Wrestling can be a bit ruthless eh. Sometimes people who were integral in making something a success can be forgotten a wee bit if they aren’t central to the success that thing is currently having. That’s the feeling I get a wee bit about Red Lightning and Scottish Wrestling. In my early days as an ICW fan, Red was fucking gold in my eyes. A true heel champion in the sense that you felt a real burning hatred for him coming from…well pretty much everyone. Fans, promoters, his peers, and particularly the guy who had to fix the dent his coupon left on that shutter Wolfgang slung him intae in Maryhill. A palpable dislike that seemingly went beyond who he was as a wrestler. In reality, Red Lightning as sound as they come, so the fact that he’s had a few people so convinced of his arseholeyness that they’ve seen fit to offer him a square go says it all about his ability.
Injuries, fitness problems and other personal problems have all contributed in people maybe forgetting a wee bit about Red, and to me, that’s absurd. If Scottish Wrestling is going to continue growing the way it is, it has to utilise its best men. Red Lightning is one of, if not the best at what he does. What he does is making you fucking hate him. He draws you into whichever story he’s trying to tell better than most, and keeps you desperate to find out what’s going to happen next. He kindly took the time to answer a fuckload of questions for me, and I believe that’s why you probably opened this link in the first place, so I’ll shut the fuck up and let ye get on with reading the good part.
You’ve been involved in Scottish Wrestling for the best part of a decade now, tell us a wee bit about how you got started, and what motivated you to get involved in the first place?
My story is not much different to anyone else. I simply loved watching Wrestling as a boy. At about 11 I became obsessed, I would watch every TV show out there and never missed an episode. I read magazines and books and anything I could get my hands on with regards to Wrestling. At about 13 I started Tape Trading. I was amazed at the sheer volume of Wrestling footage from around the world. I started exploring Japanese wrestling, Deathmatch wrestling, of course I was then able to get my hands on ECW footage. It wasn’t long before me and the boys were watching this stuff then diving about a field trying stuff out. At 15 I eventually found a school out in East Kilrbride. It wasn’t as much a school at the time but more just private training. It was actually Mark Dallas & Rob McKai who had a word with thr trainer and got me in there. From there on in I was just immersed in Wrestling…Studying footage, reading literature, just basically smarting myself up to the business.
Do you have a favourite opponent?
I would have to say Grado. Since that Thunderbowl match we have always had good chemistry. We have a laugh, we don’t take things overly serious. We work better in a kids environment these days but he is the big fan favourite and I’m the uber bad guy so it’s natural. I enjoy working with Stevie Boy/Xavier aswell. Have had the opportunity to work him almost weekly on the holiday camps at the minute too. BT Gunn aswell. I like working with guys who do loads of stuff…like kicks, moves etc…I can really throw myself into what they are doing and fly all over the place and that’s really where I’m at my best.
During your run as ICW Champion, you were the villain everyone loved to hate. How much did you enjoy that run, and being the guy people genuinely wanted to heider?
I enjoyed the run immensely. It’s always good to get a nod as champion. It elevated my status during the time I had the belt. It affected the way I was booked elsewhere, you know, I was well looked after during that time by everyone up here. The thing with being a heel is, If you’re good at it then eventually you’re going to become cool and people are going to cheer for you. I tried everything in my might to prevent that from happeing. No fancy moves to impress people, nothign like that. Just sheer cuntiness. By about halfway through the reign it was genuine heat. People hated me. It’s hard to ignore people praising you or whatever but I tried to stay truly bad for the duration.
I say that, cause I actually witnessed more than one fan square up to you. How do you react to that? Is it a compliment that you’re doing your job so well it, it leads folk to take leave of their senses, or is it something you’d rather not see happen?
It is a compliment but at the same time it can be a bit draining. I was constantly having Twitter wars with fans and such. At one point people really didn’t like me. Like you could see people getting annoyed that I was champion. It got a bit personal. People began to say that basically I wasn’t good enough to be the champion. I wasn’t a good enough wrestler etc. But see to be honest that just added fuel to the fire. One of the minor points to the character at the time was the fact that I didn’t look threatening and I did look like someone could probably give me a square go. People looked at me in disgust because I was a wee bit fat and didn’t look as good as others on the card. That was the point of it. If I walked out looking jacked then my character would lose credibility because I wouldn’t get as much abuse from folk.
Sticking with ICW. You’ve made sporadic appearances with the company since dropping the belt, with crowd reactions being positive every time. Do you miss performing for ICW more regularly, and is there any particular reason why its been a bit sporadic recently?
