Saturday 11 January 2014

“The way I see it ….” Part one, the opening package By Matt Bayliss (@MattMatt316)

Everyone has a different opinion on British Wrestling, everyone has their favourite promotions, their favourite wrestlers and their favourite venues as well as the people they hate – most of this is down to what you have experienced and what you have been fortunate enough to see, or in some cases unfortunate enough to see! I dare say that if I mention people that I love to watch it may create rage in other peoples minds as they can’t stand that person, such is the joy being a wrestling fan!

A bit about me before I start, I have been a wrestling fan for a long long time. I remember watching World of Sport as a kid and I know the names involved but I was too young and it was too long ago to really remember. I first got to watch WWF around age 10 thanks to finally getting cable TV and got hooked instantly and started watching as much as I could. I was a huge Bret Hart fan from day one (I have since had the pleasure of meeting him and even drove him from Birmingham down to Heathrow which is one of the real high points of my life!) I watched more and more wrestling and lived through the Attitude era and the Monday night wars and saw wrestling reach unbelievable highs and got to go to see several live events. I even got to meet Scott Hall when the nWo was in full swing – I got to meet him again several years later and had a really long chat about where is was at that time in light of everything that has happened to him. As I got a bit older and had more and more going on I started to watch less wrestling, I kept a casual eye on what was going on and watched what I could but it didn’t really rule my life.

A few years ago I started to get back into things, partially through TNA which was different and enticing, I stumbled across one of their first tours over here taking place at the Coventry Skydome, I only found out about it a few days prior but was still able to get tickets and drag my other half and step daughter along and we had a great time. My interest however was mostly reinvigorated due to the FWA matches that were taking place at the Memorabilia and Expo shows I was working at. I used to sneak at peak whenever I could but then the son of one of the organisers got into wrestling and nobody really wanted to take him to watch the matches so I had the perfect excuse. I got to see guys like Rockstar Spud, RJ Singh, El Ligero and Jonny Storm performing and also had the opportunity to meet Alex Shane and had regular chats with him. This was my first real introduction to British Wrestling and I was impressed from the off. One of the guys I got to see in one of these matches was “The Showstealer” Nathan Cruz who really impressed me with his in ring work and his character, so I looked into him more and discovered NGW and have followed the promotion as closely as I can from so far away ever since. Many people have divided opinions on Cruz but there are few better than him based on his abilities, character and dedication to his craft.

I found some local shows and some other people who shared my interest. Rob McDermott has an intellectual yet beer fuelled love of wrestling and Hope Brookes (Queen of the Internet don’t you know) is a truly rabid fan! I was even fortunate enough to start working for a boss who was a wrestling fan and we managed to get 2nd row ringside seats for the RAW tapings in Birmingham. Soon enough my other half decided she didn’t want to go anymore but I had found some kindred spirits by then so I was undeterred! Since then I have watched more and more and some local shows have turned up which have been amazing, through which I have met some great people pretty randomly through attending shows – one in particular being Stuart who I first met properly down in Sittingbourne, Kent at a Rev-Pro show headlined by Marty Scurll vs Rockstar Spud but had some amazing talent throughout the card. I think we had interacted briefly on twitter beforehand but he recognised me and asked if I could send him the photos I had been taking. Little did we realise that we lived really close to one another back in Birmingham yet met in a snow storm down south! Other people locally like Ryan Smile and Corey Barnett have really opened my eyes to the business. I first saw them both at what can only be described as a clusterfuck of a show that was still amazingly entertaining but have since met them both and seen them both perform at much higher levels, Smile in particular in my opinion is one of the best in the country and constantly wants to be the best at everything he does.

In the last 12 months I have drifted away from the big wrestling companies, I keep an eye on what is going on in WWE and watch little bits and pieces that tickle my fancy, I watch TNA occasionally although more lately since Spud is getting screen time. Despite drifting away from them I think I have been watching more wrestling than ever before with Kamikaze Pro, Pro Wrestling Kingdom and AWW all local plus a few others too there is no shortage of shows to go to not to mention a regular flow of DVDs and the internet. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to write some live show and DVD reviews for The Indy Corner/Wrestlings Last Hope – this has given me opportunity to see some new promotions as well as getting to see the last two PROGRESS shows which I had heard so much about.

Personally I think the UK Indy scene is on a massive high at the moment and there are some amazing shows taking place, a lot of the import talent coming over too is helping draw more crowds, helping the UK talent learn and giving them opportunity to step up and show what they can do. There is so much going on it can get a bit confusing at times but that adds to awe of it all. Heel Bubblegum and Face Bubblegum are so very different in character but both are as entertaining as hell. Social media is amazing as well as you get to see the real people and their characters molded into one, and you get to see the ups and downs of life in the business.

I’d say I have a good, broad wrestling knowledge and I’m sure my opinion will be good for some – but like I said that’s the joy of wrestling, two people could attend the exact same show and take home two completely different opinions. I have wanted to write something for ages and have felt really encouraged and confident lately so now is as good a time as any to start. I always wanted to write a really “Heel” column, partly for fun partly to prove a point but then I realised that would be counter productive so instead I want to write a semi-regular piece just to share my observations on things I have seen and what I think about what is going on in the industry. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and welcome any feedback or questions people may have. There are wrestlers and promotions I’ve not seen or not seen much of so hopefully this will help broaden my knowledge further too

You don’t have to like my opinion, you don’t have to share my thoughts but that’s the whole point!


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