Wednesday 6 August 2014

WQ: Week 3 - First UK Wrestling Experience

Disclaimer: This is the third of our Weekly Questions series. Weeks 1 and 2 were a bit objective, so I've made this week a bit more personal. If you want to join in, it's open to all - general fan, blogger, wrestler, whatever - simply send an email to or a DM if we're following each other on Twitter @AWBAblog 

(Oh and as ever, if anyone wants to make me a sweet Weekly Questions banner, feel free)

This week, I asked:

What Was Your First Experience Of The UK Independent Scene?

Our first answer comes from our newest member, Marco Piva who writes for (Italian reviews) and does commentary for Italian wrestling promotion ASCA Wrestling:

"I started watching whatever I found on YouTube, and became a fan of Lionheart. Then I found out that ICW were doing a Royal Rumble-style thing and, being a lover of the Rumble(s), I decided to go. That was the first Square Go. I got hooked about 5 minutes into the show (Lionheart leaving the Gold Label, calling Red Lightning a "midcard jobber" - or "midcard jobby", I'm still not sure - then defeating him one on one), and I haven't looked back since - actually, I started widening my horizons to embrace most of the other local promotions. Also, I try to follow as much as I can of the biggest promotions south of the border."

Next up is my answer:

"Back when I was a wee boy, there were a couple of wrestling shows in our local town hall which I think I went to with my cousin Martin. I still have the autograph book and signed programme from that show, featuring the illustrious Legion Of Doom and even The Undertaker... yeah, I don't those were the actual WWF guys somehow.

Years later, as a teenager, my friend Ashley took me to a show. I do not know where it was, when it was or who it was, but it was in a sports hall, was really fun and I believed in the characters. But it still felt a bit cheap compared to the stuff on TV, but made me feel a bit better about UK wrestling. I never did make it to another show though.

Fast forward to 2012. I'd heard about ICW through various friends. People who weren't wrestling fans were telling me to go, so I considered it as a night out. Even caught a couple of the MyChannel shows, but I wasn't really feeling wrestling in general at the time. After thinking about it a while, they had a show (Santa Gravy) literally on my birthday that had just about sold out. I pulled the trigger, invited a bunch of people out as a bit of a different take on your usual birthday night out in town, and sent a message to Mark Dallas asking if there was any chance there were spaces on the guestlist or if I could collect tickets on the door as I was bringing a large group. Amazingly I got a reply, and that personal touch really impressed me.

The show was amazing. I can remember the genuine hatred for Jackie Polo, the dazzling moves of the likes of Kay Lee Ray, and this was also meant to be Lionheart's retirement show meaning everyone was outpouring with gratitude towards him after a hard-fought contest with Wolfgang. The emotion, the sheer emotion, shared between the wrestlers and the crowd hooked me. I had no idea who was who or why was why, but I found myself chanting, cheering and yelling along. There were two DVDs on sale that night (the first Fierce Females and the Fear & Loathing DVD) and I bought the FF one and convinced my pal to get F&L (which I've since nicked) as I knew this was going to be a long-term thing. The Fierce Females DVD was equally awesome.

So there it was, hooked already. And it's become a bit of a tradition that on my next birthday show (100% Shenanigans) some friends came along for a night out and also found theirselves hooked, which leads a bit nicely into the next answer."

Says my girlfriend and wrestling trainee Sammie Jo:

"My first show was 100% Shenanigans for your birthday night out last year. My most vivid memory of that show was Mikey Whiplash diving out of the ring and coming back in with a gaping hole in his leg. He tried to carry the match but couldn't. I can remember screaming at you that he was bleeding out, before Grado came out to stem the bleeding.

Despite that being my welcome to ICW, I was hooked and haven't missed a show since (until Get Mendoza just there), and have began going to other companies including BCW and SWA which has led me to the Source Wrestling School - all from that first ICW night out."

Paul from Breaking Baws chimes in next:

"I got lucky. Last September ICW "There's Something About Maryhill". A great show, the hightlight was Wolfie V Red Lighting in a fight that went onto Maryhill Road and the shutters of Tesco were involved. Some night, hooked since."

ICW boss Mark Dallas - Sensing a theme here

Mark Moore, from, Ressurrection magazine and, reveals:

"My first experience of the UK independent scene came in a live show in Clacton On Sea. My Dad took me to see WAW who were performing at the town hall. I remember just being so surprised at just how many other people were into what I was. This would have been around the year 1999 at a guess and while I had watched World Of Sport growing up as a kid I had never realised that actual real wrestling was taking place where I lived. 

