Frank Sisson: CNWA
March 18, 2007
This is the next installment in my promoters’ series. Frank Sisson was the third wrestling promoter I ever worked for and CNWA was the first promotion I worked for that had regular TV. When Stampede Wrestling shut down at the end of 1989 there was still an outstanding televisions contract with TSN (Canada’s National Sports Network) and Calgary 7 (A local Calgary Station). CNWA started up and took over the television contract. Frank Sisson wasn’t your typical wrestling promoter he was in fact a local business man who owned The Silver Dollar Action Center, which was a large bowling alley that had a lounge as well as two large banquet type rooms in back. Frank used the larger of the two rooms to house CNWA and by financing CNWA kept wrestling alive in Calgary and got a lot of television exposure for the Action Center.
The weekly Friday Night show (where they taped the TV show) was the only event CNWA ran and Frank was really only the money behind the operation and he hired Bull Dog Bob Brown to book and run the shows. This was a refreshing change for me as Frank was the first promoter that wasn’t out to get himself over, he was simply a business man doing business.
Chris Jericho started with CNWA the week before I did, as he was the one to make the connection and get our foot in the door. He debuted on December 21st 1990 and managed to get me booked the following week with the understanding we would be put together as a team after that. I remember the dates because at the time we needed to be licensed by the Calgary Boxing and Wrestling commission and the licensing was $50 per year and ran by the Callander year so I had to pay the $50 one week and then renew it the next.
The week Chris debuted was the last week of the TSN contract so I missed out on national TV by one week. The week I debuted was still shown on Calgary 7 but I remember being disappointed Jericho got National TV and I missed out. Jericho had car trouble coming back from Winnipeg after Christmas so I had a singles match the following week and then we debuted as a tag team on my third week of TV. We did a post match interview with Ed Whalen after or Tag debut, which was absolutely horrible (at least my part of it) but a lot of fun, as Ed was a Stampede Tradition and largely viewed as the voice of wrestling in Calgary.
Chris and I started getting recognized around town after those few short weeks of TV exposure but the Calgary 7 contract ran out as well and just as we started experience our first taste of fame it disappeared. Frank continued to promote the weekly Friday shows for 6 – 8 months after the TV deal expired and if nothing else provided us with a regular gig and much needed experience.
As a promoter and a person Frank Sisson was a great guy, and we got along very well. The fact that he was a legitimate business man and not just a wrestling promoter made him a lot more straight forward to deal with and I think he appreciated that I too was a lot more professional that most of the wrestlers he had to deal with. Frank never promised anyone anything he couldn’t deliver and you never had to wonder if you were going to receive your pay cheque. At the end of every show the Booker handed out pay envelopes and there was always one with my name on it and my flat $50 rate was always there in cash.
The Silver Dollar Action Center is still there, but it is now the Silver Dollar Casino. Frank Sisson still runs the place and who knows if he remembers hiring 2 kids by the name of Lance Storm and Chris Jericho. It’s a shame he doesn’t still use one of his large rooms to promote a weekly wrestling show, it would be a great place for local guys to get a start much like Chris and I did nearly 20 years ago. If he did I’d certainly be happy to work for him again, only this time as booker not as a wrestler.