There’s something invigorating about watching a live performance, especially when mysterious islands, sequined spandex and bodyslams are involved. Step inside Edison Square in Tacoma, and you’ll find this energy and creativity out in full force, courtesy of SOS Pro Wrestling.

Olympia Orthopaedic Associates

Cheer on Pirates, Monkeys, Cats, Local Celebrities, Mutants, Sea Creatures and Directors of Fun With SOS Pro Wrestling

Of course, some of the thrills are hinted at before you arrive. The company’s website encourages visitors to “Cheer on Pirates, Monkeys, Cats, Local Celebrities, Mutants, Sea Creatures and Directors of Fun.” Then there’s the setting itself. Flanked by neon palm trees, the ring sits ready for a series of matchups, each featuring its own wild blend of aesthetics and physical prowess.

Part artistic performance, part athletic display, dramatic, dynamic, and always surprising, the monthly shows seek to bring a new sort of culture to the city, and the story of how it came to be is equally fascinating.

SOS Pro Wrestling Tacoma
A group of wrestlers rehearse before the show begins. Photo credit: Kiernyn Orne-Adams

The performances first launched in September 2020 as an online video series, bringing the spectacle of live wrestling to the newly sequestered world. Right from the start, the battles had a little extra flair; according to organizer Drew Wayner (wrestler alias: Pitfall Jones), the team decided to develop an over-the-top storyline to make the matches even more entertaining.

The basic premise is that a group of wrestlers were stranded in a surreal tropical realm and have been battling it out ever since, developing their own distinct personas over time. Initially, the YouTube series was a way to keep the wrestling community in training during the pandemic. “It kept us busy, and people seemed to enjoy it,” Wayner said.

After a year of filmed matches, SOS made the move to live wrestling in September of 2021. Originally, the shows were in Seattle until the venue closed. As SOS searched for a new home, Edison Square opened up, offering a new venue and town to call home.

SOS Pro Wrestling Tacoma
Keita Murray makes his grand entrance for the match. Photo credit: Kiernyn Orne-Adams

SOS Wrestling Comes to Tacoma

For Wayner, Tacoma was the perfect place for the shows to flourish. “I think the creative energy here is unbelievable,” he said, adding that the many local organizations that sponsor the shows are another sign of the strong support the community offers. And the love is reflected right back, with all proceeds from sales at the bar benefitting different charities each month.

That close-knit atmosphere also extends to the performers, who come from all over the Pacific Northwest to participate. Current tag-team champions Drew Smith (aka Sarian Softpaws) and Scott Henson (aka Big Cat Scott Henson) hail from Vancouver, Canada, and have been wrestling with SOS since the first live show.

SOS Pro Wrestling Tacoma
Namor Sage stands before his piranha subjects, preparing for a match. Photo credit: Kiernyn Orne-Adams

For this dynamic duo, the joy of the independent wrestling scene lies in working with new people, as well as the unique blend of skills involved. “It’s this combination of combat sports and performance art and improv that you can’t really get anywhere else,” Henson said.

Smith added that creative freedom is part of the fun. “Not every match or every show is the same,” he enthused.

And indeed, that variety was on full display during February’s event,  “Cruel Intentions.” Among the many highlights include a sea god battling the son of Jesus, a monkey stealing cans of beer, balancing acts, pile drives, plenty of trash-talk, and at least two instances of wrestlers leaping directly into the audience.

While there are some ongoing storylines, the physical choreography between the wrestlers is the central focus and is full of surprises. You never know who will be flipped upside-down, who will leap off the ropes, or who will utilize chairs, tables, and even other wrestlers as weapons. One thing that’s clear from the handmade signs and the enthusiastic shouts from the audience is that this entity has a devoted following.

SOS Pro Wrestling Tacoma
Camp Counselor Coleman (L) performs a balancing act as part of his battle against Steve Migs (R). Photo credit: Kiernyn Orne-Adams

Get in On the Action With Grit City Wrestling School

If you want to get in on the fun yourself, the organization also runs Grit City Wrestling School, which hosts four classes a week – two beginner and two advanced options. Participants get to try their hand (and every other part of their bodies) at the physical elements of the sport, as well as some of the more artistic aspects, such as creating a distinct character and making promos. Many students also participate in the shows, serving as volunteers and working security.

The company maintains strong ties to its community even as it expands into new forays — including multiple shows at the world-famous Bumbershoot festival in Seattle last year. As the event’s announcer, Malik Weary (aka YUNGFUEGO), put it, “It takes a village to make this weirdness happen that is SOS.”

And Wayner has high hopes for the future of this wild, wonderful enterprise: “We’re getting our name out there,” he said. “I would like SOS to be synonymous with Tacoma.”

The next show, “Cliffhanger,” takes place on March 8. Tickets can be purchased online here. You can also enjoy the entire series, including new matches, on YouTube.