It’s something I have heard from the moment I first started training. “The old school world of sport boys.” Right firstly lets address a point; just because a British wrestler is old school, does not mean they were a part of world of sport. When I refer to some of the veterans I have had the great fortune of working with, some of them did not grace ITV’s screens because they broke in during the early 90’s. Guys such as Frankie Sloan for example. Someone who has had a massive positive benefit on my career and many others for that matter. Which brings me to my subject matter. Do the greats of yesterday still serve a place in modern British wrestling?
These days it seems any fan with a bit of money can set up a promotion. Some cases that’s a good thing and some cases that’s a bad thing. This usually couples with them opening a training school. They’ll either go out their way to hire someone worthy of teaching professional wrestling. Or they’ll just get one of their lads who is working for cheap, to come in weekly to try earn extra money. I’ve seen this all over the country. I’ve visited so called wrestling schools, taken one look at the guy training naive hopefuls and hung my head. Therefor we have an issue of the blind leading the blind. This is just one instance that some of the veterans of British wrestling’s glory days could and should be brought in to help lead a new, younger generation.
Now, the reason I say some is for this point: Some of the old boys are very much stuck in their ways and have not seen how wrestling has evolved in the past 25 years. Some can’t bring their head around to how the industry has changed dramatically, especially since the explosion of the internet, making it more accessible for fans and young wrestlers alike to get hold of footage from abroad. But for every stubborn “that’s how we did it back in the good old days” know it all, there is always a truly gifted and much wiser wrestler who is willing to pass on his years of knowledge that he has seen, adapted and evolved. The two best examples of this; in my opinion, are William Regal and Robbie Brookside… that’s why they have jobs with the largest sports entertainment organisation in the world. The first time I met Robbie I was preconceived to think that he would wrestle old school, tie me up and wrestle a much slower paced match. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He came storming to the ring with an electric far greater than any of us young lads. Had the audience right where he wanted them and then tore around the ring like a ten year old full of sugar. Although Robbie knows the traditional British wrestling style very well, he’s a smart enough fella to know that wrestling audiences have changed. They want more action, they want more drama, and they want more excitement.
My first month away I learnt so much from Robbie just by been in the ring with him, getting the hell knocked out of me and then taking on every piece of advice I could get from himself and Frankie Sloan, as well as other great members of the All-Star team who were still there in 2010. As the years have gone by have had the great opportunity to witness and compete against even more of the great competitors and referees from the olden days, who have each travelled the world, seen how the job has evolved and then adapted what they do accordingly. Everyone who ever watches James Mason is blown away by how much that guy can move around the ring and excite an audience. Same for Danny Collins. Drew McDonald. Ricky Knight. Sweet Saraya. Cannonball Grizzly (PN Newz). William Regal who has arguably had the greatest career of any British Wrestler. Fit Finlay. John Kenny. Referees such as Mal Mason. Flip, watch Mal Sanders and Steve Grey climb in the ring and teach you a thing or two. All these guys are still accessible to us and are a credit to have working as part of your promotion in any form. I recently debuted for 4FW and they had booked Frankie to be a backstage agent to help the younger lads. Take notes on their matches and help in what way he can. The very same way he did for myself, Rampage Brown, Colossus Kennedy, Robbie Dynamite, Dean Allmark. It was a great move on David Sharp’s behalf and one that I hope catches the attention of other promoters across the country.
To the guys mentioned in this who have helped me along the way, I’d like to say a personal thank you. Thank you for all the help and advice. Thank you for all the miles behind the wheel (Frankie Sloan, Drew McDonald and John Kenny in particular.) Thank you for helping spread my name and give me opportunities. And lastly, thank you for serving such an important role in helping a new generation of wrestlers adapt and evolve.