An Interview With Mark Coffey

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“I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Its almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one”

Mark Coffey

A lot of making an impression on people is in how you carry yourself. On many occasions in wrestling someone with a bit of swagger can catch the eye of fans long before a more polished in-ring talent without that swagger would be able to. Mark Coffey has managed to seamlessly mesh the two things together from the first time I seen him wrestle and with only 7 years graft under his belt he seems to have naturally become one of the leaders of the locker room. A firm believer in unity amongst his peers, he marries that desire for unity with a desire to forearm folk’s teeth clean out their heid. That’s what makes him unique, and someone I’ve been absolutely gantin’ to interview for a long time. His belief in ‘the boys’ and fondness for the bond a growing band of the locker room seem to have shines through with every sentence and that all for one, one for all mentality can only be a good thing as British Wrestling powers forward.

Polo Promotions

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As I sauntered towards The Venue in Carlisle for the hotly anticipated Target Wrestling show taking place that night, at 4pm in the day the last thing I expected to see was fans already queuing up.  Yet as I approached I seen 4 or 5 guys huddled round the entrance; Happily chatting away. Most, if not all of them had one thing in common other than being clinically insane to voluntarily be in a queue rather than a pub a 3 full hours before a show. The other thing they had in common was being Polo Promotions to the core. Donning the club colours proudly, feverish at the prospect of the duo who run Carlisle taking their main even tag team vision and turning it into a reality. Polo Promotions are incredibly popular with the fans of Target Wrestling and enjoy an electric rapport with its fan-base, which brought about a momentous occasion on June 17th 2017. Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain. Two of the finest teams in the country. Two of the finest teams on the continent. And the two teams who made the concept of having a tag team match as your standalone main event a reality, but make no mistake about it, if it wasn’t for Mark and Jackie Polo pushing for this for a long time, it may never have been a reality.

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“This (Target) is just great because up until the match with Moustache Mountain the crowd have been 100% in our favour. Tonight its going to be more of a 50/50 because of how popular Moustache Mountain and British Strong Style are, but up until tonight we’ve had most of the crowd with us. This is like a testing ground for everything we do. Because we get on so well with Ryan (Devlin) the promoter, John who does a lot of the booking as well, and the fans. They trust us enough that when we go “can we try this?” when we want to do new things, they trust us to do it.”

That trust and the right team to make the match as huge as possible popping up was the perfect mixture of circumstances to make the whole thing come about. With Carlisle bathed in beautiful sunshine and their opponents bathed in beautiful facial hair, it was the right amount of beautiful shit to bring about a beautiful main event. “We’ve been pushing for ages saying we’re a main event tag team. We can put on a main event calibre show. Tonight is a culmination of all that. Of us telling Ryan we can main event and him agreeing that we need to go that way. Getting the right opponents so its a big enough tag team match for a British Wrestling company to go with as their main event. The way you look at shows now, particularly in independent wrestling, guys have a lot more freedom. You notice it a lot on shows now that when it gets to the main event, the crowd struggle. Because they’ve seen everything they could have possibly wanted to see. Sometimes 3 or 4 times over. If you put a tag team match out last, you couldn’t possibly have seen it before. They might have seen a tag match somewhere on the card, but not a main event tag match”

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For what felt like hours, they chanted. They sang. They made every manner of noise they possibly could for tag team wrestling in the main event. When Moustache Mountain entered you could hear a pin drop. The away team. Respected, maybe even feared a bit, but not supported. Not yet anyway. Their fans would get more vocal as this whole saga played out but in that moment they almost seemed scared. Like an away fan at a European game nestled in the home end. Fearing the repercussions of even giving the natives a sniff of the possibility that you might not be one of them. Moustache Mountain will no doubt go up and down the UK this year but I sincerely doubt they’ll face an atmosphere like this again anywhere they go. Rabid loyalty to a pair who might not be born and bred in the city, but a pair who have grown to be two of Carlisle’s favourite sons, as Mark recalled upon proudly.

“A lot of our matches have a derby day feel but this sort of has a Champions League feel. The thing I’m most pleased and excited about is going on in the main event. That’s something we’ve really pushed for. We also pushed for a Tag Division in ICW and I think as a duo we’ve done as much as we can to achieve that, so lets start pushing tag wrestling. Having this match in the main event slot is a win in our column. So we’re gonna keep pushing that way. This is the first step. This is like an achievement unlocked kinda thing. That’s the best thing about it and why we really appreciate it down here. Not only are the fans phenomenal for us and they have been from day one, but Ryan, John etc have been great with us and to get that wee nod from them in having us in the main event tonight is special”

The match was indeed special and became another in a long list of outstanding bouts the team have been involved in this year. Many of those coming in ICW, the company where the team rose to prominence as a duo after singles success and a company where the duo have always been polarising figures. In stark contrast to the almost universal acclaim they get in Carlisle, even when they were devilish big bad baddies, they still had a vocal band of followers, and since transitioning to become fan favourites, its only served to split the audience more. Its an environment that Mark seems to have a huge amount of fondness for. “I love it. We’re lucky enough that most matches we do have a. I don’t want to say ‘big match feel’ because it sounds a bit up your own arse, but it has that sort of derby day feel. Everyone’s up for it. You look at the match with The Kings Of Catch. The crowd were going back and forth for the whole thing. I think that plays into our favour because we’re used to it, whereas our opponents might not be. I said that recently about me and Trent in the singles. He’s not used to that atmosphere either. He’s used to everyone singing for him, and having the Trent Seven army. He’s not used to half the crowd staying faithful to his opponent. So it always kinda plays into our favour. I always say it would be nice if everyone did cheer for us, Jackie doesn’t care either way but I think aw yeah it would be nice, but we’ve experienced it so many times. That’s our atmosphere now, that’s what we bring to a show. The last three times we’ve been down here at Target, the match hasn’t been able to start for 10 minutes. We get in the ring and there’s 10 minutes of absolute chaos before the match starts”

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That chaos and the seemingly never-ending duel between the “Polo Promotions” half of the crowd and the “get tae fuck” team of dafties (sorry journalistic integrity n that, need tae stay impartial, you’re all entitled to your opinion’s, its just a shame those opinions are  very wrong) was never more apparent when the duo took on international superstars and IWGP Tag Champions War Machine at Barramania. “It was a wee check against our name to go in there and have a good match with the IWGP Champs at that time. I think we proved a decent point to the crowd but i think we proved an even bigger point to War Machine themselves, both in the ring and backstage. A lot of guys are afraid when bigger teams come in, but they were coming in to our company. The thing seems to be they (imports) come in, call the shots, and if you disagree you’re wrong. Fuck that. We built this house. I’d like to go again with them. The only fear id have is that with the first match being so good the expectation is there for the second one.”

The team came up ever so slightly short against War Machine, but they managed to topple one of the finest teams in wrestling history at ICW’s Hydro debut. Retaining the ICW Tag Titles against Team 3D aka the legendary Dudley Boyz.  “The match with Team 3D was a great indicator for us. No team has the accolades that team 3D do, they’ve held every major tag title there is. A strong argument could be made for them being the greatest team in pro wrestling/sports entertainment history. So it was a good test to see where we stood on a stage with one of the greats”

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Whilst the outstanding contest with the former ROH and IWGP Tag Champs, and the victory over the most decorated tag team in wrestling history solidified Mark and Jackie as a force to be reckoned with on a wider scale, its the work in building ICW’s tag division that seems to be a personal source of pride, tempered with frustration at times “We worked a bit with The Purge recently and the first match we had was great. Worked with them the next night and it wasn’t good. Then we worked with them 2 or 3 more times and you could see them getting better and better andmcoffey6 its frustrating because you could see the difference in them from the first match to the last and there’s no solid plans to use them going forward. If you’re going to pull the trigger, go the full way. Don’t half pull it. But I feel positive about the tag division right now.”

