"We threw a party ... where we had our friends come, dressed as fake wrestlers, and sort of wrestle in my living room," says director and co-founder Chris Monica, describing the humble origins of Party World Rasslin'. "It was really fun, and so we decided we'd do it again in a few months with like more planning."
From there, Monica and his friends moved onto a homemade backyard wrestling ring. "It was really dangerous and really fun," he says. "Afterwards, we were like 'That was a great thing we did. Let's be sure to never do that again."
But friends and friends-of-friends demanded more, and Party World Rasslin' was born. The backyard bouts continued, with crowds getting bigger and bigger. "For the first year, every show we had was doubling in attendance," Monica notes.
As demand grew, PWR moved into larger venues and developed a more complicated mythology and some ongoing story arcs. Characters were developed, fake feuds were born, and fans were created.
But PWR isn't just a bunch of friends pretending to beat each other up. All the wrestlers have (sometimes bizarre and involved) backstories, and PWR events are as much improv and sketch comedy as they are wrestling bouts. Monica refers to the shows as "a very specialized performative media called 'party violence,'" adding, "There's people doing moves to each other, but there's also kind of a story being told between two characters."
Ally Elsey, who wrestles and serves as PWR's creative director, loves that story-telling aspect. "We're oftentimes telling stories that wouldn't be told otherwise, and it's a mix of things that are serious and things that are incredibly and powerfully stupid," she says. "We can tell stories about people's struggles and relationships with their family, and we can tell a story about a guy getting beaten up by a puppet. Sometimes at the same time."
For their summer show, PWR is presenting Dino Slam, which (as the name implies) will be dinosaur themed. "You are going to experience a very weird show about wrestling and dinosaurs simultaneously," says Elsey. Monica goes a little further. "Everybody wants to see dinosaurs wrestle, and we're gonna make that happen," he promises.