Nathan Cruz – Year In Review 2018

Added by Nathan Cruz

Introduction

Last year. I find my self quite often sitting in my home and just thinking about 2017. Thinking about how bad it was. How stressful, depressing and crushing it was. I then say to myself “to think you nearly quit.”

Because if I had I wouldn’t be able to reflect on this year, 2018. I wouldn’t be able to think back to how myself and some of my closest friends and peers were able to make history. I wouldn’t be able to laugh my self stupid at a word said backwards. I would have missed out on so much joy and happiness. Because that’s what 2018 has given me. I truly feel I weathered the storm and found myself on sunny shores.

For those who read my 2017 year in review I feel I owe you this. You read through something that was nothing short of a massive downer, sure it enabled me to vent and get things off of my chest and many of you reached out to me to wish me all the best for the new year. Well this is my thank you, to you all; this was my 2018… it’s long. Very long.

New Year, old faces

At the turn of the new year my inbox pinged one evening with a line of communication that would go on to evolve into one of my proudest accomplishments for the year ahead. Lucas Steel.

Lucas had originally trained under ligero & myself back in 2013 at the old NGW academy. However due to personal issues he had to step away having never really being able to get his momentum moving forward.

In this time he had grown from an athletic looking 17 year old kid into a very large 22 year old young man. Standing at 6’ 5 and tipping the scales at 240lbs, the lad had certainly worked on his image.

He had reached out to me after reading my 2017 year in review. He also went on to say that he was having an urge to come back to training. Now as a trainer (and I’m sure many other trainers across the globe can relate to this) this is something you hear far too often with no follow up.

So for the most part I take it with a huge pinch of salt. However Lucas was a different case. I asked him what he was doing with his life at the moment to which he told me he was working at odeon.

I went on some what of a motivational rant at him. About how much promise he has, his look, his knowledge and passion of wrestling etc and that he should be doing far more with his life than filling boxes of popcorn.

A week later and he popped in to observe a training session that; ironically enough, was a joint session that ligs and I were taking. (Ligero is no longer a full time trainer st the NGW academy but is brought in on occasion for guest seminars)

I took him to a side and he said just how badly he wanted to get back in. That he had the bug. I told him to join the advanced Wednesday class and we’ll go from there. Sure enough he did.

He got in the ring and I wanted to see what he had remembered, what he needed to work on and in general, assess him. I was blown away. He hasn’t missed a step and I dare say he had even improved in areas. He had obviously never given up on that dream, he has watched it, studied it (even if he didn’t know he was doing so) and was willing to show that he wanted this. He dove right back into the thick of it and in the months to come would go on to make me very proud of him.

Five Star Wrestling 

The new year also brought in with it a new opportunity for many professional wrestlers. That opportunity was five star wrestling.

Now before I talk about my personal experience of working here let me clear this. I know five star had it’s faults. We all did. And quite frankly it was a ride just seeing how they were going to get from week to week. BUT, this was mid week work, Thursday nights to be exact. And they were paying us handsomely. On top of that they were promoting a product that was appealing to families instead of a niche market and give us all a platform to expand our name and get experience working to cameras. My matches there were often great examples for me to send over to friends of mine working in WWE and get feedback not only on my in ring stuff but my ability to develop working camera’s (something that would prove beneficial later on in the year) as well each week getting the chance to work at match times for TV restraints.

Now, my own experience. Firstly there was a clear issue with how the Booker was putting certain things together. However in time he did start to listen to certain talents, such as Gibson etc. I was fortunate in that he wanted me to work a feud with BT Gunn. I’ve nothing  but good things to say about BT. He and I have wrestled each other dozens of times and I’ve always enjoyed it, we understood the purpose of our match and the position on the card and always got stuck in.

What people don’t know is how this story line came about.

On the debut episode I did a spot with BT that I have had as a on going part of my matches for years. Having a baby face pull down my trunks to expose my bum (highlighting my wonderful thing tan line) always guarantees a reaction from an audience and is great egg on the face of the ever elitist professional.

When I came back however there was trouble. I just had my backside exposed before watershed on TV. This could have proven damaging for the company going forward with their TV deal with freesports. They managed to handle it with the excuse that my under trunks were never supposed to come down; just my tights. Which lead to the following week BT and I repeating the spot but this time I had the under trunks ready and it looked as though Cruz had learnt from last week before BT still manages to pull out the victory.