Bird and Boar may sit on top of the tree right now and have been superb performers since debuting as part of the tag team tournament that took place when Polo Promotions vacated their titles, but the tag division they currently rule wouldn’t exist if not for Mark and Jackie’s record setting reigns with the titles. A fact Mark is rightly proud of

“When we started tagging in ICW, we realised there wasn’t much of a tag division at that time and we wanted to rebuild it. Teams nowadays are a means to an end to a lot of guys. They do it so they can split up eventually. To get on the card, get experience and move further up the card. We just wanted to be a proper team who moved up the card together. Looking at it now, specifically when we came back from the match with the Hunters, I felt very good. Thinking about what we’ve done overall in 2, 3 years worth of pushing. Saying we need a division and recommending teams. Now I think we have a strong division. There’s us, Bird and Boar, The Hunters, Kirby and Hayes had a match on the tour and are coming back. Kings of Catch (who the Polos face at ICW in Edinburgh this Sunday) even The Buckys popped up again. The Purge. Its great and its moving forward. We’re almost where we need to be as a tag division and then when you throw guys like War Machine in. Its a nice bonus. The get to fuck side of the crowd were a bit like “why is it Polo Promotions in with War Machine but i think that was strongly outweighed by by the pro Polo Promotions side”

The quality of the match itself was proof enough that Polo Promotions deserved that match. Stealing the show, and continuing to add weight to their desire to make tag team wrestling a main event fixture. “I think tag wrestling is on the up and is seen as something that’s cool again. People want to team up. Guys like Gallows and Anderson, The Revival and even The Young Bucks are making it more appealing. I don’t understand why you wouldn’ t want to do it to be honest. I’m big on team sports and very much see wrestling as a team game. When you lose you lose, when you win you win, but if you do stuff in groups its definitely more rewarding. I feel weird now having singles matches”

Fuck Yer Coffey, We Want Tea. Then Mark Coffey won the Zero-G

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“If you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”                                                                                   – Mark Coffey on his Zero-G Title run

A popular, not to mention hugely inventive (naht) chant in my early days attending ICW shows was “Fuck yer Coffey we want tea” aimed at both Coffeys, but when Mark Coffey took the Zero-G Title with a clean win over then ICW Champion Mikey Whiplash, that all seemed to die down. Even those who didn’t naturally gravitate to Mark and his brother Joe had no choice but to recognise their talent in the ring. His run as Zero-G champ might have had a wee Balor shaped mishap in the middle when Fergal Devitt showed up at Still Smokin unannounced to end Mark’s first reign. That blip serving as the middle part to a story Mark looks back on with a great amount of pride.

“My thinking at the time wasn’t that this is the midcard belt. My thinking was that this is the championship, and the main title was the hardcore championship. ICW being what it is, with the rules being at the refs discretion and Jestemcoffey8r being who he is and doing what he does. All of his matches were going to be violent, so again, my thinking was I’ll main event with my title. *laughs* It was never gonna happen…well apart from me and Kenny main eventing Spacebaws that time. That whole run, from winning it to eventually losing it is something I have a lot of Pride in. As one whole piece. A lot of people struggle to look at the bigger picture and just take wrestling as it comes, but if you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”

Having toppled the ICW Champion at that time with a clean win, Mark carried the moniker of being the “Real ICW Champion” for a while. A tag that was only shed when the champion who eventually did usurp Whiplash, Jack Jester, beat Mark in a match for the title. That match, and a shot at the title Mark recently had against then champion Trent Seven served as a reminder that while singles wrestling might not be high on Polo Promotions agenda at the moment, there’s an audience ready and willing to chuck their support at both parties if the unthinkable does happen at Shugs House Party 4, where they face The Maruaders in a match that will see them forced to split if they lose. “The first title shot I got against Jester when I held the Zero-G, I thought I got quite a bit of support. That surprised me. I didn’t think there was any support for me in that one. The one with Trent I realised ‘oh shit, there is a lot of support for this’ and not only that, there was a lot of support from the locker room. That’s kinda what me and Jackie have become. Not locker room leaders, but just…the boys. I think I’ve got it on Twitter somewhere, that the best part about wrestling is being one of the boys. Its not that I don’t like these people, but I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one. We try and bring that atmosphere and there’s a big group of us now that are all pals. Everyone is getting that feeling now. The feeling of, this is what it’s about. It’s about the boys. That’s the way it should be”

Indeed it was the backing from his peers that humbled Mark the most before his title match with Trent. Most other opponents on a routine Garage show would have put up a good fight without much hope that they might actually take the title, but there was an outpouring of support for Mark that heralded a real belief that “The Power Forward” might actually go ahead and fucking do it.

“The support from a lot of the locker room meant a lot, it was surprising to get a lot of support from the audience because all I’ve ever been was the midcard champ or tag team guy, so to get a sniff of it and for folk to go “aye, this should happen” and for them to really get behind it, it meant a lot. It would have been nice to win it and would have been a massive upset. I think its something that would really have boosted The Garage as a venue. You see a lot of ‘big game hunters’ and ‘celebs’ coming out when the big shows come around and it does my nut in. They appear on Hydro day or Barras day and hit out with a tweet about how much of a big fan they are. No you aren’t. Fuck off. Where are you when we’re doing The QMU? That’s why I like smaller shows. Don’t get me wrong, I like every show, but I enjoy more intimate venues like The Garage and the QMU. I think for a while there, now that everyone has an on demand streaming service, so they’re all concerned about interviews, cameras, lighting and all this shit. Fuck that. They’ll watch it no matter what. Give everything you have to the people that are in the building at that time. The people who have showed up that night and paid more for that single ticket than they would for a month (or even 3 months) of the on demand service. Give them more that night than what goes into putting an on demand show together”

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The “we’re all pals” movement that has seen the formation of almost a brotherhood is something almost unprecedented. Forgoing the in-fighting that tears locker rooms apart, replacing it with days out on the swally watching Scotland snatch a draw from the jaws of a glorious victory against England. “It just kinda happened. We realised none of us had a show and we all went out to watch the Scotland game at Oran Mor. I see guys in wrestling a lot more than guys I grew up with. Mates who you try and make plans with. So thats kinda cool. A lot of the boys are standing up for the boys now. You cant pay people next to nothing anymore. Me and Jackie have set our stall out, and you might notice we dont work at a lot of places other people do because they’ve not agreed to pay us what we’re asking for”

He Aint Heavy….He’s My Brotherrr

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While Mark’s tag team legacy will be largely attributed to achievements as part of Polo Promotions, he first broke on the the scene as part of a tag team with current ICW Champion and his brother Joe Coffey. The team seemed to naturally go in their own directions, and last year they had their first high profile foray into feuding against one and other. Having matches in SWA and PWE, with one in particular tinged with regret for Mark.

“(Working with Joe) Its a challenge. A lot of people just see me and Joe as brothers and assume they must like the same things. They must do the same things. But we dont. We are so far opposites, and wrestling is where its become so apparent that we are thinking totally different ways. We are chalk and cheese when it comes to wrestling in terms of what we like, what we do and what we try to do. So its a challenge. You’re in the ring with someone thinking the totally opposite way. When me and Joe tagged together it was the same thing and it worked against us at times. I felt anyway. We had some good, some bad. But he would bob, I would weave and vice versa. Whereas with me and Jackie, again we are total opposites in terms of personality wise, but in that case opposites attract. He’s so extrovert and I’m so introvert, that he’s sort of pulled me out my shell, and at the same time I’ve sort of tamed him a wee bit.”

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“Working against Joe….it was what it was. I’d have liked it to have been better. I’d have liked it to have been in a different place than SWA if I’m honest. One day in ICW I think it will happen. It has to. When the time is right. I think the idea did get floated in early 2013 and I said no, and they said “why not?” and I said “well….why?” and they were like “brother vs brother” and I said no because it would just be about that. I think Joe was kind of up for it, but I said no him when we do it, its going to be the main event.”

Perhaps with a certain shiny belt Joe currently carries on the line at some point? One can only imagine the atmosphere if Joe in his current villainous form defended the gold against his brother. Hopefully without illness or injury getting in the way as it did when Joe challenged for Mark’s SWA Title last year.

“I was disappointed in the match that ended it. Its nothing to do with the company, or the match stipulation or anything. Its nothing to do with any of that. I was just unwell. Thats my lasting memory of it. It was the week after Barramania last year, and I woke up the morning after Barramania violently ill. Coughing up blood and stuff. Me and my mate watched Wrestlemania that nigmcoffey3ht and it obviously got worse without sleeping so I woke up the next day in an absolute mess. Didn’t leave my bed for 3 or 4 days. I live three floors up and the thought of going down to get food and stuff was a no go. Eventually my mum phoned and asked if I needed anything brought up and I said “Yeah…bring me 4 mcflurrys and 4 milkshakes. That…and Tesco pink doughnuts” and she was asking why and all I could say was “I don’t know, I just need it, bring it” I just needed sugar and cold things. It pisses me off because that day David Wilson was there doing photos and he done the photo that got used in the FSM one to watch article. My bellys hangin out. I’ve got tits, but I’ve got a big left tit and small right tit and I hate it because people still use that photo! Soon as I got in the ring, the cage I think is built for a slightly bigger ring to sit on top of it, but with that ring it cant so it sits on the floor. So you have to go up under the ropes to get in the cage, and even just doing that, Thomas (the ref) asked if I was awrite, and I said “I’m knackered…I’m blowing up here, I cant breathe” and he was like “fuck sake mate. I felt disappointed in myself and that id let down Joe. It was what it was and I needed to just get through it that was that”

Japan Ground Zero (One)

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Mark kickin the tits clean aff Aaron Echo

Even though they may not have worked out as a tag team and have differing views towards the industry they both work in. Joe and Mark do have a lot of similarities. Aside from their DNA (huvin the same maw n da n that) the pair both got the chance to cut their teeth with a stint in Japan working for Zero One, who were affiliated with the Source Wrestling School the brothers came from. Mark recalls on his stint in the far east and how it shaped him as a performer today. When in doubt, be John Cena. Never give up.