The show itself was really good and opened my eyes a little bit to just how hard these guys and girls have to work in the ring. Being that close to the action gave me a completely different outlook on the business and the art of pro wrestling. After the show everyone was gracious with their time especially Sweet Saraya who made it point to talk to all the fans. 

It was at that point that I knew we had just as good, if not better, wrestlers here in the UK than what I had been watching on TV for years."

Billy Strachan who runs and provides excellent updates on the latest UK wrestling news, is another 2012 fan:

"Bar a horrific WWF tribute show when I was 10 years old by WWF-GB, my first taste of UK Independent wrestling was SWE Hell for Lycra IX in the Dewars Centre in Perth back in August 2012. I drove from Elgin to Perth on little sleep to meet "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase. I also got to meet Tatanka and Chavo Guerrero. The show itself was brilliant, the highlights being "Ravishing" Randy Valentine jumping off a steel cage that was being held up by the other wrestlers and seeing Martyn Stallyon putting on a clinic with Chavo Guerrero. Then I drove back to Elgin, but even when I got in at 1am, I was still buzzing about the show. It made me want to check out all the local wrestling I could, so I did, and went to W3L in Elgin the month after. From there it snowballed and since then I've found myself spending any spare cash on trying to attend an event near me and spending any spare moment talking about it, watching it, writing about it, it's taken over my life really."

Lee Burton from Ringbelles provides an excellent answer:

"Firstly, I’m throwing aside my first experience of British wrestling, which was from a promotion called the American Wrestling Academy at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall in November 1991.  I had got into wrestling about 6 months before and was reading WWF Magazine religiously, and my dad thought he would try and understand what I was so interested in by buying tickets to this show.  After all, wrestling is wrestling, right?

Not quite.

What was presented was five matches of pure wretched garbage featuring a bunch of guys who knew a total of about a dozen moves between them, with the exception of one guy who had a couple of extra moves, making him the best of a sorry bunch.  Even as a ten year old boy, I knew it sucked, and my dad felt the same.  In fact, it was the last time he ever invested any money into my love of wrestling - the only other gift I received from my parents which had anything to do with wrestling was a videotape of the 1991 Survivor Series from my mum at Christmas 1992.

In fairness, my introduction to wrestling was not a good one, and a decade would pass before I would go to my next British wrestling event.

Going to university had meant I was able to share my love for wrestling with others for the first time in my fandom.  I moved into a flat in 1999 where one of the other guys living there watched the WWF as much as I did, so he loved that I had more than a hundred tapes for us to watch when we should have been studying.  There were fellow fans two doors up and two down, and another a further 3 doors down the road - with me introducing myself to the latter by sticking my head through his window while he played WWF Attitude on the Nintendo 64.

While other (read: cleverer) students were out on a Friday night drinking and engaging in carnal knowledge, we were down Riley’s watching Raw before heading home to play video games and watch old PPVs.  This led to us meeting up every August to watch SummerSlam during the break before the next academic year.  It just so happened that the day after the 2002 edition was a bank holiday, so a friend of mine suggested we went to watch a British wrestling show.  Given my previous experience, I was sceptical, but agreed as everyone else was up for it.

The show was the Frontier Wrestling Alliance’s Hotwired show, and I had a great time.  It kicked off with the cast of an MTV show coming out to insult the fans before being beaten up by FWA Champion Flash Barker, with one of them suffering damage to his vertebrae.  That show went on to become Dirty Sanchez.

As for the show itself, it was a fun affair which allowed the fans to get more involved than I had ever experienced at a WWF show - and I had been to quite a lot by that point.  Notable moments included Solid Gold Scott Parker singing the chorus to Spandau Ballet’s Gold before hitting Mark Sloan in the head, and Sloan going for a chairshot outside the ring which went so awry that it hit a child at ringside in the head, leaving him with a bump the size of an egg.  It also saw Nikita - later Katie Lea Burchill and Winter - wrestle Paul Travell to a no-contest and Jonny Storm deliver a hurricanrana on Flash Barker after hanging from a basketball ring in his unsuccessful challenge for the FWA Championship.

The show made such a good impression on me that I bought tickets for the show it was setting up - British Uprising at York Hall in London that October - and numerous FWA shows after that, despite me living more than 100 miles away from the venues at the time.  From there, I got into watching Midlands Professional Wrestling, Triple X Wrestling, IPW:UK and more, making new friends and not having to wait 6 months for WWE to roll into town to watch some great wrestling.

Just thinking about it, if Hotwired had sucked I may not be watching wrestling today."