I chalk this up to a good learning experience on my behalf. For years (since 2011) that had been a go to spot in matches of mine, particularly on holiday camp shows and it always got a positive response from the audience. However in 2018 the world has become a different place and this was no longer considered as comedy suitable for a family audience. There were certain other things that I occasionally did in matches that I would go away and re-evaluate following this.

But it did launch the storyline for BT and I to keep working with each other; so every cloud and that.

As the horrendous winds and snow of March blew in Five Star were still going ahead with their show in Belfast Ireland.

I was schedule to fly out from near by Leeds Bradford airport at about 10am.

The snow in Hull that day wasn’t actually that bad. A light dusting and some strong winds. So I decided to brave the journey to the airport. I was driving to ligs’ house where I was going to park my car and from there we would fly out together. However as I approached closer and closer to Leeds the once light dusting had grown in to some very heavy snow showers. As I crawled up the M62 at a steady 25mph I turned on the local radio station to hear that all flights from Leeds Bradford had been grounded until further notice. I called ligs 20 minutes from his home to give him the news to which we both decided it was best to turn around and not wait for the storm to hopefully pass.

Gutted that I was out of pocket, but I did get to see some beautiful scenery around the hills of West Yorkshire and I even built a snowman (he told me he was happy with this gender) when the storm blew over to Hull! And for anyone that doesn’t know; I love the snow and winter weather, so I was a very happy man indeed.

A few of the talent did make it over to Ireland but subsequently were then trapped there for several days following meaning they missed weekend shows back in England.

But the big story to come from this was the huge financial hit five star had taken from the severe weather. It spelled the end of their shows as the guy funding it had decided he had lost far too much money to consider continuing to run and the following few dates that were announced were cancelled.

From what I’ve heard those ticket sales did get refunded despite horror stories. Five star tried but we all knew the writing was on the wall the moment we spoke with the booker. It was just a case of hoping things would change and that it would last long enough to see them change. It didn’t. I feel terrible for the financial backer.

From my own personal stand point it gave me many of enjoyable car journeys with an old friend in Ligs; in which we laughed, ranted and reminisced. I made some good money that came in useful following Christmas and my parents got to see me wrestle on TV; something they would get much more of as the year rolled on.

Flu from Hell

February also marked the first Butlins of the new year for NGW.

It had been October half term since we last performed at the Butlins sites and we were all very eager to get back on the road doing those shows. I encouraged Lucas to join me for the first weekend. Not to be a part of the show but to help out, introduce himself to Alex and in general show how much he wants this. He of course came along. I got him in the ring with Amir Jordan before the show so Alex could see him. He was impressed but I don’t think he quite saw in him what I did (yet).

The following week when we started the run in Bognor I felt like I had somewhat of a fever. That night I decided to combat what felt like the start of a cold, felt much better so Sid Scala, Ace Matthews, Robbie X and myself decided we were going to have a drink. Amir Jordan joined us but wasn’t drinking. Instead he got to witness Sid Scala struggling to find the door handle to his room (I pour a good measure of Jim Beam).

That night still stands out in my mind as I remember just how much we were all laughing that night. Sid and I were at one point crying on each other in laughter. The following day I could have cried, but not tears of laughter. I woke up with the most horrendous flu I’ve ever suffered in my life.

The moment the covers were off me I was shivering. I was coughing up horrible chunks of phlegm, everything ached; just rotten. It was made worse by the fact I missed a hell of a day we had planned, which included Amir Jordan almost drowning in the water park (Sid tells this story remarkably) instead I laid in bed trying to sweat out this flu whilst watching Robocop.

Eventually the show came around. Still feeling terrible I hobbled over. Alex gave me a natural remedy shot. I have no idea what was in it, I just know that it is the worst thing I have ever tasted in my life. Imagine if a baboon was fed nothing but liquorice. Then had a bowl movement. Then the faeces from that movement were liquidated into this drink. That’s what it tasted like.

BUT; it did get me through the show. Kinda. I couldn’t talk. Which made life very difficult during the show.

This continued throughout the half term. Intense coughing had damaged my throat so badly at times I was coughing up what looked like throat scab and blood.

I had damaged my inter coastal muscles from coughing so frequently and intensely and my throat didn’t get it’s voice back properly for about 6 weeks. In this time I was still wrestling every single week; including a very memorable match at North wrestling with Amir Jordan.

