An Interview With RUDO Lightning – The Two Square Go Wins And Everything In Between

He was always supposed to be “RUDO”. Even when success came as Red Lightning , Andrew Wason always wanted to shed that name. A name he never liked to begin with. A name given to him from a time where perhaps not a huge amount of fore-thinking went into these things. He’s taken a stoat down the road less travelled to get here, but finally he is what he wants to be in wrestling.

Even if he is one of the few talented enough at other aspects of wrestling to get by without doing the actual wrestling part, he is a performer. He wants to wrestle. In February he won his second ICW Square Go a full 7 years after he won it the first time. A fairytale? Maybe. But more than that, it has been the result of a lot of hard work and an unshakeable belief that he was made to do this. He was made to be a performer and all the trials and tribulations have only led to him being hungrier for success than he ever has been. He took us back to the 2012 win first.

“I wasn’t really meant to be in that spot. Of my group of pals, Jester, Lionheart, Wolfgang, Drew etc. They were the wrestlers. I wasn’t the wrestler. That’s the story of my career I suppose. That’s what got me over. Being different. They were very interested in the in-ring stuff, and they are all fantastic at it, but I really put my focus on a different element of wrestling. That being the character side. That got me to the Square Go initially”

A lot of personal grief is tied in to that time period. Tragedy that made wrestling nothing more than an afterthought but then the Square Go win also turned it into a much needed distraction.

“It was difficult for me to process the 2012 Square Go because it all happened very quick. It was in the January. My partner and I lost a baby. She was pregnant throughout that period and then unfortunately, late on, we lost the baby. I just had to take a bit of time away really. To process that and everything that happened. If I’m honest, and Dallas said to me in the past as well… first title run served as a way to help me back in to wrestling and gave me a distraction after having suffered such a personal tragedy. That’s the circumstance that sort of led to me being the champ

That outlet became essential for both the performer and man. While he doesn’t see it as a positive period in his career in a lot of ways, and its certainly wasn’t a positive time personally, it was a period where he was the best villain in the game. Such an arsehole he drove many a dafty fan to try their luck during his title run. I personally witnessed folk square up to him more than once. Perhaps fully committing to being a villain is a wee bit easier when negative emotions are powering you every day.

“My mental health was poor throughout the first title run. I think as well, I had put what had happened in to the back of my mind. Staying busy was the most important thing. That was around the time the Oran War and Kelvin Brawl was happening so it was all go for a long time and that suited me. I suppose I was just using wrestling as an outlet back then. As a way of expressing myself. I was a different character back then. We were all in that phase of sort of shooting on each other as it were

Everything had to be based in reality. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder anyway, about life, so it was easy for me to get fully invested in that, but I took it too far sometimes. I was admittedly at times (not often) rude to people. That was just my coping mechanism for everything that happened in that time period but I regret a lot of it now”

As tragic and life affirming as losing a child must be, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. His partner falling pregnant again during the title run was a blessing and perhaps marked the start of the healing process mentally.

“Fortunately my partner actually fell pregnant again. That happened after I’d won the title. I dropped it right after my son was born because I was going away in a paternity leave type situation. My head wasn’t in the game. Because of what had happened before I was worried about there being problems again. Thankfully it was all ok. My sons 6 now and he’s very much alive *laughs” “

Anyone with a child in that age range will know exactly what Rudo meant by ‘very much alive’ but I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way. After losing the title there was a bit of a down period and at a time of rough mental health its hard to separate a natural dip after a very busy and successful spell with something more. It has taken pretty much all of that 7 year spell for Rudo to realise that his spot was always there for him. All he had to do was put forward the very best version of himself.

“As much as I love the school, and I enjoy promoting and producing shows; I didn’t get in to this business to do that. I enjoy working in the business, but I got into this to be a wrestler and until someone tells me I cant do that anymore, I’ll always do it. Until I get a bad injury or whatever Ill definitely still wrestle. Even if its on a lower scale, I do it because I love performing”

RUDO on what brought him back to in-ring competition

“I took quite a drop after I lose the belt because that was it for me in essence. After Kelvin Brawl, I was in an out a lot. The injuries had taken their toll. It was an uncertain time for me. This Square Go, we get here because, not because im the best wrestler on the show. Again it was emphasis on character that got me there. The circumstances are different. I’ve dealt with a lot of my demons”

Dealing with demons is something like a constant negotiation. They never go away fully but you can placate them. Send them on their way to other pursuits while you can get on with your life in the meantime. Learning how to deal with this and making peace with the fact that you’ll probably never eradicate them is half the battle and Rudo is set in a very healthy routine when it comes to dealing with the bad spells. Head down. Keep quiet. Let it pass.

“For me now, you need to be able to see when something is wrong or when something like that is going to happen. Personally now I just shut myself away and let it pass. That might take a few days or a couple of weeks but…it does pass

“There’s people I’ve spoken to in the past that feel mental health can affect their wrestling or training. Wrestling should be your outlet for this stuff. It gives a sense of wellbeing and something to do. Something to look forward to. If you’re having a bad time this is a good thing to do. You’ll meet like minded people”

Having dealt with these issues and later becoming a trainer, it puts Rudo in the best possible position to deal with the multitude of individuals and their issues that pass through GPWA. Indeed, he sees it as not only a way of learning how to wrestle, but a way of learning how to live. Many have come through the Asylum door and transformed themselves. Learning a skill in the process. The importance of having an outlet when your mental health wavers cannot be underestimated and Rudo went on to explain just how common these issues are in wrestling, and at the same time how wrestling is the perfect remedy for them.

“Everybody in wrestling has experienced it (mental health issues) in some way. Just because of the nature of what we do. There’s anxiety tied in. Performance anxiety. Comparing yourself to others. Its definitely something you can throw yourself in to. Even if you aren’t feeling great. It gives you a sense of achievement and for me, that can make you feel valued. It can make you see things differently and think differently”

In my personal journey I found medication didn’t really help. The thing is. I tried a few different ones. One made me worse. One did suppress the way I felt but I felt made me numb. I felt it suppressed all feelings I was having. So it was hard to get motivated. Even positive thoughts and feelings aren’t there

“I was going through the motions. Everything just becomes routine and you aren’t up or down. That maybe led to me having a lot of the issues I had in wrestling. It led to a massive weight gain as well because of the chemical changes it brings about”

There are certainly pitfalls to taking anti-depressants. Speaking from experience nothing Rudo said about them is untrue but there are more severe cases that make the drawbacks worth it. Worth it just to see some sort of order and contentment come in to your life. Weight gain has been the issue that has lingered the most since coming off medication, as well as becoming a bit more prone to injuries, as he went on to explain.

“I was always around the 12-13 stone mark and went up to about 16 when I was on them and have struggled since, so its never left me. I don’t feel even since then, even when I’ve very small bouts of depression and anxiety that I’d ever consider going back on them

I’ve always found other ways to take it away or ease it. My personal coping mechanism is just shutting the door, keeping quiet, watching a TV show, a film, reading a book or something. That sounds basic and I understand people have far more complexed issues that aren’t going to be taken away by a box set but that’s just my way

Eating is another coping mechanism and that can cause health issues. It has done for me. The anti depressants were in my opinion partly to blame for me getting injured in the first place. My body was fuckin falling apart at the time. Up to that point I was always very fit and had never been hurt then suddenly I’m here with this bad injury”

Whilst his own experience may not be one he’d be keen to repeat, Rudo was keen to drive home that every person responds differently and the effectiveness of these medications will vary based on the severity of the case but don’t just accept that its the only path you can go down if you’re suffering.

There are other ways to get a grip on it or at least attempt to do so. It was an experience while wrestling for PBW during the Belladrum Festival that led him to make the decision to come off the medication. Despite wrestling in an exciting environment well out of everyone’s comfort zone, there was no enjoyment there.

“Maybe people have good experiences on them, I’m not doubting that, but I didn’t. I feel doctors see it as an easy way out. If you’re lucky they’ll tell you some of the bad side effects but more often than not they wont. If I’d known (what side effects there could be) I’d never have taken it. I’d have found another way.

I know that’s not possible for some people. I completely understand that and as I said, I considered my own case to be quite mild in comparisant to some. I’m just speaking from a personal point of view. You’re fighting a losing battle with your feelings and you take this tablet that fucks with all your hormones

“I had massive sugar cravings and all that. Not being able to get out of bed was a big problem. We done Belladrum a few years back for the first time. Exciting situation. Wrestling at a festival. I was taking Mitrazipine at the time. Which just makes you feel like a zombie. It absolutely killed my thoughts. I couldn’t enjoy this weekend at all because of these tablets and that’s when I thought, no more”

His advice for anyone who may be going through similar struggles is a simple as it gets. If there’s something or someone in your life consistently pulling you down? Don’t put up with it. The option is always there to remove that problem. Be it a person, an activity you dread, or ever supporting Partick Thistle. The option is always there to remove the thing that’s making you miserable.

“I’m just a quiet guy. Zero drama. Aw the shite in yer life…just drap it. If there’s someone in your life causing aggro, just get fucking rid. People take that literally but if there’s somebody in your circle that has a negative effect on you. Its rude to turn round and tell them you’re removing them, but you do have the choice to interact with them less. For a very long time I just enjoyed being at home. I had my family there. I felt comfortable. Its my house. There was just no drama there. I was in control”

Another solid bit of advice, echoed by Kid Fite in a recent Facebook post on his mental health, is warning against using substances to cope. It may provide short term relief. That short term relief may be extremely effective, but it remains a very short term release. Leaving your body craving more of whatever your poison may be.

Alcohol can be the absolute worst in the sense that it is a depressant. Chucking it on top of the existing depression that courses through you on a daily basis is akin to madness. A bit like a diabetes patient cracking open a big bag of sugar and tanning it in one go. It just doesn’t make sense. There was a stage where Rudo did feel the drinking was out of control but nowadays he wisely steers clear of the demon drink. Instead he blows off steam by eviscerating folk on the mic and winning aw the Rumbles.

“I used to be out and about all the time. Drinking. At one point in my life I do feel I had a drink problem and I just stopped. If you’ve got a hangover with depression it isn’t the best mixture. There’s obviously different scales. People who are suffering more than you and I. Some people do need medication and thats fine. I felt that my case was relatively light and I felt that my doctor jumped on the medication route pretty quick. There was an option there for me to not go on them just yet and maybe it was one of those things. It might have gone a lot different for me if I didnt”

Coming off the medication didn’t happen because Rudo wanted to give everything to wrestling. It was wanting to be the absolute best father he could be that eventually led to the decision being made to come off the medication and try to find another way.

“There was a stage where I struggled to be a father. I had my step daughter and then my son was born. I didn’t feel settled in to the role of being a dad until I stopped taking that medication. Its a bad thing to say, the way its coming out, but the way that I love my kids now…I didn’t feel that way towards them back then. Because I felt I was taking something that was preventing me from feeling that way”

Rudo on his personal experience with anti depressants

Its a strange feeling when these medications fully leave your system. There’s an adjustment period where you have to get used to feeling absolutely everything again as Rudo describes.

When I came off them I felt this massive haze disappear. This clarity. Over the space of 2 years this clarity came over me. All of this kicked off when I decided I was stopping taking them. Because I felt…this is fucking with me a wee bit” It was just something that I had to do. It was a period of my life where I did what I could to function”

“If I was to give anyone any advice, it would just be that people need to be self aware. Aware of any genetic issues that might arise as well and make sure you aren’t more at risk than the average person. There may have been a history of MH and
alcoholism in my family. I had to remind myself of these things to stop going down a very dark path. When my son was born I stopped all that”

There was a time where Rudo even considered bringing his struggles with mental health in to his wrestling persona, but it became problematic. When the thing you use to escape becomes intertwined with the thing you’re trying to escape from, its no longer an escape. Why be your heavily depressed self in a thing like pro wrestling when you can be literally anything else.

“I’m relatively open about it. Back when I cut a promo about it. I was trying to turn it into something creative. I was like ‘this is how i feel right now, lets try and do something with it’ I don’t think there’s ever been a wrestling character who’s diagnosed with depression. I ended up not liking it because it was me bringing it in to my work. Weighing me down a bit and taking a bit of joy away from something that served as a good distraction”

Rudo sat opposite me for the whole 2 hours we spoke as a man who didn’t appear as someone who suffered with mental health issues for so long. That has to be inspiring to anyone out there going through this. It inspired me and is a big part of the reason I was even able to write this interview up at all. He is living proof that even if its hard and you lose that battle of wills with your own mind on occasion…YOU CAN GET BACK UP.

You can show this soul sucking devil of a thing that you are in control and regaining that control over your life can be such a freeing thing. Even if its not permanent, with every battle you win confidence grows. A feeling that even if its a real fucking slog…YOU CAN DO IT.

“There’s no better feeling than when you do get through things like that. Being able to sit and say to yourself…I’ve done this man. I’ve been able to get through to this. There’s days when you are going through it when you do want to give up and when you get better, you’re glad you didn’t”


“Between the two Square Go’s. After 2012 Square Go
everything went awry for me. That led right into quite a serious injury. 2019 is essentially me picking back up where I left off all that time ago, with a clear mind. A lot more mature and
focused”

A comeback to wrestling on shows brought about an opportunity to finally solidify a name change he had wanted to implement for a long time. As much as the name Red Lightning had name value because of what Andrew Wason achieved while using then name, it still wasn’t cool. It wasn’t really anything truth be told. Like one of they toys you pick up in the corner shop that has a hilarious replacement name for a well known cartoon character so the toy company disnae get sued to fuck. The introduction of the “RUDO” Sports and Entertainment brand after The Black Label had disbanded allowed the Rudo name to seep into people conciousness, making it easier for Red Lightning the wrestler to become Rudo for good.


“I’ve wanted to be Rudo Lightning for a long time. I told Wolfgang that 5 years ago. Thats what I wanted to go by. Its difficult to change it when you’ve used one name. The Rudo brand opened the door for it. In my mind that was the first step to transitioning in to using it. Joe (Coffey) started referring to me as Rudo. It got to the point where I realised I could go with that name full time and no one would really bat an eyelid. From a branding perspective, its much more respectable. It sums up me because it has wrestling significance. People get it”

Despite all the success as “Red Lightning” its not a name he has any affinity for even in retrospect. Its always been daft and now its gone. It has gone the same way as all the personal demons. Right on the scrap heap. A new dawn. A new day. A new life. And he’s feeling good.

“Red Lightning was always a stupid name. It was just one of they things that stuck. I’ve never liked it. It was embarassing. There was a point I was gonnae drop the Lightning and just be Red, but it never happened. I wanted something more marketable. It was embarrassing to tell people. Like workmates or people not involved in wrestling, they as what you’re wrestling name is and you tell them Red Lightning. They go “whit? it sounds like an energy drink” *laughs*

It would have probably been easier to ease into and accept the name if it was ever his own idea but being given the name removed any kind of attachment to it. Maybe a good thing when it comes to fully committing to something else.

“It wasn’t my idea either. I was just given it by a promoter and it stuck. Suddenly its 5 years later, then its 10-15 years later and its stuck. WWE or anyone else are never going to call you that or take you seriously with that name

“Take Wolfgang for example. That’s instantly a wrestling name. Its not beyond the realm of possibility that this guy is called Wolfgang. Lionheart is another one that has significance. Jack Jester stands out. At least if I went with Rudo and become known as that, it means something”

Every wrestler is influenced by someone. You have to be. If you aren’t you’ll probably be pretty shite at it. Rudo has always stood out for a variety of reasons but when you strip it back and hear the various influences that have combined to make the Rudo we see today, it makes a bit more sense. Maybe having influences that are at opposite ends of the scale is the key to making it work. The strongest of those influences being World Of Sport mainstay, Rollerball Rocco.

“The man who trained was Spinner Mckenzie. He was part of WoS at the time Rollerball Rocco was arounf. Didn’t do TV that much, but he was on the circuit. Spinner came to our school one day. He had a website called British Wrestling Database and came under the guise of a reporter but really he was there to check the school out. Over the next few weeks I started to learn a bit more about him. Eventually he became our trainer”

Spinner Mckenzie was right into that style and opened our eyes to it. Everyone has their own influences. There’s people influenced by, Stone Cold, Eddie Guerrero, Bret Hart etc. Its hard to get people out of that way of thinking. When we were all young guys at 16 years old, I think I was the first of our group to open my eyes to the wider scale of wrestling. That there was more out there. Everyone else was very influenced by current wrestling.

rudo on being introduced to the world of sport style

This was a time where it wasn’t as easy as a quick Youtube search to find out what to expect for a performer. Rudo went on a fact finding mission to consume as much Rollerball Rocco as he could. Sourcing DVDs that sparked a childhood memory.

I went online and managed to find some DVDs of his work. Around 2004-2005. I put it on and I recognised him right away. The gear, the moustache, the whole look. I thought I’d seen this guy before. It turned out he was one of my granda’s favourites. I was too young for it at the time, but he watched re-runs and stuff like that and at some point ive seen this guy on the telly and hes seeped into my consciousness”

That was it. The vision was there. If everyone else is doing it a certain way, what better way is there to stand out than by going about your work completely differently.

