You’ve got to give yourself an identity. We try to give the guys an identity so they’re more marketable because again, no one person is just a draw. As a company, that’s the draw.”
2016 was another year of immense progress for the company as a whole. Having had their biggest crowds to date, PWA has set itself up for an even more successful 2017.
“Over the last year and a half, we’ve really re-established Edmonton and the crowds have really come up again and been supportive,” Sorochan says. “My goal is to break a thousand people for our 16th anniversary show.”