Thig Brub

I’d taken a liking to Amir last year when we spent a lot of time together on the NGW Butlins run. Eager to learn, hard working and funny to be around I really thought a lot of him.

North wrestling has been running a storyline with him on continuing losing streak. The idea at this point was that Amir was so downtrodden by it he’s willing to leave North if he can’t win his next match, so give him the best.

Amir was legitimately asked who he would want to face. I was very flattered to hear he picked me. To have that sort of respect from your peers is the highest honour in the job in my opinion.

I was very excited for this one. I knew my job and where we needed to get Amir and I also knew that this was somewhat of a first time experience for him in taking an audience on that much of an emotional journey. Story telling is my favourite thing about wrestling. When you can really capture an audiences emotions and have them 100% hooked with the drama you create in the ring; it makes for some of the best reactions. Reactions like this night. At one point they thought Amir had lost, then has he went up to finally finish me you could hear the excitement building. When he actually won the reaction was deafening, grown adults had actually been reduced to tears.

I was so very proud of that match. At the time I was suffering with a inter-costal injury which meant breathing heavy was very painful. But I was determined to not let that phase me. I had gotten Amir to where North needed him to be and what’s more, I had lead a young lad who I personally had taken an interest in through what has been regarded as the best match in North wrestling history.

That’s not to take anything away from Amir. I knew he could do it, he more than held up his end in that match and I was so proud of him. It’s no surprise to me to see him where he is now in NXT:UK, he belongs there on his work ethic alone and that’s before you mention the heaps of charisma he has. If you haven’t seen it you can see the match on Norths YouTube channel.

Easter

As the year continued NGW approached it’s tenth anniversary show. As part of the celebration they had decided to run a second show named Homecoming, back in the venue in which NGW began in back in 2008. The eastmount recreation centre in Hull.

The show was special for a number of obvious reasons but most notable for myself was that this was the show Alex and Rich both saw in Lucas what I had been seeing for the past four months at this point. He’s a natural superstar.

Alex was very impressed by lucas’ outing in nothing more than a rumble. He went in with 5 minutes of ring time amongst many other wrestlers and ensured he was the standout (pun intended).

From that point on his career has continued to flourish throughout the year. Learning and improving in every single match. For someone who isn’t a year into their career and almost 23 years of age; it’s mind blowing to think where he will end up.

I had many fond memories of those Easter months, despite my throat still being knackered from February’s death flu (ruining my otherwise perfect rendition of ‘From now on’ from the greatest showman). There’s far too many to really go into; I just remember a lot of tears of laughter shared in particular with Sid Scala and Mike Hitchman.

“That was it, dead”

“Twig and giggle-berries”

“Said it normal”

“Fucking hell Bilal!”

I appreciate that to most of you these quotes will mean nothing, but to those who shared these moments, they’ll know that I’m sat writing this giggling and grinning from ear to ear.

Battle Pro

One promotion in particular I was proud to come and do my part with this year was Battle Pro down in south London.

Darrell; the promoter, is someone I’ve had a lot of professional respect for since I first watched him work and as a person I’ve nothing but good praises to say about him. His students from the knuckle locks school are quality. I’ve frequently taken guest seminars there and each and every time I’m impressed by what I see; getting the opportunity to come in and work more hands on with them was something I was very enthusiastic about.

For those who have followed Battle Pro this year, you’ll know that I’ve been tied up in a story with JJ Lynch. Much like my role with Amir Jordan in North, I’ve been working with JJ to get him where they need him to be going forward with Battle Pro and his character. JJ has been tremendous to work with, I can see the advice I gave him on each show/seminar had been soaked up and applied. Our I Quit match that fell in the final quarter of the year was something I was extremely proud of. I got to see how much he had grown as a performer, how invested the audience were in what we had been creating and I had a very enjoyable contest in doing so. Battle Pro is somewhere I’d advise a lot of fans to direct their attention to. Quite a lot of the London based young talent come through there (talent such as Connor Mills who has literally come on leaps and bounds since I first met him) and Darrell is good at sourcing young talents from across the country as well as the correct experienced talent to come in and offer their direction to assist the young up and comers. I love doing those shows… even if it does mean I have to venture to London.

Little Thrub

On the subject of young talent, this year I met a young local lad who is heard very good things about. Myles Kayman.

Earlier this year he began to frequent our NGW academy in Hull and I would quite often see him at other shows either helping out or doing short matches to fill cards.