FWA's Flash Barker

Tod from gives a fitting answer:

"Ok... so mine will show my age and is a slightly bizarre one that links nicely to the name of the website.

So my dad was not into any sports and especially wrestling but knowing that I had become very interested in it he bought a pair of tickets to a wrestling event in Peterborough (near where we lived) which had Big Daddy on the card! Not sure what age the guy was by then but he was still an attraction mainly due to his size an historical undefeated streak (no idea how real or how genuine this was).

So the event felt like it was in a very large bar (I was 12/13 I suppose) but may have been a night club or similar. it was boozy and smokey and all the matches were in the british three falls or a knockout round by round style. I can honestly say I don't remember a lot about the event or many of the matches, Big Daddy got a big response and several of the matches had 'heat' in a very old school way.

I wish now that I had more appreciation for the british wrestling style that is now so revered around the word but to be honest at the time it just wasn't what I had seen on TV which was WWF and WCW so it felt very small scale and old fashioned. But I did enjoy the event, watching a genuine star attraction / legend and it was great of my dad to take me to something he had zero interest in!

There you go. I think it was around 1990/91."

Big Daddy - The man, the legend

Stuart Wevling, fan and member of the #CarmelCorner, says:

"My first experience was a show in Grangemouth Town Hall in early 1994. Cannot remember a thing about it besides the British Bulldog wrestling (the real one, not one of those tribute acts). Speaking of the tribute acts I did go to a tribute show in 2000 featuring such awesome wrestlers as 'The Legend of Doom' and the skinniest Sting ever. Although they also had a real wrestler, the mighty Earthquake."

Alan Reynolds shares his experience:

"My first experience of the UK indy scene was a BCW show where Lionheart faced Andy Wild in the main event. A friend was going and I expressed interest in going so he got me a ticket. Only thing I really remember is cheering when Lionheart semi-turned on Andy Wild at the end of the night and having nearby people look at me in confusion."

Scottish wrestler Lionheart has been a feature in many of our first UK wrestling experiences

Wrestleropes has an interesting and rather circuitous answer:

"My first experience or exposure to the UK independent scene was actually at a TNA Fan Party in Glasgow which I won tickets to randomly during an episode on Impact on Challenge. I knew that there was wrestling within the UK but up till then I'd had no real contact with it bar seeing the odd poster in a shop window. 

The Fan Party had a panel of British wrestlers (Kay Lee Ray, Lionheart, Johnny Moss, Kid Fite) talking about stories and such. That was really the catalyst that really made e hunt out UK independent wrestling. About a month later I went to a Premier British Wrestling show and that was it. It hooked me. I intended to go along just to see what it was really like but by the main event came round as was emotionally committed to the show as much as anyone else in the building.

When I got home I made sure I knew the next show I could get to. A few months later the website started and the rest as they say is history."

Ryan Blackwood is up next:

"I’ve been going to ICW since April of last year. In terms of independent wrestling, I’ve not really branched further than ICW in terms of live shows (although I follow several promotions on DVD). I wish I could  have gone further afield but for a non-driver it can be a nightmare.

I’m trying to branch out though, booked up for the PCW/ROH super show in Preston, November and am hopefully gonna make it to BCW in Kilmarnock.

There have been some cracking matches I’ve missed out on because of it (see any Joe Coffey or Mikey Whiplash match). I suppose it’s a bit to do with trepidation and the whole idea of 'it wont be like ICW.'

That trepidation I mention is very much what I felt before my first ICW event. I had only just started getting back to wrestling properly in the lead up to 'Mania and had been getting told from my cousin for two months previous to the event. I just felt it was going to be garbage, ‘how can British wrestling be anywhere near WWE’ I would ask myself. But I wanted to see ‘mania so for 12 quid I thought hey-ho, why not.

The first thing to hit me was the queue outside the Garage; I thought he was mental to suggest we queue an hour early. As we all know, that’s kinda the norm now. 

Constantly in the queue all I heard was ‘Grado’. And that’s kind of the summary of my first indie event. ‘Grado’. That brings up another clear thing I noticed and still do, the fans are some of the best and most homely of any sport on the planet. I was there at the point where Jack Jester was injured so the closest I got to ‘hardcore’ was Jimmy Havoc being german suplexed onto a hamster cage by James Scott. That excited me enough to go back though. So much excited me and made me want more the next month. 

Just think of your first experience of the Bucky Boys, think of your first time hearing ‘like a prayer’, your first Billy Kirkwood skit to start the show, that first chair shot, that first flip, twist and turn. It was all just perfect.

