I live in North London, and it’s very rare that I venture south of the river Thames, particularly on freezing cold Saturday nights in February.
Still, I’m very glad that I took the risk this weekend, motivated by the card at Future Pro Wrestling’s show.
The entertainment started right from the off – even if you’d not been to an FPW show before, you picked up the history of Terry Striker aka Kidd Pride with his railing against the company and the powers-that-be, Snare (like the insane version of Sting), and Rob Cage (who was the face in this particular match and showed this by throwing “You sound like a GIRL!” insults at his adversary. Le sigh).
I was very taken with ‘The Warden’ Phil Ward, who worked the crowd brilliantly (what a fantastic gimmick – like Mr McKay in Porridge, except younger, with more hair and with sunglasses) and, despite towering over his tiny jungle-dwelling opponent Bagheera, put on an entertaining match – one would have expected it to be a bit of a squash with the big heel destroying the pre-verbal high-flying face, but it was evenly contested with some great engagement.
The highlight of the evening for me was the LDRS (Zack Sabre Jr and Marty Scurll – for whom there were a lot of fangirls and Take Me Out-related signs) vs the Bhangra Knights (RJ Singh and Darrell Allen). Weirdly, I’ve only ever seen Zack and Marty in singles action, so even though they’ve been a tag team for ages, this was the first time I’d seen them working together, and what a joy it was. A terrific match, including much cheating and inept refereeing, plus the Bhangra Knights’ manager wielding a megaphone. You know as well as I do that having a megaphone equals immediate win points.
During the interval I got the chance to nip backstage and say hello to some of the talent, including Official Friend of TOWIS Mark Haskins, bearing a scarred nose from you-know-what. (Yes, I am a name-dropper.)
The second half began very brightly, with Haskins and Greg Burridge facing eXodus and Da Big J Dizzle, and Burridge in particular bringing the “fun and games”, mostly in the shape of thrusting his groin in people’s faces. Mid-match there was a very odd clank from the ring as someone (I can’t remember who) was running the ropes, which, unsurprisingly, seemed to change the direction of the battle (there was a lengthy interlude where three of the four corners were being covered as the referee and two of the wrestlers were discreetly checking the rope tension). It still ended with eXodus, a surprisingly nimble monster, performing a top-rope finish, even though by that stage the top rope was sagging noticeably.
As you’d hope and expect, there was then a short break as the ring was checked, and when Jimmy Havoc and Joel Masters came out for the main event I certainly got the feeling that they’d quickly thought of some alternative plans for the match that didn’t involve too much rope work. It was still a great match-up, though; Masters is a terrifying giant and Havoc is hardcore and reminds me of a lot of emo boys from indie-rock bands back in the day, if the emo boys had no fear and risked the integrity of their necks on a regular basis.
I think the thing that I enjoyed most about the show, talent notwithstanding, was the atmosphere. Call me a misery, but I have no problem with wrestling shows being PG – I’m not a fan of the hardcore stuff, I don’t enjoy seeing people bleed, I like seeing the athletic feats and the storytelling. I loved seeing children cheering and booing and ecstatic about getting to interact with their heroes – I loved the small child Jeritrolling the crowd and then suddenly getting all starstruck about the possibility of meeting Haskins – I loved people just generally engaging with what was going on and having a great time.
For me, that’s the beauty of professional wrestling, and FPW seem to have it down to an art.
Check FPW out on Twitter – you can also click through to their website from the links on the right, and you can see their upcoming events featured on our calendar.