Myles, is one of those lads who wants it. In the short time I’ve known Myles he’s picked my brain (amongst others) for wrestling advice, diet and training.

And it’s shown! The start of this year myles was a very skinny lad barely pushing 11 stone. I introduced him to a bulking diet in which I had implemented and a training programme and the pounds visibly began to show on him. In addition his in ring work was far surpassing what a 17 year old lad should be capable of. For me this culminated in a singles match between the two of us at Beverly as part of NGW’s Proving Ground (their long time running academy shows).

At the time I was still raining NGW Champion but both Rich and I agreed we didn’t just want to bury Myles; in fact we were opening the show so we certainly couldn’t have a squash.

The match is available on YouTube (somewhere) and you can see for yourself the bright future he has in this job. He delivered and then some and I was extremely happy with the contest, even more so to hear him come back and say “that was the best match I have ever had.” (Something that would proudly be replaced later in the year)

Again for me that was the most rewarding feeling. I’d taken a young lad with a lot of promise and helped take them through a match with story, drama, action and teach them the psychology of why these things work.

I’d been fortunate enough to have done this with Amir, Lucas, Luke Menzies, JJ, now Myles and later on in the year with Simon Miller, with the good majority of them coming back to say it was their favourite match so far. However the proudest of all of these would be against a young lad from Ireland I had tied up with the year previous. A lad who I would go on to rival with, team with and create magic with across the country; Adam Maxted.

The Bromance is real

Adam and myself first locked horns this year way back in February at a live event show for NGW in Newcastle. The first thing I noticed from this match was how much of a huge change had had made in the year since we had last competed. Everything was just clicking and Adam himself said that it was one of his favourite matches he had ever had. You sometimes strike gold where just have a great in ring chemistry with some people and Adam and I have that.

In late April I received the call from Alex Shane, to inform me that I was going to be a part of ITV’s resurgence of WOS that they would be filming in the May. Alex briefed me on what I would be doing and told me that they wanted Adam and myself as a bromance tag team. I later spoke to the producers and they gave me a much more detailed break down of exactly what they wanted from us. I was excited. For one thing; I love tag team wrestling and I’d been heavily focusing my efforts into making the tag matches on the Butlins run something memorable. This was a great opportunity to showcase what we had done and to also develop a good storyline on national television.

Adam and myself both had some great ideas and I can tell you that filming some of those backstage skits were brilliant. From the camera crew to us we were all finding it difficult to maintain straight faces and not laugh at some of the ridiculous things we were doing and saying. Having the story evolve to where I would turn and allow me to be full blown Cruz was the peak of it all. But not before our Bromance would win over the studio audience in Norwich for the tapings. It was so rewarding that I got to enter our final match with a more determined fired-up ‘babyface’ role before doing the turn. All four of us were so happy with that tag title match, we came back in utter joy (I believe this is when Kip Sabian and I had our first kiss) we were all on the same page and every aspect of the story had come off superbly. We had worked together to create something special for both the audience and the talent. And if I was to sum up how the WOS tapings went; working together would be it.

Minus one or two selfish individuals, everyone was on the same page, giving each other ideas, working to our roles and enjoying the ride. I was so very proud of that roster and the agents in the back.

Adam and I would blow things off in a ladder match with the stipulation of the loser leaves town.

I spent the whole night before in the hotel researching ideas, I knew how big of an opportunity this was for both of us. For Adam I feel it was to shed the label of “he’s just a reality TV star” and show that he actually had a lot of talent to offer. And for myself I had a big chip on my shoulder. I’d suffered a horrendous 2017 and at the start of the year ITV actually didn’t have me in their plans. After having a year of many of my peers telling me how much they had loved either watching or working with me; I was walking into that spotlight with something to prove.

The match itself I was immensely proud of to say it was the first ladder match either of us had ever done. The audience were biting on everything and Adam and I had that chemistry we always have.

It’s no secret that some of the editing for WOS was questionable and I can’t lie (this is nothing that I haven’t said to the producers themselves) I felt the ladder match and some of our earlier tags suffered for it.

We had created pieces of art and it felt very much like someone had drawn a massive cock over the latest Banksy when I saw some of those back. But editing issues aside; I can’t express just how much it meant to me to be a part of WOS.

