Reason to Love Vancouver #19: An Art Teacher Can Become a Wrestler

Carina Piccioni jumps into the ring.

The city’s Elite Canadian Championship (ECCW)Wrestling league may have launched the careers of WWE stars like the Bollywood Boys with their monthly sellout shows, but ECCW’s training classes give the wrestling-curious the chance to practice body-slamming their way into spandex-clad glory. That includes Carina Piccioni, a 37-year-old art teacher, who started training on the ropes two years ago and now sometimes even climbs into the ring (though usually only to wind up getting kicked in the head).

“I was five feet tall and barely knew who Hulk Hogan was, but I went to tryouts just to see—it was a bit of an early mid-life crisis. There was this gauntlet of squats and push-ups, and I made it through. I was impressed with myself—and really sore.

“Since then, it’s been a big learning curve; there are so many unspoken rules, codes and secret handshakes. You have to be insanely fit, too. I’ve been doing it two years and I’m still not quite ready. I’ve been a referee and sold T-shirts, and I’ve only interacted in the show two or three times so far—I ended up getting squashed. It’s a thing they do with little guys to make other characters look ferocious. But the whole throwing-you-around part? I’m totally fine. My character is this plucky indie rock guy. It’s kind of like a drag queen identity: you take your character from your personality and amplify it.”

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