Thursday, 8 September 2016

Opinion: The British Aren't Coming, They're Already Here

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It’s that time of month of again when ATPW grants me a column to write my thoughts down and present them to yourselves for you to read, to enjoy, to scorn at while you read on the couch, the train or sitting on the toilet hoping that you locked the door and no one knows what you're doing. So as I write this, the PWG Battle of Los Angeles has been won by Marty Scurll and already I look on social media there’s announcements of “The British is Coming”, ‘The UK is taking over” and “The UK rules wrestling!”. I have to ask really? 

I have no qualms about the success of UK wrestling across the world at the moment as well as the state of play of wrestling in the UK as a whole, it certainly seems to be hitting that golden era again. For years people have said I’m too positive about the UK and Ireland’s success in wrestling, but from my mind set regarding “The British is Coming”, this isn’t even the beginning of what the UK and Ireland has to offer, fans across the world are only just recognising tip of the talent from what the United Kingdom and Ireland presents. 

Earlier I mentioned PWG BOLA, Marty Scurll, the current PROGRESS Wrestling Champion was triumphant in his journey to the surprise and the delight of many. The tournament included the current Revolution Pro Wrestling British Cruiserweight Champion and New Japan Pro Wrestling Best of the Super Juniors Winner Will Ospreay as well. These two men who battled over the PROGRESS Championship last year have made 2016 theirs and the year isn’t even over yet. 

Over in World Wrestling Entertainment, the Cruiserweight Classic has included former BOLA Winner Zack Sabre Jr as well as Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher and in NXT Nikki Cross, it is easy to understand why fans are saying the British are coming when you look at the evidence in WWE this year alone. Some may say that the WWE doesn’t always equal success and while that is true in the past, fans can sense a difference in the treatment of the way the new arrivals have been given. Thanks to the CWC, they have been given almost free reign to play to their strengths and not repackaged in any way. The same goes for Cross in NXT, who many have dropped the Storm in the name, but in name only as personally I see the same attitude and excellence I witnessed in Fierce Females, Insane Championship Wrestling and Scottish Wrestling Alliance that she brought to the table.

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It doesn’t stop there, earlier this year Joe Coffey was in Evolve Wrestling and Full Impact Pro making his impact, while the team from Premier British Wrestling including Kid Fite and Saqib Ali was in Denmark at Dansk Pro Wrestling. While the latter may not be performing to the crowds of the size of WWE, to gain experience outside the UK is something incredible and on the subject of Fite, he has been continually wrestling all across Europe which is something you can tell not just in his wrestling but the experience he passes to the PBW Academy.

And when I say incredible I have not even written on the subject of the impact Kay Lee Ray, Viper have made in World Wonder Ring Stardom, Shine Wrestling and SHIMMER Women Athletes, while Courtney has made her name at Stardom in Japan. In Germany the incredible following that Pollyanna, Jamie Hayter and Saraya Knight have there is something that has to be witnessed to be believed also who can forget The Owen Twins in Spain at Revolution Championship Wrestling and the incredible matches Nixon Newell has been involved in this year alone across the world, she is her own one woman army. 

Now as I write that paragraph I digress for a moment, the names I mentioned there are amazing athletes and the matches they are involved in with multiple talents across the world are a shining examples of the reason why there shouldn’t be a separation in the term of Women’s Wrestling and Wrestling. I mean we don’t say Men’s Wrestling do we? But we say Women’s Wrestling, maybe if we broke things down into Divisions, Heavyweight Division, Cruiserweight Division and Women’s Division it would make things more logical to some people. But if you are under any impression that Women in the wrestling profession can’t match talents with their male counterparts I implore you to check out Kay Lee Ray versus Mikey Whiplash at ICW, Nixon Newell in Fight Club Pro, or even confront Saraya Knight with that opinion and you may have to bend over and kiss your own ass goodbye for the outcome of that. I say these things at the moment because even now there is still those who have the backward opinions that women in wrestling are there just to look good and that’s all, this I will continually argue against because it’s point because it’s something I strongly disagree with.

With that being said, as I reel back my original point of the impact of UK wrestlers are making across the world, in the next few months Chris Ridgeway, another excellent talent will be heading to Limitless Wrestling in Maine, USA and how could I not mention Mark Andrews, while fans are critical of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling for not recognising the jewel in the sand that is that man, he continually finds a way to steal every match he is involved in. And while on the subject of TNA, you have to mention Drew Galloway, I have already stated in another wrestling outlet about how much of an impact (pun intended) he has made since leaving WWE, he remains proof that with dedication, heart and desire there is life across the Independent scene without WWE.

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You have to wonder one thing though, that with the exporting of wrestling talent that has occurred this year, does the world recognise the incredible market there is with UK fans? Of course they do.

This year, wrestling fans have seen tours from Chris Hero, Ethan Carter III, Kurt Angle, Jay Lethal, many more and soon to be seen like Cody Rhodes The plus side not just for the fans is that those stars have often hosted seminars for wrestling students to learn something different and gain a fresh perspective in how they are trained. Also not to mention the excellent work from the Inside The Ropes team who have brought, Paul Heyman, Eric Bischcoff and Scott Steiner to the fans to share stories and answer questions that the fans would never have had before.

Recently the deal between Preston City Wrestling and Ring Of Honor collapsed, a deal that they jointly host ‘Supershow of Honor', an event that was due for it’s third year in November however with ROH’s UK tour dates clashing with PCW dates it was inevitable that an issue would occur, the good thing is that there appears to be no bitterness on either side. What this means though is that other promotions have stepped in to fill the void left by ROH, those promotions being Beyond Wrestling from Massachusetts, USA, Combat Zone Wrestling from Delaware, USA and Westside Xtreme Wrestling from Nordrhein-Westfalen , Germany. Why have I included this piece of information in my article? Well, do think fans in CZW have heard of El Ligero? The same said for Beyond about Bubblegum? My point being that Ligero and Bubblegum have almost thirty years wrestling experience combined all over the UK, two of the best wrestlers the UK has to offer but they haven’t been seen on a grander stage yet. No justice in that. But they aren’t the only two UK talent’s that can gain more publicity thanks to this combination of promotions, many more can be seen thanks to this which is a great thing in my mind. No doubt with this exposure wrestlers from all promotions will be able to maximise their popularity to gain notoriety in all four fronts.

One issue that may occur in the future, and we have seen one issue of it already, is that out of shape run down wrestlers who used to be incredible in the Eighties and Nineties exploit the fans and promoters to get one more pay day hoping to suck the fans into a nostalgia trip of one match. My advice only as a fan of over thirty years, don’t let this happen, the UK and Ireland (I apologise I’ve not included enough from Ireland in this column) have a sensational amount of talent targeting the wrestling promotions across the world and already have a magnitude of wrestlers ready to take their place thanks to the respectable training schools all over the countries. My idea alone on this, is that if you desperately feel the need to pay over the odds for an import, you probably should look inward at the talent you already have and why you have haven’t pushed them or created the stories for them to connect them with the fans, because what happens when you that import you rely on can’t make it? The answer? Bad times. 

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So in closing, my point, if there was one at all, the British aren’t coming, the UK and Ireland have already arrived, you just never realised it yet and now your starting to see the results.

Words - Craig Hermit
Editor & Images - James Marston
Image Credits - David Wilson

All other images are the property of their respective owners

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