Interview: Rhia O’Reilly

February 10, 2017

16463042_1235918933110397_3551233650503381513_oRhia O’Reilly has been a Friend of TOWIS almost since its inception – so what better way to mark our relaunch than by catching up with her?

The last time we met up, you were about to have your match in EVE with Nikki Storm…

I remember! I’ve probably seen her more since she went to America than I did when she was in Scotland. It’s funny – the first person I was friends with who went to WWE was Bayley, but she’s American, that’s what they do, they go to WWE. Then it was Paige. To see this small, angry Scottish woman on telly is weird – but I’m so happy for her. Read the rest of this entry »

Fact: Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble is annoying – but maybe not for the reasons you think

January 30, 2017

The bookies were right. Randy Orton won the 30th annual Royal Rumble to secure his place at WrestleMania.

Except…Randy Orton was always going to be at WrestleMania. He’s Randy Orton. The Viper. The Legend-Killer. The Evolution of the Legacy. His place on the big stage is assured.

But he’s a safe choice – and when it came down to the final two, with Roman Reigns the other man still standing, an Orton win was the only way to assure cheers rather than boos as the show went off the air.

Something else that would have assured cheers would have been a more exciting, more interesting choice for the winner – somebody who’s not already guaranteed a shot at the year’s biggest show. Read the rest of this entry »

Fact: The WWE UK Championship Tournament was amazing – and it’s just the start

January 16, 2017

In recent months, I’ve not been overly impressed with WWE’s programming. I tend to get up on a Tuesday and Wednesday morning, glance over the results from RAW and Smackdown, and decide whether to bother watching the episode. (I remain loyal to NXT, though, which always has something worth seeing.)

And when you’re having a busy time of it at work, it’s easy to slip away from getting to too many live wrestling shows; it has to be something really special to get me through the door at the moment.

So it’s easy for me to forget how much I love wrestling.

And then there’s a weekend like this, and I remember it all over again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fact: World of Sport Wrestling could be a 2017 hit

January 2, 2017

British fans of British wrestling tuned in to ITV on New Year’s Eve, ready to see what was about to be served up under the World of Sport banner.

And you know what? It was pretty good.  Read the rest of this entry »

On Enzo Amore, injury, and why I can’t watch Payback now

May 2, 2016

I didn’t stay up for Payback last night. I knew I’d have to be up reasonably early to go to work (yes, on a bank holiday) so decided I could catch up on the Network later.

Then I got a Whatsapp message while I was asleep. I woke up, glanced at it, read it again, and again.

It was from a wrestler friend who told me that Enzo Amore’s injury looked terrifying.

You can’t sleep after reading something like that. I looked on Twitter, and saw that people were already posting screengrabs and footage. I looked away.

I gathered that it was a neck injury, that he’d hit the ropes and on falling to the ground his eyes had already rolled back in his head, that he was out for the count and the X had been thrown up immediately.

I really like Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. I’ve written before about how the traditional NXT pathway – before ready-made stars were parachuted in – gives the viewer a stronger investment in the talent. We love Sami Zayn and Bayley because they worked and worked and worked over months, on our screens; we saw them progress and we wanted them to win.

And we love Enzo and Cass because this tiny crazy ball of energy, with his bizarre dress sense, and his giant muscle-bound buddy, with a surprisingly nice singing voice, are an odd couple, with evident affection between them; they’ve scrapped and fought and taken on all-comers in NXT and still never managed to win the big belt, and that doesn’t even matter at all, it doesn’t detract from their star quality, it makes us love them more.

Even if I didn’t love Enzo and Cass, though, watching a show after someone has incurred a serious injury makes me feel incredibly uneasy. It makes me think of Over The Edge, and poor Jeff Jarrett going out there after his close friend Owen Hart had been carried out; or TNA’s Against All Odds being aired on UK TV some days after the event, even though Jesse Sorensen broke his neck.

It makes it all too real. The irony is that professional wrestling is mocked so often for being “fake”, but the fact is that it’s just as real as rugby or motor racing, where the participants take a calculated risk every time they step out there – they know the potential dangers and that’s a chance they’re happy to take.

I’m told that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn did a sterling job going out there after the number one contendership was curtailed. I feel awful for them that they had to do that; I’m reminded of the casual tweet that Zayn sent some months ago, thanking Enzo for going to the cinema with him to see a film he didn’t want to see, just because he’s a good friend.

I feel awful for Aiden English and Simon Gotch too, who will be feeling terrible; as will the New Day and the commentary team and everyone around the ring at the time.

It was a relief to see the first tweet from WWE – coming from Owens, of all people, resplendent in his Tapout shirt and beaming while an endearingly besuited Big Cass talked animatedly with Enzo, in his bright blue hospital gown.


WWE confirmed shortly afterwards that he had been released from hospital.


Terrible accidents like this remind us how fragile life is, how mortal we are, and how our professional wrestlers deserve our respect and our thanks.

Facts from WWE NXT’s UK Tour and Takeover: London, December 2015

December 19, 2015

Last weekend I went up to Blackpool for the NXT tour show at the Empress Ballroom – I thought that would be a special evening simply for the return of William Regal. (I was right.)

And on Wednesday evening I was at Wembley Arena (in the very back row) for Takeover: London.

Here follow my thoughts, for what they’re worth… Read the rest of this entry »

Fact: The “Divas’ Revolution” needs to be bigger than WWE thinks

July 24, 2015

four horsewomen

“That’s a good-looking belt…that’s a women’s WRESTLING belt!” declared Alundra Blayze on the occasion of her Hall of Fame induction, holding her once-discarded women’s championship aloft.

Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, three-quarters of NXT’s four horsewomen, have now joined Paige on the main WWE roster, leading some to announce that a “Divas’ Revolution” is now under way.

Enough has been written about the way NXT treats women’s wrestling – the women are characters in their own right, with motivations beyond “jealousy” and “boyfriends”, and the belt itself is for women, rather than “Divas”. (Can you imagine the men having a “Superstars’ Championship”?)

But a true revolution will never be successful until there’s a change from top to bottom. Read the rest of this entry »