“When I was there I lived with Jack Gallagher and Jon Gresham (now of ROH). He’s another I’d love to see in ICW. Bring him in and stick him in a Zero-G match. They’re missing a trick on that so badly. I’ve been pushing for that for ages. Him vs Kenny would be great. I got to spend a lot of time with him and he’s so smart. He tells you things you’d never have even thought of it. When I went over there, my main thing was to work on finishing a match better. When I think about it, my first couple of training sessions over there. I was the shits. When I went over I thought yeah, I’m cool, and then I quickly realised I don’t know anything. The first few days we were there we didn’t train, and I was dying to see what it was all about and then we finally did and I had no idea what was going on. Shinya Hashimoto’s son Daichi was working for Zero One at the time. We were doing some ring drill, and I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. For some reason he ran off the ropes and dropkicked me right in the knees, and I just fell like a tonne of bricks, and I’m thinking “what the hell’s happening here” . There was a few times I knew in my head what was going on, but realised its just something I’d need to put up with”

Putting it with it would mean taking a power of Germans. Something John Cena also has notable experience in himself. I’m not saying Mark Coffey is Scotland’s answer to John Cena or anything but well, he clearly is. Deal wae it.
“They held me behind in training twice. Once was to get Daichi to practice Germans on me. I took about 25 in a row. Another guy I’ve been trying to get over to the UK, Dylan. Guy from New Zealand, 6 foot 4, jacked to the gills, I can’t not see him in WWE in the future. He’s just built for it. He was really good to me. So he was like “let’s go back and get something to eat and train” and they stopped us and went “No, Coffey stays for ring training” and I seen Dylan looking back, he didn’t say anything but he had a look that said “I’m so sorry mate”. So yeah, I went back, took all these Germans, and my mentality was just keep getting up. Keep getting up. In the end it was him who gave up. They done it again a week later and I took like 30 spears. I ended up being sick but he was hitting me square in the belly. So I went out, was sick and got back in the ring before they said stop. I think that’s one of the big things you need to do over there. Keep getting up. Even if you did want to quit, you couldn’t say you wanted to quit. ”

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Another thing Mark and Joe have in common is their involvement in ITV’s revival of World Of Sport. A full run of shows were announced for May this year but have been “postponed” until further notice. Many believing that it’s dead in the water. Even if it never happens, over a million people were watching The Coffeys in a scudding war with the bold Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith and in the immortal words of DDP, that’s not a bad thing…it’s….A GOOD THING.

“I know a lot of the boys are kinda frustrated. Last year ended on such a positive and such a high note for a lot of people. We were thinking “this is actually a thing now, British Wrestling is becoming something where you can make a living and you don’t need to leave the country”  Then this year we’ve seen it fall quite drastically quite quickly. I think a lot of the boys are thinking “fuck, we were so close” but you’ve just got to keep doing it. We’ve got to accept the fact that this current crop of talent in the UK right now might not make a full-time living out of wrestling, but the next generation might if we keep doing what we’re doing. Because if i look back when I started there was no one. Big Damo taught me and he’s been wrestling 6 years, which is less than I’ve been wrestling now. I don’t feel like I could teach somebody now. There was no one for us to turn to. Apart from guys like Robbie Brookside, and even Drew Mcdonald stayed down South, so these guys weren’t readily available to turn to. In America you’d probably have one veteran in every car going to a show and 3 or 4 more backstage but with us we were more flying by the seat of our pants and teaching ourselves. Now I think if we’re 40 and we’re still doing this here, at least we’ll have accomplished something and young guys coming up will have someone with 20 years experience to turn to. ”

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Despite frustrations about how the World Of Sport endeavour has panned out, it seems to have been the breeding ground for the locker room unity that has grown since and even without the show itself, it still may turn out to be the driving force behind the continuing rise of British Wrestling, and the lessening need or desire for performers to give it up.

“I think people need to justify it less. When I started about a year in I done a show with literally 4 people there. I wrestled Lewis Girvan, he’d been at it maybe a year longer than me and its something I wouldn’t even want to look back at now to laugh at. I think it would genuinely make me sick. Back then you’d be worried sick wondering if anyones going to show up. Now you know at least there will be people there. Its nice to go into certain shows now knowing its sold out. I think guys that are 2 or 3 years in, wrestling guys who have been doing it the same length of time. In a building that has more people in the back than it does out front, you can understand thinking “whats the point?” but now that’s less likely because people who’ve been doing it that length of time can look around at people who have been doing it for a long time and think there’s value to keeping at it”

The World Of Sport(s) Entertainment

Moving too far away from what made the ‘pilot’ of the WoS a success seemed to be the problem for the show. Teaming up with Impact Wrestling and allowing the company to not only impose their will, but a lot of their talent on the roster. I was admittedly a wee bit feart to even ask Mark about it all. Overstepping is always something I try to avoid when doing these interviews, and make no mistake about it, World Of Sport was an opportunity that could have been life changing. A palpable annoyance almost paired with renewed motivation poured out of him as he explained further.

“We were told to hang tight and see what happens. They’re still trying to sort it all out. I just think they got in bed with the wrong burd. They’re a TV mcoffey13company, great at TV, but they didnt have anyone wrestling related in the office. Apart from when they got on board with Jeff Jarrett. When they phoned up to tell me it’s not happening yet, I didn’t lose my shit or anything, because I kinda knew it was coming, but I swore at them, and I’d been very professional to that point but I just thought “fuck it, its not happening, or you’re telling me now it might not happen, I’m just gonna tell you what I think” If you’re asking my opinion and you’ve not asked any of the boys their opinion; I’d say tell Impact Wrestling to fuck off. They’re bringing in guys I’ve never even heard of. What’s wrong with our guys?”

That palpable annoyance over it all gradually turns into a huge amount of pride over the show that did air on ITV on Hogmanay. A continuance of the comradery that burns bright in a locker room more united than ever in the face of adversity. If the show ever does end up happening, it should happen with the talent who were involved in the first place “The best thing about it was the roster that was there was so unselfish. There was a general atmosphere that didn’t say “We’ve got this thing, its ours, lets not let anyone touch it” everyone wanted to just do a good job, and the mentality was “if we do this well, it will be good for everyone” . I think they saw how big wrestling had got in this country and they weren’t prepared for dealing with the inner workings. How you deal with certain talents, etc.”

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“That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”                                                                                                                                                       – Mark Coffey on Polo Promotions departure from ICW in 2016

The postponement came around the same time as 5 star Wrestling cancelling their 170000 man, 45 year long tournament, where the winner is the last one to retire. The combination of the two breeding a lasting annoyance at the pitfalls that come with British Wrestling’s “revival”. Although kind words were reserved for WCPW who also had to cancel shows around that time for different reasons “That, along with this 5 star thing that went down. I was supposed to be on all these Friday dates, and I said to him “can we confirm this now?” and he never got back to me. I actually feel for WCPW because they’ve been tarred with that brush a bit when in reality they didnt book a bunch of shows and go “we aren’t doing these now” they were honest and came out with their reasons for cancelling. I thought that video they put up was great and explained it well. They almost dumbed it down, but in a good way, explaining this is how we get our money, and if we don’t get that money we can’t pay these guys so we can’t run these shows. But with all that happening, and a lot of shows being cancelled recently, in my 7 years of wrestling, id had 3 shows cancel on me until January this year, and since January I’ve had 20. At that stage you start to count the money you’ve lost and go “fuck”. So there’s a unity now. Theres a lot of unity in the ICW locker room, and a feeling of “let’s do this for the boys, lets stick together and make sure this is good for everyone”

The spate of cancellations came not too long after Polo Promotions ended a self-imposed exile at ICW. Sacrificing their own interests and taking a step back from the company for a variety of reasons. Relinquishing their tag titles only to scoop them up again upon their return in a ladder match with the team who ‘won’ the tag titles in their absence ‘The Local Fire’.

“Money wasn’t the issue. It was a load of different things and it was one of those things where a lot of the boys felt the same way so we just took the hit for it. I went in to the office to speak to them and it quickly turned into a shouting match, so I thought ‘fuck this, im not having it anymore’ It was becoming too much of a headache. I avoid wrestling from about 9 o’clock at night before you go to bed, because if you think about it gives you a headache. It was left on Dallas mcoffey12saying I still want to work with you in the future, so it was left open-ended. I’m all about putting the power in the boys hands, and you know, there’s a lot of people backstage now that aren’t wrestlers and there was this feeling that they’re more important than us. I don’t mean that in a bad way, they are important, but at the end of the day if the backstage interviewers, the graphics guys and all that show up but the wrestlers don’t, there’s no show. All these people bought tickets to watch nothing. If it’s the other way about, there’s still a show there. The show goes on. It was a feeling that we’re undervalued. That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”

Every End Has A Start

polos3Despite the setbacks its important to remember just how far the independent scene in wrestling has come, both locally and globally. Mark is no different to many wrestling fans in the sense that wrestling for much of his life was just WWE. Maybe Japan a bit, but mainly WWE. Nowadays WWE are featuring British Wrestlers prominently and cherry picking the ones they think can make a difference for them. A compliment to what’s going on in the Independent wrestling scene here and beyond. “I didn’t know Indy wrestling was a thing until about 2009. I knew there was things other than WWE out there but I never watched it. I’m not gonna claim I was a big fan of this, that and the other. Nah. I’d seen Japanese shows and stuff like that and thought “aye…that’s cool…there’s Prince Albert!” *laughs* I remember picking up a magazine at that time, it must have been FSM or something and seeing Brock Lesnar when he was working for New Japan. This was when he first had that sword tattoo and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing”