“So when I seen him it sparked me and I just started watching it. I thought the landscape of wrestling as it is now, everyone’s watching the likes of ROH and everyone’s influenced by them. Then you had the WWE guys who were influenced by that. There was nobody doing this British stuff or next to no one anyway”

“I committed myself to coming up with a style. Very influenced by Johnny Saint and Rocco. They way he moved, his subtle mannerisms. I just thought….I could be a modern version of this guy. I’m not saying I’m just like him, because I’m not, but the character. That’s what it is. It has steaks of that and i just thought, I need to stick to that”

“NXT UK is British Wrestling presented as such. For me its something that I’ve always wanted to do. The ICW Title run took me away from that sort of style, but sometimes I need to remind myself of what I am, what I want to do, and what I want to be. Its never changed. I’ve been distracted at times, but its never changed. I’ve always had a very clear vision of what I want to be and how my character should be”

RUDO on the vision for his character

Rollerball Rocco may influence the gear and his era may have shaped Rudo’s wrestling style but the attitude and constant aversion to having any kind of decent relationship with his boss is all Stone Cold. Their dynamic has always pitted Rudo as the baddie of the dynamic but the current storyline which led to Rudo winning the Square Go this year is very much a throwback to the days of Austin being right in the face of his arsehole boss attempting to deny him of things he and the fans feel he deserves.


“At the moment I’m sort of fine tuning and honing the character. Someone was going to get in Dallas’ face that night and I don’t think anyone for a second thought it would be me…until it happened. Then it made all the sense. Tapping in to your inner Stone Cold is another thing. Stone Cold is someone I’ve watched a lot. As a wrestler he has had an influence on my wrestling and the way I carry myself. So more that meshed with Rollerball Rocco.

I had a 4 or 5 year gap where I wasn’t able to develop that character and I feel if I had those years I’d be in a lot better of a position now. After that a lot of people started doing that style, whereas back then that was the thing that made me stand out”

His peers may not think he needs to, but there’s a hunger in Rudo to grow and improve even at the ripe old age of 32.

“Everybody’s trying to stand out. I was having a chat with Kay Lee Ray recently. Even now, I was saying to her I want to do more. I want more. And she was like ‘naw..this is your thing, this is you, you don’t need to do all that other stuff’ and I see her point but I’m always hungry for more”

He feels he’s become a better overall performer due to his in-ring absence. Constantly in some kind of verbal duel with someone, most often his arch nemesis Mark Dallas. As good as Rudo was on the mic before his extended spell away from in-ring action, there’s no doubt he absolutely mastered the art of holding a crowd in the palm of his hand during his time as the leader of various enterprises with designs on taking over ICW. The Black Label in particular was an era where Rudo and his two best pals garnered some of the burniest heat you’ll ever see in a wrestling ring.

“Strangely. I don’t know how this is possible. I’ve managed to become a better performer without wrestling over the past 5 years. Developing a better understanding and being able to look at things from a different angle. I’m just a bit more sure of myself and my abilities than I was before”

“Shugs in 2015 when The Black Label was formed was when it really became a full time gig again. That was me just taking this one wee tiny role and making the absolute most of it. My mentality was that I had to make this work. This is my only chance to put all of this right. I had to throw myself completely into it and at that time I was happy not to be wrestling. I was more comfortable doing the mic stuff. Eventually I did wrestle when I was able but I did get injured again. But…I feel like that was success for me. Taking that role as Spacebaws GM and turning it into something special with The Black Label”

The Black Label was definitely a career defining era for all three of the men involved. All three speak about it with great fondness for a time where things were a bit mental. They were truly hated and they got to be hated as a unit.

“Black Label was a brilliant time in my career. I loved being able to go out there with my two pals. Guys I started out with and make folk absolutely raging *laughs* GPWA has been fantastic and I’m glad we started it. But I’m a performer. That’s what I do. I perform. And over the past few years ive no been able to do that to the extent that I wanted. I’ve always wanted to wrestle but just didn’t feel able to do it to the best of my ability until recently. A lot of the guys were like ‘why are you daein this? you don’t need to do this?’ because I’m good on the mic and stuff, but this is what I want to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do”

I remembered Dallas coming past and I just heard him go “Red, You’re on fire just now” That was the first time I thought, I was doing well in this role. Even though I wasn’t wrestling I was working as hard as anyone else on the show. I had to apply myself to a completely different character. A completely different role. That turned out to be the thing I’m most known for or most remembered for amongst Scottish wrestling fans

Rudo on his time away from the ring as an on screen authority figure/leader of the rebels

From relative obscurity, to closing the show in front of 4,000 at the SECC as Mick Foley intercepted Rudo’s attempts to steer the main event in Drew Galloways’s direction. It was an amazing turnaround and proof that if you keep working at it, the results will come.

He also led The Black Label out for their match for control of ICW in front of over 6,000 at The Hydro and as much as he’d have loved to be able to wrestle on those shows, to be so integral to the story that you’re involved in vital moments anyway is proof of how impactful that character was. He described a calm coming over him ahead of the SECC show. Assurance that he was absolutely capable of what he needed to do and he was going to knock it out the park.

“Of course the SECC was huge. All the boys were nervous. Yet I found myself feeling relaxed. I had a big moment in the show with the promo at the start and Foley interrupting but I was so confident. I knew what I was doing and there was no way it was going to go wrong. To get that opportunity was amazing though, going from not being involved in the company to 4000 people booing you in the SECC. Its mental. I was very proud of that. Then of course a year later its another huge crowd at The Hydro and I’m involved again, leading The Black Label out

Getting to work closely with a good friend who for a lot of years he scarcely got to see in the flesh was another huge positive during The Black Label run. They may have started at the same time but Rudo credits Drew Galloway’s influence during his ICW run as another factor that made him a better performer.

“When I started interacting with Drew more that was a big deal to me. We are friends, but I cant say we’re close because of how far apart we are. We don’t get a lot of chances to speak. It was good to share that time with him. He came back. I said bye to him in 2007 and id hardly heard from him. He’s a busy guy. All of a sudden 7 years later he’s back and involved again”


“The next year we’re told you, Jester and Drew are going to be a faction and we were all buzzing about it. It was great to get to work together. I learned a lot from Drew, working with him was such a huge thing. Always being by his side at shows, in the ring, we all bounced ideas off each other. He valued my opinion. I was able to learn from him and he was happy to give me advice at that time.

“Even though I wasn’t wrestling then it definitely helped shape me into a better wrestler. Working with Damo helped a lot as well. He was always someone who supported me and pushed me on”

ICW isn’t the only place Rudo has made an impact during this current run. It’s not even the only place he’s won an over the top rope battle royal in this calendar year. Winning Wrestlezone’s Regal Rumble event and securing a place in the main event of their biggest show of the year, a regular 1,000+ sell out called Aberdeen Anarchy.

“I’ve kept contact with them for a long time. They reached out to me and said we’d like you to wrestle Damien at Aberdeen Anarchy. I was right up for it because it was an opportunity for me to go into a company and be trusted to main event their biggest show, against their champion. Regarding The Regal Rumble, the story changed on the day. I wasn’t meant to win it but they decided to have me win and cash it in that night and have Damien chasing me leading to Aberdeen Anarchy”

Winning the title in as close as you can get to foreign land in his own country was a surreal experience for Rudo. A bad guy from Maryhill coming in and scooping up all the big prizes in one night. You could see the logic behind it but it took a bit of hype work from Rudo on social media to drum up some heat. Having the unenviable task of having to follow Pac (formerly Neville in WWE) and a cage match, they had to craft a story in a month that had the fans buzzing at the prospect of Damien taking the title back.

“It went online that I had won the belt and it got a bit of buzz. The thing about going up there is that it is a different scene. The people who go to these shows dont watch ICW. Some do, but most dont. Most dont have a clue who I am. I win the Regal Rumble. I’ve got 28 days to get a bit of heat before anarchy”

“They had no idea it would get the reaction it did. When I won they could hear a pin drop. From then on I get on the mic and we build a story from well. That was good for me though. They thought that it was a better idea for Damien to be chasing going in to the big one. I think it probably did give them a wee bit of a buzz from our neck of the woods. Getting people talking about it. I’m trying to get it over and carry the flag of that company for a month”

From Red Lightning to Rudo Lightning

Rudo’s insistence on being referred to as Rudo is partly wanting that name to become synonymous with him, but its also partly to do with being seen as someone different. Red Lightning was a talent but had his moments where he maybe wasn’t the easiest to work with. Rudo is the opposite. A performer, a promoter, and someone with a mind for wrestling that few can match.

“That was one of my main things when I came back. I wanted to be an asset for any company that I work for. I want to be able to come in to a company and be able to promote their shows. Utilising my social media and being able to help them. Going in to companies, putting on a good show, and just generally being professional”

“Thats a bi-product of being not the best in 12-13. At times I was unprofessional so now I take pride in being the opposite of that. Taking my work seriously and being very professional”

The addition of Kay Lee Ray and Stevie Boy to the coaching team and Rudo admittedly not being the “wrestler” of the group has led to him assuming more of an all consuming role with the company as opposed to personally teaching a lot of classes. He has found his feet as a promoter as well. Utilising social media will to get word out there about upcoming shows and news regarding the school. A jack of all trades, and a master of …well quite a lot of them actually.

“We’re all at the point where we can still wrestle. The opportunity is there if we so wish, to wrestle on these shows. I don’t class myself as a coach anymore. I still give a lot of mentorship to the trainees but my job here really is more the day to day stuff with the asylum and shows. I dont do a lot of teaching classes anymore. I do on occasion but i admit its not where my strength lies. I’m good at advice and good at helping the guys on show day. That’s when I’m at my most useful”

Its not just GPWA students who can come to Rudo for advice. You’d be daft not to tap in to the wealth of knowledge that exists across Scottish wrestling even if you are committed to one particular school.

“I always like to help people that no matter where they come from. Recently Sammi Jayne introduced me to Ashley Vega and Angel Hayze. It was a bit me giving advice on what they’d been doing but also for me to see if they could help out on our shows. I regularly do that for our guys and its something I enjoy. I’d never shoo someone away if they want my advice”

“It would be nice to be able to sit down with everyone once a month and tell them, this is what you need to do, this is what you need to change, but the fact of the matter is, we arent a full time business. We are all very busy. But if anybody asks, they will never be ignored or turned away”

“Our main program has about 45 in it, then we have 20 starting their 8 week induction, and another beginners class that has about 20. There’s about 80 odd people coming in here a week, across different days. The main class you’ll find the people who are really serious about doing it full time. That’s where they really improve. Getting taught by the best wrestlers Scotland has to offer”

Rudo was keen to point out the upside to training with GPWA without disrespecting other schools who have produced some of the best talent on the scene today. GPWA just offers a different way of doing things. First class trainers on hand, all with their own unique set of skills paired with glowing CV’s.


“Its the value for money. You’re being taught by the best in their respective fields. Wolfgang was at Mania on a Sunday, and he was in here on Tuesday training people. Lionheart is the ICW Champion. Kay Lee and Stevie started a bit later than us and have a different perspective. Both wildly successful in their own right as well”

“Lionheart and Jester are also in the public eye right now because of Rogue To Wrestler. I’m always wary of things like Rogue to Wrestler but it turned out to be a really good show. It was a genuine representation of how the school operates. We came across really well”

GPWA caught peoples attention because the concept was something completely new. Trainees started with an 8 week long induction course and the trainers would assess after the 8 weeks if it was in everyone’s best interest to continue training. A model that has been replicated in many places elsewhere since.

“The intake classes are for people who aren’t really sure. They want to give it a bash but aren’t sure how far they want to take it. If they’re not into it, or they’re not up to the standard required, they can leave without committing to it if they want. People surprise themselves. Others see its not what they thought and stop”

“The intake’s different now in terms of how we assess the new trainees but the setup is the same. We’ve got Ravie Davie, Leyton Buzzard, Kez Evans, The Purge, Sam Barbour etc. They all came through this setup. They had never wrestled before. Came right through the program and are doing great things now. That’s the thing we were missing. Success stories. People with name value who have come from our school. We have that now.

We had a good facility, good coaching team, but there’s no assurance that these 5 great wrestlers are going to be good coaches. I feel we’ve developed a lot as coaches and as people over the last 5 years. We can now say this program works. Our training system works. Theres schools all over (ger, eng) using this system, including America. We’ve had American guys in here to take seminars and I think we’ve influenced how they conducted their business when they went back to America”

A sense of entitlement from trainees is not something tolerated amongst the coaches. The philosophy is simple. If you work hard, listen and really want to make something of this, you can. Moaning about not getting what you feel you’re due gets you nowhere and that mentality seems to have came from a group of wrestlers who made something of this scene when it didn’t really exist.

“There was ups and downs with a lot of the guys and it goes back to what my strength might be. I can scan a room and get a feel for who might have a future in wrestling. If I say to one of the boys about slacking off, and things they need to watch. That’s the stuff I’m good at. Making sure people are conducting themselves properly in wrestling”

Eat yer greens, practice yer arm drags and dae yer squats or Operation Rudowolf is gonnae EAT ye!

“Young wrestlers and trainee wrestlers think you make the transition from trainee to wrestler overnight. Its never as simple as that. Especially in this day and age where so many are looking to impress. There’s nothing to gain from moaning about not getting opportunities. You have to go out and earn them”

There are opportunities in house for the trainees, with the more established ones being used regularly on the Wrestling Experience Scotland shows that Rudo and the school run, but there is also regular £5 wrestling shows at The Asylum showcasing the best up and comers the school has to offer as well. If you’re good enough the work is there.

“Everybody has the chance to develop but you should always be training. If you’re at a point where you aren’t working every weekend, you have to keep at it. Back in 2008 and 2009, I’d have loved for us to have a place like this. If we had a place like this we’d have all developed at a faster pace. Occasionally established wrestlers will train here.

“WEEEELLLLL… ITS A BIG SCHOOL. ITS A BIG SCHOOL CALLED THE ASYLUM

“We offer them the 5 pound wrestling shows but theres so many wrestlers here now its hard to even get on those shows. Its a competitive environment. Different schools offer different ways of training and some people are better suited to a more regimented program like Source, or maybe a bit more relaxed like the way PBW do it. Where its not so heavily structured”

At this point Jack Jester entered the room we were conducting the interview in and started scrannin a smoked sausage out the packet. An example of the type of dedication you’ll get from the trainers at GPWA. That man has his protein on the go so he could help train the newbies. Dedication.

“Its important to engage with new trainees and see who could struggle. They might need a bit more attention. You need to make sure that they’re comfortable with anything you’re asking them to do

When we got into the storied history of Rudo and Grado, there was a sense of pride about that particular element of his career. Being able to help get eyes on the product by being the best possible counterpart to the guy who has the attention of not just casual wrestling fans, but your everyday punter. Grado has worked with the best villains wrestling has to offer but Rudo is right up there with the best of them.

“When it comes to Grado, a lot of people take credit for his success, but Grado is the reason Grado has been a success. He developed a character and stuck to his guns and it got over with the crowd. Its hard not to admire that. I think at that point in time, leading in to that show, and probably for about a year following that, you know, he was the top face, I was the top heel, and we done a lot of business everywhere. BCW, PBW, Pavillion, Oran War…etc”


“What happened in Kelvin Brawl. Shit happened to me without me meaning it. The character aspect of what i was doing caught Rab and Greg. It wasnt supposed to be me in that match. I wasn’t meant to be in it. Because I was getting such a big reaction online, they changed it”

The Kelvin Brawl was a 1,000+ sellout at a time where that wasn’t commonplace. Being in the main event, tagging with a Scottish comedy legend in Greg Hemphill is not a feat to be sniffed at. Especially when it was Grado teaming with Rab Florence who would provide the opponents. After all, Rudo was Grado’s counterpoint at that time. The ying to his yang. The wank to his good guy.

“Who else would it be? Its back to Grado and me again. We bounced off one and other quite well and always had good chemistry I felt. We had a match in Aberdeen and I didn’t think it was that good, but it was more just the fact, at the time, it was more of a favour from my perspective. I was using it as a way of trying to ease myself back in to wrestling slowly so that wasnt us at our best but we’ve had some really good matches”

None better than that first match. Super Smokin Thunderbowl in 2012 had Rudo vs Grado as the first half main event for the ICW Title. Grado was red hot at the time, capturing the audiences imagination before they really knew what he could do in the ring with a series of hilarious youtube videos. That match was the perfect introduction and to make it work it needed a great villain. Grado overcame the odds Andy Ruiz Jr style and won the title, leading to wild celebrations. As if the big man had just skelped one in the top corner to win Scotland the World Cup as opposed to winning a wrestling title in The Garage.

It felt special. He was one of them. Rudo is most certainly not one of them and took great pleasure in ordering the match to be re-started later in the night due to a refereeing error. Rudo won the re-started match, and Grado’s moment of glory was erased from history. It was a story that gripped me as a first time fan. You felt Grado’s pain and wanted to see how he’d bounce back. You wanted him to win. To evoke that kind of feeling takes more than just a charismatic good guy. He needed a villain.

“What was special about the first one although Grado had experience, he was still kinda new. It was one of the first times Grado the character had wrestled. I remember after that going to Dallas and saying, we need to do this. We need to have this match. There is no other option. This needs to happen. It would have been mental for them not to go with it. I think that match, and i’m not taking personal credit for anything, but its hard to ignore the fact that match, set off a lot of fireworks around Britain. For various things”

Various things including the documentaries that brought ICW into sharp focus in the public eye. Most would consider Insane Fight Club to be the starting point for it all, but the documentary made by Vice around the time of that first match was the first time we got to see the people behind these characters. The documentary was initially intended to be a bit of a piss-take but they soon realised ICW was nae joke. There was a hint of regret about Rudo when discussing these documentaries, as he chatted about the possibility of him being involved in the first Insane Fight Club.