I miss working in front of the ICW crowds. I miss being about the ICW locker room. You know these guys are my mates and I don’t get to spend as much time around them any more. I lost the belt and disappeared for a few months back when my son was born. Then I did ABC and while the reaction was great the performance was shocking in my opinion. I had then been penned in as Jester’s opponent at ABC in March this year. We had a fair bit planned in the lead up and that was pretty much me going to be back with a bang at that point. On 14th March I pulled my shoulder out of the socket during a match with Just Uz at BCW. My arm was hanging off me like an Elephant’s Trunk. Fortunately it went back in itself but the tendons and ligaments surrounding it were goosed. I was in a sling for 2 weeks and was told to abstain from any physical activity for 2 months. I reluctantly took the time off after seeking advice from a few people who have had similar injuries. In this time I became unfit and for the first time in 10yrs my body was no longer in a condition to wrestle. In April against Jester I was a mess and I did the show last-minute because they were struggling to find someone they could put on with Jester. I put on about 3 stone aswell.
I suffer from depression so for me both mentally and physically this was a setback. Looking back at it now though (It was nearly 4 months ago) It’s probably the best thing I have ever done. My shoulder is better and I am now working hard trying to regain fitness. I’m wrestling every week trying to get fit. Playing football trying to get fit and attending the gym daily. With ICW being as hot as it is right now, spots are competitive. I think I might have got some heat for pulling out ABC but at the end of the day my arm was in a sling and while there are guys who do work through injuries, I am not one of them. But that doesn’t mean I am not as hungry or as passionate as anyone else about ICW and Scottish Wrestling.
One of the more recent angles saw a brief reformation of The Gold Label, with you and The NAK switching the hero and villain roles. Can you tell us a bit about the original formation of The Gold Label and the thinking behind bringing it back?
At the time we wanted to try something a bit different. Myself, Wolfgang, Lionheart were initially the Gold Label. In most cases the “Gold Label” of a brand is a special reserve or a special edition. We were the “Gold Label” of Scottish Wrestling. At the time we were the best in our own respective fields and here we were now as one “Supergroup”.
Once Darkside got on board that’s when things really took flight. The storyline itself was very well written from start to finish. The NAK were over as faces and you had guys like Jester, Kid Fite defiending ICW aswell. We have all worked with each other for years and years so we knew each other well. I can’t speak highly enough of the whole thing and everyone involved in it. It’s remarkable stuff. I just think it’s a shame that this was potentially some of ICW’s best work and it was done right at the start before they hit the big time. The thinking behind bringing it back..of course The Gold Label were potentially the only strongest genuine oppnents to the NAK’s throne. Dallas having to bring back the one thing he hated in order to save his company. Unfortunatley injuries to Lionheart and myself changed the course of the story and it had to be axed. Personally i thought we waited too long to pull the trigger anyway. Of course though, if The Gold Label rid ICW of the NAK, would they be happy to hand the reigns straight back to Dallas?
You cut one of the best promos of last year when you announced yourself as “The Peoples Wanker” Are there plans to take that further?
I had to come up with something. The People’s Wanker allowed me to be a face while not compromising what I do. At the time we were going down The Gold Label route and we needed a way for people to cheer for me, without me having to really change what I do. Because if I change what I do then I become a completely different performer. And do people want to see that? So it was basically just encouraging people to embrace me the way I was. I was a wanker aye, I did alot of bad stuff, but so what. Enjoy me. No idea at this point where it’s going or where it would have headed. If i’m honest now that maybe I have had a break from ICW and the fans have had a good long break from me, it could be time to just go back to my roots and back to basics as this is what works. At 28 I don’t think I need to be still trying to find myself as a Wrestler. I know my role on the show and what I can bring to the table.
You were prominent in the two shows promoted by comedians Rab Florence and Greg Hemphill. Engaging in a Twitter war of words with Florence, and eventually teaming with Hemphill at the Kelvin Brawl against Florence and Grado. How did you find the experience of working with non wrestlers in that match?
It was great to work with both Rab and Greg. I had met Greg a few times at various shows. Rab I had never had any dealings with. We got to spend time with them. We taught them how to wrestle. Wrote the match. We spent a full day in a ring set up in a warehouse just doing wrestling. It was good to gain the trust of Rab and Greg when they were setting up the shows and booking the shows etc. They are fans of wrestling and they appreciate/understand the wrestling industry. So there was no fannying about or making a mockery of it. They got a bit of heat from some of the boys. Some of the guys saying “2 TV Comedians in the main event of a wrestling show”. At the end of the day if Rab and Greg weren’t involved we wouldn’t be working in front of 1700 at Kelvin Hall. Off the back of these comments we were determined to make this a good match. Everyone in the back was convinced that it was going to be shocking and that Rab and Greg especially would make an arse of themselves. They were both highly professional…to be honest more professional than some Wrestlers i’ve came across over the years. They worked their socks off and I thought they both came out looking really good. Greg especially was actually physically really good. I was happy with the match itself and It’s probably up there as one of the proudest moments in my life. The odds really were against us with that one and we delivered. McBookie.com actually offered outright betting odds on this match. A match which I had a hand in devising. How stupid is that? Team Hemphill were 4/7 to win the match. They pulled it pretty quick. I’m guessing someone else who was in the know stuck a massive wager on it and they sacked it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it myself.