His introduction to life outside WWE via Brock Lesnar’s frankly terrifying chest tattoo quickly led to the Source Wrestling School. The very existence of which seemed surreal at the time. “Joe and Jackie found the SWA school and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. Not in a mean way at all, i just couldn’t believe that something like this existed to close to home. Even wanting to be a wrestler. People always say how they watched their heroes, and said how they wanted to do that. I would always watch them and go ‘Thats amazing, I’ll never be able to do that’ the thought of me doing that is outlandish. Then I went to an SWA show with Joe and Jackie one time and thought “Fuck….I can do that!” I think it was more the physique of people who made me think I couldn’t. Because I was always very heavy. I was a very fat child, and I played rugby since I was 5 so I didn’t need to look good. As long as I could go. For the position I played in rugby I was always the fittest. So it didn’t matter that i was carrying a bit of weight as long as I could run fast enough, but getting in to something where you need to take your top off? Seeing some of the guys, the physiques now have improved tenfold as to what they were, but looking back, even me at my worst, I looked at guys back then and realised I was in better shape than them. For my first couple of matches I changed my training, then I seen pictures back of me and I thought aw god, I look terrible. Then I dropped just as much weight as possible, but it does creep back on. I think going to Japan as well, they did say to me you’re mid way between a Junior and a Heavyweight, what do you want to be? and I was like “aw yeah, a heavyweight, naturally” and they said you need to put on 10kg. So I ate everything in sight. I ate everything in sight, but I trained like a loony, came back, I was still eating everything in sight but not training like a loony *laughs* ”

“We Are A Main Event Tag Team”

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“Everywhere we go we get such a spit atmosphere and its weird. I always crack the same joke to Jackie. The moment we’re in the ring at ICW or wherever and you’ve got one half chanting “Polo Promotions” and one chanting “get tae fuck” or whatever, I always turn round and say to him “It’s like being John Cena innit”. Like we’re the John Cena of tag team wrestling” –                                                     – Mark on the mixed reaction Polo Promotions get in ICW

With the prospect of having to split in ICW hanging over Polo Promotions there’s no doubt their desire to become a tag team who regularly main event shows up and down the country will continue even if it’s not in ICW.  There’s a passion in both men when they speak about it, and there seemed to be genuine appreciation for the support they had after their victory over Moustache Mountain at Target. The pair exited through the crowd, shaking hands with fans. In their element as the main event tag team they’ve long desired to be.

“If we had to split now it would be hard. Especially coming off the back of the singles match with Trent and it got such a great response. If we split now I wouldn’t get that same organic reaction. If we were to split now I’d be swimming against the tide to move up the card in singles. So it would be a lot of treading water. In my mind, its logical to put a tag team match on last. It happens in Japanese wrestling a lot as well. If a singles match goes on last you have to be so invested in the story to get into it, but with tag team wrestling there’s more to keep you engaged. More people involved and just more action. Looking at this right now. This venue is perfect (for the match) we’ve got seating, its tiered, and over there is the Jungle (Polos singing section) the all signing all dancing section which is just the faithful. You’ll hear a lot of noise from this section tonight”

He wasn’t wrong. They are Polo Promotions supporters. Faithful through and through. Over and over. They will follow you.

Huge thank you to Mark Coffey for his time. Also big thank you to the amazing work of David J.Wilson, Chelsea Cochrane, and whoever took that photo from the crowd at Target. It captured a wonderful moment so well done to ye. 

Follow Mark on Twitter HERE
Like Polo Promotions on Facebook HERE

 

Wolfgang – Built Fae Girders (Interview Part One)

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As hard it might be to imagine anything other than the imposing, deceptively floaty big unit of a man who we now know as “Wolfgang”, the big bad Wolf was once a young pup. A young pup who spent his youngest days growing up on an estate called “Haghill” in the East End of Glasgow. A place my missus also happens to hail from, and has described as “rough as fuck” in the past. Rough it may be, but it was the place that Barry Young’s love affair with Pro Wrestling had its beginnings. “It started when I was about 6 or 7 growing up in Haghill” he explained. A place notorious for its “young team” and a breeding ground for many a childhood scrap. Something Wolfgang himself never took a great amount of interest in. “Like the majority of wrestling fans, it was the first thing I remember seeing was wrestling, I couldn’t tell you who it was specifically but I imagine it was Hulk Hogan as he was my hero. I had wee cousins and mates from Haghill and we’d play wrestling. We used to play wrestling on this gable end and it was just concrete. So even from that age I would mimic what I’d see on the tele and by this point I didnt really know modern day wrestling. I only knew Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and all that.”

Indeed he grew up in an era familiar to many of us, where WWE only existed on SKY and the only people who had SKY were confirmed or suspected drug dealers. How else would such a lavish lifestyle be possible? It was an era where a wrestling fan was only as good as his tapes. An era where Silver Vision provided an education better than any subject at school could. For me it was Summerslam 90 and WWE Year In Review 1993. For Wolfgang it was…  “One was Royal Rumble 91 where Hulk Hogan came out and just smashed everybody and won it. I’d watch that over and over. The other one was mega matches, where you’d get to see a bit of macho man and stuff. I would watch them religiously and anywhere I went where I wanted to watch wrestling I’d take them with me. So its been a love affair as far back as I can remember. ”

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A love affair that often led to a young Wolfgang demolishing his maws furniture. Maws will tolerate a lot of things from their boays, but there’s a limit to the amount of beds you’re allowed to break doing tombstone piledrivers before you end up sleeping on the deck. “You’ve no idea how many beds I’ve broke powerbombing my cousins through them. Showing them what wrestling is by actually doing it to them. The amount of times I’ve powerbombed my cousins when they didn’t want to be powerbombed *laughs*. I was actually watching tapes of what we used to do out my back garden the other day ”

It was these early years on the mean streets of Haghill that saw the start of a trend for the big man when he moved to Carntyne, a place that housed the the Haghill Young Team’s most storied rivals “When I was 10 I moved to Carntyne and that’s who Haghill used to fight. It would be he Haghill Powery against the Carntryne Goucho. I turned again like I’ve often done in my career with the various labels. Whatever one’s the most popular I go with that. ”  It wasn’t until his first encounter with BT Gunn that Wolfgang started to consider wrestling an interest that went beyond bursting his maws furniture. Although the genesis of the “Extreme Wrestling Federation” would still require a wee bit of furniture to get the ball rolling.

“My first day at secondary school I met BT Gunn. I heard him talking to someone about the Ken Shamrock/Foley/Rock cage match they had, so I just kinda drifted towards him, and I got close enough to go “are you two talking about wrestling”. Tam was kinda just above me on the social scale, because he was into fitbaw and I’m sure a wee bit of street fighting when he was staying up in Riddrie. When I moved to Carntyne this was the first time I’d had a big back garden. He eventually came down and we’d put on these wee shows together. We changed the name so many times but I think the one we eventually stuck with was the Extreme Wrestling Federation, and there was nothing extreme about this. We had my ma’s cushions put on to a bit of astro turf my Da brought home. We had poles dug into the ground with washing lines tied round. So you couldn’t run them, couldn’t climb them, they were really just there for show. So I’ve loved it ever since the “dont try this at home” era” and now he’s on the show’s that have the “Don’t Try This At Home” warning before they air. Anything is possible kids. Although if you’re a kid reading this, ignore the profanity please. Stay in school. Don’t do drugs.

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Wolfgang after being powerbombed through his Ma’s dining table for saying the gravy she made with his roast dinner was “thick enough to grout tiles”. Circa 1996.

Following the move to Carntyne, Wolfgang had his first exposure to new era WWE. Gone were the Hulk Hogans and Macho Mans, and in their place we had tits, unfiltered violence, blood, more tits, more blood, Savio Vega and a baldy guy who tanned cans in the ring. Paradise for any young man reaching a certain level of ‘maturity’. “When I turned on Sky the first thing I seen was Ken Shamrock belly to belly suplexing the entire Nation of Domination on RAW, and I was blown away by it. All the people I knew were all gone, or they’d become commentators or whatever. I fell in love with it all over again at that point. I loved this new, fresh style they were doing and I was just hitting puberty at the time so it was perfect”

Boasting years of experience with the EWF, Wolfgang was itching to finally join a proper wrestling school and turn this wrestling caper from fantasy to reality. Unfortunately he was looking for a career path that literally didn’t exist in those days. Almost as if you needed to know a secret handshake or a password to gain access to the boss level, then if you beat the boss you MIGHT be able to get some wrestling training. If you’re lucky.
“After wrestling out my mums back for so long, my dad came home with a newspaper article saying Jake The Snake was coming to a wrestling school in East Kilbride. I’d tried various ways to get into wrestling, including amatuer wrestling, and couldn’t get in. Couldn’t find a school and low and behold, WWE hall of famer Jake The Snake was coming to a wrestling school about 20 mile from my house. So I jumped on it right away.”

