Wrestlers invade Kelowna for charity fundraiser

Kelowna Invasion VII will provide some entertaining wrestling matches while raising money for local charities.

Kelowna Invasion wrestling event co-founders Mike Chisholm (left) and Mike Rizzo.

Wrestling fever will return to Rutland on Friday, 7:30 p.m., as Centennial Hall will be the venue for Invasion Championships Wrestling—Kelowna Invasion VII.

The eight-match wrestling card will be both a fundraiser for local charities and a  throwback to old-time wrestling as it was in the pre-WWF heyday starting in the early 1980s when wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson became household names.

Event co-founder Mike Chisholm and Mike Rizzo have been taken aback at the response to past events here in Kelowna and how they have been able to make larger than anticipated donations to charity.

On Monday, a donation of $13,000 from the last wrestling event was divided up between four charities—Mamas for Mamas, Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, Okanagan YMCA’s Strong Kids program and the North Okanagan Child Development Society.

“It’s unbelievable and a fantastic feeling for us to be able to help out charities this way because of the positive response to our wrestling events by the public, ” said Chisholm.

The Kelowna Invasion was the brainchild of Chisholm and Rizzo. The two share a connection through Costco, where Rizzo is the general manager, and Chisholm, a partner with World Financial Group, does some marketing work.

Chisholm said the feedback from the matches, both the response from the public and how the participating wrestlers are treated when coming to Kelowna, is making its way across the professional wrestling circuit grapevine.

Part of the success in Rutland, Chisholm feels, is the atmosphere of the matches taking place in Centennial Hall, the kind of small intimate “barn” where Canadian wrestling thrived once upon a time.

“It creates a fun atmosphere for wrestling and it’s an event the whole family can come to. We have wrestlers now calling us and trying hard to get on one of our event cards. We pay a fair working man’s wage to our wrestlers, have a hotel sponsor who puts them up during their stay here. We pride ourselves on how we treat our wrestlers and word is getting around about that. That is a great feeling,” Chisholm said.

Advance tickets for Kelowna Invasion VII are available at Lake City Casino, the Packinghouse Pub and Player’s Choice Sportscards & Collectible.

Tickets will also be sold at the door.