That was awesome *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

posted in: acting, life, wrestling | 0

EDIT: Since posting this blog, serious allegations have been made about the owner of the school. I haven’t named anyone in the post, but the school is easy to find using the details I mention. I will not be attending this school again and do not recommend or endorse them.

I will write a more complete blog on the fall out of the situation in due course.

 

Yeah, I know I’m an idiot. I’m still trying to figure out how to make money from it. If you’ve got any tips, do let me know.

Today was one of the most frustrating days of my life. I’m still unsure how much I want to say about it on here. Maybe I’ll work it out as I’m typing. Oh fuck it. I’ll just say it. That way I’m committed to it and y’all can kick my arse if I start to waver.

Today I took the first step (well, okay, technically the second step, as the first one was booking it) towards doing something that I’ve wanted to do for most of my adult life but never dared to try. Those that know me well will not be surprised, even if I still am a little surprised myself.

Today I went back to school…. wrestling school.

Why am I so reticent to write about it? Well, a few reasons. Firstly, I’ve added a couple of people from the training session on Facebook already, and so this now makes me look like one of the annoying, overexcited noobs. Secondly, I’m still surprised by how I feel after it. Thirdly, I’m still buzzing from it and I’m inclined to write a load of nonsense while riding this high. Fourthly, I’ll probably regret this blog in a few years (I read some of my blogs from when I started acting the other day – damn I was annoying). Fifthly, I don’t want people asking me loads of questions I can’t answer about the industry. And finally, it may end badly.

But in the meantime, here’s how my day went down:

The registration email said to arrive prior to the 1pm start time. So because I’m an anxiety-ridden worst-case scenario planner, I planned my journey to arrive by 12pm at the latest. Amazingly for me, I got up in plenty of time, and had all my kit ready the previous night. THAT’S how excited I was about this. The training centre is in Swanley, so I knew that I’d be travelling on the M25 and as such I wanted to make sure I had time for the inevitable delay.

What I didn’t envisage was being stuck in the same spot for over two hours on the slip road between the M23 and M25. At 11.30am, Google Maps confidently told me that the delay was just 20 minutes. So I messaged the training school and let them know.

Twenty minutes later – I still hadn’t moved. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t going to clear any time soon. I later found out that they completely closed junctions 6 and 7 to clear the crash site.

Even worse, I was gasping for a piss, and I’d planned on finding a sandwich or something when I arrived on site. Luckily I had packed a flask of tea and some snacks.

After about ten minutes, the internet on my phone stopped working. Clearly everyone in the area was sat in their cars pissing about on Facebook and it had eaten up all the bandwidth. I rang my partner, who got me the phone number for the centre and I tried to call ahead. No answer.

I was ready to cry. I had been looking forward to this all week, and I was worried about how this would make me look. That’s not something that I worry about too much these days, but I was hyper aware that I am an unfit 38 year old fat bloke turning up to train with a load of people likely half my age. I also didn’t want to appear unprofessional or uncommitted.

I then managed to obtain roughly 5kb of data every five minutes, and thankfully the school had received my messages. Their response was reassuring – just get there when I could, and that someone else was in the same situation. That put my mind at rest, as I wasn’t sure what the mentality of the company would be to late arrivals, even though this was completely out of my control.

Chris Ridgeway suplexing Jack Sexsmith
One of the pictures I took at Riptide Wrestling last year

Now, I know as well that the UK wrestling scene is pretty damn progressive. As anyone that has ever attended a Riptide Wrestling show will tell you – there is no place for bigotry, hatred or general nobish behaviour outside of the characters portrayed in the ring. Despite knowing this, my fear was still that the environment would be masculine and unfriendly, and that the other participants may be self-centred and judgemental.

I will say now – ALL of my fears were unfounded.

As soon as I arrived (one hour 15 mins late) I was greeted by a friendly, smiling trainer. I explained that although I was injured (wrist and knee, and a couple of months post-surgery), I had my kit with me and was wondering if there would be anything that I could join in with. He suggested that it would be better for me if I sat out this one. So I did. In truth, this was always the plan, it’s just that I secretly hoped that either my injuries would clear up overnight, or there would be something light that I could do, but I knew it was unlikely, and possibly unsafe even if I did join in.

I spent the next two hours watching the other participants doing rolls, bumps, body slams and clotheslines, and, truth be told, it was more painful emotionally than any physical injury I would have obtained by taking part.

You see, something happened that I didn’t expect.

Now, here’s the bit that I REALLY didn’t want to put out publicly, but what I’ve written so far has reinforced the feelings that I had while I was there.

I have never seen myself as a wrestler.

I always thought I’d find a way into the industry and use my performance skills in another way – my dream is to be a manager or a general manager, or possibly work as a ring announcer or commentator.

But something happened.

As I observed, I got more and more excited. You see, one by one, all my fears about the industry were allayed. The trainers talked about everyone having slightly different technique based on their styles and the characters they portrayed. The way in which they managed the participants was empathetic and personalised. They helped nervous people overcome their fears, they pushed others just the right distance outside of their comfort zone, and they reassured some that even though they might not feel able to do it now, it would come.

But more than that, I started to realise that there was nothing going on that I couldn’t do. I sometimes forget that I’m more agile than I think I am. Close friends (and, indeed, drama school friends) have seen me occasionally go loopy and jump, fall, fly, bounce and roll all over the shop. And as a rule I don’t hurt myself. Plus, of course, the panto run I’ve just completed was very physical too.

Sure, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do everything straight away, and I know I need to do some serious work on my cardio. But I found further reassurance in the way the trainers treated another participant who was about the same build as me. I also didn’t feel judged at any time, despite sitting out the entire session.

After that we were treated to an in-house show featuring talent from the previous year’s intake. This was great not only because we got to see what is effectively a work-in-progress show, but we were also party to the feedback session lead by a current high-profile UK performer. Again, the way in which the feedback was delivered and the camaraderie between performers was encouraging, and in my mind I started to draw parallels to my time at drama school. After the show I took out my phone and booked an appointment to see my GP as early as possible. I need this.

The day may have been bittersweet- tinged with the frustration of arriving late and then not being able to take part; but I came away with a renewed love for the industry, and a determination to get myself into this business by hook or by crook.

Which, incidentally, is pretty much how I ended that annoying blog about acting back in 2010.