Learning The Ropes (by Gary Henderson)

The refs hand hit the mat for the third time – and with it brought to an end the biggest wafting shite of a contest seen in Barrhead in some time. It was my first ‘match’ – for a crowd of trainees only – on the hallowed mats of the Scout Hall taken over by the PBW Academy every Sunday. I won (obviously) – keeping the undefeated streak of 1-0 alive, but I was annoyed. You wouldn’t be able to tell, because it’s quite difficult to display annoyance at the same time as blowing out of your arse and perspiring to a level that my base layer top felt like a wetsuit – but I was annoyed.
The feedback was very much ‘it was good for a first try’, which is probably true, but I wanted better than good. I wanted folk to go ‘that’s no your first match is it?’ and then I’d be all like ‘aye tee hee lol’ or whatever.

My scrapping partner Adam put together a nice, simple, five minute match for us to get through. I’m the baddie. The story of the match centred on DDP Yoga as a call back to me showing the trainees some earlier on in the day and them having some fun with it. I was to be the overbearing, annoying, loud heel which – if you know me – wasn’t exactly stretching my range. Adam is one of these athletic types that can do things that I can’t – like flips, dropkicks and forward rolls. We planned accordingly. I got out there and after the first 30 seconds I pretty much went blank. I know for sure it was nerves. It was such a weird deal. I had the whole match in my head, part for part, then as soon as we started, off the fucker went. So Adam just started leathering me with suplexes. We stumbled through the first few minutes, I did some bad guy things – completely rushed and panicked – then we had our wee finishing sequence and I dropped the motherfucker with a Diamond Cutter. I then sluggishly – and I mean literally in the movement of a slug – moved over to pin him. And that was that. gheTo Adams credit he kept reassuring me that it was a good effort and that he was also injured and not long back after a hiatus – and that half the battle is just getting out there and giving it a go. I know he’s absolutely right but the whole thing has lit a bit of a rocket under my ample posterior to work harder and get better at this carry on.

I had given learning how to wrestle a try before – about two years ago – but I think I was more doing it to say I had done it rather than actually doing it, if that makes sense? Like just to be ‘aw aye I do the wrestling I know how to fall down n that’. I ended up chucking it after about three months. I wasn’t enjoying it. I was constantly annoyed at how slowly I was picking things up and how I felt sore for about three days after every session and couldn’t throw a kick above knee height. But I kept thinking about it. One day thinking it was a daft dream and a stupid thing for someone crawling half-arsed into their late 20’s to be pursuing – and the next thinking I was going to hit 40 and hate myself for not seeing it through and giving the dream a go. It took about two years, a lot of soul searching, gym wandering and indecisiveness but eventually the second thought prevailed and back I went.

So there I was back in my fourth week of training and in a ‘match’, something I had laid in my scratcher like a wee boy gleefully day-dreaming (or night-dreaming, commonly known in sleeping circles as ‘dreaming’) about for years. Thinking about all of these well cool big moves I was going to do. Only trouble being I don’t have a clue how to do them and would 100% have forgotten to do. I’m in total awe of the guys at training – who are like 16 years old – putting together complicated sequences and matches with ten minutes notice and pulling them off. It might not be the finished product just yet, but the stuff they’re doing at that age is just silly man. To be a bit philosophical and deep about It – while you’re training to fake fight at the end of the day – the life skills these lads and ladies are getting at such an early age are great. They’re being shown the importance of listening, of protecting yourself and others and of basic respect. They’re also been launched into a very adult environment (no in a pure weird way, I just mean pretty grown up) and maturing pretty quickly.

It’s a bit of a weird experience standing there at 28 years of age being forced to squat deeper by a 16 year old (there’s a sentence I never thought I would write) – but they know their stuff. My back is pure killing me today but more than anything I feel just total driven just now. Driven to be not shite at something – the best kind of driven. I’m eating well, I’m doing DDP yoga on top of all of my usual gym carry on, im sitting at about 240lbs just now aiming for 220 and I’m feeling strong (when I’m lying down thinking of how strong I am not when I’m moving or doing anything strength related). There’s this saying that I’m going to butcher about knowing so little about something you don’t even know what you don’t know. That’s how I feel about this. I’ve watched this stuff, read about it obsessively, joined forums, listened to podcasts, studied the ins and outs of the business – but by Christ ask me to put a side headlock on the right side and ye can wipe yer hoop with yer Dave Meltzer newsletter. Anyway, I’ll try and keep a semi regular diary of all the wrestling wot I am doin whenever something decent happens.

If you’ve ever wanted to do this (and anyone reading this will have) – regardless of age, shape, sex and your perceived ability, mon down to the PBW Academy. There are three schools – Barrhead, Greenock and Airdrie, and they do the training on a Sunday. Its genuinely a really good, really welcoming bunch that know their stuff but put it across in as fun a way as possible. It’s a tenner a week and you get to go help on shows and watch the best talent in Scotland the wrestling. The training is done by established talents like Kid Fite, TJ Rage and Saqib Ali – as well as established wallopers like Lou King Sharp. You can look on @pbwacademy or find PBW Academy on facebook. Hopefully Ross will be sound and give me a week’s free training for the plugs. Thanks. Bye

By Gary Henderson. He also chose the name btw. I’d have gone for something snappier like “Giving the grapplin a right good go” but whit in god’s name do I know about naming things.

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