Sorry for the delay in getting this article to you, I was recovering from interviewing a wrestler! For those of you who live in Holbeck you couldn’t have escaped knowing that last week (28 June 2014) the Holbeck Working Men’s Club hosted their own live ‘American Wrestling’ show.
Before I stepped upstairs and skirted around the professional wrestling ring (installed only hours earlier), memories of watching Giant Haystacks belly landing Big Daddy came flooding back to me from York Rugby Ground in the 1970’s. From the posters the images of the men didn’t look anything as daunting as the grimacing bearded Giant Haystacks, only lean and very tanned, what were we to expect from this transatlantic exchange?
Glancing around the area with an audience of all ages, including children with blow up hammers knowing exactly what was to be expected of them. Apart from this everyone else seemed to be sitting down ready for a good film to start – like they do this every week!
Our compare hooked into the ring through the wires onto the bouncy floor. He speaks through the microphone saying:
“Be prepared for the the meanest of all wrestlers from Manchester and Leeds!”
The room was already on team Leeds, I don’t sense any mercy for Manchester.
Anticipation mounted as ‘Right said Fred – I’m too sexy’ tune introduced the said bare-chested Manchester men sporting tight pink shorts and tied up boots into the ring. Then two other lads from Leeds came and joined them, and they were away. At first the MC had to encourage the audience, but soon we were sporting grimacing faces and shared ‘awws’ and ‘owws’ as we watched grown men fling each other from over the tops of their heads, crashing down onto the ring floor. It was the good guys against the bad guys and we were getting right into it. My son lost his voice and the sound of conviction from the cheers turned into the resounding “He fell over! He fell over!”
To make it more dramatic the wrestlers fell out of the ring at some points contending with each other onto the hard tiled floor and the blow up hammers dealt from by unafraid children.
This was like interactive pantomime!
After, followed a wonderfully choreographed physical dance almost, with the jumping up onto the ropes and corner grabs balancing 8 ft over the audience. It’s all in the technique, however, the guys left the ring with angry red hand marks over their backs. The referee made sure there was no lounging in agony and gave the universal countdown to get back up.
Later I conduct my first ever interview with a wrestler! It’s the Manchester man in pink, but he’s not from Manchester – it’s an act! Ha, I knew it all along – he’s actually called Andy Burrows and he’s really from Castleford. His stage name is Tiger McGuigan and it’s his business.
“I brought the blow up hammers for effect, it’s all round family entertainment” he says.
He tells us what you see is the real deal. There are rules to this, but you can get hurt.
The business of wrestling has run in the family for three generations all under the same name of Tiger McGuigan. His father and his grandfather ran the business before him, and Andy has been doing this for 15 years. His Dad apparently broke his back and neck, and Andy has sustained a chipped elbow. They train twice a week and runs a training program too.
The wrestling is over and there’s a chance for the children to have their photograph taken with the wrestlers. I wind down the interview and watch as friendly banter between the wrestlers once headlocked under each other’s armpit are now sharing stories whilst clinking their pints like ordinary punters.
Don’t despair though – look out for the posters when they return in October at The Holbeck Working Mens Club. It will come round sooner than a spin in a wrestling ring!
For more details on how to join wrestling school contact Pro Wrestling School firstname.lastname@example.org.