I’m currently on a train home from London, I’ve spent the last few hours at Ultimo Battle, the biggest show of the fledgling indie wrestling promotion Lucha Underground.
I should back up a little. I enjoyed watching pro wrestling as a kid, who didn’t? Between 1995 and 2000 I watched a lot! It was something my brother, my dad and I all enjoyed so looking back on it I think it was a nice bonding thing for us. I was between the ages of 8 and 13 which would have made my brother in his late teens/young adult and my dad in his mid to death forties (he died at 49 in 1999.) I’m sure we all enjoyed different parts of the WWF product. I would have been enjoying it on a surface level, my dad probably appreciated the production and spectacle and I’m sure he idolised Vince McMahon’s business savvy and my brother probably enjoyed the attitude eras breaking of the conventions.
After my dad died my connection to wrestling wained pretty hard. I still watched Raw occasionally for a while and would hear people talking about the PPV’s but I lost a lot of my interest.
That lasted for a long while. I remember a could of times, probably around 2008/09 ish my brother and I got hammered watching the Royal Rumble and enjoyed that, but that was all.
Jon carried on watching and in 2015 I watched Wrestlemania with him. I didn’t know who most of the cast were, but I enjoyed it a lot. From then on I kept up with the PPV’s and would read recaps of Raw and later, Smackdown. I tried watching them from time to time but there is just too much shit in there for me to care about.
I’ve got a few friends who have always been way into wrestling so last year, after only watching it occasionally, I went to an NXT live event in Bournemouth with Jon and our friend Jamie. NXT is the WWE’s ‘developmental’ brand, basically its a lot of guys they see potential in but don’t think are quite ready mixed with talent they’ve poached from smaller promotions such as Ring of Honour, New Japan and TNA. A lot of the time they’ll grab these guys when their contracts are up and use them in NXT until they have a decent spot to use them in on the main roster. It’s really fucking cool! It’s honestly my favourite wrestling product out there.
I think about who I saw at that show just last year and where they are and what they’re doing now and I’m pretty amazed.
Since going to that show and having a blast I’ve been way more up for going to indie shows locally. In March I want to the second ever Lucha Forever show which happened to be here in Southampton with my friends Mitchell and Emma. It was awesome. It was way more akin to going to a rowdy rock show than a ‘sporting’ event. The crowd were into it, the wrestlers put on an entertaining as hell show and the venue was really small so everyone was really close to the action.
Last week I went to another one at the same place and again, had an amazing time. Which lead to tonight in London.
They’ve been building this show up as they’re version of Wrestlemania. They’ve had top talent not just from the UK but internationally as well booked and it really delivered. You could tell that all the performers were having a hell of a time and were all really proud of the whole promotion.
It’s difficult to build a story on a show that’s only been in existence for less than six months and doesn’t have much in the way of wide distribution. That’s why it’s even more impressive these guys are able to tell good stories on the fly. If you’re in the UK and have any interest in professional wrestling I definitely recommend checking out a Lucha Forever show.
So yeah, I enjoy wrestling as much now as I did when I was a kid but for totally different reasons, if you’ve never seen the YouTube video ‘Wrestling isn’t Wrestling’ by Max Landis you really should. It kind of sums up what’s fun about it. It’s athletic improv theatre.
Should be a regularly scheduled post tomorrow. I’ll see you then.