Chapter Five

So, here we are at the last chapter – but this one is going to be a little different.

First though, I’m going to tell a story, so bear with me.

I think the best way to illustrate what Britwres means to me is to explain where I was, mentally, before Progress Chapter 64: Thunderbastards Are Go!.

Thunderbastards match at Progress Chapter 64
Flash Morgan Webster, Chris Brookes, Trent Seven, and Tyler Bate in the Thunderbastards match at my first Progress show. (Rob Brazier / The Head Drop)

At this point, I’d been in the London for a little over five months. I’d gone to a few shows, solo, but by mid-February I was feeling so isolated and depressed that even wrestling felt like a chore. I was neck deep in school work that I didn’t care about and failing to complete any of the design commissions that usually kept me afloat.

It’s not like me to give up – but I was secretly looking into my options as far as dropping out of school and going back to Canada, tail firmly tucked.

I got my ticket a few days before the show, figuring it was worth the outing – if only because I’d been trying to get Progress tickets before I even moved to the UK. I posted a half-joking tweet saying I was nervous about going alone, and within a few minutes had a number of messages telling me about PWGrrrlGang.

I met Suzy, Lucy, and a few more of my good show-going friends for the first time that day. I can’t even put into words what a difference it’s made for an emotional, anxiety-ridden wreck like me to have people who I can seek out in a crowd for a safe moment.

A group fan photo from Fight Club Pro
I'm in this photo somewhere, which is pretty cool.

Suzy and Lucy – or Gifs, as she is often known – have kept me firmly under their collective wing since that day.

They invited me along in the car from Manchester to Birmingham on Fight Club Pro’s DTTI weekend back at the end of March, have helped me figure out the logistics for most of the shows I’ve been to, and have introduced me to more people than I could have ever met alone. I don’t think I’ve ever told them how grateful I am for their friendship, but I guess they’ll find out now.

While things started there, they didn’t end there. I’ve become more and more comfortable with talking to people at Britwres shows, because I’ve not once had a bad experience.

(I’ve also learned this valuable life lesson that I’d like to pass onto you now: “If you ever feel alone at a show, go talk to Brookes and Lykos.”)

For months I felt completely alone in the UK. Now, every show is an opportunity to extend my circle a little further.

Now, I know I’m a part of something.

So, that’s why Britwres is special to me. But here are the answers from a few people who know it a lot better than I do.


El Phantasmo

“There’s just so many good guys over here that I enjoy getting in the ring with, and learning from, in a way that you’d never get to be able to in the States.

“We’d train together three days a week – it would be me, and Travis Banks, and Aussie Open, and Omari, and Millie McKenzie, wrestling with each other every day. Just all of us getting better, and all of us getting better opportunities. It makes us all better.

“And the atmosphere is so much better. When you come to the UK shows – the atmosphere, and the chants – I don’t even know what half of them are. Everyone is having a good time at the shows. In Vancouver you have to work them so hard to get them to react. Here, they know they’ll see some awesome wrestling and they just… love it more.

“It’s also the roster depth that the UK has. The fact that you can have so many good companies stacked with different wrestlers. With Attack!, and Fight Club, and Rev Pro, you don’t know what the card’s going to be, but you just know that roster is going to have a smashing show, every single show. You know you’re going to get something special and crazy every show.”

El Phantasmo at Frontline Wrestling
El Phantasmo by Oli Sandler / Ringside Perspective

David Starr

“I think the big difference is just in the way the fanbase reacts to the sport. I think the UK tends to have more of a social environment. I think it’s easier for a non-wrestling fan to get into wrestling in the UK than it is in America. That’s the big difference, I think.

“If you’re a wrestling fan in the UK, you can bring your friend along and, even if they don’t like wrestling, they can come along and have a drink and socialize and still have a good time – while also getting into the sport or the show.”

El Phantasmo at Frontline Wrestling
David Starr by Robyn Goding / Beyond Gorilla

Chris Brookes

“I think a lot of people, you’ll ask them this question and they’ll be like… ‘Our guys work harder,’ or ‘Our guys want it more,’ or whatever. But I don’t think that’s fair to say, because I don’t meet anyone who comes over from America who doesn’t want it just as much.

"I think, if anything, we benefit from having a considerably smaller scene. When you breakout in the UK, or even into wider Europe, it’s easier to become a recognisable entity than it is maybe, necessarily, for people in America.

“Really, it’s a complete multitude of things. I think what makes it special, perhaps, is like: yes, it’s condensed, and it’s easier to become familiar with the people who are wrestling in the scene, but I think a part of that leads onto the fact that British Wrestling is much more of a community as well – than like an American scene where you might be in your group of guys, but you never meet these other people who are across the country wrestling in this other prominent promotion. Whereas everyone in British wrestling knows each other, and everyone, for the most part, is trying to help each other. There’s no real rivalries, no promoters, particularly, who are at each other’s throats and stuff like that or say, ‘you can’t work here if you work there.’

“It’s very much a community, and for British wrestlers, it’s ‘Let’s all elevate our entire scene,’ rather than ‘Let’s all elevate ourselves.’ We all like each other, and all help each other get on more shows, and everyone carpools to go places. I think that people who come from the outside notice that immediately about our circles.

The Besties (were) over here, and as much as we can, we’re like – ‘We’ll help you try and get here,’ or ‘You can come with us to this show,’ or ‘We’ll put your name forward for this thing.’

“I think even they’re kind of taken aback by how much we’re all willing to help everyone.”

CCK at Attack! Wrestling
Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos by Oli Sandler / Ringside Perspective

Kid Lykos

“In the ring, we’re all at such a high standard – but we all eat, sleep, and breathe wrestling.

“Having this platform to show the rest of the world what level we’re on only benefited us more. Everyone’s really unique, everyone’s incredible in the ring, no one’s slacking. They’re still pushing forward.

“That makes the scene so strong, because no matter what, even when people get bitter or sad about something, they’re still working hard to get better, and working with other people to help wrestling as a whole in our area.”


Kyle Fletcher

“It’s the people, and the fans. The people in wrestling, and the fans that support us. The people that help us grow and wrestle in front of people – that means we get to do what we love as a living, which is the best part of it all.”

El Phantasmo at Frontline Wrestling
Kyle Fletcher by Robyn Goding / Beyond Gorilla

Jim Smallman

“We’re a tiny island in the middle of the North Sea. Somehow we have created some of the best wrestlers on the planet, and most of them still live and work here. On an island the size of Florida, we’ve got more companies and venues and ridiculously enthusiastic fans and great schools than you can shake a stick at.

“It’s the attitude of British wrestlers that set them apart, and the unbelievable crowds that make everyone from the rest of the world want to come here to experience British Wrestling.”


That’s it. Thank you so much for reading. Keep supporting independent wrestling, wherever you are.

Make sure you check out the Special Thanks page, and feel free to contact me with any comments you might have.

This was Hook & Catch.




Header photo by Oli Sandler / Ringside Perspective.

Introduction

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five