Characters are the back-bone of good entertainment. Characters are what make a theatre performance so enjoyable to watch. They’re the reason you just can’t put down that book you’re reading, they’re why you submerse yourself into a film or the reason you’re hooked to a television show. Even the best sports personalities have some form of character! Characters are one of the most essential elements to any entertainment industry. So the question I can’t help but ask myself is why the hell is there so few on the British Wrestling scene?
Watching wrestling as a child I was always captivated by the biggest characters in both the WWF and WCW. If I had to pick a favourite from each: WCW – Sting. WWF – The Undertaker. Both similar in a sense, but despite their similarities it was always those two who were the most memorable stars of the show for me; either it be the way they moved, their entrance, the TV segments/promos they were involved in; their characters always jumped out of the screen at me and grabbed my attention; so much so that when I started training to be a wrestler the first idea I had for myself would be to play a dark character called ‘Death’, a far cry from the feather boa wearing prima-donna I would actually become.
As I developed in my training I knew that dark and sinister character wasn’t something a guy of my size or look could pull off, however I still realised the importance of a character at a very early stage and that was something that would separate me from the rest of the show full of trainees at my level… and even now to a degree. Too often do I look around changing rooms and see the same old kick pad, trunk wearing ‘no nonsense’ wrestler, to which when you question their look they say: “I’m more of a serious wrestler” blah, blah fucking blah… Firstly, this is professional wrestling. It’s sports ENTERTAINMENT! You cannot take yourself too serious! I’ve seen Rampage Brown; a 6’3, 260lbs mean looking bastard of a man make a fool of himself as a villain on a show. Now if he’s doing it, then Johnny Kick Pads over there who’s walking to the ring with mean expression on his pre-pubescent face and one hand raised in the air, standing in at a staggering 5’9 and weighing 170lbs needs to sort his act out.
Imagine the needs of a casual fan, or even a promoter and ask yourself this: ‘Can your character be put on a poster?’ And if so, ‘Is my character easily identifiable?’ These are what the general public/casual fan wants to see. This is what a promoter needs to make money, and these are also key elements to your own individual success and ability to make money from Professional Wrestling.
When I joined the All-Star team in 2010, promoter Brian Dixon was so set on me working as a baby face. At the time I had no real idea what I was doing as a baby face. I had no real gimmick. Sure I was playing around with a few ideas but there was nothing instantly identifiable about them. He didn’t want me to continue my Baywatch character I had been doing elsewhere alongside Sam Bailey and instead he had booked me as a villain once or twice out of necessity to the show and instantly liked the character. I came strutting down to the ring with feather boas around my neck, sparkly jackets and a cocky attitude; it was all a presentation and added something to his show. Shortly after that I was put on his full time team and was working 5 days a week as a regular villain, featured in all of his posters, programmes and online advertising. Brian even made a point of noting that the second either myself or El Ligero walk out through the curtain in front of an audience there’s an instant reaction from the crowd because the characters are there and are instantly identifiable.
Now speak no further than El Ligero when it comes to a character; the guy is on every Micky Mouse show up and down the country and it’s not just for his in ring talent, but because his character is so memorable with an audience and they can easily relate to him. Matt Myers is the same; a Super-Hero with an extravagant cape and over the top character, instantly the kids go wild for him. And it’s not just the baby-face characters; I myself don the ‘prima-donna’ celebrity gimmick, people instantly dislike me simply for the way I dress! I know it’s something that doesn’t come easy, but more workers in this country need to concentrate on getting something that’s going to stand out, something that’s memorable and stop them being the next guy on the card. It doesn’t matter how many cool moves they can do, how many flips they can do from the top rope; if the audience leave that venue not remembering who was the one to do them then they’re missing an opportunity to stop making tens and start making hundreds.