Two things that annoyed me about that show though, one is in hindsight. The first, at the time, Toni Smoke was horrendous, shocking. I’ve heard a lot of people say he was cracking but it just done nothing for me. I’m also not a rap fan. Secondly, in hindsight, why the hell have the big hangovers not been back to ICW, they were fantastic.

I think I came in at a perfect time, it was the start of Jackie Polos big storyline with Mark Dallas and the site of that utter genius turn/reuniting of the NAK in a loser leaves town match between booty and Renfrew. The finish left me wanting more, it had certainly done a hell of a lot more for me than any WWE TV had done for a long while, it brought the love back to wrestling. I’d say I probably see about 15-20 hours of wrestling a week and I put that down to independent wrestling. It made me branch out from WWE, it made me look into different styles, made me appreciate them and made me wanting to watch and learn more and more.

Independent wrestling in my opinion is at an all time best point right now and more importantly; I think British wrestling is at its highest point ever. 

I for one am ecstatic to be a part of it and look forward to seeing is undoubted rise to bigger and better things.

Think I’ve rambled a bit but there ya go. My first experience of the independent wrestling scene."

Our man from America, Des Delgadillo ( probably didn't get his first foot in that door at a live ICW event, but here's his perspective:

"My first experience with British wrestling was a second-hand experience, but awesome nonetheless.

In 2002, a promotion fronted by British wrestling stalwart Alex Shane tried to bring British pro wrestling back to the prominence it enjoyed before it was stamped out at the end of the 1980s when ITV decided to cancel the World of Sport show. The Frontier Wrestling Alliance's plan was pretty simple: Let’s make wrestling awesome. And they did.

The first event I saw is probably the most historic for the FWA, the 2002 “Revival” show, an event that mixed American imports like Eddy Guerrero and Brian Christopher against exemplary British talents like Doug Williams and, my personal favorites, Jody Fleisch and Jonny Storm.

FWA was all about building drama into pro wrestling while still preserving the sports feel that the British wrestling scene of old was so keen on presenting.

Thanks to the Talksport radio program, wrestling fans got to listen to a live national broadcast of the show. I watched what was an unfortunately edited version that aired on British TV several months later, and even though a lot of the matches were shortened for TV constraints, the main matches were left in their entirety, and I loved every moment of the action. That Revival show encouraged me to plunge into more British indies, buy a ton more DVD’s, and appreciate wrestling from across the pond. That, in turn, took me on a journey back in time where I learned to appreciate the golden years of World of Sport, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

The FWA eventually fizzled out, then came back and fizzled out again. But their influence on the British scene can’t be forgotten. It was Alex Shane’s dedication and hustle that made fans take notice of wrestling in their own backyard once again. And it is Alex Shane who has spearheaded the wrestling content fans now get to see on Challenge TV, including WrestleTalk TV and BWC British Roundup. Shows like these that reach a greater audience than anyone could have ever imagined happened because of Alex Shane’s dedication to preserving a business. I’m glad I was able to watch the first step in bringing that business back."

Bruce Mackintosh joins in with his experience:

"Unfortunately I don't remember much of mine due to being rather young when I attended. My dad took me to see indie wrestling at the once very reputable Magnum centre in Irvine. Any ayrshire wrestling fans probably went to this but all I remember is not understanding why there was no WWF wrestlers* on the bill (excuse my young and naive self on reflection). Now I'm back into wrestling after a few years out and glad to say that the Scottish scene is solid and always excited to see and hear all the build up of new events. Got plenty of shows to come up with ICW/FIERCE FEMALES, Discovery Wrestling, WWE and TNA among the tickets I've got. 

(* I do remember there being a fan dressed as X PAC in attendance but even I wasn't falling for it.)"

Finally we have Adam Wilson with a combination of a 2012 start, ICW and of course Lionheart in his answer:

"The first time I experienced a UK independent show live was ICW: Hadouken! back in September 2012. I was aware of the UK scene prior to this having watched the likes of Drew Galloway, Mikey Whiplash, Lionheart and others on Youtube (and The Wrestling Channel when it existed), but due to money/location at the time attending shows wasn't an option for me, thus the extent of my knowledge was still pretty limited. Shortly prior to Hadouken, a friend of mine moved to Glasgow and noticed the poster for the show at the Garage in the City Centre (which made attending pretty easy), and the booking of Fergal Devitt sealed the deal. We both went, and now the idea of missing an ICW show makes both of us genuinely ill."

That's us for this week, remember if you want to take part you're more than welcome :-)

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