White Lightning Mark Andrews, Wild Boar and Flash Morgan Webster made their debut at the NGW Sixth Anniversary Show as part of the Davey Boy Smith Memorial Cup tournament that, hopefully, will make its way around UK promotions and, more importantly, highlight talent that many may not have seen before.
The match was great, it showed the talent that all three men bring to the ring and, by the time Andrews walked away the winner, the crowd were loving everything they saw and were enamoured by the easy likability of Andrews, the cocky attitude of Webster and the powerful nature of Wild Boar.
That was, however, not how the match started…
It’s difficult to debut!
There’s a number of wrestling fans who know who the up-and-coming talent around the country are and look forward to the day when those names grace their local promotion. For many, however, they’re fans of their home promotion or casual fans of wrestling, may know the roster of the company and don’t mind seeing a debut if it’s against a guy they know.
For some fans, though, debuting wrestlers are “just” guys in the ring!
So, they come to the ring – Boar, Andrews and Webster. They do what they can to get the crowd going initially; Andrews is instantly likeable, preppy, blond haired and energetic, Webster is arrogant with his Mod personality but not too dislikeable, and Wild Boar looks aggressive and like he may have spent some time foraging for food in the woods.
For the first half of the match, they’re putting on a really strong show, but the crowd are still a bit lukewarm. The wrestlers are not doing anything wrong, they’re not ignoring the crowd, they’re not putting in a half-hearted performance. The crowd are just… not getting it.
Then the high flying starts, courtesy of Andrews and Webster, and Boar gets to show that, despite his stout build, he’s a powerhouse. The crowd heat up quickly and, by the end of the match, with Andrews scoring the pin with a Shooting Star Press after Boar locks in a brutal Trapper Driver on Webster, the crowd love what they’ve just seen.
To hear one woman exclaim “I can’t look” and turn away as the three exchange a barrage of high flying and powerful moves, and to hear the cheers and applause as Andrews shot around the ring with the precision of a sniper was the moment that you knew that the crowd were into what they were seeing. People were on their feet by the time Andrews scored the win and it was, in those moments, that all the hard work that these three guys had put in paid off.
Look at the Progress Natural Progression Series. The crowd are there to be entertained, and they will be, but until they have the measure of the competitors, they’re unsure how to respond. At Progress, you know the crowd love the wrestler by what they choose to chant and, more importantly, what catches on, but this only happens when they see the talent on show… and the bar for these fans, wiser and more clued up than most, is exceptionally high.
When the crowd mimicked Josh Bodom’s hissing and vocals during lock ups, he knew he had them. When Mark Andrews debuted and was mocked for his “Draco Malfoy” blond hair, he knew he’d won them over. The same with, though I’m yet to see the match, the “red face” chants to Robbie X. If the worse they can do is chant about that kind of stuff, you know, at Progress, that they love you! It takes a few minutes of precious match time for the crowd to find that sweet spot, though, let alone chant it and have it catch on!
It’d be an entirely different story if they were doing the whole “boring” thing at Progress, but they sit there enamoured as long as they are entertained. Let’s face it, that’s one of the things that any wrestling promotion aims to do!
Whilst the crowd are momentarily silent, working towards that moment where they get it, remember: talent always rises and, as a punter who sits in the crowd, watching wrestlers do what they do best, I find myself reflecting on a quote from Gladiator, “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”
Damn right, I’m entertained!