“The British Wrestler was a good documentary. It was very well made. Being able to pull the drama out that much and put it into a documentary. It was fascinating. For me that led to several other things happening. Rab and Greg came in. Gave us a bit of a rub. I personally think between The British Wrestler and Oran War/Kelvin Brawl was probably the catalyst for Insane Fight Club. Which of course led to the revival of British Wrestling”

His reasons for not wanting to be involved in the first Insane Fight Club documentary are understandable but in hindsight something that is tinged with a bit of regret. Uneasiness at how it might turn out seems silly now that the crew who were involved have been involved in pretty much all the documentaries ICW have produced and are well known amongst the roster but there’s always the future and clearly Rudo has a story worth telling.

“I felt uncomfortable with not knowing how it might turn out. I regret it not because I might have been popular because of it. I regret it because my son will never get to watch that back and see that. So I regret that for that reason”

“Some of the crew that were involved with that were involved with Rogue To Wrestler as well so we have a good relationship with them now. Even when the second one happened I wasn’t around”


“It was just bad timing. It was a shame for my body of work up until that point having been the big villain on the show, or being the champion, but everything big happening I missed. With the Black Label and being the GM and the owner. I was only ever in Glasgow. I never went on the road
other than the very last tour and you’re left thinking ‘why wasnt I doing this the whole time”

That seems to be the only lingering regret though. This run has felt almost cathartic for Rudo and he seems to be enjoying his work more than ever before. The 2019 Square Go briefcase is in his weaponry and he goes in to the Shug’s weekender and integral part of the team. An appearence at Grado’s Big Family Bash at The Pavillion was another highlight as he took on Adam Maxted in front of over 1,000 fans. Finding contentment on a personal level as a dedicated family man has tied in nicely with Rudo returning to doing the thing he loves. His story is proof that you can overcome anything and be whatever you want to be.

“That was success to me. To have completely flipped that. From being a week away from leaving the business, to the point we’ve come to now. I shared it on my FB recently because the post came up. It was me basically saying my time is coming to an end in the business. I really felt that was the case at the time”

“Having overcome such a huge tragedy personally and going on to achieve what we have achieved. We now have a family. My partner attained a qualification is now working in that field. I’ve come back to wrestling and done good things. Its the kind of thing that people might feel inspired by. People would think they’d have never known that. People might have things like that eating them up and they feel like they can never get over it, but they can. You can overcome personal tragedy and thrive after the fact”

Thrive is indeed what Rudo has done. He is living proof that you can go from rock bottom all the way to the top again. He went from a week away from retirement to re-inventing himself and he now stands before you the 2019 Square Go winner. If he can overcome his demons, so can you.

Thank you to Rudo for his time and honesty. Thank you to David J Wilson for helping me get photos together. Also to Brian Battensby for the Wrestlezone pics. Thank you to anyone elses photos I may have used as well. If I’ve no credited you give me a shout.

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An Interview With Jack Jester Part Two – Battles With Drew, No Kinky No Party and The Black Label B*****d

Jester

READ PART ONE HERE. ITS REALLY GOOD

After 8 or 9 graft ridden months as ICW Champion all of a sudden the opportunity of a lifetime was placed in front of Jester. Maybe even TWO opportunities of a lifetime, with the impossible choice of having to pick just one of them. Either make up for time lost and spend as much time with his recently released WWE superstar best pal Drew Galloway as possible after years of scarcely seeing him more than twice a year, OR pretend you hate the big beautiful bastard to the point that not only the people watching believe it, YOU actually believe it. Selling out one of Glasgow’s most iconic venues in the process as you go on to share a career defining achievement and match with a pal who wasn’t going to feel like a pal for a while.

“I knew he was coming back but the majority didn’t. It’s hard to keep a secret these days with the internet etc. This has always kinda happened with me and Drew, we’ve been mates since we started training. I moved to Ayr and we were best mates, then suddenly he gets signed so you go from that to seeing him twice a year when he’s over for tours. So this was really the first opportunity we’d had in years to really be pals again, but we couldn’t. He arrived home a week before the show and hid out in his house, because all it would have taken was for one person to see him in Ayr and connect the dots that he was coming to ICW. So he came in the back door and he was kept downstairs because we wanted it to be a legit shock. Renfrew hits out with the “you’ve got no friends left” line, lights go down, lights come back on, there he is. They still didn’t react until his hood came down and even then they can’t believe it. Why is it allowed? Isn’t there the 90 day no compete clause? Then the earth shattering genuine reaction came. People bursting into tears and all that. It was massive. Anytime a moment like that happens and it’s so massive for the company its hard to take it all in. To see Drew standing there with that fire in his eyes with that reaction along with it. It was amazing.”

Even if your friend is living the dream, if it turns into a nightmare for them personally it must be difficult to see. Drew knew he had so much more in him than the bits and pieces he was being allowed to display in WWE and his release was more of a relief than a letdown. An opportunity to make memories and show them why they signed him in the first place. The perfect person to work with was of course the current ICW Champion. The guy who had been at the top end of the company for the better part of a year and the guy who also happened to be that same best pal who had been in your corner all these years.

DREWJEST

“I knew Drew hadn’t been happy for years and I was always kinda his conscience in that respect. Reminding him that as bad as he felt about his spot that he was still earning good money and getting to be a full-time pro wrestler with the biggest company in the world. I know you’re hating doing what you’re doing, but you’re at RAW tonight, while we’re doing the same thing but in community centres and all that. I wasn’t trying to make him feel shite about not appreciating it, it was more to try to perk him up and make him realise that as bad as he felt, he was still in a great position. So to see him come back the way he did, and the way he was standing there. With that intensity. He cared. It poured out of him”

drewAs much of a heart racing, blood pumper of a moment that undoubtedly was, after the better part of the year leading the company as a fan favourite, Jester found himself on the sare end of people just being plain mesmerised by seeing Drew at all. So mesmerised they paid little attention to their stricken champion. Who had just wrestled a top quality talent in Martin Stone, before taking a doing from the NAK as Chris Renfrew attempted to cash in his Square Go briefcase, before the third and final absolute sickener. His returning best pal who saved him from being a lamb to the slaughter as Renfrew waltzed to the ICW Title, immediately turned on him and left him in no doubt as to why he wanted the ICW Title to remain with Jack Jester. Drew wanted to take it for himself. He was willing to break a guy who had once considered a brother to make the impact he needed to make on the wrestling world. It was pain that Jester used to fuel the pair of them on the road to what was at the time the biggest match in Scottish wrestling history.

“That show bothered me for a long time, I’ll no lie, when he came back and then he turned on me and tossed me off the stage through the table, they were still chanting for him. I remember lying there and feeling hurt. It sent me into a bit of a headspin and I was gutted that they didn’t really seem to care. Just pure self-pity. That’s all it was. I know now they were reacting to Drew and still taken aback by the fact he was there at all, but honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened. Then we had to make them hate him. We built it from there. It had to feel real. Me and Drew weren’t pals for that period. We didn’t see each other. The only thing I said to him was, until this payoff happens, you can’t be my pal. I need you to upset, and vice versa. If I don’t believe in it? How are you supposed to get the fans to believe in it? It had to look as real as possible. We’ll be pals after but until then we cant be.”

“He was constantly doing things to upset me, I was doing the same, we were never telling each other what we were going to say, then we done the angle in the pub, where he was doing the speaking thing was Billy (Kirkwood)and I showed up. He says any other questions and I think I mentioned his Dad, and he just flipped. I fell and cut and my heid open. Dallas flipped over the table and cut his arse on a glass *laughs* and in the end he’s raging, standing over me going “I know where you live! I’m gonnae fuckin stab you!” I was like…thats not Drew. That’s not the kind of person he is. I’m outside kicking off with Dallas. You know why you’re doing it but we were so caught up in it at that time it felt real. ”

JestDrewwww

The major string to the bow that came from the whole emotionally draining affair was the fact that when it was all said and done, two best pals could look back with fondness on that time they sold out The Barrowlands as the ONLY match announced for a fucking pro wrestling show run by a Glasgow based company. Unthinkable just a few short years earlier. A motivated Drew Galloway helped the company go to the next level and that feud was something special.  Having a figurehead like Drew made everyone involved with the company up their game, and considering the fact that their game was already wielding 1000+ crowds and notoriety, the only thing to do was go bigger. There’s no doubt that Barrowlands match was a pivotal point in that growth as Jester had the title ripped from his grasp in front of a red-hot crowd. A landmark moment in ICW and British wrestling in general and a moment that meant a lot to Jester in particular because without The Barrowlands, he might not exist at all.

“Selling out the Barrowlands is a career highlight. An absolute dream. My granny and Granda met there. I remember them telling me stories about it. My granda telling me they couldn’t afford hair gel, so he would put margarine in his hair. All the guys would be combing their hair in front of the lassies, then you’d flick your comb to get all the margarine off it into the gutter. There was a guy who used to play clarinet and everyone used to get up and dance. There would be a point in the night where everything would stop and a few folk would get brought up on to the stage, and there was all these wee doors, and you’d pick a number and whatever was behind that door you’d get to keep. Stuff like tickets for things, silverwear and china sets. Stuff like that. My granny choose a number and it was a toilet roll *laughs*. That’s in the Peoples Palace funnily enough now, the thing with the doors. So without that venue, they would never have met, and I’d never be here.”

JesDrew3

“Now we’re in the same hall wrestling. I let it get to me. As far as ICW running it goes, that’s a Glasgow institution. The Barrowlands is. There isn’t another venue more Glaswegian. The people who have performed there. Bowie etc. Its like nothing else. Even if you go down to where ICW’s merch stand is, and you got to cloakrooms and its all individual coat hooks. Even the toilets, it’s the same ceramic urinals and that’s all cracked and smells ah pish *laughs* Up stairs you’ve got a pasting table at the side where you can get cans of lager. I don’t think there’s any need for them to be selling cans at a pasting table really but that’s what the Barrowlands is. That’s the way people like it. It’s the wan place in the world you don’t want a cold beer.”

The venue sold out well in advance before anything other than Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway was announced. That’s how much it meant. At that time, there was nothing bigger in British wrestling and they told a story that few other duo’s in the UK could replicate. Less a wrestling feud, more two brothers having a stoater of a fall out. Proper chucking auld pool cues and fitba boots at him type of stuff. There was only one way to resolve it, and that was in front of 1,200 sweaty Glaswegians in Glasgow’s most iconic venue.

“I’ll never forget Duncan messaging me and asking me “how does it feel to have sold out the Barrowlands. Only me and Drews match was announced and we’d sold out a month in advance. If you ask Drew, at the time he called it his greatest achievement. This is someone who’d done Wrestlemania, but personally that topped it. Coming back to the company after all that time and achieving something with his best pal in a venue that meant so much. I remember travelling there that day and the emotion of the day just getting the better of me. A song came on and I honestly felt like I was going to burst into tears. It was a mixture of everything.”jeDrew

“Even at that, we didn’t do the big plan for the match, because I couldn’t look at him. We’d gone too far at that point. We had no interest in helping each other. Drew’s dad was in the crowd, my parents were in the crowd. Drew had recently lost his mum as well. When it was all over and I went back, I just said to him ‘this is your time’ and I know wrestling is this “fake sport” but nothing’s ever felt more real and it was just great, because after that match…I had my pal back. It was all over. It took a referee counting to three and it was just gone man. The cloud had lifted. It’s a hard thing to do now. It takes a while to build and take a certain amount of commitment to what you’re doing and where you want it to go. Its a thing folk aren’t prepared to do anymore most of the time”

It was a case of everyone being in the right place at the exact right time to make something work. No matter what sacrifices those involved had to make to create something brilliant, they were willing. They were even willing to harbour genuine resentment for each other just to add weight to the experience for people watching. Genuine emotion is what makes wrestling what it is, without it it’s just guys in spandex kidding on they’ve got sore legs. It needs to make you care and that particular feud not only drew you in, it made you pick a side. It mattered.

“What I would say to anyone who’s presented with a situation like me and him were then. When the stars align and its all just right. Give it everything. Drain every single thing you can out of it. As much as I had to hate my pal to get there, me and him will always share that. We can always talk about it and look back on it”

JestDrewwww3

Once it was all said and done, not only did Lee Greig have his best pal back, Jack Jester had the real Drew Galloway back. An animal that the wrestling world had got used to living in the shadows. In truth, when he was released no one really knew just how good Drew could be. He had spent so long creatively unfulfilled in WWE but never completely on the shelf. Gaining experience working on TV and working in front of huge audiences that he transferred on to the independent scene when he re-invented himself over the course of a storming 3-4 year period. A period that saw ICW go from strength to strength with their feud acting as a launchpad for so many other things.

“Having Drew back, and he’d lived this life that everyone wanted. When Drew got signed that was still a time where it was unimaginable. WWE changed him. There was a point where it wasn’t for the good either, because he was so uptight and paranoid. It always used to dishearten me because it just didn’t look like he was enjoying anything he did anymore. He was scared of everything. In his head everybody was a threat, everybody was a danger, but then when he came back after 7-8 years and suddenly he has free rein again. He was unleashed and he had that fire again. He could be creative. Folk were blown away because if you didn’t know Drew beforehand you didn’t know he had this in him, and there’s very little chance you would have because the scene here wasn’t anything before he got signed. So he came back and they seen him doing all this stuff and they’re thinking “fuck, this guys great” stuff that he wasn’t necessarily allowed to do on TV, but he can do it all now. ”

JestDrew

“It was good to come full circle and have Drew’s starting point and ending point in ICW. Going back to the hardcore stuff, I’d been asked to barbed wire rope matches for years and I’d never said yes. It just never suited any situation I’ve been in. There had never been a company that’s had enough build for it to work and it’s not the type of match I’d take on for the sake of it. If I was going to do it for anyone it would always have to be ICW, but it had to be right. There was no better situation to do it than that situation with Drew. Dallas doesn’t often ask us to do things. It’s always us that go to him. In this case he actually did ask me to do it, so I asked him what Drew thought. He told me Drew was keen but you were obviously going to have to figure out how its done. If this wasn’t the time to do it when is? I hadn’t been doing stuff like this for a long time.”

drewjest

They steered it towards trying to bring the devil back out in Jester, Drew continually winding him up and waiting for the perfect opportunity to get his revenge. The fact that Drew’s ICW return ended with him betraying Jack Jester and his final match was him trying to get revenge on Jester for doing the same thing is storytelling at its finest. At no point in the whole affair were they not friends, yet it felt like they proper despised one and other. It felt like Drew Galloway wanted to kill Jack Jester during that barbed wire ropes match and vice versa. Brothers fight, but they always make up in the end. Even if they’re both bleeding profusely and some of them’s picking bits of barbed wire out his arse.

“When you’re out of that mindset its hard to get back into it again so we worked that angle. Brought that side of me back out. That day? I’m not usually a nervous person but I was so nervous. I think just the importance of it and the fact that I’d waited so long to do a match like this. I wondered how it could be done without it being a disappointment to people. That was hard enough to do with a guy who had free rein, but we had to somehow get it over without getting Drew hurt before he went back to WWE. We had to do in a way where it wasn’t blatantly obvious that Drew was being protected and I didn’t want it to be just a procession of me being through different things for the crowd reactions. People had to believe, even if they knew in their mind it wasn’t going to happen, that something could have happened to Drew”

The biggest problem the match had is making people believe situations Drew found himself in COULD lead to him being seriously hurt, even if you knew deep down due to his re-signing with WWE its was extremely unlikely he would be. They had to make that audience believe they could see The Chosen One fly arse first through a flaming barbed wire board with live sharks waiting underneath. Jester recalls of a similar situation during his hero Mick Foley’s retirement match, when he couldn’t understand why the crowd weren’t reacting to him kicking out of big moves early. They knew that wasn’t it. It couldn’t be.

jeDrew

“When Cactus wrestled Triple H in the cell he found it a struggle for a while because they weren’t reacting to him kicking out of heavy stuff early on. Then someone said to him down the line, this is a massive match, a retirement match, the fans KNOW you’re not going to lose in the first 5 minutes. They know you’re going to kick out. So it was a similar process. There was a few things I suggested that Drew was unsure about, not really wanting me to put myself through that, but I just felt like I didn’t really have a choice. I had to do something. He was worried about me being safe and all that but my point was, that wasn’t the goal for that match. It needed to be dangerous. People needed to believe I was in danger. It needs to be scary. So I was taking some serious stuff. The superplex from the rope to the floor. Powerbomb through the table. I was really tied up a few times as well. It went back and forth a few times through the day, wondering if I should have tweaked the match and taken certain bits out but I knew if I did do that I’d have been angry at myself. We had to make folk care about it while working in the parameters of what we were able to do. I felt the build was done really well. Everything I wanted to go in to it did. We set the scene for it really well in the build up (dimming the lights before Drew’s video packages etc) can we get a constant noise on the go. Not music, but something that gets a bit of an atmosphere going while the ring’s getting set up. I wanted it to be a spectacle. ”

A spectacle it indeed was, and it was one that left Jester with a few new scars but ones he undoubtedly wears with pride. If you’re going to permanently mark your body because of pro wrestling, make the marks matter. Like a wee scrapbook on your skin to tell the grandweans about. “See that 4 inch red mark on ma foreheid son? that’s from Spike Dudley attacking me wae a stanley blade. We weren’t even wrestling, he just does that to folk sometimes”. Wrestling is all about stories after all.

jestdrewww
“One of my favourite videos is telling the whole story. It goes back to us cuddling. Wee bits backstage and all that. Its fully in black and white and when I come out the curtain it turns to full colour. I had the idea from the wizard of oz. Black and white until the action starts. It’s so well done and creates an atmosphere and then by the end its him coming down for one last hug, and that was him, he was gone again. Imagine I had thrown that away when I was at the height of doing my hardcore stuff? If I had just started doing random barbed wire matches it wouldn’t have been as special. Even though personally I did want to do it, you need to know when to hold back. One day an opportunity will come up that makes you think ‘im glad I saved it for this’ ”

The conclusion of the match saw Drew overcome Jester in brutal circumstances. Leaving his pal a battered and bloodied heap and spitting in the face of an unwritten wrestling rule. If you’re leaving a promotion, you leave with a loss and the winner gets the benefit of having that win as some kind of, I dunno…badge of honour. It’s a nice thing to do and sometimes it works but when its folk who are genuine pals, it’s not necessary. It’s almost patronising. If the story made more sense with Jack Jester losing the match, then so be it. It didn’t matter. What mattered is that they started and ended their story in the same place, having accomplished so much in between.

