Pure F'n Carnage - The biggest mistakes I ever made, contributed to, or observed with horror in wrestling: Chapter One

Stories of the stupid stuff I see, do and try to learn from during my journey as a pro wrestler on the British scene. This column covers the idea of working for your crowd and touches on the recent viral CCW deathmatch controversy.

Pure F'n Carnage - The biggest mistakes I ever made, contributed to, or observed with horror in wrestling: Chapter One

Your humble author

Don’t worry if you don’t know my name. You shouldn’t.

My name is Chris and, in addition to trying to just be a better person, I have dabbled in various roles within the Yorkshire wrestling scene. I have ring announced, commentated, built wrestling rings and, during my bad times, been a perennial drunk in the crowd (I think I’m technically still banned from Tidal shows for my antics there..) at more shows than I could recollect.

These days I still wrestle when I can and I think I’ve put a lot of the pieces of my wrestling identity together as “Necro Daddy” Jake Carnage - a side of myself inspired in large degree by the wild, seemingly fearless wrestling heroes I had as a young lad like Cactus Jack, Raven and the Dudley Boys. Throw in a few other largely villainous characters I have encountered in my life (both fictional and otherwise…) and my alter ego is there.

It doesn’t seem like most promoters are in a hurry to notice me anytime soon, but screw ‘em - I’m proud of how far I’ve come as a performer. They just don’t like my attitude, pal…

Anyway, so evolution (it’s a mystery…) is kind of why I’m writing this. I have made and been around some stupid mistakes in wrestling and I’m always trying to learn from them, and you can too. Or you can just sit back and enjoy the schaudenfreude.

One of the mistakes I made was only a couple of weeks ago when I was wrestling for an upstart wrestling company called Blackheart Wrestling who run out of Guiseley, near Bradford.

After I got to the building and saw I was the last match on (not that that is any justification for my stupid idea that followed…) I became obsessed with the idea of taking a backdrop from the stage to the rampway (you can see how this looked in the picture that accompanies these scribblings…). I guess I wanted to give the family crowd there something to…well I’m not sure what I wanted them to do. Gawp in horror. Cry. Run away.

A terrible piece of decision making. image courtesy of Blackheart Wrestling

The truth is, I wasn’t thinking about the audience at all when I was planning this bump. That’s the problem.

I wanted to take this fall for reasons I can’t explain. Maybe it was to stand out in some way, but I don’t think that quite covers it.

So I hooked my opponent, teasing a big powerbomb, driver, destroyer or maybe even just a teabag to the back of the head. Here we go. I go up, and just as quickly slide down my opponent’s back. My back connects at an unholy angle with the edge of the stage.

I felt like I had been shot.

I was able to finish the match (yay, wrestler puts himself over as a tough guy - take a shot if you’re playing the “wrestler talks about himself” drinking game…) however, I performed in there with all the flair of a wounded elephant as opposed to the flair of a…Flair.

To top things off I orchestrated this ridiculous self-destruction a week before the due date of my still (as of writing) unborn son.

There was no Jake Carnage in the car as I drove home alone after the show that evening. There was only Chris, father to be - eyes welling up as I thought about what I had so stupidly risked for no real definable reason.

Wrestling should be fun. An escape from reality. This was anything but.

I have made a lot of amazing friends and some great memories through wrestling. I have learned a lot about myself. But it is not worth risking your future happiness for.

Also, if you have to do crazy stuff, do it in front of the right audience. This had been drilled into me by every wrestling veteran I had ever learned from. I had forgotten this valuable lesson in a moment of madness. Families want some basic, entertaining action, a bit of pantomime and a reasonably priced bar. They are not there for a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence and they certainly don’t want scary bumps from 17 stone masochists.

Family crowds are looking for what Raven describes as the “morality play” of wrestling. Cheer the goodies, boo the baddies…

It would be easy to segue at this point into lecturing Ronnie Thatcher and Blizzard - the lads working for Colliery Championhip Wrestling who did a deathmatch at an all ages show at a Conservative Club in Durham.

Apparently this was in front of a family crowd as well, and the guys involved used what the UK mainstream media described in hysterical tones as “a garden strimmer”. In America this is the infamous weedwacker, popularized in deathmatches by old school CZW wrestlers like Sick Nick Mondo and John Zandig, as well as the newer crop of Game Changer Wrestling outlaws.

The CCW boys letting it bleed with the classic working men's club fabric chairs

and presumably warm pint in shot. Image courtesy of the Independent

The match was clearly inspired by these envelope pushing deathmatches and not, as the Mirror Online hilariously claimed, WWF and ECW “hardcore matches” from the 1990s and 2000s. The Mirror also brilliantly claimed that notorious ultraviolent warrior “Crash Holly” was an inspiration for the match. I missed the part where the boys used a weighing scale.

Even though the Conservative Club secretary, Linda Willis said the event was “fantastic” (she seems cool..), a lot of people (including veteran UK deathmatch legend Iceman - who has more than earned his right to an opinion on the subject) castigated the match for the level of its brutality in front of a family crowd. I can understand why people would have a negative opinion of the match, but I am in no position to judge.

Because boys, members of the CCW roster who thought the kids would benefit from recreations of classic CZW spots, I am one of you.

I understand the impulse to shock, provoke a reaction and do something that nobody saw coming. I have also struggled to get booked on adults only (not like that…) shows where this kind of violence might be more appropriate. I think I understand the mentality of the boys doing this now notorious match and hey, if Eric Bischoff is right and “controversy creates cash”, hopefully Blizzard and Ronnie can capitalize on their 15 minutes of infamy and smartly use their notoriety to create some buzz on the scene.

But the lesson I have taken from all of this is to make sure I am, with my own wrestling, always trying to work for the crowd rather than myself. That is, create the kind of spectacle that the audience might want to see as opposed to enacting my violent daydreams regardless of what the audience might think.

And, if I forget this, then the memory of the bruises which still haven’t healed will remind me.