Ah, Dunstable. The place where Henry VIII divorced Katherine of Aragon. A market town whose market now closely resembles a car boot sale. And the small town where I grew up.
I don’t remember seeing wrestling shows advertised in Dunstable when I was a kid, to be fair, but the Queensway Hall would have been a fabulous place for it – a huge civic arena with plenty of seating and great sight-lines.
Sadly the Queensway Hall is no more. It was knocked down, and now there’s an Asda in its place.
So Total Action Wrestling host their events at the Leisure Centre – across the road from the Queensway Hall’s former site. This is not a big sports arena. This is a place I’ve not been to in 20 years and yet it seems as though nothing has changed there at all. The ring was set up across three badminton courts, in half of the main sports hall, and folding chairs were positioned on three sides.
Fine weather and the lures of Eurovision and the England match may have had an effect on the attendance, but the audience who did make it there seemed to have a great time. Many were clearly long-term TAW fans, which is lovely to see.
I, on the other hand, had heard of three people on the card – Williams, of course; former WWE star Rene Dupree, who’s in the UK and touring the indy circuit for much of the next month; and the promotion owner Samson, the company’s leading face and by far the most experienced and best worker on his roster.
That being said, I was also impressed by tag-team Nate Nitro and Taylor Made (excellent on the mic and working the crowd), who have made the wise step of getting matching ring-gear. I suspect some of the rest of the roster need a touch more time to develop their skills, in-ring and on the mic, a little further. (Also, note to heels: if you’re trying to get cheap heat in Dunstable, don’t bother slagging off the town. We KNOW it’s rubbish.)
I felt a bit sad for Dupree, to be honest; I know that lots of the ex-WWE guys who are making guest appearances in the UK feel themselves a little above it (I’m looking at you, Carlito), but Dupree gave it his all while he was out there for a quick match against “Pretty Boy” Bradley Ford. (And good GOD, how is “gay” still an actual gimmick in 2012? Oh, wrestling, still 30 years behind the times.)
Williams is a star, obviously – wasted in TNA, and wasted doing guest appearances on the UK indy scene. I just wish someone would make him a sizeable financial deal and use him properly. However, it was good to meet him finally, particularly after he worked very, very hard to get his tag-team match with Steve “Ace” Andrews against “The Beast” Mark Exley & Dan Darkstar looking half-decent and convincing.
All in all, I was happy to be at the show and to see pro wrestling in Dunstable. A bigger crowd, some more ring-time for the talent, and TAW should do very well indeed.