“That’s like one of they mad wrestling rules. Why does Drew need to put me over because he’s leaving? I just think it’s a bit corny. I didn’t need to win. It wasn’t going to affect me in any way. At no point did I insist I should go over. It didn’t make sense to me. If folk are expecting it? Don’t give them it. Give them something else. You’re constantly trying to get people to care so give them something to care about. He was in my environment too, he was out of his comfort zone and it genuinely pissed some folk off that he won. Private messaging me and all that. I’m like “thanks for the support, but it’s not keeping me up at night”. This whole he could have done me a favour mentality, when if anything I helped give him one of those last big moments before he went back in to the machine again. He deserved it. See because he is my pal as well? I think its a bit of a riddy. Like “get a room” ye know what I mean” *laughs*

Jestah

“I felt it was done well. I can’t see any more of those matches in my future to be honest, never say never like, but I’m so far from being in that place right now and I’m enjoying what I’m doing with Sha. People laugh because I saw the stuff being set up for a hardcore match recently and I was shaking my head and they’re like “here…what are you shaking yer heid at?” *laughs* and its no like im judging the people doing it it’s just more shaking my head at myself and how far removed I am from doing something like that right now. I honestly couldn’t imagine myself doing anything like that at the moment.”

Another thing Drew and Jester have in common was being side by side with Grado as his infectious character swept the Scottish Wrestling scene. Why stand by and be jealous when you can be your absolute best self in a match with someone who’s going to get a reaction anyway. What’s the point in fighting in when you can lean in to it and have some of the best moments of your career.

JestGrado

“I’ve been there for great things. I’ve witnessed Grado while being part of my own stuff. Its great. It just so happened that The Black Label were all pals, but as a team, it just worked. I’ve got to work with the company I love and travel and do it side by side with my mates. It’s an amazing thing. I love it. ”

“Grado used to get so much shit before he had the reputation he has now and the character he has now because he was just a daft bastard who was getting a mad reaction when he went out there and folk hated it. Full of bitterness about what he couldn’t do at that time and the reactions he was getting and it was honestly just pure jealousy. It used to bother him so much, I used to have him on the phone to me upset about it, wondering what he could do about it, and I used to tell him not to do anything different from what he’s doing just now. Listen if you’re getting the reactions you’re getting out there and you change what you’re doing to suit one jealous bastard backstage, risking maybe losing the support of 500 folk out there? Fuck that. Fuck them.”

Having folk in your corner when you’re in the spotlight as much as Grado is has to be an important thing. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate how many eyes he has put on their work by drawing in regular folk is kidding themselves on. Its daft not to take a moment and just enjoy something special. Even if you’re not particularly into it. Even if it’s not your thing. Enjoy the fact that someone is out there making the people lose their shit.

“I love the fact that I was there for Gradomania. Bearing in mind the first time I saw Grado I tried to pap him out of backstage *laughs*. Because he was just a guy walking about with his singlet on and I’m just like “whit ye daein?” *laughs* I hate that. See if there’s someone backstage who I feel shouldn’t be there, I’ll be the prick who’ll tell them ‘get oot’ There’s always some arsehole with a lanyard on telling me why they’re there and they’re from the press and all that and it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know where the appeal is. I suppose it could be cool to see some of the things, folk putting their boots on and all that, to us its boring as fuck, but I can kinda see the appeal to someone on the outside, but see if I don’t know who ye are? Why are you there? If you’re press, go to a press room, but all my gear’s lying here, this is me at my work. ”

After his initial reaction, he started to realise Grado had something no one else had. He undoubtedly belonged because this shit is about entertaining as many people as you possibly can. Folk buying tickets is what keeps it going and if you think someone in a high profile position hasn’t earned their spot, help them. Make it work, because if the fans want it, it’s happening, and there was absolutely no stopping Gradomania. Folk were in love with it and it was something you had to stand back and witness as a fan at times even if you were directly involved. A once in the lifetime character.

JesterGrado

“I didn’t know him and Dallas had this planned so I’m telling him to get out, you’re not part of the show and Dallas comes up to me and tells me “naw naw, he is” that was right back at the start at The Classic Grand during the book Grado campaign. Then he had his big night, when he tagged with Drew Mcdonald. Drew? He was my hero man. I loved the guy to death. Grado always says he was so glad that he was there. When you watched it you realised, something was going on here. Then when we done the two Insane Fight Clubs together you really got to see it unfold closely and it was an amazing experience to be part of. I don’t know why anybody would feel any different. Why are you raging that this guy’s popular? Why are you raging that you’re getting to wrestle in front of massive crowds when at that time, it was largely down to him? He couldn’t have done it by himself but he was such a big part of it especially back then”

It became a relationship where Jester was almost protective of Grado. Realising his worth and how to get the best reaction out of working with him, he started noticing folk trying to be smart with it when it helps no one. There’s going to be a spell in the match where Grado takes a doing and when that part is happening, have at it, build as much sympathy up for him as possible but when it comes to his time, you fly all over the shop for him. Take they jabs like he’s got a fist made out of cast iron. Sell the roll and slice like he’s lobbed the living room couch directly at your chest. You are there to make him look like a superstar and few are better at doing that than Jack Jester.

Gradoooooooo

“People used to be smartarses when they wrestled him, and they’d go out and tie him in knots and try to make him look silly. That’s not your job mate. Your job is to go out there, fall on your arse for him and get raging, take the Dusty punches, and highlight what he does well. That’s your job. If you feel you’re above that? Go somewhere else man. Mikey was always a great example of that. At times he didn’t love doing what he was doing with Grado because as creative as he is, he’s a purist, but he’d go out there and bump like a madman for him because that’s his job. He knew that’s what he was there to do”

The message with Jester is consistent and very simple. Don’t do things that don’t look or feel natural. Folk will smell it off you. They’ll feel that self-doubt. That inexperience creeping in to every move. Learn your craft first, do mad stuff later. Work Grado’s match first, then maybe try to get some of your best stuff in there but the match is about HIM and what HE does. No one at PBW in Balornock gives a flying fuck if you’ve got a smashin handspring back elbow mate. They want to see you get dusty punched in to next week.

“If you don’t know how to work a regular match you shouldn’t be doing hardcore stuff. If you’re not capable of getting a reaction without being rattled over the heid with a chair. We used to have a lot of folk like that and we slowly got away from that but I’m starting to see it creep back in. Guys who see all this cool death match stuff and just want to copy it because they see other folk getting reactions for it. Maybe I’m just a moany bastard but stuff like lego and things like that just doesn’t appeal to me. Stuff like that can work, like Grado when he opened the bumbag and instead of thumbtacks it was skittles but that’s Grado. That’s what he does.”

JESTGRADOSWA

A recent mad main event in Paisley saw Jester team with Grado, Billy Gunn, Sha Samuels and Lionheart and if ever there was evidence of Gradomania continuing to run wild, it was then. Grado was the person most folk were there to see, not the WWE legend who may have sold some tickets to the auld timers like me, but the young crowd were there for Grado. If they were also there to see Jester do the slosh to the DX theme, then they would not have left disappointed in any way. A recent match with PBW saw the old spark between Grado and Jester start up again.

“When Gradomania happened it angered some folk. You could step by step do the same match with me as Grado would and it just wouldn’t be the same. You’re not him. No one has what he has. I wrestled him recently for PBW and it felt like it did back in the old days. The spark was there. His time away (from ICW) has done him favours because he’s come back inspired again. He did want to embrace being the bad guy but he couldn’t fully commit to it. At the end of the day he’s a brand, and for him to be a villain on just one type of show, it doesn’t work. When he came out at that PBW show, they went mental for him. We went ages not doing anything and just enjoying the crowd. Then we started calling stuff on the fly and it was great. He doesn’t need someone trying to be funny with him, he needs folk to fully embrace his stuff, he needs you to sell for him. You’ve got to be the straight man. There’s got to be that dynamic there. I’ve seen so many matches with Grado where he’s wrestling somebody and they think ‘this is gonnae be a comedy match’…aye, it is, but he’s the comedy.”

jestgrrrr

Be yourself. Don’t look at something popular and try to be that, look at why something’s popular and take the important core aspects of it and put it in to your own work. Grado tribute acts will always just feel like Grado tribute acts and nothing more substantial. Choosing to wrestle a unique talent like that and almost doing an impression of him in the match rather than just wrestling him is a trap Jester has seen many fall in to.

“People get in situations they wouldn’t usually do when they wrestle him sometimes, you’ll have the big heel in this company and all of a sudden he’s doing something stupid, like he’s doing fuckin baby shark or something. That’s not your job. Your job is to give him the platform to make people laugh. I mean if he can still make me laugh, after aw the years of him pissing me off and me pissing him off, and all the fall outs we’ve had *laughs* the amount of times we’ve wrestled, and the amount of times I’ve seen him do his thing. If he can still make me laugh after all that, its funny. He’s got something. When you see other folk trying to replicate it, to me its embarrassing, but when he does it, it’s just funny. He’s got funny bones. Everything about him is just funny. That promo at the last show, he just kept making me laugh, the best night of my life thing became funny. Plus just to see him with that fire behind him again was amazing. ”

Jester’s attempts to de-bunk a frankly daft theory that only pals of ICW promoter Mark Dallas get opportunities in ICW. As if he hands out a leaflet before each show telling the audience who they should be reacting to. A nonsense mentality it has always been and one he never allows the trainees at GPWA to get sucked in to. You have to believe if you’re good enough and have something substantial to offer, you’ll get chances. Make sure and take them if you do.

“If you go out and get over, it doesn’t matter who you are or if he likes you or not, Dallas will bring you back. He’s selling a product here. He’s not booking a show that he wants to watch. Everybody wants to moan and blame stuff on other people. People also mention the lack of women coming through but there’s a lot less women training than men. Its not a sexist thing. If you’re good enough you’ll get opportunities. If a male wrestler isn’t good enough he wont get put on a show. You think I don’t want more females coming through the school or being on the shows we run? Of course we do.”

gpwa

“For every 20-30 guys there 1 female trainee. If you’re good, you’ll be on the show. Man or woman. Sabryna’s the perfect case (Aivil) she works hard, shes committed, shes creative, she was always trying to up her game. Don’t show up and do fuck all then moan and blame it on something else. Your finding reasons to justify you not getting booked even though deep down you know the real reason is that you’re not very good. Its nothing to do with favouritism. We need young talent. We’ve got loads of guys here we could push for Mark Dallas, but you can’t come in here and make ICW your be all and end all. You need to make your mark elsewhere because if you get put into ICW a moment before your ready, they’ll eat you alive. If you go in there and it doesn’t get over, it’s a 100 times harder to come back again, so wait until you’re ready. Wait until you know you can do this. Because its scary. Its scary when you’ve been doing this a long time so imagine how much scarier it’ll be for a trainee? Some of them have taken the opportunity and went with it”

jestoal

Two recent standouts in ICW and further afield have been Source trainee Kieran Kelly and GPWA trainee Leyton Buzzard. After they were heavily involved in the worlds longest match between their respective pals Chris Renfrew and Joe Hendry, the young standouts were finally given a one on one match at ICWs recent debut at the Glasgow Uni Union. A match that not only put their characters into sharp focus but displayed a standard in the ring that most people knew Kieran Kelly was capable of, but something people may have been slightly shocked by regarding Leyton Buzzard. Who until that point had seen the focus of his work mainly aimed at his skills as a ‘theatrical wee bastard’ as Jester so eloquently put it. They had a standout match on a very strong show and showed the future might indeed be bright.

“They were kinda the backup for the 2 experienced guys, but then they end up outshining the guys they’re meant to be backing up. Kieran Kelly has always been very very good. He’s a cracking worker. But he’s always been a shy kinda reserved wee guy. Arthur on the other hand has always been committed, always creative, and he’s a theatrical wee bastard. He’s grown up in that life he was acting since he was wee. He was in an advert for a Star Wars thing, building the wee R2D2 in the garage. He did like singing competitions. He’s got that side to him. With Arthur, he moved here from Bristol by himself to be a wrestler. He didn’t come and see how it went, he moved here because in his mind he wasn’t going to fail. He’s entertaining and he’s always trying to push himself out there, but hes not a pest. He can back it up. In front of the ICW crowd like that you can really see. I just kinda wish that match had been in The Garage.”

“You watch these two and they steal the show and that’s a good thing. These are two guys who haven’t done much yet and they’re only going to get better. It’s a sign of things to come. Its no up to guys like me to resent it. Its natural. I don’t want to be popular because everyone else is shite because that’s no sort of achievement. I don’t want folk to fail. We did Maryhill the next day and people took the time to come up and congratulate Arthur on how good it was. You don’t often see that after the night of the show itself unless its something special. If you don’t have that passion or that level of commitment, it’s not acceptable. Anything less than that isn’t acceptable. ”

The attitude that shone through in both of them is the absolute minimum requirement for Jack Jester when he and his fellow trainers at GPWA are looking for the next big thing. Even if you aren’t as good as they undoubtedly are, you should want to get to that stage. Want to improve. Actively try to better yourself on a daily basis because they isn’t clocking in at your work in ASDA or something. This is a labour of love. It needs hard graft, dedication and just a wee streak of undeniable insanity.

JesterBT

“I’m looking for folk who want to learn to work. Trainees who’ll come through and they’ll get to the point where they’ve got a certain set of stuff, they can do, and they can have a certain amount of success with that, but I want to see folk who are constantly trying to get better and improve. I want the type of folk who are coming up to me and ASKING me if they can go to seminar down south. Anything you can do to get better, do it. If I’m constantly saying the same thing and someones not listening, there’s only a certain amount of times i’ll say it before I wont say it again. If you’re not going to listen fair enough, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to get you to listen. People like Arthur, constantly trying to get better and he wants to do it the right way. He doesn’t want to do it by being a wee suck up bastard or copying anyone else. With people like that, that’s when you realise right, this is a guy I can work with, this is a guy who wants to learn, he doesn’t want to just go out there and do what he’s comfortable. He wants to learn, he wants to impress, and hes doing it the right way by working hard at it and learning how to work and he’s spewing with confidence and charisma ”

Another strongly conveyed message was about as simple as it gets. Don’t be a dick. If someone gets an opportunity, congratulate them and work out what they’re doing that you’re not. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of your weekends on the couch as opposed to chucking folk about.

“I’ll always say this to my trainees as well, if one of your fellow trainees is getting on an ICW show and you’re annoyed about it, why? You should all be supporting each other. You should be trying to work out why he’s getting that opportunity when you’re not. You should be trying to get better and don’t worry about being a pest either. If you go up to someone and ask them to watch your match to give you feedback and they tell you to fuck off? Disregard them, because they’re wankers.”

Leeeeeeeee

Jester in his early years realising he’d left the oven on and even though it probably wouldn’t burn the house down, it would definitely burn his scones

Wankers indeed. If someone really wants to learn, why be like that? No one lives forever. The next batch of talent has to arrive and one day take over. Wanting them to be shite is how you end up with a scene the way it was 15 years ago. If the scene is to continue to grow, it needs good training schools and wave after wave of good talent. No matter where they come from, talent is talent. Nurture it. If someone doesn’t want to help you out, fuck them.

“If you ask for advice and they’re dicks to you, don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Mikey’s great for that, he’ll sit with any trainee that asks for advice, and he’ll go on for ages but he’s telling you. He’s giving you advice. I’ve seen it happen even with some of my guys when they’re finished and they’re not arsed, they’re just happy to get back and get a beer. Again I’ll say, I’ll only say the same thing so many times before I’ll stop. Because folk are telling you somethings good why try to get better? Then on the other hand you’ve got guys like Kieran Kelly, Craig Anthony, Leyton Buzzard and all that. Folk from all different schools who have that potential and the work ethic to get better. Ones that make you think “this guys dangerous, I need to up my game here” If you’ve got something to offer a promoter it doesn’t matter what school you come from either. Its like Luka (Paxxo) Ross (Watson) loves him. He’s now one of the mainstays on PBW shows. Ross always books all different sorts of people, different talents, but Luka now seems to be part of their core and that says it all. He’s took him away on the camps with him. If I can book a guy and say this is the date, and he’s going to show up and do his job with no fuss, you’re going to keep getting booked. These people are being booked on merit. Luka is mad creative as well and both of them as a couple are mad creative.”

jestaaaah

“If you ever show up at ICW and you just want it over and done with, there’s no point in you being there. You always need to have guys like myself and Mikey who don’t take this for granted. They care and they set a standard. You get folk who want to go out there and go “watch what I can do” but you’ve got to make them care. Sha is the only guy who’s came up here and almost became Glaswegian. Like this is his second home. All his pals are up here. You don’t consider Sha someone you bring up for a show, he’s just part of ICW now. Bram as well, he’s a mad bastard but folk believe what he does. People come up here and I think they assume because they’ve worked in this place and they’ve worked in that place that people up here will care but you’ve got to make them care”

Jester believes having a bit of something else is a vital part of making it in front of an ICW crowd, or at the very least making the little time you might get matter. Don’t be timid or they’ll eat you alive.