Its been over a year since the Kelvin Brawl, and Scottish Wrestling seems to have grown and grown since. How big a part do you see yourself playing in the future?
I’ve only just turned 28. In my opinion the “make or break” years of a Wrestler are about 28-31. If I can get myself fit again and get myself back to being a regular attraction on shows up here then I would expect to be at the forefront of Wrestling in Scotland. My one missing link is my look. So I am making headway now in changing that and freshening that up a bit. If I can nail that then I’ll be happy. I want promoters to think of me and say to themselves “I NEED him on my show”
Anyone in wrestling who you look up to in particular?
I look up to everyone roundabout me. In our locker rooms there are some inspiring people. Noam Dar is one of the most talked about young talents on the planet. Has worked an array of worldwide stars and is still young. Grado has became a household name and is off to the races. Jester as well. Mark Dallas, had this wee vision of ICW and he is now going national and brokering deals on a daily basis. The Coffey Brothers are on the radar of WWE and attend tryouts etc when WWE are here. These guys are truly living the dream and yes these guys inspire me.
I thought Insane Fight Club itself was a very inspirational piece of film. Drew Galloway has always been someone I had an incredible amount of respect for. In our earlier years we trained together and travelled together to various shows. I think knowing that Drew is coming back here to work, it is spurring me on a bit. I want him to come back and see first hand how much we have all evolved since he left.
As a more experienced guy, do you see yourself as a mentor for any of the younger guys breaking through? And has anyone in particular caught your eye?
In PBW in particular I am always used in a role where I am in multi man match with trainees or lesser experienced guys. I don’t offer opinion though, unless I am asked for it. I still see myself as still very much developing after all these years. As for the new crop coming through. Lou King Sharp has a good character but unfortunately I haven’t seen alot of his work. Kenny Williams is a good talent and a good guy to boot so a lot of the boys backstage like him. Mark Coffey isn’t exactly new or a trainee but he is an example of someone who is hungry and wants to learn and unbelieably is only 23yrs old.
You recently answered an open challenge from Kay Lee Ray at a PBW show in Largs, and you’ve had a few run ins with the fairer sex in ICW. Is that something you’re comfortable doing? (I dont mean ‘dae ye like hittin burds’ btw, I just mean, do you find it easy to work with them given the fact that your used to big bruisers like Wolfgang and Jester)
I am comfortable with it. Kay Lee dishes it out. She’s bloody good at football as well. There is that element of respect though that you have to show a Woman even in the ring. You know you can’t go in there and start leathering them about the joint like you would one of the guys. You need to be careful. I think it works well in the right setting. Kay Lee and I usually have matches where I underestimate her and we have a fast paced match where she throws everything at me and somehow gets the win. I don’t like striking women. Like in the context of a wrestling match if I punched Kay Lee in the face it would be game over or if I hit her with my finisher she would be done. Even if i legit pinned her mid match… i’m double her weight. If I sat on her she would have trouble kicking out. So you need to take all of these things and make sure you incorporate them into the match to make it believable. If an 8 stone lassie gives a 17 stone man a wristlock and he flips out of it and takes a bump, that’s not believable to me.
You were involved in the early stages of the voting process for the TNA Gut-Check challenge in 2012. Any experience of wrestling abroad and do you still hold aspirations to do so in the future?
I don’t have experience abroad, but it is something in my sights. I want to be as successful as I can be in Wrestling with what’s put in front of me. There are several aspirations I have for going abroad. There are a few prestigious tournaments across the globe that I would love to be a part of. wXw’s 16 Carat being one of them. People don’t seem to think I have the ability to do things like this. But see to be honest I have spent years nailing the hard bit which is captivating people and making people believe in what you’re doing. If I focus myself on learning a particular style or aspect of Pro Wrestling then I can do it. In terms of TNA I did attend a tryout/seminar with them in 2011 in London. I got to work in front of TNA staff. I only did it for the experience. I wasn’t expecting to show up and get signed. And it was a really good experience as It took me out of my comfort zone. The only thing that pissed me off a bit was the fact that TNA treated us like fans as opposed to workers or tryouts guys. Like we weren’t allowed near any of the talent. And as soon as the talent showed up we were ushered out of a side door and told cheerio. Obviously at WWE tryouts the guys very much integrate and socialise with the roster. I guess at the time the seminar thing really was just a way for them to make money (I paid £200 for a seminar with Jarret and D Lo). Again it is my understanding that WWE would compensate you for your time during a tryout and not the other way around. I wouldn’t even say I took anything from it apart from getting to work in a TNA ring.