The landscape in this country had shifted gears immensely. We used to  day dream in long car journeys about “imagine if ITV brought back World of Sport” or “if WWE actually d launch a UK brand” but those were all ifs and buts that we honestly never thought would happen. Yet here we are. It’s crazy and I am so proud to be a part of it and have it be a part of my wrestling journey that started way back in 2006.

Ba Doys Summer

Adam and I would continue our rivalry into the summer as NGW began its second year hosting wrestling events at Butlins. The summer season this year was probably the best I have ever had. The team was perfect. No egos, all in to make the show the best we could. Learning from each other, training in the gym together and of course having a few too many together. All the while whilst ITV was airing WOS and some of our pals were off filming NXT:UK.

Lucas had stepped up so much so that mid-way through the summer Rich and Alex asked me what I thought about trying him in my spot of the title match and me doing he tag. Again more opportunity to work tag matches were appealing to me but also I had every confidence that Lucas could deliver and I knew he needed to get that experience of a main event worker.

He soon found his groove with it and from there I was pitched in either tag matches or in fast paced openers against Robbie X.

Rob is remarkable. I genuinely believe that he has become one of the top workers in the country. Kid can do it all. He’s a great heel, he’s an incredible babyface and he’s one of the hardest working and most gifted athletes I’ve shared a ring with. We joked in the summer about our matches been the WCW cruiserweight era; but that was both how we approached them. Taking inspiration from the contests with Malenko, Guerrero, Rey, Jericho in particular and tying in our own touch on certain things. It was a change of pace for me and reminded me of my early days with All-Star in which ligs and I would compete in a very similar style of match-up.

The tag matches were a huge focal for me. Nine times out of ten it would be myself and “The Daddy” Sid Scala (I’ll explain in a moment) against Robbie and Amir. Rob too had wanted to focus on improving his tag team work, Amir I was still very much wanting to help as much as I could before the inevitable would happen with his NXT:UK deal and Sid was someone who I always felt had a strong understanding of in- ring psychology.

I’m fortunate that one of my very close friends is considered by many as half of the best tag team on the planet today. I’d often pick his brain and put it into use and explain to the other lads through the summer. As the weeks went on we soon had a fine tuned tag that we could guarantee would deliver every night. We’d occasionally differ from that but maintain the same structure because… it worked!

They soon affectionately and ironically were nicknamed “The Daddy Tag”. Allow me to explain.

Amir Jordan, quite often will refer to something that is good as “the daddy” a common expression but when delivered in the charismatic tone of this guy, it becomes a comical catchphrase that we all end up adopting into our own vocabulary.

Now Sid Scala is all but 5’5 and weighs around 170lbs. In good shape like; but genetically he is small lad. Almost ironically he got his new ring gear to be designed like Jerry Lawlers or what most ‘big men’ back in the day would have worn. He began coming out on his entrance doing muscle poses and walking to the ring with his chest puffed out as though he were Hogan himself.

It genuinely tickled me and often would bring me close to breaking character. The napoleon complex of this character would come to play when he would attempt a big stalling supkex on Amir only to have it insta rly reversed and take one from Amir. One day Sid decided to yell at Amir the words “you will respect your daddy!”

We of course are all laughing at the ridiculousness of that statement (in laughing as I type this now) and the spot became ‘Daddy suplex’.

One day at bognor I took our ring announcer Dan, to aside and asked him to announce Sid as “The Daddy Sid Scala”.

And from that point on the character just continued to become one of the highlights of the show. This short fella with an obvious complex now acting as though he is 300lbs of Muscle.

In the later years of Big Daddy’s career he was often placed in tag matches with a younger blue eye who could help get the heat for the Big man coming in. These were named the Daddy Tags.

So of course with a Daddy of our own we have very ironically named these our own Daddy tags.

The summer would often feature the same team of Lucas, Robbie, Adam, Kip, Sid, Amir, Lynskey & myself. Occasionally with Gabriel Kidd popping in, Chris Hatch or Myles taking the ref role. It was a solid team and the combination of the first actual hot british summer in recent memory it made for some amazing times between shows. Either at the water parks on the Butlins sites, days on the beach at bognor or evenings spent in a karaoke bar in Skegness. We all grew so close to each other and had a blast living our dream together. As time goes on you end up coming up with some very silly ways to entertain each other and one such way was beginning to swap letters around in sentences. For example:

A common term for a team would be “The Boys” “Da Boys” with evolved to “Ba Doys”. Or we would start adding Jones to the end of things. Then switching those letters around.