“You need to be a certain type of person because they can read you like a book. They don’t want you to suck up and be nice to them. They want you to make them give a fuck. If you don’t go out there and make any sort of connection Dallas isn’t gonna book ye again. He’s booking a show that the fans want to see. You need to do something. See if you’ve not got a bit of attitude behind ye, a bit of spunk, you’re not going to make that connection. If you’re coming out all polite, and like ‘I’m going to show you a great match’ they might not react. That’s ten a penny. Do something else. Stand out. Immerse yourself in it”

One of Jesters career highlights has been working at The Blackpool Tower. A venue that holds great importance to him due his love for the circus. Being able to work at the same venue some of his heroes had previously done in a different lifetime must have been a surreal moment but one of those rare ones where wrestling meshes perfectly with something else you love to create something special. A memory you hope lasts as long as the ones the lions, tigers, bears and clowns created all that time ago.

“I’ve had a few bucketlist venues in my life. The Blackpool Tower was one of them because I’m obsessed with the circus. I always have been. I know an ungodly amount about clowns *laughs* so that was always a special place because all my heroes from that side of things had all worked there. I remember, me and Brian Dixon…well we were never pals, put it that way. My name at that time was Scotland’s Lee Thomas. He gave me the name and I honestly don’t know why. Even though he’d gave me that name, he always called me Tom *laughs* there was nae point even telling him otherwise. After I worked the Blackpool Tower, I’ll always remember him coming up to me going ‘well Tom, you’ve done it!’ and it was one of those few times Brian was really nice to me because he knew it meant a lot to me. I love the fact that I wrestle in it often now for PCW. I mean me and Sha won the belts in there and it was incredible for us. I remember after we’d won, there was this one wee guy going absolutely mental so I went over and got him in the ring with us, and before I knew it there must have been about 50 kids in there with us *laughs* and I’m thinking, whoever’s ring this is, is gonnae kill me.”

JesterSha

“That moment was so special for me honestly, it was cracking man, to get that reaction in a venue that meant that much. Its one of those venues that every time I get there I appreciate it, and I’ll walk about and look at everything. There’s so much cool stuff. There’s props everywhere for the clowns, up the stairs in the tower there’s a clown museum, and the most famous clown at that time was a guy called Charlie Corolli. He done 40+ summer seasons in a row there. Mind blowing. He had 3 white faced clowns called the three Pauls and all there suits are there. Charlie Cairoli could play every instrument, including the kitchen sink. Doonstairs there’s cages where all the lions, tigers, elephants and all that used to be kept. It’s not normal cages that would be used now, these were built to last, raw iron stables. These things were built into the foundations. So you’ll be walking by and thinking “fuck..there used to be elephants in there!” I tried to show Sha this, when you go backstage there’s a black and white photo of the trapeze artists practising and that bar still hangs there to this day. Almost as if its frozen in time. Its been there for 70 years or something.”

Having that moment in a venue of such personal significance where so many of Jester’s interests share house room was career defining stuff. The reason folk put their bodies on the line week in week out if for wee bits like that. Combine that personal significance of the venue with the sheer amount of joy the moment brought wrestling wise and you have some sort of perfection. There is no doubt The Kinky Party has lit a fire under both Jack Jester and his partner in hilarity Sha Samuels. Two guys who built careers on being something completely different to what they are now, throwing themselves into this tag team wholeheartedly and making it work. Making an impact on people. Making all age groups have the simple joy of getting to forget about all the shit in their lives and enjoy two folk who are quite obviously having the time of their lives.

No kinky, no party…..EAST!

JesterSha2

“It was not planned. That match the first time against Renfrew and Mikey was meant to be a one off. It was kinda just like we didn’t have anything to do so they put us together. Sha had never done anything like this before. He was always this straight up, hardnose, cockney geezer. Even at that point I wasn’t doing anything funny. It’s just that I was such a different kind of person to him and it made him uncomfortable and that made people laugh. The fans made it. It was them that started chanting no kinky no party. It wasn’t even a thing until then. We hadn’t even thought of that before they started chanting it and we’re thinking this is fun. We could do something with this. Dallas wasn’t fully sold on it initially, and we’d got ourselves so excited about it that we needed it to happen. My focus became making this happen and convincing Dallas to let us run with this. We don’t really know where we’re going with it, but let us try.”

KinkyParty

They didn’t really need to do much to convince him. People wanted it. Simple as that. Something about the dynamic just clicked and before either one of them knew it, they were having the absolute time of their lives. Wrestling had never been more fun. It shone through in both of them and it was born out of sheer discomfort. Sha Samuels the proper cockney geezer. Pints, the fitba, a curry, a fight. That’s what he was all about. The only thing he used chains for was to wrap round his fist when he was leathering some poor bastard and on the other end of the scale you have Jack Jester “Kinky Torturer” as The Sun so accurately put it (thats definitely no sarcasm) who just wanted them to forget their differences and be pals.

“At the start Sha was reluctant and that had to show, it has to start with a straight guy who’s reluctant to get involved in it, and I was the guy trying to get him to have fun with it. You can’t build something funny without having that to start with. So I was way more keen than him and I had to get him to take to it. That got me the sympathy from the crowd because I’m trying and trying to get him to be my pal and he’s patching me. It was Mankid and The Rock. Mankind was so keen on the idea. The Rock was his best pal in his mind, but The Rock would kid on he never existed *laughs* . So folk though he was a dick and they sympathased with Mankind. The best thing is ICW don’t usually write for us. They just let us get on with it and trust us to go with it. Sha never really wrote anything either because I played off his reactions. ”

They are one of a select few…well really they’re the only tag team who have ever had an official “launch party” but when Sha and Jester came out the closet as a full-blown tag team in Newcastle it changed everything. It established this as not just a fling. They were in this together forever. A bond so strong that Sha is even willing to pick up that big studded dildo, even if it’s just so he can hand it to Jester to wallop someone with it. There was strippers with breasts of various sizes, some more impacted by gravity than others and there was a gummy snake. The absolute cornerstones of a kinky party as the google image search I done in preparation for this confirms.

shajack2“Like the launch party in Newcastle. He genuinely didnae know what I had planned *laughs* and I said to the crowd, Sha’s shiteing himself back there *laughs* and its hilarious because he was. Its nerve-wracking enough having a segment and know what you’re doing but he’s going out there without a clue. I genuinely think its one of the best things I’ve ever done *laughs* and it had to be kinda shite but heartwarming at the same time. I was just trying to rib him, putting a photograph of him wearing a white suit *laughs* he actually owns this thing and has worn it to genuine occasions, and it blew my mind *laughs hysterically* Of all the folk I wouldn’t expect to be wearing a white suit, Sha Samuels is near the top of that list. I wanted him to have that “you bastard!” reaction. So we did that. I sourced the stripper last-minute but the older lady who was involved wasn’t planned. I’ve came in contact with her numerous but shes such a laugh. So game. She switched with the stripper and bless her, she was so game. She loved it. Its hard doing that type of stuff because if it’s no happening and they’re not reacting. Its hard. I didn’t want it to be too polished, I wanted him to keep playing off his reactions, and then he’s starting to come round and we switched it and its me getting upset with him, and he’s trying to get my attention”

That switch took their popularity to the next level. Many thought that night at the ABC was the end for The Kinky Party. It couldn’t ever work! They were too different from the start. Kidding themselves on they were. It was always going to end so why prolong the pain? But like with any important relationship, someone has to fight for it, when the chips are down, someone has to buy more chips. Sha Samuels reached out and as much as they weren’t quite as dazzling as that white suit no doubt was, he offered Jester an olive branch in the form of the sexiest team jackets in professional wrestling history.

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“We done the thing at the ABC and had the fallout (after Jesters match with James Storm) Then the thing with the jackets, I corpsed throughout that, he was so funny, its hard not to laugh. With The Kinky Party, I approached it differently to how you usually would, the wrestling side would take care of itself. Its building the double act that was important at the start. We had to be a double act. We had to be Francie and Josie. That’s why I was really adamant we had to get to the point that we’d be a recognised double act. We do have a really good laugh and you can feel the spirit being lifted when we do what we do. It’s the easiest thing I’ve done in wrestling, I’ve never had anything that’s so easy and so natural. He’s so good off the cuff, so I wont tell him what I’m going to say, he just needs to react to me. ”

With a bit of gentle encouragement from a returning Drew Galloway they finally made in and have gone from strength to strength ever since. When you’re entertaining people the way they do, run with it. They’re not only giving people a bit of comedic respite in the middle of some pretty intense shows, they’re doing it while having top quality matches for the tag team titles of teams with various styles. Be it monsters like Alpha Evil and The PoD, brawlers like The Purge, or the ever charismatic Lou King Sharp and Krieger, they have had one of the most notable ICW Tag Title runs ever and have created an environment where whoever takes it off them will be creating a moment. A team who have done battle with them before and who have a huge amount of momentum are The Kings Of Catch, and it seems only natural that their paths will cross again if both can make it through their respective Hydro matches.

While The Kinky Party very much remain a double act, the return of Grado to the ICW fold has proven welcome as they’ve had the opportunity to combine their charisma with his. Tanning a beer up the ropes is a wee bit different to slinging a bumbag over your shoulder right enough but The Kinky Party are determined their spot as the chief comedians in the comedy is not coming under threat.

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“With Grado coming back, we wanted to play it like ‘he better no come in here thinking he’s gonnae be funny *laughs* we’re the funny wans noo. I’m in Sha’s ear annoying him, trying to get him riled up so he disnae go back to Grado *laughs*. I think Kinky Party came at the right time because everything was so intense at that time, and you need a part of the show where you can just exhale. Have a laugh. You can just relax. Don’t send us out first. Put us in somewhere about the middle and give folk a chance to breathe. The crowdsurfing thing just came by accident but it became a thing we were known for. We want to have things people identify with us. Like the pre parties we’ve done, we’re genuinely out there drinking with folk, Sha’s missing his mooth. *laughs* We enjoy it. ”

Jester explained the dynamic between him and Sha as more of a married couple as opposed to two pals. An analogy that I’m sure puts the shitters up oor Sha but one that makes sense. It’s a partnership innit. With pals you can maybe not see them for a few weeks and it matters not. Next time you see them the lager will be flowing, and someone might end up getting glassed. With a partnership? If you’ve no texted in a 12 hours period you better be sleeping or deid. The Kinky Party is for life no just for Christmas and that bond has to remain sacred. If they’re going to win belts and drink aw sorts of different beers together, the trust has to be there. The trust you’d consider commonplace between married couples.

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“When we fall out it has to be treated like a married couple falling out. You’re first instinct isn’t to challenge her to a fight the next week *laughs* You go all pathetic, stomp aboot, act petty. Then we had the thing at the ABC, and he gives me the jacket, and I’m telling him I don’t like it…I love it, but its no enough. So I storm away and out comes Drew telling us to get back in and sort it out. It was a great moment.”

Wrestling fans aren’t known for their patience. Possessed with this overarching thirst to see the next big storyline happen. Never content to let it play out. If anyone thinks a split followed by what would be an excellent rivalry is coming anytime soon, think again. Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are having the time of their wrestling lives and that’s not stopping until there’s a good reason for it to stop. ”

“People know it’s not going to turn in to this split. There’s always the potential down the line but right now I can’t see it. I’m so protective over this because I don’t want it to get serious. I want to keep what we have going. People just expect it now. They’re waiting it thinking “that’ll be Jester and Sha’s feud starting now” but why? We’ve still got plenty of things to pursue and I can’t stress enough how much I’m enjoying it. Its gave me and Sha such a lift. Its gave me and Sha a new lease of life. I’d done so many things and you get to a point where you’re not really sure whats next and this came at the perfect time. Its made me love wrestling again. It pours over to even when we’re not tagging, I’m enjoying it more everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, even if I’m myself, you get someone chanting no kinky no party. It carries over, and we started looking at the photos, David Wilson is always so good with that, and we were zooming in on them and you see everyone’s smiling man. We kinda started realising, somethings happened here Sha. We need to run with it. But then its all about how to keep it going and be creative and no repeat yourself etc.”

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While the emphasis is heavily on the dynamic between the pair as characters, the wrestling side still needs to be paid attention to. As much as The Kinky Party have been known as violent bastards in a past life, that’s not the life they’re living now. Those characters are still in there but there’s a balance to be struck between letting them loose a wee bit when the tag titles are on the line and they’re in the ring with legit monsters, and keeping them at bay enough to make the aforementioned monsters look as scary as they unquestionably are.

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“The likes of the match with Iestyn and Bram. Its different. We have to work out how to make the match work with these two big bastards while still keeping what we have going. How do we do it and still be able to come out on the next show and be funny. Then we realised, we’re the perfect opponents for Iestyn and Bram right now. They’re so dominant and they look scary. You put me and Sha in with folk like that, and Rampage and Asthon. If im in the ring facing guys like that and I’m trying to take the piss and have a laugh. It kills them. It makes them look daft. You need to take them seriously. There’s nothing wrong with showing fear, but you have to still be The Kinky Party at first. You have to go out and do what you do, but when it comes to facing these big monsters, you need to take it seriously. ”

That match was a defining moment for The Kinky Party, who had already surprised some by managing to usurp Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith as Tag Champions, despite the dangerous team knocking the living shite out of them a lot before. They proved they have the ability to get serious when it matters and when you’re in there with bruisers like that…it matters. It matters a lot. It matters to know when someone the size of Bram hits you with a Swanton from about 20 feet in the air, stay down for a fair bit after that. Don’t be getting up, tanning a beer and taking photies. The Kinky Party are all about the fans and having a laugh when the time is right, but sometimes the fight comes first.

“You can’t have us in with guys like Iestyn and Bram and make us look like supermen. Even though we’re the champions, we need to think about it and make them look like the dominant guys they are. I can just pick Iestyn up and slamp him, but I wont. I’ve never been one to do a lot of plannin beforehand, we’ll go over a few wee things, but if you can’t go out there and have a match with Iestyn and Bram and not make it look serious? Whats the point. If you cannae make that look like a fight? Yer fucked. I started doing wee things, like now we have the jackets so I can stick the corkscrew in there. So you build it up, and Iestyns no a blood and guts guy so he’s selling it. Even when Bram done that swanton….I was in nae rush to get up” *laughs*

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“He’s huge and he’s landing on ye from about 20 feet in the air. Its knowing how long to lie there. Its knowing when to get up. They battered Sha while im out, Sha rallies a bit, then the finish to the match, we could feel it, it started having this atmosphere that folk felt ‘this is a bit heavy-duty here’ and that’s why we made it a sneaky pin and we didn’t even celebrate it in the ring. I rolled right out and that’s when you see the more serious side. We have the belts and we have to back up the funny stuff with defences. With good matches. You cannae just go out there and dance and drink beer and no dae anything, so having matches like that elevates because folk remember who we are. We remind them who we are deep down and that we can go. Then the next show you come out and its almost like you can start again. Now people appreciate you more and you’ve got a wee bit more sympathy because these guys have battered us. Same with Rampage and Ashton. It’s not my job to go out there and look like their equal. I’m not going to throw Rampage about. Thats not what I’m there for. Its storytelling man. Its using their confidence and their power against them, because they’re so confident they’ve got us, they’ve battered us before, and we come out of nowhere and beat them”

Becoming champions took The Kinky Party to another level. If you’re keeping the married couple analogy going, having the tag titles is living having a wean for a married couple. You know that means its going to stay together for at least the next wee while. Maybe take in a wee bit of sun for a first family holiday. Jester, Sha and the belts. The analogy kinda falls apart when they eventually lose the belts right enough because you wouldn’t exactly put your child on the line in a wrestling match would you? We’re getting off track here, point is, being ICW Tag Team Champions meant they were part of an elite group. That prestige meant an obligation to wind each other up as much as possible became an unwritten rule.

“When we won the belts in Newcastle that’s when we really started talking about things and documenting stuff and I’m always winding him upKinkyBenidorm on twitter *laughs* We’re doing wee videos, with him shouting “JAAAAAAAAACCCCCKK” and its just such a laugh. ICW don’t write for us but we’ve got certain things that we need to hit storyline wise. When we do backstage stuff I always tell Veronica or Jen, don’t try not to laugh, just go with it, We always kinda try to get them involved and we love. If we’re enjoying ourselves, it obviously come across. Filming stuff in Benidorm and all that. I wanted us to be a double act. I wanted us to be Laurel and Hardy. I didn’t just want to be a tag team. I wanted it to be a situation where if one of is booked somewhere, folk are asking where the other one is. It’s somehow crossed over well to family shows. Sha hates it being called The Kinky Party at family shows *laughs* he’s like ‘lets call it The Drinky Party’ *laughs* but it goes over their heads, its like pantomime, its riddled with adult references that go over the childrens heads. At ICW you can be a bit more risque, its more like an adult orientated panto, but on family shows I just feel like I’m in a panto and its great. We really enjoy doing it. Making the kids laugh and even when we come out we’re having a laugh, because we’ve been doing it for hours beforehand and we’re going out there and carrying it over, it’s an amazing thing man ”

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We all know wrestling is scripted, pre-determined, whatever you want to call it. If you’re a fan as an adult you can have a fairly accurate education guess at how things might turn out and the direction stuff is going in. Those facts can make folk a wee bit bitter towards it. Almost as if they’re active’y trying not to enjoy wrestling but if you’re not enjoying it what’s the point? Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are enjoying every second of this and they’re going to crowdsurf and mug folk off until it stops being fun.

