If you follow wrestling news on Facebook, it’s likely you’ll have seen the launch of House of Pain: Evolution, who recently announced their first roster members, including Friends of TOWIS Mark Haskins and El Ligero.
So what’s it an Evolution from? What’s the plan? We asked creator Harvey Dale to give us the gossip…
“What we hope to achieve with the brand is to look beyond the usual boundaries that promotions work within,” he says. “You so often find a promotion that is willing to spend out anything from £300 to £2000 to bring in a US import or other overseas worker, yet the promoter will tell you they cannot afford an extra £30 in fuel costs to drive someone UK-based in from another area! It’s reasons like this that mean that there are so many talented guys who people in certain areas will miss out on seeing live. With HOPE, we aim to make sure that we do not restrict ourselves to using only the guys based around the Midlands area.
“I think you will see with our announcements over the coming week that we have gone for a very wide range of guys from all corners of the country to make up a very exciting roster.”
They’ve even got their own mission statement.
“I personally felt it was a ‘must have’ for a new brand,” says Dale. “Without some form of direction and promise to the very people that you are doing the work for then how will you ever know if you have achieved what you set out to in the first place? We want to make a solemn promise to people that, as I said above, we will not restrict ourselves to who we will bring in, just because it may cost us an extra £20 in fuel costs to get someone in from a little further away.
“Our other main objective is to showcase to the entire country some of our own top quality products from our academy. Guys like Joseph Conners, Max Angelus and Alex Gracie, who, despite being much more competent at what they do than several of the ‘most booked in the UK’ list, seem to go unnoticed on the larger scheme of things, purely down to lack of opportunities to get in front of people.”
The last time I spoke to Dale, I was interviewing him on his somewhat forthright views about the dangers of poor wrestling training in the UK, which he described as a “cancer” on the business. Is HOP:E a development of his work to ensure good schooling for pro wrestlers?
“My views on the standard of training coming out of certain areas hasn’t changed or mellowed, I’m afraid,” he admits. “We already run academy shows with the original brand, House Of Pain, and no guys will ever feature on HOP:E until they have had a suitable amount of experience proving that they can perform on the academy shows.
“The guys from our own academy that will feature within HOP:E have largely been doing this for many years now but just failed to find the opportunities to shine in front of a different audience. For me, this again comes down to the lack of willingness on promoters part to move away from from booking all of their ‘mates’ who solely live in their own 10 mile radius. There are a number of promotions within the West Midlands, for example, who, aside from a different name on the promotion, seem to use the exact same roster with no variation. Why they don’t just join together as one is a mystery to me!”
Dale predicts that fans will expect the unexpected from these new shows. “There isn’t enough emphasis on storylines within wrestling these days and, in my opinion, a lot of match-ups are thrown together without any real thought as to why you would want to see these two guys go at it, or indeed how they got to the point of needing to ‘settle a score’,” he says.
“I went to a promotion about six months ago and witnessed a ‘street fight’ using a trolley full of weapons. When enquiring with the promoter as to what had brought the two of them to this point where they needed to beat seven shades out of each other with cricket bats, he replied, ‘Oh, nothing, the guy on the left has never worked for us before, I just thought it would be a good addition to the card.’
“Again, solely my opinion, but to use a ‘street fight’ as a throwaway extra on a card just baffled me! In short, I suppose…you can expect our shows to make sense, which surely is the whole point.”
Harvey Dale features in Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops, available to order now.