This would prove to be a vital time both personally and career wise for Wolfgang. In an era where wrestling and particular wrestling training wasn’t anywhere near the standard it is now, a bit of handy advice from a beleaguered veteran and meeting a merry band of brothers who would end up sticking with him throughout the years are undoubtedly big reasons why young Barry not only stuck with the wrestling, but a big part of the reason slightly aulder Barry is enjoying the most successful period of his career 15 years on.
“Jake wasn’t there the first day, but Red Lightning, Drew Galloway, Mark Dallas and Kid Fite were all there. I’d took a couple of pals with me, because it was always like I wanted to do it but I needed a pal there. It turned out one week one pal wouldnt go, and the other week the other wouldn’t, so I was the only one who really stuck it and the more I went the more I got to know Red Lightning, Galloway, Dallas etc and became close pals with them. When I started training our coaches always used to talk about how bad they had it, and now I’ve started coaching I’m trying no to be that guy, but it rings true sometimes just how hard we did have it.”

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His first “match” was another eye opening experience for Wolfgang, and one he must consider an important one to reflect on when its all said and done and all anyone remembers is the glory days of ICW running places like the SECC and Hydro. It wasn’t always glory. It wasn’t always stoating out in front of 6,000 with aw sorts of pyro flying in and around your eyes. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of fighting against the bad and promoting the good before the balance started to shift and British Wrestling began its revival.
“I was just watching my first participation in a show not long ago, and it was me, a couple of other trainees, and the pro’s at the time, who lets face it, weren’t really in the best shape, they weren’t doing wonders for pro wrestling. I mean the attendance was dire, looking back I don’t remember it being that bad. I remember it being bad, but no THAT bad. I imagine its because its the first times I’d been in fronwolf11t of an audience like that. So you think of it being bigger, like “there was 500 of them there, they were aw going wild!” when really there was like 3 people in the crowd. ”

The standard of training at that time mostly existed as a “How not to train people to wrestle” guide for future reference and it was less the influence of the trainers and more the influence of his peers that helped Wolfgang become the polished, knuckle duster slinging bad mamma jamma we see today “When I started out it was on judo mats and we would just get powerbombed and stuff like it. It was more like we were getting bullied by the people training us but we were more learning from each other along the way. We were sort of this clan of people who watched wrestling, then mimicked it and got to experience it. When I first started the standard was bad aye, and it took a long time to sort of wean the bad stuff out. My first match I wore all white and sorts Sting type makeup. It was ridiculous. So I started off doing tag stuff and that was how I started going down south a lot. Down to Newcastle with a company called WZW. I was only about 16-17 then and I became and inter-promotional Champion” *laughs*

Whilst its since gone on to become synonymous with wolves, the name “Wolfgang” originally had nothing to do with wolves at all. It was instead derived from watching The Munsters.
“Wolfgang was meant to be this dark and mysterious character and it was never anything to do with Wolves. It was just the name. I wanted to be a kinda Sting character, with the face paint etc. When I wrestled oot ma back garden, my wrestling name was Damage. When I started training I told them my wrestling name was “Damage” . I dunno why, I always liked these one word names. Like Sting, Kane, etc. When I was in school I was watching The Munsters and Eddie Munster turned into a werewolf. He was called Eddie “Wolfgang” Munster, and it sorta came from there. I liked the werewolf aspect of it because people have always said I’m a different person when I get in the ring. Wrestling helped bring me out my shell in a lot of ways. Anybody who knows me will know that back then I was very quiet. I was just this wee, quiet, polite guy. My Ma had taught me my manners and to say please and thank you but when I got into a wrestling ring my character came out and my personality just flourished. So the link with werewolves is more that there’s two sides to me. The wee quiet guy and the werewolf that’ll tear you apart.”

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His first wrestling road trip at the tender age of 15 turned out to be a life affirming event for young Wolfgang, as he finally got to meet the man who’s potential presence at a local wrestling school got him started. Whilst the hero in question, Jake The Snake Roberts, wasn’t doing very well at that time, the interaction with him is still held up as one of the key reasons for Wolfy’s success a story that came full circle when the two spoke again at Wrestlemania. An opportunity that only came up because of how much good Wolfgang done over the course of the UK Championship tournament that put him in that position in the first place. “The first time I got to step in a wrestling ring was down in Melksham for a compny called 3CW. We got on this mini bus, first time away from home, me Lightning, Drew etc. We were going down to work for a promotion run by the mate of the guy who was training us. It was my first time being away from my Ma n Da when I was about 15-16. I never ended up getting on the show, but that was the first time I actually met Jake. It was at the time he wasn’t really doing very well, but I always credit him for helping me out. I got to speak to him for 5 minutes back stage and it just blew my 15 year old mind. This icon was sitting in front of me speaking and its the exact same as watching one of his promos. You were just hooked on every word he was saying”

Jake’s own personal turnaround when he previously seemed at death’s door is proof enough in itself that anything is possible with a bit of hard work and elbow grease. Getting to speak to him again would have felt like an impossibility at one stage in both their respective journeys, yet the stars aligned for a reconciliation behind the scenes of the grandest stage of them all. The stage Jake once graced and the stage Wolfgang is shooting for. The be all and end all for anyone who’s ever laced up a pair of boots, or in John Cena’s case, double knotted a pair of gutties.
“I recently got to thank him for what he said to me at Mania this year. 15 years later. To be able to see him in those circumstances, where I’m on the other side of the guardrail was amazing. When I seen him I got goosebumps, because I always wanted to meet him again to kinda thank him for whatever he did do for me. And I got a chat with him, he said one of the nicest things he could have said to me. That he was very proud of what I’d done. He could just have been saying that to get me away from him, but it was nice to have that. A bit of a full circle thing for me. ”

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Whilst that was one chapter in Wolfgang’s career that finally had its conclusion, another that might never see its end game is the story he is constantly crafting with BT Gunn. A rivalry that goes all the way from the Extreme Wrestling Federation in the backyards of Carntyne, to steel cage and dog collar matches in ICW. Its a rivalry Wolfgang clearly holds dear and a story that will seemingly forever be open ended. A story where a final chapter will only be written when one of the men draws their last breath.
“A match that gets overlooked is one in 2012 when BT was champ and it was one of the best matches we’ve ever done. I think it was overshadowed a bit because it was the night Iceman retired, but people really believed I could take it. No matter how many times a match has been done in the past, you can still get fans invested in it and we always tried to make the match something new and different from the last one. We did that with matches like the cage, dog collar, last man standing matches. Dog collar is one of my favourites because it was a really good match. Something substantial came from that stipulation, and I was really happy with that piece of work. The use of the dog collar was good as well. Whether we’re against each other or on the same side, its always something I throw myself into because I care about and I always want the story of me and BT Gunn work. BT Gunn is just incredible though. Quietly the best wrestler in the UK and my favourite wrestler to watch”

It seemed a far fetched notion in late 2014-early 2015 that BT Gunn and Wolfgang would ever end up on the same side, but this is wrestling. Things can do a full 360 in an instant and see you fighting wars alongside long time sworn enemies like its fuck all. Whilst the prospect of getting to team up with a guy who you know for a fact is really good at wrestling due to him doing wrestling stuff in thwolf10doge direction of your face for years beforehand must have been an attractive one, the idea of going a full calendar month without catching a team handed doing from the NAK certainly appealed to Wolfgang as well. “I was getting fed up of the NAK crushing my skull. The conclusion came at Barramania 2, when Divers was feuding with Renfrew and everyone thought I was coming down to save Divers. The reaction for turning the W into an N was the easiest nights work I’ve ever had. Easily the biggest reaction I’ve got for doing so little. Some people seen it coming, a lot of people wanted it to happen but the buzz after ending the feud with BT and joining the NAK is one I’ll never forget. Getting to team with BT after years of knocking seven shades of shite out each other, and getting to work with Renfrew who’s someone I always looked up to in terms of promo skills and addressing the camera. Being that close to him I got that knowledge, it still took me a long time but I’m starting to get there now.”nak

His alliance with the NAK was a shot in the arm for Wolfgang in ICW and returned him to the role of villain for the first time since The Gold Label’s tenure in ICW. Whilst he admits his more natural role in wrestling is as a crowd favourite, being able to do both is essential in an era where more different companies than ever might be looking to use a wrestler for different roles. “I’ve always been more comfortable as a babyface. When ICW started it would be me feuding with the likes of Red Lightning, but that all changed when The Gold Label started. It was basically me, Lionheart, and Red. We were 3 best mates, and we were the best of a bad bunch, and to put three of the better guys together was something that hadn’t really been done and something I was really excited about doing. Then James joined. I was kinda the big bad bruiser of the group, I had a lot of fun doing that stuff. One of the best times up until that point. That all kind of fizzled out and I would turn face from that point, no really feuding with anyone in particular I was just sort of the good guy on the show that would turn up and knock fuck out of someone. I got to be myself more from that point and show my personality like the Wolfgangnam style video and the Finding Wolfgang skits *laughs* . Thinking about it that’s embarrassing looking back on them now, I’ll need to get them taken aff *laughs*.