Being a Maryhill native, how much did you enjoy returning to ICW as they made a one off return to Maryhill last year, stealing the show in the process against Wolfgang?
By this point we had already discussed and pencilled in my return date as ABC in October. Dallas contacted me in late August saying that he had to have me at Maryhill. I’ll be honest I wasn’t ready for the reaction I got. Like when I first entered the Hall at the back and people realised I was there. I was determined to pull out a good match and Wolfy is one of the best opponents I have had so it was a given. It was great to be back in Maryhill and I live not far from the venue so it was an easy night for me in that respect. Was good to be back in Maryhill and see the place packed out. You know there’s times back in the day that we worked in front of 30 paid fans in that venue. Not many may know this but myself and Wolfgang feuded right through the Maryhill years. This is what gave the shock factor when we formed the Gold Label in Maryhill when Wolfy turned and joined us. I really hope we go back again just one more time.
Favourite wrestler of all time?
Mark “Rollerball” Rocco is my ultimate favourite. Aggressive and innovative guy in his day. I have some other favourites for different reasons. William Regal is very old school British style. What I like about Prince Devitt is he has meshed the European Catch style with Junior Heavyweight style of wrestling and he did come up with something very unique. Something that guys up and down this country are doing every day. Nigel McGuiness is good if you’re looking for some holds and reversals. Doug Williams is seamless. Then you have your usuals like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold, Mr Perfect. I also have recently accquired the WWE Macho Man box set. Savage was a fierce wrestler and fit as a fiddle before he became all “cartooned” by WWF
Favourite match of all time?
Hmmmm this is a hard one. Again you have different matches for different reasons. Bret Hart vs Mr Perfect at Summerslam 1991 is a cracker. Rollerball Rocco vs Chic Cullen. You can find these two’s match on Youtube. Chic Cullen is a Scottish wrestler from the WOS era. I suggest any fans of the Scottish game to check this match out. Stone Cold vs Shawn Michaels at WM14. I had recently re-read Mick Foley’s first book and it enticed me to switch on Hell In A Cell at KOTR98 and that match really is just mental. RVD vs Jerry Lynn matches are fantastic even to this day.
You’re one of, if not the best on the mic in Scotland. Is that always something thats come naturally to you?
I have always been vocal and opinionated. See back when we were all training, there were guys who just physically had “it”. I could tell even then that there were some guys I just simply would never be better than. I switched my attention to character work and promo skills as opposed to learning new moves and stuff like that. I felt that if I could nail this then this could be my “niche”. You know…storytelling, character work etc. I wanted to become someone who people wouldn’t necessarily enjoy for doing moves and stuff. Granted it’s just whatever floats people’s individual boats but that’s what I wanted to do. To a point I guess I have accomplished that and perhaps in the process even exceeded my own expectations as a wrestler. Mic work is a strong part of my game. A lot of other guys now have cottoned on to this aspect of wrestling and are equally as good, if not better than me, on the stick.
Last but not least, anything in particular you want to talk about, feel free.
I had a fantastic year in wrestling in 2011 and throughout 2012. I guess over the last year or so I have been riding off the coat tails of being good in that 2 years. I’ve had some really bad luck personally and professionally over the last while and just wanted to put it out there that I am trying my best to get back to being that guy again. It’s been a long hard grind. Over the last 12 years I have watched guys come and go and grow out of the wrestling thing. But I’m not one of them. The manner in which we were trained and some of the shit we had to put up with along the way, it meant you had to be hungry for this. Really fucking hungry for it. And to this day the fire still burns inside me, I love wrestling. Everything about this game I love it. It’s the one thing I am truly comfortable with. Wrestling consumes me. And being in that frame of mind means that you can get really genuinely upset about things that effectively aren’t real. Over the last year I have truly learned what a real fucking bad day is.My confidence is pretty much at 0% right now. In my personal life I have been challenged as a human being more than I have ever before, and also have had to develop that “never give up” attitude you must have as a parent. To all my peers, fellow workers, promoters, fans. Stick with the fucking programme here. It might take a while to start but when it does it’ll be worth it. To fans especially…if you really give that much of a fuck and you want to see me on a show, be vocal about it, say something.
You heard the man. If you miss Red Lightning as much as I dae, then get people told. He’s not retired, nor is he deid, or taking ‘drugs of all kinds’ . He’s available and ready to fuckin go. If Scottish Wrestling is going to be the very best it can be, an active Red Lightning at his best simply has to be a prominent part of that.
If you’re a newer ICW fan, a lot of footage from Reds title reign, and a whole host of other good shit can be found on ICWs youtube channel. Reds title run features often in the first series of ICW Worldwide.
That’s about it. Red Lightning is still here, and is still as much of a cunt as he always was, yet he’s also a really sound cunt at the same time. That tells you a lot about the diversity of Red as a character, and the diversity of the word ‘cunt’ when used by Scottish folk.