“The Kinky Party has allowed me to be the every man as well. We can go and be in the crowd and we can mingle and all that. We can dress it up as me doing character work, but it just means I get to jump in the crowd and sit next to an auld guy and steal his pick and mix. We just have laugh with it. You need folk to identify with us. They’re the reason we exist. Without that backing there’s never a Kinky Party. Sha will agree, it happened by mistake, but I don’t know what would be happening with either of us now if we didn’t have that. I joke that The Kinky Party has added another 10 years on to my career *laughs* but honestly, at that point we were both wondering where we wanted to go and honestly. I just love it. With every big moment you know the crashing low is coming and we’d both had big moments at Shugs. Sometimes you make plans, sometimes plans are made for you. The fans made this happen, we just took something they reacted to and went with it. We’d never done comedy stuff before so its been such a removal for us and its been great.”

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With an impressive amount of years racked up between them Sha and Jester are trusted to take their work in whatever direction they want to take it. After all this is their title run, as much as the company will give you opponents, you need to make the moments. You need to make the matches matter and Jester hopes the work they’ve done as champions stands whoever’s up next in good stead. “Its a nice feeling knowing the boss trusts us to go wherever we want to take it. We never thought for a second we’d be champions so then you have the dilemma of “how does the comedy team survive” in a division that’s full of big scary bastards” *laughs*

“I hope that me and Sha have done enough work that whoever does win it from us gets the reaction they deserve. I want people to be elevated by it. Its been great. Working with different kinds of teams who have different reactions to what we do and you chop and change to suit the situation. It’s great to be able to do that at ICW and even at family shows now where we’re just the big friendly funny guys. Yer mad uncles that love a laugh. As long as we’ve got the stage to be creative we’re gonnae continue. Its great. Its proper perked me back up again. ”

Before The Kinky Party came the gathering of the bastards. The Black Label tore ICW a new arsehole throughout 2015 and 2016 and it was a time period Jack Jester threw caution to the win. Not a single fuck was given and a lot of people didn’t like that. Well…good. If you’re trying to be a prick, thats the fullproof way to know its working.

Becoming Big Kink – Black Label’s Nastiest Bastard

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Seeing that drive in Drew and the drive it gave everyone else in the company set a standard that had to be met if you were to be considered a part of this. You need to look interested at the very least. Learn how to make audience react to you instead of judging them for not doing it. It’s not your job. They’re the customers. You don’t go to McDonalds and flip the burgers yersell. It’s up to the performer to get their performance over and that’s something both Jack Jester and Drew placed a lot of importance on during that time period when they reigned supreme.

“It pisses me off sometimes when I see folk who have been doing this less than 5 years and they look like they’d rather be anywhere else. Or when folk would rather complain about crowds going down or crowds being dead rather than problem solving. ‘The crowd are dead’….are the crowd dead? Or are they just not reacting for you as much as you want? Its self-indulgent. Just because you walk through the curtain as a babyface doesn’t mean these people need to cheer you. They aren’t getting paid to cheer you. You’re getting paid to give them a reason to cheer. Instead of coming back and moaning, figure out why it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to go and do something to change it. I think people walk through the door sometimes and expect Dallas to sit them down and give them this handbook on how to get over with his audience. It doesn’t work like that. Dallas will listen to you. He can have a constructive conversation with you and sometimes we wont always agree, but he’ll listen. You’ve got to make it happen yourself”

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“Having Drew back and seeing Drew putting everything in to it made such a difference. Drew was very much like me. He’d get raging if he saw anyone who looked like they couldn’t be arsed. It fuelled him. We had the mentality that we’ll continue to be the top guys until someone proves they can take it off us. As The Black Label, we’re the older guys, and all this young talent that can do everything are coming up that can do everything and they look great and have all the tools, but they’re bitter. They have this mentality that we get the opportunities because we’re Dallas’ pals as opposed to earning them. Being Dallas’ pal doesn’t get you over with the crowd. Being pals with Dallas doesn’t get them to react. Only you can do that”

Being pals with Dallas also doesn’t matter a fuck when, at least in storyline terms anyway, you fucking hate the cunt. The Black Label were built on solid foundations of hating Mark Dallas and everything his ICW stood for. They wanted the power, and needed to come across like the biggest team of pricks the world has ever seen. They ran the show and wanted anyone who would dare to cross them to know that was the case. Fuck with the label at your peril.

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“With The Black Label I had to be such a bastard and I had to commit to. I gave everything I had to being a genuine bastard that folk despised”

“We did that switch where me and Drew had been feuding, and at the ABC. So many things that happened in my career happened in that venue. I came out and folk thought I was gonna help Damo, and I turned and helped Drew instead. Red was there and it was just the three oldest best pals together again. We did that photo where we’re backstage (photo is below) all giving it the vickies together and there’s that same photo somewhere from years before of us doing that in Walkabout. It was one of they things that was organic. We were thick as thieves. We had guys who came in for wee stints and were affiliated with us, but we were the core group and we just caused it man. Some of they tours got wild man. There’s certain shows where the crew have thrown their headphones off and ran out because they thought there was genuine riots happening. I was just out there annoying folk, and I wasn’t really angry, but I was getting that anger out of them. If you don;t believe in your own shit, no one else would. We ruled the world man. We had everything at our disposal to make sure we stayed on top. Comparing it to the kinky party sounds daft but I’ve some of the biggest reactions from both. Like with The Black Label I just used to cause absolute havoc, then I’d stand in the safety of the ring, surrounded by security, while folk go mental *laughs* so to be getting the opposite now with The Kinky Party but still getting the reactions is great. ”

Make no mistake about it, during that run with The Black Label, Jack Jester was a bastard. He done absolutely everything in his power to draw nothing but pure unfiltered hate from the paying audience. Who gives a fuck if you paid for a ticket mate, we run the gaff, you do not. It was as simple as that and he embrace his role as chief aggressor of the group very seriously. He existed to annoy you and he had an absolute ball doing it.

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“Say I was on second, and someone would dare say something to me, and I’d refuse to work until they were thrown out. Folk used to come up and say stuff to me. Telling me it was shite. I’m like…I know. Its meant to be. I want them to hate me. If you’re angry about it, think how angry the guy is that got chucked out. It got to the point where Drew would always just let me kick everything off and he’d be my backup. Drew used to jump in front of me thinking I was genuinely losing it. Trust me, if I’m genuinely raging about something. You’ll know about it. Let me be in my head for the segment and really commit to it.”

The problem being such an unapologetic bastard is that when it came time to turn back, it was hard to make people believe in him as the loveable psycho they had made at one time considered of their idols. You call folk arseholes enough times, they just start to believe you think they consider them to be an arsehole. They forget you’re playing a character and it had come time to become something different. Drew was about to rejoin WWE and he needed one last feud. He needed a hero to annihilate and who was better for the job then his auld pal? Once again aligned with ICW after turning on The Black Label and knocking Drew out with a massive studded ‘weapon’ at The Hydro to give control of ICW back to Mark Dallas.

“I was like fuck, I’ve backed myself into a corner here. How can I ever be babyface again when I’ve been such a bastard. So spiteful. I used to target folk for different stuff and I was a proper bastard. Folk were genuinely raging. If I go and say sorry and ask them to forgive me they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe I’m the bastard I want them to believe I am.”

“Somehow we managed the big turn at The Hydro. I’ll never forget that reaction the night before when Drew said he was retiring. Folk were so taken by that, it was amazing. We didn’t plan that either and it went so far. Someone shouted something and everyone just went aff their nut at him. He was still treating it like a wrestling show but folk were convinced. This was real. Folk were watching like it was real.findrew Then someone fainted and I jumped out the ring and broke character. Dallas came out. Everyone’s out of character then banng! Drew punched Dallas. Folk were going nuts. You bastards! Folk are crying. You had a half and half reaction, like wrestling fans who got it were like “well done” and then you had the folk who feel entitled to know when its real and when its not. So you had this building with Drew getting ahead of himself, and Red kinda thinking of himself as bigger than The Black Label. It was the opposite of when I turned to join them, when I came out folk were expecting me to help Drew and I went the other way ”

The thing about The Black Label people really fucking hated is that you knew they were good. You fully despised it but you knew deep down they were at the very top because they had earned it and with Red Lightning at the helm, they had the power to stay there. A thing that comes in handy when it comes to keeping you on top is being able to do this job well. Mad concept I know, but actually being good at this and being able to adapt to any situation you’re thrown into is an integral part and a value Jester tries to instil in to his trainees as well as his own work. A lot of lessons have come from working with Sabu several times and adapting the matches to still look good without taking liberties. A relationship built between the two men that led to Sabu making Jester an offer he couldn’t refuse.

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“I know hes got a bad neck, I know hes got a bad hip, If I can’t find another way of working someone without doing stuff that puts them in danger, then I can’t work. He’s constantly being put in there with folk who are inexperienced. A guy knocked all his front teeth out, this guy obviously didn’t know what he was doing. He’s panicking because he’s wrestling Sabu, and he’s made a mistake. With Sabu you need to be on your game. I enjoy working with him, some folk say they find it hard, but to me its interesting. Its exciting. You’ve got to be at your best. There’s nothing better than meeting your hero and it turns out he is that guy. It was after a show, I remember talking to him about doing the barbed wire match and how I’d never done one before and all that and he says to me “Terry (Funk) taught me how to do them, if you want I could teach you” and I nearly burst into tears. It was surreal. I’m standing outside The Garage and Sabu’s telling me he’s going to teach me how to do a barbed wire match. I couldn’t wrap my head round it. So I’ve kinda taken wee bits from all these guys, and when you see people who are maybe 2 years in, doing in badly and almost belittling it, it annoys me. I never have and never will find using lego in wrestling funny. I’m sure it was a good laugh the first time it was done. After the match they’ll post a photo that kind of defeats the purpose of it entirely with a funny wee caption. Or they cannae wait to get backstage to they can post a photo of their chest when its been chopped to bits.”

While his standards for hardcore wrestling stay high, the key seems to be respect at all times. Respect wrestling and take your responsibility seriously, and Jack Jester will respect you. Coming in chopping 3 layers of skin and a few vital organs out of a trainee in their first match is just being a dick.

SQGOJESJST“Its folk taking liberties I don’t like. With a guy like Walter, you’re going to get these big marks. He’s a big guy and if he times it right that’ll happen, but its people who take liberties and you can see the anger in their face when they do it. Like when they do it with younger guys because they know they wont say anything, but they’re naive enough to go back and take a photo of their chest all black and blue and there’s nothing cool about it to me. I hope the guy who was in there chopping fuck out ye thinks he’s a hard man, because that’s obviously why he’s doing it”

Someone who is undoubtedly ‘hard’ is the enigmatic PCO. PCO was once one half of early-mid 90s WWE tag team The Quebecers and has continued to hold an influence on wrestling to this day. Recently performing in the prestigious Battle Of Los Angeles for PWG as well as having an eye catching match with Walter at Wrestlemania weekend a year earlier. To be doing some of the things he does at 50 after having a career most people would be able to draw a line under and be proud of takes something. It takes a love for pro wrestling and that was something that shone through in PCO when he and Jester spent some time together on the camps. An attitude that has no doubt carried in to Jesters work with the GPWA, and surely must serve as some kind of inspiration for the future, because if a guy like that who’s done everything still wants to crack out a moonsault to entertain folk, he’s built a bit differently. There’s a love there for this wrestling carry on that somehow has not been tinged with bitterness and regret over time.

“PCO is another guy I met at all star, but he’s an absolute workhorse. Carl’s been about forever and hes had so many reasons to be disheartened by this,so many reasons to give it up. I mean he’s 50 now, when I met him at all star I was early 20s. By this point he’d done everything, but he always wanted to help others out. He was always trying to evolve himself as well and he’d try out different gimmicks every month but he was so forthcoming with anyone who needed help. Mason Ryan (former WWE wrestler) started out there and back then he just wasn’t getting it. He had the look and he was getting pushed to the moon, but there was a lot of things he was struggling with and Carl really tried to help him whereas a lot of the other more experienced guys would just tell him he was shite.”

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“There’s no point telling anyone they’re shite if you’re not going to give them any advice on how they can improve. He used to work him a lot and his gimmicks were so suited to that environment and suited to making Mason look good, so he’d give him different bits of advice on how to make the matches look good and what to do at certain times. He was so dedicated and just a lovely guy, so to see the stuff he’s doing now is great. The match with Walter was outstanding. He’s out there doing all these dives and moonsaults, sentons off the ropes and all this. He took so many chops his chest was black and this is Wrestlemania weekend. This is a 50 year old man. Folk are wondering “why the fuck is he wrestling Walter on one of these shows?” and he’s thinking “I’m gonnae show ye why”

Experimentation with different gimmicks seems to be another lesson Jester has drawn with working alongside PCO. An ability to adapt to any given situation, even if that adaptation is more to highlight your opponents strengths than your own, as PCO undoubtedly knew he was doing when he got involved in a chop war with Walter.

“That kind of chopping is a different story, Carl would let you know if a line was crossed, he would let you know if he wasn’t happy, but they just stood there and went toe to toe, chopping fuck out each other and it was cool to see. If the fans are reacting to it and its working for you, go at it all day”I enjoy it when its a back and forth, and you’ve got two guys who can really work and react to the crowd so they know exactly how long to go with it, then eventually one gives up and take the bump and the crowd goes wild for it. ”

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A deep seeded love for villainy seems to be ingrained in Jester. One of my favourite aspects of going to family shows was just how absolutely terrified the weans were of him. He doesn’t do that because he hates children and wants to be in their nightmares (well….maybe a wee bit) he does that because if they’re going to experience a wrestling show the right way, they need the baddies. They need the guy with the scary eye who comes out looking homicidal and clatters his corkscrew off the barrier right in front of you as he walks past. You need the guy who’s going to jump the barrier and chase the team of wee guys round the perimeter of the Paisley Lagoon.

“I love being a villain at family shows. I love being the guy to wind the weans up and give them a fright. You’ll get wee guys giving you stick, and usually take a few steps past them before I turn round and shout something back. You’ve got to make them believe you’re the villain. I’m no being a dick. If folk ask me for a photo I’ll gladly take it, but ask me when I’m a babyface. Don’t ask me to do this stuff when I’m trying to be the devil. ”

Jack Jester – Star of film and television

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Along this journey Jack Jester and ICW have been on, there’s been vital moments along the way. Things that have helped the company grow to what it is today. Putting exposure on what they do to a wider audience of people who aren’t necessarily interested in wrestling. In fact, a lot of them probably think its a bit daft. That fake shit yer auld uncle used to like before he got intae the boxin’. A real mans sport. The British Wrestler documentary with Vice was the first time ICW was really put on a platform for a wider audience to see. Leading to Insane Fight Club and Insane Fight Club 2 on the BBC

“It was the first time I became synonymous with one product. I’d need to watch it again. We all went down for the premier then we went back down and done this wee show in a working mens club to kinda promote it. We filmed that video and just had a laugh, Grado talking about his pieces being an embarassment compared to mine. ”

The Vice Documentary lead to an infamous road video filmed on Mark Dallas phone when the crew went down to see the premiere of the film. A chaotic couple of days ensued fuelled by misery, cocktails, good pieces and megabuses.

“I don’t like London. I’m more likely to knock back work down there because it drains ma soul man. We were only meant to be a small part of that but the guys realised we had something and made us the main focus. It was back in the earlier days so it was when we were first getting a bit of momentum. It was funny because we watched it and we didn’t know till later that Alan Rickman was behind us the whole time. Grado was having to go up and talk about stuff and all that and we were all heckling. They put on this small show as sort of an example of what we do. It was in this wee pub in Bethnal Green. It was like it was frozen in time from the 60s or something man. The barmans telling ye he’s done a life stretch for murder. It was just us down in London causing it lately. It gave us a wee bit of a sort subculture status online”

When Insane Fight Club was first released Jack Jester became a celebrity overnight. His storyline of becoming ICW Champion in front of his Dad watching him wrestle for the first time was the perfect complement to the stories told by Mark Dallas and Grado and really built up the achievement as something special for Jack Jester as a wrestler and a person. It mattered and that came across, helping show reach unprecedented levels of success.

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“With Insane Fight Club we all has a meeting to start off. It was a guy called Adrian McDowell who directed it. It was so full on. We filmed it over the course of a year but it was all the time. Every show. Honestly I think he ended up with 150 hours of footage and its for a one hour show so it was so full on. Going in to all out backstories. Then Grado became a big focus of it because he was kinda the every man. The funny guy. Like when we first started getting recognised, he used to go on about it being a pain in the arse, and I wouldn’t mind it, and that’s because when they come up me they’re a bit intimidated or maybe they’ll just politely ask for a photo or something, but with him they’re coming up to him and jumping on his back and all that because he made them feel like he was their pal. He had that appeal”

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“When it was coming on the TV we all piled into my grans, my mum, my sister and everyone. We’re all buzzing and Grado’s like ‘My Ma’s shiteing herself, she’s sitting here with the dishtowel over here heid n everything’ because obviously she was in it as well. It was meant to be just BBC Scotland but it went on the network. They were originally aiming to hit 100k for the views and I’m pretty sure we topped over a million on that first night. Me and Dallas went out to celebrate it and that’s when you proper started noticing it. You’re walking down streets you walk down all the time but you can overhear folk talking about it, and you’re wondering if you’re supposed to turn round or just pretend you’ve not heard it. Especially looking how I do when you go out, I dress a bit different and with the big earrings and the beard etc, its hard to miss me. That was when I got a wee taste of that jealousy Grado because folk are a bit put out at the extra attention I was getting, but I don’t get it. If more folk are recognising me or any of us, that means more eyes is getting on the product YOU work on.”