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The bad news for the big man there is that the internet is forever. The good news is, at least its just a couple of funny videos and nothing involving anyone’s nipples. While the goofier side of Wolfgang was allowed to run wild back then, in the NAK it was all business and Wolfgang looks back on the feud the group had with Legion as a particular highlight.
“Three of the best in Europe vs three best mates. Stevie and Kay Lee were obviously part of that when they joined as well. Some of the matches we had were incredible. Edinburgh 3 on 3 with Stevie, me and BT was a brilliant match. Went all over the venue. Then the cage match at the SECC to end it. Cage matches are difficult on a show like that where you’re not going to get a huge amount of time, but the big thing I done in that match was again coming off the top of the cage. That seems to be my favourite thing about it. Climbing up it and jumping aff it. ”

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The battle in the cage, which Wolfgang admits he’d have liked more time in after being eliminated early, brought the fued and seemingly the NAK to its natural end. As red hot and engaging as they were at the time, they were too driven individually to stay as a unit for the long whole. For the group of real life pals, it was very much time to divide and conquer and after a wild night in The Garage when they split and ended up wrestling each other in a wild Fatal Four Way for Renfrew’s newly acquired ICW Title, the turbo charged all star NAK was no more. “That brought the feud with Legion to an end and at that time we sort of lacked direction as a group. Being in the NAK was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in wrestling ,because it was me and my genuine pals. At Halloween in 2015 we all came out as Batman villains and I’ll never forget that. Its one of they things that makes me love wrestling, and one I’ll look back on in 20 years time, as you don’t really get the chance to take it all in when its happening. After the Legion feud was over everybody wanted to do their own thing, and from my point of view I was a sick of being part of a group. I’d been in the Gold Label, The NAK, even The Black Label although I felt I was never really fully “in” The Black Label. That was Drew, Jester and Andy (Red Lightning), and I was just their big mate.”

“I’ve always said Wolfgang isnae a bad guy, he just keeps bad company”

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There’s not likely top be many people that can pinpoint being in the bath as one of the key moments in their wrestling career but after years of graft, going up and down the UK taking (seldom) and dishing out (often) doings with little or no prospect of it going any further had began to bear fruit a few years earlier with rise of ICW and British Wrestling as a result, but the sweetest most ripest of wrestling fruit came to him pretty much as soon as his baws hit the water on one fateful evening when wrestling royalty phoned. “It all started for me in the lead up to The Hydro. We were on tour with ICW, in Manchester I think. I was against Noam, and at this time Regal was doing the rounds and scouting for it. I met him there and didnt really speak to him, but I was on with a guy Regal knew. I knew I’d be the guy with the ICW belt, and if Regal was sitting watching with Dallas he would be explaining how he’s going to be the guy with the title.”

Its a nice thing that the match responsible for WWE sitting up and taking notice of Wolfgang is the same one that made me sit up and take notice of him in 2012. The first match I seen in Scottish Wrestling happened to be Noam Dar vs Wolfgang. A cocky young Dar cutting a promo telling me and aw my pals we were aw smelly virgins (not true at all btw…I don’t smell…) before Wolfgang came out and gave him a doing. A routine that would repeat on the night it all changed.

“I had to show up that night. Noam kept me right though. I thought I’d have to go out and keep up with Noam, but that was never the case. I think the reason I got noticed in the first place is that I look like I can beat people up. That was what Noam was saying, they’re no looking for all the bells and whistles, if they look at you and think ‘I reckon this guy could batter this person’ then that’s what they’re after. So poor Noam, I just spent the whole match beating him up.”wolf8

Regal making a swift exit meant Wolfgang pretty much considered that to be that, but nothing’s a foregone conclusion when mobile phone technology means being in the bath isn’t a barrier between you and achieving your wildest dreams, so really there’s nae excuse for huvin BO at all. Don’t tell me you smell like a foot cause you’re waiting on NASA to phone and offer ye that job driving the spaceship mate. Nae excuses. Wolfgang got to the WWE via the bath, so really anyone can do anything they want and still be clean.

“I didnt really get the chance to speak to him after, but Noam passed me his email address so I sent him an email asking for feedback on the match. He sent me oneback explaining the next tryout was full but he’d give me a shout down the line. Fast forward about a month to The Hydro show and he emails asking for my number and within about a millisecond I sent it. I waited by the phone like “where urr ye Regal” and I waited and waited on him before I eventually decided he must just be looking for my number for future reference. So I jumped up the stairs for a bath after a few hours, forgetting the time difference and hes phoned me just as I’ve got in the bath. So there I am submersed in water , talking to William Regal. I thought to myself I better get out of here eh, so I’m out, walking about the house in a towel with William Regal on the phone telling me there’s gonnae be this 16 man tournament to crown the first ever WWE UK Champion, and you’re gonnae be the only Scottish guy in it. ”

Nae pressure there then eh?

A fine note to leave it on. Bath related shenanigans. Part Two will be up tomorrow at around 6pm. Tell yer pals. Share this piece of loveliness. Do it. 

READ PART TWO HERE

Credit to David J.Wilson, Warrior Fight Photography and anyone else’s images I might have used for the fine work. All talented humans

Wolfgang: Scotlands Big Bad Ambassador

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When Andy Murray walks out to compete at Wimbledon, as a nation we get behind him (At least those of us who don’t see a Scotsman being a sarcastic bastard as a bad thing do, and if you’re one of the “I don’t like him, he never smiles” brigade I suggest you take a look at your own miserable melt in the mirror and promptly shut yer hole). We do that because its rare for Scotland to produce such an elite sporting talent and to see him slugging it out with the very best for the top accolades in his sport is a source of national pride. Closer to home, Paul “Bearjew” Craig had MMA fans across the country getting behind him in his first UFC fight recently, a fight he won to plenty of acclaim from fans of the sport and casual observers alike. An overnight celebrity because he’s a Scot doing it at the highest level. Chest puffed oot, representing the boaysies. Ricky Burns is a world champion despite being nothing particularly special as a fighter because every time he fights in front of a home crowd he’s that much quicker, that much sharper, his punches are that much more emphatic. They’re that much more emphatic because thousands of hauf cut Glaswegians scream at the top of their lungs for him. He’s one of our own, out there doing his thing at the very top level. As a nation we do have a good reputation of getting behind our elite sportspeople and that should be no  different when Glasgow’s very own Wolfgang enters a 16 man tournament to crown WWE’s first ever UK Champion.

Pre-determined outcomes should have no bearing on how you see the bold Wolfgang over the course of this weekend if you’re a Scot. So fuck if its pre-determined, none of us know what the outcome will be, and he’s the main man. Our only representative of 16, which does stick in the craw a wee bit considering how strong the scene has been in Scotland in recent years,  but who better to carry our hopes than a guy who has been incredible domestically for the best part of a decade and a half. The self proclaimed regulator. The godfather of Scottish Wrestling, and I don’t mean he’s pimpin mad hoes and puttin them on trains, I mean he’s the leader of the pack. The overseer. The bad bastard who’s been laying waste to anyone with a set of plums big enough to have a go for nearly 15 years. This is HIS time and more people should be raving about this well deserved opportunity that is now so close the big man can probably sniff it. A place in the 16 man field to crown the first ever WWE UK Championship. An event that will stream live on the WWE Network. An event that will be a launchpad for many talented individuals to gain exposure their work has for so long deserved. But only one of them is a Scot. Only one of them is one of the most diverse big men on the planet. Only one of them is the current ICW Champion, and a guy who has been involved in every single step of British Wrestling’s resurgence. Only one of them represents us, and that’s why no matter how you feel about him when he scowls at ye and calls yer maw a snaggletoothed baw sooker at ICW, this weekend it disnae matter mate. If you’re still upset with him for splitting up the NAK, fuckin let bygones be bygones and brass knucks to the jaw be brass knucks to the jaw.Stuff your grudges in a sack and punt them into the Clyde. None of it matters. All that matters is that the big man comes home with that shiny belt. Biased as fuck and proud of it. Fight me about it.

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Journalistic integrity dictates that I should just give you a wee rundown on the competitors and really inform you as to what you might see this weekend when this historic tournament kicks off, but honestly, I can’t be fucked mate. No one needs to tell you how good Trent Seven is. No one needs to tell you how much of a prodigy Tyler Bate is. No one should need to be telling you how uniquely gifted Pete Dunne is. These are things I expect you as an audience to know, but here’s a thing you might not know. None of that shit matters because Wolfgang has them all beat. See yer wee favourite guy? Tell him to prepare his jaw for a mauling, because that’s how its going down. The same way it always goes down. The opponent lying spark out and the big bad wolf holding a shiny belt over his stupit napper. Recognise.

