Who I am was sculpted by Wrestling
These days I listen to a lot of podcasts, of these a few are about wrestling. In one, the host always asks his guests, “What is your earliest memory of wrestling?” This is a question that I have been trying to find my own answer to of late. In all honesty though, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a fan of wrestling. Nor can I think of a time when it wasn’t a pretty big part of my life.
So, for a while now, I have been toying with the notion of writing a series of blogs. The idea being that these blogs would discuss the things that are most influential to my life. With wrestling being something that I can only remember as an influence, it would make the most sense to start there.
As a kid, my memories of wrestling revolved around a few things;
At this time I was still a believer in wrestling. I took it very much at face value, as I think most kids do. It’s because of this that I think the influence wrestling had on me at this time really stuck. For example I wanted to grow my hair long (because all the best wrestlers had long hair) and years later I can’t even remember my last hair cut.
As I got older and the reality of wrestling sunk in, wrestling started to have more of an impact and influence on my life. It all started around year 8 or 9 of school when my friends and I discovered e-fedding. It was through this form of online role playing / competitive writing that I would come to learn vast amounts about wrestling. Through the process of writing fake matches and promos I would also slowly start to develop a persona for myself. This persona would help me develop as a person as I grew up and eventually come out of my shell a lot more.
Looking back at this time what I was doing had a real sense of ‘fake it till you make it’. The person I am today is almost entirely this persona that I developed while making the switch from secondary school to college. What’s funny is that I only really notice a break in this when trying to talk to wrestlers, or those involved in wrestling. The most noticeable example I can think of being the time I got to meet Bret Hart. Standing near to him I found that I literally couldn’t speak let alone think of a thing to say.
While many of my friends would fall away from e-fedding, I stuck with it as a regular activity for almost 8 years. There is a good chance that if SCW (the match writing e-fed that I most enjoyed writing for) was still around, I’d still be involved in some way. Working hard to find new ways to explain that the “Danger Liam” character wears purple.
It was because of e-fedding that I also first started developing websites and doing graphic design. While me and my friends were in our first e-fed (wXw) I was first learning how to design and build websites. This was as I discovered software like Microsoft FrontPage and Yahoo GeoCities. While you could (and should) look back on both of these now and scoff (if you could find them), at the time these websites opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. It wasn’t long before I would take on the role of web designer for a number of e-feds. You can find information about the last e-fed I would make a website for as part of my portfolio.
In many cases my enjoyment of developing these sites would overtake my interest in the e-fed. This is a trait that I now notice in myself as an adult. I often feel I’m the one trying to push forward new ideas and add to the projects I am working on. This happens especially when what I’m working on is wrestling related, maybe to the point of being a little annoying.
Throughout all of this time, I still saw wrestling as something that was kind of unattainable, all I really knew of wrestling was of the American scene. Even my understanding of “indy wrestling” came from American promotions like ROH. I had personally never seen live wrestling other than at holiday parks when I was a kid. Not to disparage but at the time (circa 1992-94) I couldn’t see the wrestling at Butlins as the hard hitting stuff I was used to from TV. It was only after meeting my fiancée, Sarah, who first suggested watching live wrestling together, that I discovered the scene in this country.
This all brings me to how wrestling influences my life today. After helping me discover my career, allowing me to become a more rounded person, allowing me to develop my personal style and even giving me the name I use for this site (and everywhere else on the web). I can now say that wrestling is more influential on me today than it ever has been.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog I listen to a lot of podcasts at the moment. From two of these podcasts (Tuesday Night Jaw & Morgan Webster’s Wrestling Friends) I have been able to hear stories told by a number of people who I have really grown to admire. Hearing people talking about their passion for wrestling and how it spurred them on to be wrestlers / photographers / referees / promoters has in many ways helped to solidify a desire I have to work on wrestling projects.
Over the past two years I have worked to find projects and ideas trying to get my foot in the door of wrestling web design. While some of these unfortunately didn’t take off, I am still immensely proud of all of the work I have done. In April of this year I was finally able to launch my first official wrestling project, when the Fight Club: PRO website went live. This really helped prove that this was something I could do and gave me more encouragement to stay involved.
From there I would move on to develop a website with the team at ATTACK! Wrestling. I am now looking to see what other promotions I can work with. My aim is to help to mold the current standard of independent wrestling websites.
In recent months I have also been lucky to have conversations with people who work in the UK wrestling scene. These people being Morgan Webster, Jim Smallman, Jim Maitland & Oli Sandler. While to them these conversations may have just been passing moments, they have all stayed with me. Through the times when I have wondered if my work will go anywhere, being able to think back has really helped. I feel I owe a huge thank you to these 4 people especially.
Then there have been many other names who have given me encouragement without even realising it, just by talking about their journeys in wrestling. These discussions are something that I really hope continue over the coming years (mostly through podcasts).
I’m really happy to say that I am now working on my third official wrestling project. Again working with another UK based promotion. While there will always be a small part of me that wishes I had come to some of these decisions sooner, I’m really looking forward to what will come next.
So to summarise, what I really want to say is “Thank You WRESTLING!”.
Not sure how many people will read this but I’d love to kick start a bit of a discussion. So what aspects of wrestling have people been influenced by? Feel free to leave a comment and let me (and the rest of the 3 people reading this world) know.