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It's boom times for indie wrestling, and WrestlePalooza is the hottest ticket in town

The wrestling extravaganza returns to First Avenue on Friday.
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It's been a long time coming, but independent wrestling is finally having its day in the sun.

Viewers demanding a more authentic, less corporate experience has resulted in many deserting the WWE, with upstart promotions like All Elite Wrestling exploding onto the scene to fill the void.

The Twin Cities has its own upstart promotion and has done for 12 years, and right now it's never been better to be a part of F1RST Wrestling.

On Friday, the promotion created by local wrestler Arik Cannon has the latest in its now bi-annual WrestlePaloozas at First Avenue.

It made headlines in January by welcoming Hollywood actor turned indie wrestler David Arquette to the ring at January's WrestlePalooza, but the thing is, WrestlePalooza doesn't need David Arquette to sell out. It doesn't need anyone to sell out.

The twice-yearly showcase has attained the kind of status where tickets will be sold even though no performers have been announced. It's the Glastonbury of independent wrestling.

"People have been telling me for quite a while that it's the brand. F1RST Wrestling. WrestlePalooza. THAT, that is the big draw," Cannon told BMTN. "What we do, the way we do it, and how we present it. That is the big draw. I'm still not sure that is the case, but... Who am I to disagree with the people?"

A recipe for success

Each WrestlePalooza is filled with high-flying, hard-hitting stars who leave it all in the ring, yet the wrestling is just one of several elements that goes into making WrestlePalooza a can't-miss event.

There's drinking, there's burlesque dancers, there's drinking, there's comedy, there's drinking, there's music, and through it all there is a perennially hot crowd cheering and jeering throughout.

When asked about his recipe for success, Cannon says: "I could ramble on and on about the details, but I think what it really boils down to is that F1RST Wrestling and WrestlePalooza is fun. Plain and simple. FUN!

"My favorite compliment about what we do is, when people tell me they brought their friends who hate wrestling, and they leave as new fans!"

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The first WrestlePalooza attracted only a few hundred fans but now it sells out every time.

As word of mouth grew, so did F1RST Wrestling's confidence. It's now producing 13 events in and around the Twin Cities every year, including regular spots at James Ballentine Uptown VFW and Bauhaus Brew Labs.

It's a far cry from the early days of F1RST, when Cannon and his team was putting on 3-4 shows a year after launching in 2007.

Such is the strong following it now has, F1RST can now enhance the fan experience by springing surprises, knowing they don't need to announce big names beforehand to sell tickets.

Last June, the legendary lucha wrestler Ultimo Dragon wrestled a surprise match at WrestlePalooza, and Cannon is promising more surprises for those in attendance on Friday.

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