In all seriousness, I’ll make nae attempt to hide that Wolfgang is a personal favourite. The first match I seen in Scottish Wrestling was Wolfgang vs Noam Dar at ICW in 2012 and the fact that after this weekend they can both be found on the WWE network, doing their thing in real life actual wrestling matches is just nice int it. A nice thing for the Scottish scene in general, but just a nice thing for two genuinely hard working good folk who have worked very hard to hone their craft to the point that they showed up on WWE’s radar at all. Even if it goes no further for Wolfgang WWE wise, and even if he gets papped out in the first round (he fuckin better no) a wider audience than ever will get to see him do his thing and his thing is quite beautiful at full force. Like Andre The Giant’s forearm….wait…I think that’s a different thing we’re talking about now, but his wrestling talent is also very impressive and a potential second round match-up with his current ICW nemesis Trent Seven could be the match-up where both of them get to let their talent loose in full flow, and while my own pick is quite blatantly obvious from the content of this article, I definitely think the winner of that potential match-up will certainly end up in the final. A potentially pivotal bout between the two before they face each other in perhaps even more significant action at ICW’s Square Go a few weeks later. With Wolfys pride and joy, the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, on the line.

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For all I understand why he’s being billed as a big smashmouth brawler in all the media stuff I’ve seen about this tournament so far, Wolfgang in reality is far more than that. As well rounded a talent as this country has ever produced. As comfortable going to the top rope to get the job done as he is methodically punching the living shite out of his foes to put them away. While his impressive high flying has been self regulated (cause hes the regulator ye see) a bit since becoming the all conquering knuckle duster utilising baddie we see today, he is more than capable of doing things men his size shouldn’t be able to do, and as many beautiful David J.Wilson shots can attest to, one of these things is clearing the top rope with ease before landing all 18 stone of mass on his opponent like its fuck all. Like he’s Rey Mysterio in his prime, except one of Wolfgang’s morning shites probably weighs more than Rey. One of the things that got me personally re-hooked on Pro Wrestling as an adult was seeing him majestically fly over the top rope, landing on a certain Prince Devitt’s heid in the main event of ICW Hadouken in 2012. A match that was a proper escape from reality, as 700 folk were fully absorbed in something that would most likely be once in a lifetime. A match that might be the reason Wolfgang even has a place in this tournament at all, such is the extent of the pull Devi….I mean Finn Balor seems to have in WWE. If ICW has a special place in Finn’s heart then that was the match that started the love affair and from a personal perspective its fucking immense to see so many of the talents that helped re-ignite my own passion for pro wrestling make waves with the biggest company in the world in recent times. The icing on the cake would be Wolfgang coming home the first ever WWE UK Champion.

I’m sure whoever takes it will be more than worthy of it, and head ruling heart, I’d say Pete Dunne is objectively the favourite for it. Based on what WWE might be looking for in a talent going forward, his age and the amount of room for improvement he has, he might be the guy but with the greatest of respects to him, Jordan Devlin, the bold Martin Stone (wrestling under his old nxt name Danny Burch), Mark Andrews, T-Bone, Roy Johnson, James Drake, Dan Moloney, the devilishly handsome Trent Seven, Tucker, Saxon Huxley, Sam Gradwell, Joseph Conners, H.C Dyer and Tyler Bate, none of them winning it will be as special as the big bad Wolf raising that shiny belt above his napper at the end of it all. After 15 years of toil. 15 years of putting it all on the line. Make no mistake about it, this tournament and any opportunities that come from it wont define his already impressive legacy but it WILL offer him a real shot at turning this wrestling caper into a full time gig. Something that has to have been the goal from day one and something that seems perfectly attainable right now. So close he can almost taste it.

To the other 15 men going all out to win this tournament, you can hold on to hope for as long as you want troops. Sooner or later, Wolfgang will cut you down.

wolfyBig thank you as always to the wonderful David.J Wilson and his superb photos

My Top 10 Observations From Watching WWE Payback In My Friends House

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A wise man once said, if you can’t beat them, write list articles every day till yer fuckin eyes bleed. So here’s a list article about WWE Payback 2016 which took place last night in Chicago. I went to my pal Andy’s house to watch it, and we hung out for 3 or 4 hours before our other friend Keith arrived to make it a party. He made it a party because of his carefree attitude and commitment to bringing joy to those around him, and I can shower him in this praise safe in the knowledge he’ll never see it cause he never reads my shit. That chatter is irrelevant to the points I’m about to make about the PPV but important to paint as vivid a picture as possible regarding how the whole evening went down. Enjoy the words. Stay cool.

1. The Wyatt’s Weren’t On The Show Yet Were Heavily Featured On All The Promo Stuff. What’s that all about I ask you?

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A lot of good things happening in WWE right now. The product feels fresh. Stagnant talent given a new lease of life. All that power of positivity shit. So this felt like a strange oversight. I know these things are decided well in advance and maybe there was big plans for the Wyatts before Harper went down injured, but how the fuck does it go from them all over the promo stuff to them not being on the show at all? If anything that’s false advertising. We were promised creepy beards. I expect my monthly dose of creepy beards to be delivered to me as promised. Although keep Braun and The Strowman Empire the fuck away from me. Somecunt should show that big diddy a Big Damo match and let him know that being huge isn’t an excuse for moving like your arse is made of 2p coins and fridge magnets.

2. If you didn’t want to get a step ladder, climb it and put an arm round Big Cass after Enzo’s injury, you’re dead inside.

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Unless you’re The Big Show, there’s nae conceivable way you can just chuck an arm round him without some kind of ladder being deployed because in case you hadn’t heard, yer man’s 7 FOOT TALL and that’s something that CANNOT BE TAUGHT (that’s how it goes eh? words to that effect anyway) but how utterly heartbreaking was it seeing the big man breaking his heart over his pal being ko’d? In that moment he couldn’t have given a flying fuck that their big chance to make an impression on a main roster PPV had gone because that’s his best pal lying unconscious and that matters so much more. Its a huge shame but they’ll have their match and when it does happen (to completion) it’ll be smashin. Cass will chuck Enzo at everycunt within a 5 mile radius of the arena and we’ll have the perfect end to this wee tale but that moment Simon Gotch chucked Enzo into the ropes and he landed on the floor with his eyes glazed over was some scary shit and the big man felt it. That’s brotherhood. That’s a pair of guys who’ll still be best pals long after this wrestling shit stops being a thing and it was a strangely heartwarming moment amidst a difficult time. Enzo was apparently conscious and doing well so no more tears big yin. Yer wee brerr wae aw the patter is going to be just fine.

3. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn knocked it out the fuckin park

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Bit of a contrast between their “I’m gonnae boot this Canadian cunt to death with my decidedly Canadian feet” best pal dynamic and the one Enzo and Cass have, but this match has the strange ability to feel fresh even if in reality its the 10003846023th time they’ve wrestled each other. Fuck knows why they didn’t go with a singles match between them at Mania instead of the admittedly hugely entertaining 6 man ladder based barney they both ended up involved in, but it lived up and for me was a better match than any of their NXT battles because this time Sami Zayn didn’t have to be leathered to within an inch of his life to the lose the match. He simply lost to the better man on the night. Big KO. Surely a matter of time before he’s in amongst the hunt for the big belt.

4. Ryback was back to his hilarious best and his match was tidy.

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When the big guy lets loose and gets the humour flowing he’s one of the most entertaining guys on the roster. Recently his character has been generic personality-less meathead and its fuckin poisonous. No one gives a fuck because the character gives you ride all to invest in. Nothing to hate, love or feel anything about. Its just nothing. When he’s allowed to let that sense of humour go a wee bit (or when he’s not allowed and does it anyway) I love the big cunt. Shamelessly and forcefully. I love him more than he loves eating loaves of bread in one gulp. When he responded to the rapid CM Punk inspired Chicago boos he was on the rough end of by mimicking Punks entrance he displayed a glistening set of giant baws and waved them in all of our faces, and not to forget HIS WEIGHT BELT THE PRE-SHOW STOPPER ON IT! Fuck knows why I found that so exceedingly hilarious but I did and it was. The match was also really quite good and deserved to be on the main show but they seem to have given up the ghost when it comes to making Ryback a star now. Bad news for him, but good news for us if he keeps being given free reign to be as much of a hilarious dafty as possible.

5. Ambrose vs Jericho was 2 valium washed down with a shot of whisky masquerading as a wrestling match

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The match was pretty good, so why was it so boring? Who the fuck cares. I don’t even care enough to muster up any more words about it. It was that level of disengaging. Please stop doing these meaningless feuds with Jericho and expecting it to be good. It never is because beating him means fuck all these days. His role in wrestling is to kid on he’s a threat to new talent until they pin him, then he fucks off to wear jackets without shirts with his band instead of doing it at pro wrestling shows. He’s actually had some decent villainous moments since he turned on AJ and its been one of his more enjoyable recent runs, but something about this feud was majorly off putting. Maybe its Ambrose. Maybe a “lunatic” that complies with companies orders for him to wear his own merch isn’t all that credible as a lunatic. Guess I was lying when I said I couldn’t muster up any more words about it eh. These appear to be more words. So are these.

6. The finish of Natalya vs Charlotte was so fuckin cringeworthy and stupid I’ve not stopped shaking my head since it happened. My neck’s fuckin killin me mate.