Then came the next one. Having recently welcomed Drew Galloway home it was time to make the best of his glorious presence and one aspect of that would be including his story in the sequel. A further look in to ICW and how it had grown since the first documentary aired and the resulting success.

“The second one was more focused on us touring and trying to promote stuff for that. A lot of stuff didn’t make the cut actually, like we had an eating competition etc. We had Toal in a pram at some point. Going to Brookside was the best though. I couldn’t believe, folk live there man. It’s an actual place. The best thing was, Jimmy Corkhill was there. Folk are just going about their business as usual, looking out their window’s and seeing Jimmy Corkhill there…..in Brookside. Grado’s giving it ‘its like cuttin aboot wae Bieber’ because you’ve got folk flooding out their houses to get photos taken and all that. It was just madness. Drew was involved with that so we got into the backstory with me and him a bit more leading up to The Barrowlands”

It allowed a wider audience to see a bit more of the story that captivated British wrestling at that time as Drew and Jester barrelled towards their ICW Title match at Fear and Loathing.

“Drews mum had recently passed so it went in to that a bit. She was like my mum as well whenever I’d stay there, obviously I wasn’t from there so when I’d stay I wouldn’t know how long I’d be there. I always had a great relationship with his family. Both documentaries done amazing things for us. In terms of bringing eyes in, it was so important. We didn’t want wrestling fans to watch it, or well we knew they would anyway, but we needed to do enough interesting things where if folk were flicking through the channels they’d stop and go ‘wait a minute, whats this?’ It was amazing because before that we were just this wee company who ran nightclubs in the town. We had popularity. We had this kinda subculture status and even back then we could tell we had something, but after the Fight Clubs I had auld women coming up to me knowing who I am, and even if they’ve no watched it or they don’t know exactly what I do but we became more recognisable.”

“We worked with the same producers on both Insane Fight Clubs and then again on the new show we’re doing. Rogue To Wrestler. It’s a different thing in terms of us being the ones behind it as opposed to being the subject of it. It was difficult because there was the potential there to make it look a bit daft. We had to make sure we were doing it the right way and putting it across right, but we had no doubt the producers would do a great job on it. We’d built up such a rapport with them there was never any danger of that”

Insane Fight Club II - This Time it’s Personal

Armed with plenty of experience of at least being in front of the camera in a reality TV setting, Dallas and co had an idea of their own. They would be the ones driving the bus, instead of getting steamin up the back of it. They wanted to make a show of their own and the concept they came up with was rogue to wrestler. A show that would take down on their luck people who have maybe come from hard backgrounds and giving them the chance to turn their lives around with powerbombs n that. Instead of a one off documentary, it would be a series and having recently finished filming it Jester beamed with pride at the finished product.

“Its coming in February, what channel? we’re not sure yet, but we know it’ll be February. There’s going to be press about it starting from the new year. People are going to know what’s happening. The good thing about it is, with the Fight Club docs, we filmed for so long and got so much material, then once it was done that was it. It was over. With this, we’ve filmed three episodes. We gave them so many different challenges that led them to the point of being ready to go out and perform. The people involved had given us a rough idea of what had went on in their lives, and really this show’s about them, as opposed to the Fight Club ones being about us. We learned so much about them over the course of it and these people have ben through some tough stuff. So to see them put themselves out there and even take part in this has been amazing. Some of them suffer really badly from anxiety and things like that and it was impressive they even signed up. Dallas was laughing and even our producer was laughing when we watched it back because this is our TV show that we’ve filmed and I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it, wondering what was going to happen at the end. For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on? Its going to be great. Honestly, I’m so, so happy with it.”

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One of the reasons they were so over the moon with it was the light it shone on Glasgow. A positive, uplifting story of people changing in front of your very eyes through wrestling. Obviously the main point is to entertain folk but the work everyone involved put in to it wasn’t to make something throwaway or daft. This is a project they really believe in.

“Even on my days off I’d come in here and film cut aways. We did so many daft things to help the process. Its very Glaswegian. We filmed daft wee things to help add to it all. Stuff like guys sitting on the grass at half 2 in the afternoon in George Square and all that. But its good. Its funny. We laughed all the way through it and by the end, I honestly couldn’t thank them enough. Jen and Elspeth who spearheaded the whole thing (producers) have seen it many times now and love it, but the big boss who took a lot of convincing just to make it at all, absolutely loves it now. She just didn’t get it, but she was balling her eyes out watching it. The whole team were so engrossed in the filming, it was nice to see. At times in that industry there can be a bit of disconnection between what you’re filming but when we went into their offices all the name tags are changed now to wrestling personas. Things like “Mad Dog” Egan and all that. It took over their whole office for a while. Its great. The work they done considering we filmed it with very little in terms of cameras and equipment. Its came across really well and all my fears and my nerves about it have kinda gone now. I’ve seen it and I can relax. Now I can push it to the moon because I know its good and I’m just dying for folk to see it.”

“It makes ICW look great as well. All the different shots at the venues we run, especially The Hydro. They really put over the skill of wrestling and the seriousness that it takes to be good at it. These people had never done anything wrestling related before. One person hadnt even watched it ever. So to see their attitudes change was amazing. They went in with the attitude “its fake, how hard can it really be?” so it was good to see that slowly change and for that to come across on screen.”

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As much as it showed ICW in a positive light it also gave folk a wee peek at how things are done at GPWA. The school Jester and Lionheart both have a hand in running and the school where that hilarious photo of them doing DDP yoga poses above was taken. The show gave the audience a look at how the coaches sync up and apparently a lot of that syncing comes from synchronised stretching.

“The dynamic between me and Lionheart was interesting to see as well. We do this all the time, but we’re different people. We’ve got a similar mindset when it comes to how we approach it but it was interesting to see how we differ. There are times where he’s in the ring doing drills and stuff and I’ll be on the floor or on the apron and when folk are feeding out, I’m giving them advice before they rejoin the queue. It was interesting to see that all play out. The fact that the people who made it are so in love with it means a lot. THEY cannae wait to get it out, so its great to have the might of them behind us. Its our first jaunt into formatted TV so its great to have that confidence in what we’ve produced from the people who made it. It’s about the people who have been part of the show. Its about the “rogues” and our role is presenting the show as best we can and helping them get their stories across. We gave them an experience that they’ll never get again and never could. Without sounding too dramatic, it really has been a life changing thing. You can see people change in front of your eyes in the process of it. People start to look better, talk better, feel better, and these are people who have been through some proper heartbreaking things. Utterly heartbreaking. Because we’re dealing with real lives and real people, it comes across differently than if it was just a group of wrestling trainees. It had to be approached in a certain way because if we in any way looked like we were trying to set these people up and make them look silly. It would make us look like bullies.”

There was also misconceptions as to what the show was going to be in general. When the ad went up initially there was a rush of eager wrestling fans wanting to sign up but that wasn’t what they were looking for. People assumed it would just be a bunch of criminals having a wrestle. Not the case. They were looking for people who just needed an opportunity in any form. The less you know about wrestling the better, because you’re sure as hell going to find out this is serious and the seriousness it takes to make a career in this happen came across every well.

“I think when people heard the title “Rogue to Wrestler” they were thinking along the lines of us taking someone who’s just out the jail for something serious and putting them on display. We can’t do things like that because then you’re almost glorifying it, and what is the poor victim going to think about that? Sitting in the house watching the person who assaulted you have this life changing experience? So it’s definitely not along those lines. Its about folk who have had a tough time who want to better themselves, and show folk “this is me now” and I’m really really happy with how it’s turned out. Its been great to be a part of and I’m just so impressed and excited with how its been put together. Its been nice to sit back and see the finished product and not feel like we could have done certain things better or even just differently because they’ve done an immense job putting it together. People worked over their hours to make it what it is and I can’t wait for folk to see it”

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Its a simple enough concept and one that was a continued theme throughout an interview that wound up spanning 4 hours after initially being scheduled for 1-2. Take wrestling seriously. That doesn’t mean don’t enjoy it and have a laugh with it, but take it seriously. Get good at it and don’t get pissed off if it doesn’t happen for you right away because the chances are, it not happening for you right away is the best possible thing for you. You have to learn as you go. It takes a lot of graft to get to ICW and to get to the required level you need to be willing to graft.

“I’m protective of ICW because we’ve built something here, and I hate seeing anyone come in who I don’t think should be there. Taking it for granted, and moaning about being asked to do things. If you’ve been about for a long time, you get your say, we all have a moan, but folk who are quite frankly not giving it everything when they’re lucky to be there in the first place. You need to give it absolutely everything. I’m no saying go out and hurt yourself, but give it everything you’ve got. They watch the fans react to the established guys”

“If you cannae adapt to new things, you cannae work. I’ve never wanted to be a sympathy booking or just considered part of the furniture. I’ve always took pride in being able to change it up and give people something to think about it. If you had your favourite dinner every single night, you’d end up craving just about anything else. Doing the same thing over and over never works. You need to give people something to be invested in”

The reactions Jack Jester is getting right now as part of The Kinky Party is ample proof that he’s nae sympathy booking. He’s not just there because that’s the way it’s always been, he’s there because he and Sha are vital cogs in an ICW that is telling some of its most engaging stories in years. No Kinky. No Party.

Massive thank you to David J.Wilson for fishing out some cracking shots for me. Also thank you to Warrior Fight Photography. Hope Wrestling. ICW. Jack Jester’s official facebook page, the internet, I think some of the photos are from The Herald? Some folks phones. You get the jist. A lot of good photos

10 Questions With……Kez Evans

A whole new concept! 10 questions, no more, no less. Always exactly 10. Always with an “up and coming” pro wrestler. What “up and coming” means will be manipulated to suit the situation of course, but first on this new and exciting ride is none other than…..SqGoKez.jpg

Kez Evans. A GPWA trainee and a guy who didn’t have the best of nights at this year’s ICW Square Go. Entering Number 7, and well…..getting pied off everyone who entered from numbers 1 to 6. A ring full of people who had varying degrees of hate for one and other putting all that aside to take turns rejecting him, hitting him with their finishing move, before Sha Samuels unceremoniously dumped him out to be the first man eliminated. A sobering experience but one necessary if success is on the horizon. Character building is important. Wrestling for Kez Evans has so far had its ups and downs but his in-ring talent has been a shining light throughout.  He was even chosen to main event the first ever show held at ICW and GPWA’s base “The Asylum” up against Wolfgang (Or “WWE superstar Wolfgang to give him his proper title) and produced a match well beyond his experience level at that time. A fine way to kick off a singles career that he’ll be hoping has many more highlights like that and of course his bout with Mr Anderson last year.


We’ll start this interview off at…well…the start eh? How long have you been training with GPWA now and how is it going?

I was in the fourth intake and started back in April 2015. Training’s been going great and it’s always evolving to still be challenging every time I go to train.

What made you decide to take the plunge and give training a try?

Been a fan of it since I was 10 years old. I got into it in the weird way though, everyone usually says they were flicking through channels and saw it. That wasn’t my way of getting into it. I was visiting my Dad in hospital because he suffered a heart attack (don’t worry he’s fine) and I went to pick a magazine and I saw a Smackdown magazine, fuckin JBL was on the cover, don’t know why I saw him and got interested. I skimmed through it and found myself wanting to watch it, first ever show I saw was WrestleMania 21. I’ve watched it ever since and always said I really want to do that one day. Then one of my best friends saw that GPWA were having an intake and we jumped on the opportunity and that was that.

You were in the main event of the first show at The Asylum (ICW – Futurama) 2 and a bit years ago now. What are your memories of that match with (WWE superstar) Wolfgang? How do you feel it went?

My memories during the match were a bit of a blur, I can remember the build-up towards the match even more because I was so terrified. Keep in mind, I was only doing this for 6 months at the time, and had one battle royal and two tag matches under my belt. Then Wolfgang comes up to me during training and says “Aye so it’s me and you for the main event of this show.” I was so terrified, some nights I’d just have random freak out moments when it hit me that this was happening. I think the match went well, looking back you can tell how new to it I was, I cringe at certain things I done and tried to get over. But I’d never change one thing about it.

Wolfgang has since gone on to big things with his stint as ICW champion and WWE recognition. The whole team at GPWA have a wealth of experience. How much of a plus is having trainers of that calibre to call on?

The GPWA are so spoiled. We have 2 rings, 5 coaches, each with around 10+ years experience all with their own style of wrestling. We have an amazing training facility and sometimes we all just take it for granted, we don’t realise just how good we’ve got it. When Wolfgang comes back from the Performance Centre in Orlando, we do every drill and exercise he done over there. We are so spoiled and I’m thankful for it

You were part of the tournament GPWA ran last year (since re-branded “The Drew Galloway Invitational” for this year’s offering) showcasing the top trainees in the country. How was being a part of that and how do you feel it can help trainees progress going forward in future years?

It was pretty cool being in the tournament. This was after watching the WWE UK tournament and everyone was all hyped about this tournament trying to make it as big of a deal as the UK one. Sadly I lost in my first match…..(hate you Leyton) But it’s a great to show new talent to audiences and it gets new talent working in different environments. I mean the second night people were wrestling twice in one afternoon with hardly a break, and not against other talent from their own schools either, it was other schools talent too, so it’s a completely new challenge for them. It can help get them over with the audience watching guys try to win a tournament to show they are the best.

As I recall oor Leyton got quite a brutal tanking for his troubles. Revenge is a dish best served with your boot on the throat of the guy who beat you…as the famous saying goes

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What are your goals for this year? A square go appearance was surely a decent way to kick it off at least in ICW terms?

Last year around March, around my birthday actually, I had my biggest match to date when I wrestled Mr. Anderson. I watched him with my mates as a kid and now I’m standing across the ring from him and he’s doing his intro whilst my friends are watching. It was pretty crazy at the time. After that match I was sure things would kick off in terms of me moving up in the business. But due to myself and how I handle and perceive things, I became stagnant. It was around summer time a few months after the match and nothing changed, I was still on GPWA shows and was happy I was but I wanted more. I saw friends and other trainees from the school get on other shows and wrestle in front of thousands of people whilst I was still backstage watching on, I was happy for them sure but I wanted in on that too. For the past 6 months I became extremely unhappy with myself, felt like I wasn’t going anywhere and that I wasn’t as good as I was before, at some points I really wanted to chuck the whole thing altogether cause I felt like I didn’t bring anything to the table. But I started off this year a bit better, I was in the Square Go, not for long mind you, but just enough time to get the bigger audience looking at me so that’s good. I do want to become a well-known name in ICW, and get my brand of offence over with the crowd and work with many of the big talents that work there, but I’m not gonna hold my breath and get my hopes up. Just because I was in the Square Go for about 45 seconds doesn’t mean I have my place set in stone there. But hopefully I’ll be more involved there this year.

In a Square Go with no wasted spots, just having a place at all is a huge thing. Even if it was one of the sillier parts of it, that’s what ICW is all about. Being able to laugh at yourself and being able to fucking wrestle. If the focus is on that, doors won’t be swinging open they’ll fuckin fly open. 

Speaking of the Square Go, how do you plan on exacting revenge on those who shunned you? Or indeed any ‘journalists’ who may have been guilty of irresponsible reporting on your appearance

I won’t jump them the first time I see them, I’ll take my time, I never forget who’s done wrong to me. Patience. And in terms of other people who shunned me, with your case calling me a nobody, as brutal as the comment was, it’s true. I’m still a nobody in everyone’s eyes. One of my goals is to become a well-known name and for people to pay to see me, whether they want me to win or lose, I frankly don’t care, all I know is they wanted to see this guy.

No gonnae lie, I’ve said a lot of daft things in reviews. Some more brutal than calling Kez “a nobody in a sea of somebodies” but this is the first time I’ve felt bad about it so well done. Your apology letter and my favourite auld wrestling figure (the Earthquake one that had moving legs because wrestling figures used to be terribly designed and hardly any had moving legs) is in the mail winging its way to you. Honestly mate I was only kiddin right. You’re somebody. You’re Kez Evans. Never forget x

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Who in particular would you really like to wrestle on the Scottish/UK scene that would best showcase your own abilities?

Scottish scene has so much good fucking talent that it’s scary. That’s another reason why I doubt myself sometimes cause I look at some people and go “Well how can I top that? They are just too good.” I would love to face the Coffeys, that’d be a really intense couple of fights there. I’d love to face Mikey Whiplash, just in a straight one on one bout and see if I can hang with one of the best in the country. I’d also love to fight Bram as well because I have a death wish. There’s so much talent I haven’t yet faced that they could help showcase my abilities. Guys like Andy Wild, Jackie Polo, DCT. I reckon Stevie Boy and I could have an amazing bout too. There’s too many wrestlers to count, apologies if I didn’t specifically say your name if you’re reading this but you are all on my list of who I want to face.

Who have been your biggest influences both from before you started training and since then?

My biggest influences before I started where a massive list, I can’t pick a favourite wrestler, cause I go through phases of watching just one guys matches and being like “aw he’s amazing, he’s my favourite” so I can’t really answer that. Maybe just wrestling in general influenced me. And the people who influence me now are my coaches and some of the guys who have started working for ICW and other places, guys like The Purge, SBX, Layton, Ravie, Soldato and Thacther, they motivate me a lot even if they don’t know it, but they do. Seeing them become more successful makes me proud that I go to the same school. The coaches influence me too because they are the ones who taught me what I know, what I’ve always wanted to do and they believed in me even when I didn’t think I can go far with this. But they did, and I don’t want to fail any of them

Any upcoming shows you fancy telling us about? 

