I could hear Fergal (Finn Balor) ask Phil (The Thrill, and my trainer) if the girls wanted to take part in the last drill – 3 minute matches, before we packed up and got ready for the gym show that evening. Phil laughed and told him to leave us on the mats, our heads wouldn’t be in it. I was so relieved. I was going to have my first ever match in front of a crowd in 2 hours time, and I was bricking it. I had been training solidly for the previous 3 months and making great progress – but I had only flown back from a 2 week holiday in America the night before. I was so convinced I had forgotten how to wrestle in those two weeks I went straight from the airport to the gym to cram in an impromptu training session. My panic subsided slightly as I remembered how to get in and out of the ring without tripping, and how to reverse a wrist lock. The essentials.
I was petrified when the time came. I had been training in an all female class every Tuesday with three other girls; Dawn, Lucy and Zowie. I would take on Lucy in a singles match, the first women’s match ever in Fight Factory history. There would be a crowd of real people. There would also be a lot of actual wrestlers watching too, as the show came on the end of a 2 day camp with Finn Balor. I had only met the guys briefly before while filming the previous gym show. I had no idea how the would react – supportive? Nonchalant? Mean? I asked 3 of my closest girlfriends to come too. They sat in front row and enjoyed the show immensely until the rumble main event where a sweaty teen in spandex landed on their laps. As non wrestling fans they didn’t know to move as people hurtled over the top rope in the cramped gym. They’ve sat in the back at every show they’ve been to since.
I remember shaking getting ready. I had no wrestling gear, so I had worn some stuff I wore for my other hobby of pole dancing. I made boot covers from tights and wrapped electrical tape around my wrists. I prayed no one would laugh at me. I felt like an imposter playing wrestler, and this was the moment everyone would find out didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
My music hit. Roadhouse Blues by the Doors. I had no idea what to do so I just copied other people. I made my entrance by doing the hair flick like Maryse. I fidgeted nervously between each sequence. We started off with a handshake, some chain, some back and forth until I turned heel. We were off. I was having my first match! The crowd cheered when we needed them too and booed when I wanted them to. We got gasps when I used a rolling surfboard and Lucy hit a victory roll. Clearly we were pulling off a better match than the workers in the room were expecting.
The feeling was like no other going to the back. People congratulated us, took time to give us feedback. I was so happy. I felt like I had survived initiation and maybe, just maybe, I would be let into this awesome community. And I wanted to do it all again straight away. I’d get the chance the following month at PoetrySlam. While the gym show had maybe 30 people watching, this would have 400 people at an over 18s BYOB event. A whole different ball game.
I’ve watched That first match back writing this and it’s by no means perfect, but it’s not embarrassing either. I also tonight watched back a recent match I had in PROGRESS, and it’s cool to see how far I’ve come, but nice as well to see how much of me hasn’t changed either… though I have ditched the JWoww Jersey Shore hair extensions from this match….