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Why? Did they do this to annoy Bret because he does fuck all but moan about them in any press outlet that’ll give him the opportunity to do so? Fuck knows but doing the screwjob finish completely undermined another excellent match between two of the best wrestlers WWE have. I truly don’t understand the logic or if they’re even going to explain why lil Naitch has any motivation to be involved in it. Earl Hebner was under pressure. Feared losing his job maybe. That was a real life situation and the people involved and the decisions they made actually made a lot of sense because of that. In this weird re-hash of it, fuck all made sense, but hey, we got to see stereo sharpshooters from Bret and Nattie so every cloud and all that shite.

7. The Miz is kinda killing it right now.

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People seem to hate him for things that happened in the past more than anything he does these days. He wasn’t ready to be a main event calibre guy and probably never will be of that level but is it his fault he was put in that position? Should he have told them no when they asked him to feud with Cena? Of course not. He was actually a pretty decent heel then as well, it was more his lack of believability as champ that held him back more than him lacking as a character. He was also completely average as a wrestler, but he’s improved to the point that most of his matches are at least solid and character wise he’s got it locked down. Arrogant, delusions of grandeur, smokin hot wife that makes the casual fan go “how the fuck did he get her?” and plenty of guys that people love to batter fuck out him. Like Cesaro, who had Miz tapping before sleekitness led to the quick win and Miz retaining. He could easy have a 6 month+ run with the IC belt where he fucks over all the goodies and it would be interesting enough before the Zack attack reclaims the gold he was robbed of in the first place. WOO WOO WOO. Ye ken it.

8. Talking segments on PPVs are brain death.

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Vince didn’t even make a decision. They’re both running RAW. Running RAW and making decisions on PPVs aswell. PPVs aren’t RAW. Who runs Smackdown amongst all this nonsense? Is there a third McMahon bairn quietly doing that and shaking his head at his daft warring siblings? Barry McMahon, the background wan. Kept off TV for decades because he’s got a birth defect that made a third ear grow on the middle of his forehead. Shane and Steph are running RAW together, even though Shane lost his match. Because reasons. Don’t ask questions, just listen to this 20 minute promo that tells us nothing new and button yer fuckin lip.

9. The main event felt huge…and ended up a bit messy

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The match was excellent for the most part and I loved the phenomenal forearm table spot, but did it make sense having Roman lose the match twice before winning it? Even if its by countout then DQ, they’re still losses for a guy who’s supposed to be dominant and almost infallible. Seen folk raving about it and I kinda get why, the match was entertaining and made a mockery of fannies chanting “you can’t wrestle” at Roman because he held his own with one of the best on the planet, but I hate all that stop-start carry on. I hate that Gallows and Anderson got involved again and they’re keeping up this premise that somehow AJ manages to miss it every time they batter the guy he kinda needs them to batter. Its a wee bit convenient eh? Hopefully its leading to some Finn Balor based goodness but it seems a bit daft and leads to The Usos being involved in main events to even the odds which just isn’t what anyone needs to see. Sorry to the lads n that, they were once my guys and I still find them somewhat entertaining when they do wrestling things, but my god, how fucking boring are The Usos and when did that happen? Nae idea how you’d even change that either. Aside from a Jeremy Kyle type of bust up that reveals they aren’t actually brothers and they only look so alike cause Jimmy Uso is actually Marty Jannetty wearing a Jey Uso mask, there’s not many ways you could give them more of an edge. After all that excitement and AJ winning the match twice, it all ended a wee bit damply with a run of the mill spear for the win.

10. Overall it was pretty good

I liked it. Wrestling? good. Crowd? good. Jojo’s erse? GOOD.

 

WWE Wrestlemania 32 Preview/Predictions

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Everything’s bigger in Texas they say. Including levels of disappointment in significant events. Continue reading

Daniel Bryan Made Me Care.

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The overriding thing people talk about when discussing the problems with the current WWE product is a lot of emotional investment. As good as a lot of the performers are, it all feels the same. Every RAW feels choreographed. Even the most shocking moments feel like they’ve been meticulously planned months in advance. It’s all just forced. Roman Reigns is a great athlete and a better character than he’s given credit for. When they keep him away from the mic and leave him to destroy everything in his path, he’s a believable, passionate big guy, but people are almost put off because they KNOW he’s the guy they’re supposed to like. They know every move made to make him look good is designed to make you like him and to turn him into this mega-star they see him as and people don’t like that idea so take it out on Roman the character. That’s not even a problem for modern wrestling in general, that’s just human nature. People don’t particularly like being told what to do, and Daniel Bryan embodied that natural discontent towards authority better than anyone in the modern era of wrestling. Couple that with him being better than everyone at wrestling itself? We had something pretty special in Daniel Bryan, and the fact that as of last night, that special thing has been forced to not do one the things that made it so special is heartbreaking. We’re allowed to almost mourn the death of that side of Daniel Bryan, because he was so incredible at wrestling that it feels like we’ve lost everything to do with him, but you know what? We really haven’t.

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When Daniel Bryan delivered his farewell speech at last night’s RAW, he done something quite special. The emotion of the whole segment was undeniable but if you look past that for a second and break down the speech itself, it wasn’t a speech at all. It was a conversation. Daniel Bryan had each and every person in that audience united as one voice and he spoke to them. Asked them questions, waited on their responses. Said things that made emotions pour out of them uncontrollably, and even threw in a majorly geeky sex joke followed by the cheesiest smile you’ll ever see. He had absolute command over that audience, and not because they pitied him, but because he is still just that good. Even if he’s not the most naturally gifted ‘talker’ he doesn’t have to be. People connect with it no matter what, because they connect with everything he is. He represents the guy they didn’t want you to like. The guy THEY didn’t want to like, but had no choice in the matter. That’s special in itself. A guy without the physical gifts WWE usually favour, and without a huge all consuming personality to mask that, STILL made it to the top. He made the weekly product unmissable while he pursued the titles he felt were rightfully his as well, and the only reason “The Authority” exists right now is because they were the chief antagonists to what he was trying to accomplish. They’d have been the villains by default even if they didn’t deliberately portray those characters and that’s what Daniel Bryan provided. The good guy who was so good, that ANYONE looked like a villain when paired with him.

It would be patronising if I claimed I was one of those people who followed his whole career, from the indies, to the wrestling road diaries, from the vegan transition and back on to meat transition, from the wee beard to the big beard and back to the wee beard again. While I’ve retrospectively watched a lot of his pre WWE stuff and been impressed, him being one of my all time favourites comes solely from his work with WWE. He made me care about a product I had watched indifferently for years. At times being an adult and watching weekly WWE programming can be a mind numbing thing. Repeat matches on RAW and Smackdown making all the wrestling feel the same. Repeat storylines rendering The Big Show more of a giant split personality disorder in a singlet, than a pro wrestler. Daniel Bryan made it matter again. He made Wrestlemania 30 feel like one of those iconic nights in wrestling history and the fact that injury has made that moment the pinnacle of his career as opposed to it being the start of something truly amazing will forever be tinged with sadness. Criticise WWE for holding guys down all you like. To a degree a lot of it is true, but when its completely undeniable that a guy is more “over” than everyone else and has the in-ring ability to match? They will always go with that guy, and putting the title on him on the same night he beat Triple H clean was proof that they were all in. Daniel Bryan was the guy and if he stayed healthy he would STILL be that guy. Probably right in the middle of one of the best feuds in WWE history with Seth Rollins, who quietly became the perfect opponent for Daniel Bryan before his own injury saw his dreams put on hold.

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The one thing Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins have in common above all other things is that they have both broken their bodies for your entertainment. A lot of the damage done to their bodies happened before they have the platform with the WWE that they have now, which is a testament to just how dedicated they are and have always been. Seth Rollins will certainly be back and I have no doubt there’s another 5-10-15-20-30 years for him left at the top if he wants them but Daniel Bryan’s situation and Seth’s own current injury should act as a cautionary tale. Maybe the buckle bombs and all the suicide dives should be saved for the big occasions. Maybe it’s ok to ask to sit out of a few house shows now and then because your body just wont let you be the wrestler you want to be. It ok to prioritise yourself to maximise this career, because once its over, its fucking done. This is not a Terry Funk retirement, this is very real. Right now if Daniel Bryan wrestles again, there’s a chance it could lead to him never being able to walk again so as heartbreaking as it was, this is how it has to be. It doesn’t have to be this way for everyone.

It’s ok to be sad today, but that farewell speech should tell you everything you need to know about Daniel Bryan and his connection with the fans. It was never a fad. It didn’t just happen because people naturally back the underdog, it happened because Daniel Bryan is just that good. Even though we will never get to see him wrestle again, his legacy goes far beyond that and if the right role presents itself, he could easily be a guy who makes WWE programming unmissable again as a non-wrestling character. You would imagine being so close to it all would be too much for him to bear as every fibre of his being still wants to be a professional wrestler, and even if that is the case, he’ll still probably captivate us when he goes off to have a family and disappears into the woods for the rest of his days, because he was put on this earth to do just that. Thank you Daniel Bryan. For everything you gave us, but above all else, thank you for making me care again.

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