This and many other stupid terms would result in us talking through the Daddy tag in floods of tears as we would go through some of the stuff with the ridiculous language we had practically invented.

It truly was one of those times where you were realising you’re currently having the time of your life and you never want it to end.

Wednesdays was usually a day off the run and would be spent teaching at the NGW academy; however I received a text one Wednesday from Dash who was performing a live event in Wembley arena that night. I managed to get a cheap train to London and just as I thought the summer couldn’t get any better I got to see one of my best mates who I honestly didn’t think I would get to see this year. I always love catching up with him and it resulted in us staying up well into the early hours laughing away and venting a little frustration. I love him.

Tears of joy

Sadly the summer had to come to an end eventually. We celebrated in good fashion as Alex took us out for a night out to congratulate us all on a very successful and rewarding summer season. September rolled in but we still remained very busy. We had a huge event in Manchester for media-con in which I made my first appearance for Impact wrestling. We also had a huge event for NGW back at the City Hall and what would become one of my favourite moments of the year. Losing the NGW championship.

Now that may confuse some people, but as a heel who takes great pride in making an audience hate him, the crowning moment you can have is when you’re dethroned and if you’ve done your job correctly the audience will be going wild.

Justin Sysum has been built up not just on TV but in NGW as a super hero come to life. We were pitched against each other and on the day it was decided that the title switch was to happen. After working each other all last summer Justin and myself have a good idea of what we can achieve together in the ring. This and the story I wanted to tell made for one of the loudest reactions I have ever heard in City Hall. Even before he had pinned me and I was feeding for the finish I could literally hear the anticipation from the 1000 fans in attendance.

I came back from the match delighted with the reaction only to be met by ‘Ba Doys’. Lucas and Robbie both said how incredible they thought that was followed by Kip hugging me and telling me that he considers me the best wrestler in the country.

I don’t say this blow my own trumpet but to explain as to why I had to sneak off to find a quiet area where I could let out the tears.

A year ago I was ready to quit. I’d lost confidence in myself the stresses of the job had made me consider leaving. Now I was coming off the back of an immensely rewarding summer season to some of my peers, many of which I hold in high esteem praising me as such. I sat and I thought about how many times I had my opponents this past year claim “that was one of if not my favourite match” what Ba Doys had just said to me and had a moment of sheer overwhelming emotion that reminded me of just how much I love this job.

The Autumn months

As the schedule lightened up at the start of October, I had much more time on my hands at home. As those who read last years review and follow me on Instagram (@nathan_cruz90) you’ll know one of my favourite hobbies is spending time in my garden. But not with the colder months creeping in I took some time to work on a few home projects. I built my fiancée a wardrobe for her excessive amount of clothing and began work on transforming my garage into a workshop for me to work on such projects. Between that and adding to my toy room, taking drives/walks out in the surrounding rural areas in which I live I had some truly rewarding and relaxing days at home that until that point had actually being rather scarce since January. Not that I’m complaining. The truth is I love a busy schedule and although I enjoy that downtime when it rolls around it’s not too long before I start going stare crazy and long to be back on the road. NGW provides that in the closing weeks of October as part of their Butlins half term run combined with a show for North wrestling.

At North Lucas had already made his debut and aligned himself with me. During my downtime in October I watched the 2nd series of the making of the mob. The series focuses on Al Capone and his ‘Outfit’. This struck an idea in my head for the direction I’d like to see my character go in North. Eventually we would have young Myles Kayman join us as an apprentice to make up The Outfit; Lucas being the Muscle and myself being the boss.

We officially debuted as a trio early on in December. That night I was in a singles contest against Rory Coyle continuing our on going rivalry for his championship. Lucas & Myles would be in a tag team contest against Robbie and Gabriel Kidd.

Gabe was another close friend of ours who spent many days/weeks travelling with us over the summer and like Myles was making his North wrestling debut.

I was very eager to watch this contest. Lucas is my student and arguably my greatest achievement of this year. Myles is someone who has certainly come under my wing as the year as gone on. Gabe also has often throughout his career turned to me for advice on certain things and we both have a very similar approach to pro wrestling. As for Robbie; we came up together in the job and have helped each other on the way. I’d spent the summer working with all four of these in particular working on tag team contests. However this was one of the first outings on their own and my god did they deliver. I sat at the back of the Riverside nightclub watching that incredible contest like a proud father. All four of them smashed it out the park. Robbie continued to show why he is one of the best and most diverse professional wrestlers in the country. I have nothing but praise for that contest, they owned every second of it.

