or how to address social issues through show-wrestling


A basic & playful concept to involve the residents in open discussions about their neighborhood issues.


Offer an alternative stage for local issues and social debate.

Connect the venue WORM with the neighborhood.

Create a fun and unique event.

An innovative way to address local issues

Together with Natasha Taylor, WORM experienced ISSUE WRESTLING.


The project intends to respond to the urgent need of public consultations for local issues where all the groups of the neighborhood ‘Cool Zuid’ can be represented.

Cool Zuid is an evolving neighborhood offering a vibrant nightlife and various art centres, rental houses and small businesses.


It is also an area with sharp economical contrast among residents where residential towers for middle and high income are being built.


The transition has raised several social issues.

What is a wrestling show ?

And why wrestling ?

Show wrestling, also known as American wrestling is not two men fighting in a ring until one of the two is knocked out or gives up.

Show wrestling is a form of art and theater performance including elements of wrestling and other martial arts. Following a script, show wrestling simulates a martial arts competition where a ‘good guy’ confronts the ‘bad guy’.

Wrestling also contributes to the channeling of emotions. Show wrestling follows codes, procedure and jargon.

Show wrestling is very popular in the Netherlands with several show wrestling circuits and weekly events attracting thousands of visitors and broadcasted on national TV channels.


The project explained from A to Z




>> Bureaucracy ​

>> Gentrification


>> Car parking problems

1. Identification of the local issues to debate by interviewing a cross-section of the residents of Cool Zuid neighborhood.


2. A performance-script for each issue was created where each of the professional wrestlers plays a specific character. 





3. A theme song and a short promotional film was created.

5. Exhibition in the WORM’s S/ASH GALLERY to display costumes, attributes, promotional clips that Natasha Taylor, the 6 wrestlers and the residents of Cool-Zuid have been working on.


In addition to the wrestlers, a referee,
 a presenter, a DJ and several bands are part of the event.

Three wrestling shows


Flex Man VS The Great Yukki 


The Million Dollar Boy VS Generation Y


The Car Crusher VS Mister Municipality



New comer with high income, resident in the residential towers in Cool neighborhood.

Million Dollar Boy

New generation. His family has been working in the neighborhood for a long time. He struggles to pay the rising rents and to find a job.

Generation Y

Gigs of local groups are organised  between the wrestling matches.




To close Issue Wrestling, a dinner with the visitors is organised to discuss and share their experiences around questions such as:

  • To what extend does Issue Wrestling contribute to solving the issues?
  • Will anything be contributed at all?
  • What can be a possible follow-up?

"There are no problems solved, just 'addressed'. We were curious if this idea could help in looking at the problem in a different way, but that was too rational, it was more a relief, like carnival of like the theater is."


Janpier Brands, WORM.


>>  The realization of the first edition of issue wrestling will have a follow up in Leeuwarden.


>> Fine-tuning of the method will be necessary.

>> The event created a conversation piece in the neighborhood and in Rotterdam. The concrete impact is hard to measure.


>> It takes time to build relations with neighborhood for co-creation.

>> Doubts if the name ‘issue wrestling’ is strong enough.


>> Cooperation with Pro Wrestling Holland was necessary.

>> The referee and speaker are important elements for better storytelling.


1. Organization team: Natasha Taylor (artist with project idea), Charlien Adriaaensens (Art programmer at WORM), Janpier Brands (Creative director at WORM), Ivan Winter and Elise Tooren (Involved local residents and creative entrepreneurs Neighborhood).


2. Wrestlers and participants: 6 professional wrestlers (from Pro Wrestling Holland), 6 residents of the Cool Zuid neighborhood that raised and defined the issues of the wrestling shows, including a referee and a speaker.


3. Artists: DJ and bands Bands and artists that have a connection with the neighborhood.


4. Logistics: Room that provides at least 12m x 12m in order to create a ring that has to be 5m x 5m. The ring has to be prepared for show-wrestling so it is recommended to work together with a professional wrestling team.


WORM is an ‘institute for avantgardistic recreation’ with a strong tradition in counter/ DIY culture in the heart of Rotterdam close to the neighborhood Cool-Zuid.


Their activities include live music, movie screening, performances, art exhibitions, conferences, debates, and multi-festivals.


The project Issue Wrestling was initiated by the artist Natasha Taylor, and tested for the first time at WORM (Institute for Avantgardistic Recreation) in Rotterdam (Netherlands) from 8 to 17 of December, 2017. A second edition happened in 2018 in Leeuwarden.


One of the main ambitions of the organisation team is to improve the post-event follow-up.  


As a member of VNPF, Dutch organisation representing the collective interests of live music venues and festivals in the Netherlands, WORM is one of the 2500 live music venues and festivals of the Live DMA network.




Live DMA is responsible for the publication of the documents related to the article Issue Wrestling. Nothing from this publication may be multiplied, stored in an automated data file or be made public, in any form or in any way, electronically, mechanically, by means of photocopies, recordings or any other method without the publisher’s prior permission. In spite of all the care devoted to the editing of this publication, the publisher cannot accept liability for any damage that is the result of any error in this publication.



Detailed project description: Janpier Brands, WORM

Slideshow: Elisa Thoma, Live DMA

Photos: Max van Dongen