Wrestling Experience Scotland have 5 Pound Wrestling at the Asylum on March 18th, and live in Dennistoun on the 30th.

Tickets +info for all upcoming Wrestling Experience Scotland shows can be found here 

Follow Wrestling Experience Scotland on Twitter HERE
Like them on Facebook HERE

Last but not least. Plug the utter bejesus out of your social media stuff!

Facebook page – Kez Evans
Twitter page – KezEvans95

Thank you to David J.Wilson and Warrior Fight Photography for the photos

Shooting to do at least one of these a fortnight. If there’s a talent you think should be highlighted anywhere in the UK or beyond by all means give me a shout with your recommendations. I might ignore ye if I think said person is a bit pish but give it a pop anyway. 

GPWA Asylum Invitational Review

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Its two weeks since it happened so admittedly some of the details might be a bit sketchy but it was important to get this reviewed simply because of how important the tournament itself was. 16 up and coming talents from the three top wrestling schools in the west of Scotland. It was for my money anyway, something any wrestling fan in this country should have an interest in. Having a glimpse into the future of the product you enjoy now. Getting to know talented folk before they end up breaking yer heart abandoning ye for the WWE like Noam did. Whilst I’m gonnae talk about all 16 matches in some sort of detail one thing I took away from the whole event is that an event full of “trainees” never yielded one bad match. These folk from different school who had never really worked with each other besides a few exceptions somehow managed to gel and put in top performances in every match. A remarkable feat.

Night One

Ravie Davie vs Matt Daly

Intriguing from start to finish. Daly dominated the middle of the match with some methodical, sare looking offence before Davie took over with his usual brand of enthusiastic jaw scudding. I find it impossible to fathom whit kinda evil must exist in your soul to come anything close to disliking Ravie Davie but each to their own I suppose. My only problem is no being able to catch whit hes saying when he does his pre-match rap and that upsets me cause I want tae rap along with him. Enjoyed the match. Davie progressed with a big bastardin heider to knock MAAAAAATT DAAAAALY out. Davie took to the mic afterwards and let us know he was winning the whole fuckin thing. Bold statement from a bold man.

Krieger vs Danny Cantrell

Sophie’s choice here innit. Danny is someone im pally with from his pre grappling days and I mind him going to his first ICW when he turned 18. Fuck if I mind right it was the day of Surprise Devitt taking the Zero-G title. So there’s a bias there.We shared a moment eh. Against anyone else I’d have been aw Danny, but fuckin hell, this one was hard. Big Krieger just has “it”. That thing that you can’t teach. One way or another he has everyone watching him absorbed in what hes doing and over the course of this tournament he was undoubtedly the one who fans gravitated towards the most. I dig it a lot. It just works and his tag team with Lou King Sharp is one of the most entertaining things in Scotland today. Was proud to see my pal hold his own with one half of the PBW Tag Team Champions but also kinda happy Krieger progressed thanks to a beautiful combination of kicks cause he’s a crackin talent. His wee pre match “sexy dance” got the ring announcer for the night Molly Spartan involved but his big finale of gettin the tits oot was not mirrored by her despite his best attempts. Better watch yersell mate. The big bad wolf is always watching and they knucks are probably always within arms reach. Protect yer domepiece at all times. Krieger advanced but ma man Danny held his own in the face of a much bigger opponent, and even survived a hate crime when Krieger cried him a “big Emo”.

Irving Garrett vs Scott McManus

Pick of the first round for me in terms of match quality. A cracking mesh of styles, summed up by the duelling chants of “holds” from Garrett, met by Mcmanus’ cry of “throws”. Holds and throws mate. That’s what this wrestling caper is all about. Its nae secret I have a rampaging hard-on for Irving Garrett as a wrestler, but Mcmanus also caught the eye with his unorthodox style. Looks like he could knee ye in the temple from aw sorts of angles. Hugely enjoyable match. Irving Garrett for me is one of the most complete in ring talents in Scotland and must be utilised more. His finisher is a side Russian leg sweep and he turns it onto a submission that looks like it would make ye greet instantaneously and that’s how he rounded this off but the hard work was done with all the mad looking submissions he was getting in about before that. Weakening the opponent for the mega sare finish. McManus was equally important in making this match as good as it was though and will feel unfortunate not to have gone further.

Leyton Buzzard vs Kez Evans

Kez Evans is a slightly peculiar case. He main evented the first Asylum show when it was under the ICW banner and had a stormer with big Wolfgang. Really good match and he showed a level of ability far beyond the experience he had. Maybe needs a wee something extra character wise to pair up with his unquestionable skill in the ring and he seemingly found it here. Brutally knocking eleven shades of shite out of Leyton Buzzard when he took what would be regarded an upset win with a rollup after Kez dominating the match. Kez mocked his opponent from the start, so of course he would be raging at losing to someone he was pretty much pointing and laughing at throughout. The doing that commenced shortly after was almost unavoidable but regardless, Buzzard progressed to face Aaron Echo in the next round. Just what yer needing after taking an almighty scudding, a match against the most accomplished talent in the tournament who’s also probably about double your weight.

Aaron Echo vs Jack Dillon

The favourite against one of the underdogs was always going to go one way, but credit to Jack Dillon for at least managing to to showcase some of what he’s capable of over the course of it. Something about Aaron Echo is a wee bit different from the other 15 competitors. With the greatest of respect to them all, Echo carries himself like hes the finished article and even if he isn’t the finished article yet, carrying yourself with that level of conviction goes a long way to convincing folk that you are. He showed a proper villainous side as the tournament wore on but this was more of a straight up, nae messin win. Taking Dillon out with a thunderous Pumphandle Slam.

Devin Fawkes vs Kai Williams King

This was a bit easier to choose sides cause Devin’s my pal and I didn’t really know much about Kai Williams King beforehand. Not making it to many Asylum or Source shows due to the day job made this tournament a lot more eye opening than it might have been and Kai Williams King certainly showed he has something. A big lump of a guy tae. Fawkes cut a promo beforehand deriding Williams-King seemingly ignoring him as a threat and treating the first round as formality and it certainly wasn’t that. Fawkes is adept at they big dirty kicks to side of the dome and slung some vicious chops. Taking his deceptively agile opponent out his stride and even catching his attempt at a big running boot to the chest and sweeping him, causing him to land beak first on the hardest cunt in wresting, the ring apron. Fawkes was giving it the “this is my house patter” which was mirrored by KWK, and I dunno if this mean’s they’re flat mates or suhin. If there isn’t at least some kinda joint tenancy at play here it cannae be both of yer gaffs. Who’s hoose is it? Williams-King did eventually gain some momentum and took the win with a German Supelex that turned into a rock bottom type of thing.

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Dylan Angel

I liked this a lot for two reasons. First and foremost, it was was really good match. Dylan Angel is very talented at that mad Will Ospreay backflip stuff and managed to showcase his talent while making his opponent look fuckin excellent. When ye go to a show like this ye need to be open minded and give folk a chance to make a fan out of you, and Sam Barbour certainly done that for me. I really had no idea he was as good as he displayed over these two shows and that’s reason two for liking this. I became a fan of a wrestler and promptly added him to the constantly growing list of “gid cunts that dae the wrestling”. He has a really neat bridging northern lights suplex that I enjoyed whenever he busted it out, but even aside from the high level of talent he has in ring, he has whatever that character is meant to be locked down. Yer man has a hand signal and pretty much everyone there was mimicking it. Anything remotely villainous was met with a “that’s not handsome” chant so he seems to have convinced the audience “handsome” is a blanket term for things that are morally upstanding. He won with the hangman’s DDT but Angel could definitely consider himself unfortunate to be going out. A bit like Scott McManus he managed to shine even in defeat.

Lucha DS vs Kieran McColm

Another interesting wee mesh of styles and the start of a bit of character development for Kieran McColm. In all 3 of his matches the crowd favoured his opponent despite him being a happy go lucky Bob Backlund-esque type of dude and by the third match he was starting to resent it. In this one he was happy to let the crowd go Lucha daft and responded to it by doing hunners of good wrestling. A very talented dude who showed why he managed to keep up with Tyler Bate on a Source show not long ago. Lucha kept McColms skills at bay with some slick Lucha stuff. With the springboards, and the moonsaults and aw that stuff. The 205 live material. It was a strong finish to a first night that was competed at a stupidly high standard and McColm joined the quarter final lineup with a crossface. A handshake was exchanged afterwards despite initial resistance from Lucha, momentarily forgetting his Lucha manners before restoring balance in the Lucha universe by eventually agreeing to the handshake.

Night one ended with the Quarter Finalists being brought out and Aaron Echo punching Leyton Buzzard square in the mouth leading to a big 8 man stramash. I hope future wrestling tournaments take heed and stop having folk who are gonnae wrestle each other soon go face to face, cause it invariably leads to someone getting punched in the mouth. Ravie Davie and Echo were the two last men standing, some foreshadowing for what was to come in night two perhaps? Keep reading these words to find out. And these ones. And aw the ones below this.

Night Two

Quarter Finals

Aaron Echo vs Leyton Buzzard

This was a bonafide scudding from the beginning. The smallest guy in the tournament going against the favourite to win it was always going to be a rough time for Leyton Buzzard but chuck in the fact he got leathered after his match just 24 hours earlier you had to wonder if there was even any point in him showing up. He did have a wee 1-2-3 Kid type of spell in the match where he made the arrogant big dude giving him a doing a bit worried, but the fairytale was never on the cards. This was the start of Echo properly morphing into a big no gien a fuck baddie, when he chucked Molly Spartan off her chair in order the use that chair for nefarious deeds. There wis surely another chair he could have used in the area, its a wrestling show ffs. There should be a 3 steel chair minimum for all wrestling shows, just in case. It was dominant from Echo but the use of the steel chair when he most likely didn’t need it to get the job done is some wicked behaviour.

Kai Williams King vs The Sam Barbour Experience

Probably just edged Garrett vs Ravie Davie for match of the Quarters. This is when Sam Barbour proper started to shine for me, and him and KWK (it said that on his gear and its easier than typing the full name) seemed to have aw sorts of chemistry. The big boot KWK does on the apron that was foiled the night before against Devin Fawkes, connected emphatically in this match, making Barbour’s performance in the remainder of the match all the more remarkable considering he had to pick the remnants of his ribcage up after the kick. Barbour does this thing where he tells the opponent to “relax” before attempting to boot their heid aff their shoulders, a play on his theme music whilst also telling his opponent hes about to get knocked the fuck out. Effective on many levels, but again it was the Hangman’s DDT that got the job done after KWK missed from the top rope.

Krieger vs Kieran Mccolm

The moment of the weekend happened before this match even began, as Krieger broke out the sexy dance routine, once again pulling the straps doon only for WWE superstar (look out for the interview, coming…..probably today) Wolfgang to emerge before he could try and drag the poor ring announcer into it again. Instead Wolfgang joined Krieger and Molly Spartan in a spot of sexy dancing, a fact that I’m sure was of great relief to Krieger who must have anticipated he was about to be on the sharp end of a sound thrashing. It was Wolfy who whapped the dids out instead, ripping his t-shirt off, revealing a big tattoo that said “Product Of The WWE Performance Centre” before leaving Krieger to get on with the grapplin. One has to ponder if the shenanigans took Kriegers eye aff the ball a wee bit but this was also the start of Mccolm acknowledging that the crowd were heavily favouring his opponent and him getting a bit pissed off at it. In-ring ability wise he’s another who is at a level far beyond his years, so why don’t they love him like they love sexy dancing? One of they questions we’ll never get an answer to but he took the crowd favourite clean out the equation with the crossface and advanced to the semis.

Ravie Davie vs Irving Garrett

The battle of two GPWA mainstays. Garrett signalled his intent to knock Ravie Davie out of the tournament in his post first round promo, and Ravie Davie used that same promo opportunity to tell everyone he intended to show them why he’s “the best hing gaun” in Scottish Wrestling right now. Something had to give. One of them was certainly heading up the road. Garrett responded to Davie’s usual “Whits happenin troops!” pre match war cry by telling the crowd “Holds! Holds are what’s happening” so reading between the lines there, I think he was intending to utilise some holds over the course of this match. This certainly ticks all the boxes for a cracking rivalry, two guys who are polar opposites both in character and in wrestling style. Really enjoyable scrap, was sad to see Garrett go out thanks to a big scudding heider from Davie, but the dream lived on for Davie and he moved on to write a new chapter in his rivalry with Aaron Echo in the semi finals.

Semi Finals

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Kieran Mccolm

Another standout match in the tournament and the match where Sam Barbour solidified himself as a top talent as opposed to a guy who had a couple of flukey good matches in a row. Three out of three being belters certainly means something. If McColm was the thorn in PBW’s side, yer man Barbour was the Source destroyer and managed to extinguish their hopes of being the school responsible for the first winner of the GPWA invitational by taking McColm out. It was interesting to see that wee bit of frustration from McColm to get the crowd on his side eventually coming to the boil as he lost his cool a wee bit with the home crowd. Its that wee bit of attitude that will take him to the next level. Something he’s trying hard to achieve, shedding the “Underdog” moniker and singlet for trunks and snazzy jacket. Its unquestionable that aw the best wrestlers in the world wear trunks and a snazzy jacket to the ring. Wrestling is mainly being as snazzy as possible without wearing something that could shrink if ye get heavy sweaty. A difficult balance to strike. Barbour once again put his opponent away with the Hangman’s DDT, but I’m sure he has a much sexier name for it than that.

Aaron Echo vs Ravie Davie

Echo entered first and waited patiently in the Asylum bogs for Davie to emerge, blindsiding him before the bell and subjecting him to a pre match skelping. Yet more villainous behaviour from Echo who does seem to suit the role of ruthless bad yin down to a tee. He’s more than capable of getting the job done without using such tactics, but why leave anything to chance when ye can batter folk with a chair instead? He flung Davie about a bit before finally getting the match start. Davie did enjoy a wee spell on top. Hitting that Pele Kick and the springboard moonsault he busts out every now and then but anything he flung at Echo just couldn’t match Echo flingin a chair at Davie with the referee out of the equation. I’d always found a right good chair throw a lot more emphatic than a chair shot, if its done right it’s certainly acoustically pleasing at the very least but it was a right shame to see Echo lowering himself to such things. Hingin aboot bathrooms just to get the upper hand in a fight. Throwing lassies aff chairs. Surely by this point he should have had a dedicated chair for use in these matters, but yer man seemed to be enjoying chucking Molly Spartan off a chair that didnae even look comfortable anyway. It was probably already creating a bit of sore arsedness and into the bargain she had to deal with gettin flung about. Echo did indeed take the win with that chair throw as the favourite to win it all put the fan favourite out.

Fight Club vs The Purge

A smashing choice as the only non tournament match of the weekend. Ye need that wee breather between the Semi’s and the Final and it was also a chance for GPWA to showcase the most polished tag team to come from the school to date. The Purge were the goodies and very popular with a crowd who were largely made up of regular Asylum show attendees, and Fight Club just had a fuckin great time as the baddies. Liam Thomson seems to be having the time of his life anytime he enters a wrestling ring right now anyway, and Kid Fite was in fine form. Ripping the piss out of someone’s choice of headwear before jawing with folk in the crowd as he hung about the apron, certainly not inviting a tag. Liam Thomson’s one of the finest grapplers in the land after all, why get in amongst it if he’s doing the job  just fine on his own? First time in a while I’d seen The Purge and they have what it takes to become a staple of the tag division up and down Scotland and beyond. They contributed to a proper fun match, even if it did end in some sare baws as Fight Club took advantage of the ref being out the equation to deliver a double baw hit for the win. I dunno why folk bother doing moves after they’ve dunted someone in the baws; ye kick me in the baws I’m down for a count of 300 at least never mind 3.

THE GRAND FINALE

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Aaron Echo

A fitting pairing for the final. Aaron Echo the most accomplished talent in the field going in to the tournament, and Sam Barbour the guy who in my eyes anyway, turned the most heads in the tournament. Certainly anyone who hasn’t been to a lot of the Asylum shows will have seen a level of ability from him that they maybe weren’t expecting. Being a GPWA guy up against the big dominant baddie who had gradually become more and more of a baddie as the tournament went on meant the crowd were hugely on Barbour’s side. Not that Echo was giving anything resembling a fuck. He came to win a tournament and clearly had no qualms with whatever tactics he had to use to complete that objective. A credit to all the schools involved that such a high quality tournament was brought to an end by an absorbing final. Barbour really had Echo worried throughout and gave him his toughest match of the tournament, but the big man made use of a slick reversal before rolling Barbour up with a handful of tights to get the pin and become the first ever winner of the GPWA Asylum Invitational. A wee cheeky handful of tights and more attempts to use a steel chair didn’t go down well with all observers, namely a certain big bad Wolf (him thats in WWE, read part one of the interview coming….in a few hours, or it might already be oot depending on when you’re reading this) who saw Echo attack Barbour after the match and could take no more. He emerged at to commend Echo’s talent and congratulate his victory before going straight to Da mode and telling him how he was disappointing at some of the more sleekit tactics he used to get the job done. Challenging him to a match at the next Night At The Asylum show. Wolfgang vs Aaron Echo. With big tournament wins comes big opportunities it would seem.

Overall really enjoyed both nights. The tournament was a rousing success and will hopefully grow and grow from this point on. If its a yearly thing its another thing for “trainees” to shoot for. Winning that tournament and having people sit up and take notice. Of the 16 matches, none were anything approaching bad, which is a pretty amazing thing considering the level of experience amongst those who took part in them. A sign of how high standards are across the board and that can only lead to a bright future. asylum2echo

Photo of the winner taken by the extra talented David J.Wilson