On the journey home Myles mentioned that was now his favourite match so far. I joked that I was annoyed because it took the place of our singles match earlier on that year, but the truth is it was no loss. That tag match was superb and I couldn’t at all be annoyed. It deserved to be on the top of his list.

Closing the year in style

My final show of the year was NGW’s annual Christmas tradition, Eternal Glory.

Eternal glory has always been NGW’s biggest event of the year ever since it’s very first outing back in 2009. From packing out the eastmount community centre to these days selling out the Hull City Hall; Eternal Glory is always the one big event of the year that I look forward to the most.

‘‘Twas the night before my big Christmas party and how fitting that my final match of 2018 would be against arguably my biggest rival of this year, Adam Maxted. From a number of NGW live event matches, to our feud on ITV’s WOS, to competing in main events on the Butlins run, Adam and I have been crossing paths consistently throughout the year.

That in mind the competition on this show was fierce. Before us was a tag team tables as well as Robbie v Lucas who had also developed quite the in ring chemistry together.

That being said Adam and I went out there and did what we always do; leave everything we have in the ring, tell a compelling story and take the audience on a dramatic ride. As a result we came back to tremendous adulation from those in charge one in particular that actually segways me all the way back to the end of last year and going into 2018.

Dan Richardson, one of the promoters behind defiant wrestling. A brief history on Dan and myself was that Dan, never ‘got it’ with me. By that I mean he never really rated me, he didn’t see what I brought to the table that was different or special. It’s a fair comment, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my 12 year career it’s that not everyone will be a fan of your work and I had more than enough people who would say otherwise. That said, I of course would want to change his mind. He came on board with NGW as a backstage agent in mid 2017, when I came back from my main event cage match against Matt Myers at Eternal Glory that year, Dan was one of the first to grab me after to tell me how impressed he was and went on to say that he considered that to be the best live match he had seen all year. Considering the talent he books at Defiant I took that as a huge complement. As 2018 rolled in I would subsequently make my debut in defiant. One of my highlights from work there this year would be my match against Simon Miller.

Simon is very green as I am sure he would confess to. However he is a very humble, polite and smart individual and both he and Dan trusted me to make him look a convincing star in the ringmasters tournament. Things like this I take as a huge badge of honour. When all was said and done with that I couldn’t have been happier with how Simon felt about the match but even more so Dan, who stopped me the moment I walked back to tell me “you really are a master of this.”

He said he same thing to me when Adam and I came back.

Dan and I now have a great relationship both in a professional aspect and even as friends, but to know that stemmed from me changing his mind on my in ring ability means the world to me. I’ve been fortunate to continue my career in defiant this year and have had some really enjoyable contests there such as my singles with David Starr, a match he and I had anticipated for quite some time and I’m looking forward to seeing where my character will be heading in defiant during 2019.

What a year

Most people that know me or follow my Instagram page will know just how much I love Christmas. It’s my absolute favourite time of the year and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate with those closest to you. Each year my fiancée and I deck all the halls (check the videos on my Instagram page) and throw a big Christmas party for our friends. This year was our biggest party to date. We had close to 40 people packed into our home, but with the exception of a few who couldn’t make it; everyone who had made this year so special to us both was there. I’ve always said that friends are so important to people because they’re the family you get to choose. We’re blessed to have such a big family. We all had such a good night and thats all I could hope for. As for now we’re preparing to spend our Christmas and New Years in the snowy mountains of Banff, Canada and I couldn’t be more excited. I get to finish the year in a part of the world in which I’ve always wanted to see, as well as being guaranteed a white Christmas!

In closing; this year has been incredible. It’s seem to have gone in the blink of an eye but as reflecting on this year through this review I can see just how much has been packed into it. I’d like to thank you for sticking through this very long and detailed breakdown of my 2018; much like many of you stuck with me throughout my low points in 2017 when I almost left pro wrestling behind me. 2019 is already shaping up to be one hell of a busy year and will feature my return to the states in March as well as some other pretty huge opportunities. But this workaholic loves his job so by all means let’s fill up that diary even more!

Thank you all so much for your support and I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and prosperous New Year.

God bless you 🙏🏼

Picture Credit: (c) Ben Bentley Photography