Wrestle Mania Day 2011.
Of course I was excited for the big show. Every year I wake up full of excitement and count the clock down to midnight. Every year something I don’t expect happens; the weird and wonderful world of wrestling throws me a curveball. This year was no different, it just didn’t involve WWE. It involved, among other thing, a guy in a Sauna Suit, a pirate, a fake boombox and a puerto rican tag team with questionable accents.
Myself and Paul and secured permission to start filming in Fight Factory. We enlisted two of our friends, Ste and Gav, and rented filming equipment from college to document a gym show they were having. Now, when I went to the local NWA Ireland shows, they were in the local bingo hall and drew up to 200 people. They were pretty professional and very well run, and they guys performing were very solid wrestlers who always put on a great show. A three way ladder match I saw back then between Fergal Devitt (now Finn Balor), Paddy ‘Suicide Machine’ Morrow and Carl ‘Shooter’ O Rourke still comes to mind as one of the best matches I’ve ever seen live. So you can understand my apprehension I was told this was going to be held in the training school in front of about 30 people, and mostly consisting of trainees, a lot who were having maybe only their 1st, 2nd or 3rd match.
My apprehension was not needed. The show was fantastic. The characters, the matches, the stories. It was all happening right in front of me. Comedy was the secret ingredient I wasn’t expecting, and it made the show. Would it surprise you to know the guy in the Sauna Suit was Justin Shape? The theme of the evening was a cruiser-eight tournament. The winner would go on to Norway to represent the school there. (For those keeping track, I had now discovered wrestling in Bray, Romania and Norway…) Justin Shape spent the show hilariously trying to make weight, for the tournament. I don’t think he succeeded if memory serves correct. The eventual winner was B. Cool, even then, green as grass, one of the funniest and most talented people I had seen.
I had always toyed with the idea of wrestling. I had even done one training session, a few weeks before filming this show. A particularly nasty break up with a long term ex left me shaving half my head, dying the remaining hair pink and trying to reinvent my life. The obvious first step, after tears and ice cream, was to try wrestling right? Wrong. I was so sore after that training session, I walked like John Wayne for a week after smashing my tailbone off a suplex, but I was determined to try again. Until I blew my knee out a few days later during Karate training. A week before I was due to grade for my black belt. A week after I had qualified to represent Ireland in the World Championships. Luck was not on my side. I still have issue to this day with my knee. Wrestling went on the back burner…Until that gym show. Among the trainees, no one was in amazing shape. No one was flawless in the ring. No one was the total package.But they had all found someway to work, to play to their strengths. Plus, they seemed like family. All day light hearted banter had filled the air. My social life had taken a nosedive since the break up as our mutual friends took sides and alternated seeing us, him more than me until eventually I was weaned out completely. I wanted that sense of community as much as I wanted to wrestle. In the nicest way possible – everyone in Fight Factory seemed to be as odd as I felt I was. They fit in in Fight Factory, because they may not have fit in anywhere else. (Sorry to ruin the magic, but most of us wrestlers are weirdos.) I was ready to try again,to try properly, in this place, all I needed was an opening.
A few days later Phil emailed me to see if I’d be interested in trying a new female only class they were starting that week, taught by Danny ‘the Beast’ Butler and Rachelle St Clare. I had my sign. The following Tuesday I packed up my training bag and headed to my first proper training session.