When you last left me I had just started to hit the wrestling training again and had visited a total of three wrestling schools - Future Force, Grand Pro Wrestling and Grapple. All three provided a great gateway back into the world of professional wrestling and Grapple has continued to be a frequent visit of mine. I am very much enjoying being a part of this up and coming promotion.
One of the good things about being a former wrestler wanting to get back into the industry is that all your old running buddies now have training schools dotted across the country. The last month I have taken many a trip down memory lane and reacquainted myself with a few more faces of my wrestling past.
House of Pain
All the way back in 2004 I used to wrestle for a wrestling promotion called Revolution British Wrestling (RBW) and was part of a group called the 'Southern Alliance'. My role was the 'Northern Turncoat' (the ultimate betrayal!) and we used to battle various Northerners across the land - Game of Thrones, eat your heart out! It was my time at RBW where I got to know the 'Heavyweight House of Pain' Stixx.
Stixx now runs a full time wrestling school in Nottingham called the House of Pain (HOP). My visits to HOP had me participating in full length practice matches, which was the first time I had done this since my return and I was happy I can still perform at a fairly decent standard. There was also a day where we focused on tag team wrestling (where teams of two or more face off against each other), which are usually very fast-paced and you have to have a clear awareness of what is going on around you. Quite apt too - as Stixx and I previously won the RBW tag belts and despite not defending them in 10 years I believe technically we still hold these belts to this day! Go Stixx and JC!
HOP is a great set up, with a full size wrestling ring, a matted area and weights section. Also they have classes every day, which is awesome! I wish I had the opportunity to wrestle every single day when I started out. In fact, I did but I had to travel all the way to Atlanta, Georgia to do so! Those Nottingham trainees should count themselves lucky!
Viva La Mexico
One of the men I travelled to Atlanta with was none other than the 'Mexican Sensation' El Ligero! After an entire day on a flight from the UK, I remember we were picked up and taken straight to the WWA4 training facility for a few hours of wrestling training. Just as we thought we were finished and were finally going to get our jet lagged bodies to bed, we were told we were going to do our first wrestling show for them! Ah Carumba! Where do you do a wrestling show at midnight we both wondered? The answer was one of Atlanta's seediest of strip joints. Awake now for over 24 hours, JC Thunder and El Ligero proceeded to wrestle each other in the early hours of the morning whilst several quite large women located on podiums around the ring took their clothes off and shook their posteriors long before twerking was considered cool. A bizarre experience and looking back I'm fairly certain no one was watching the wrestling match!
El Ligero has come along way since the Atlanta strip club days and is now one of the UK's top wrestlers and is also the head trainer of New Generation Wrestling (NGW) in Hull. I have had the opportunity to visit NGW a few times now and is another great school I would recommend to any budding wrestling trainees. Any wrestling fan reading this should check out their shows to see the great talent the school is producing.
One of my favorite things at the NGW training is the fast paced drills. They are great for getting me back into wrestling shape and ensure my timing is back on par. Drills like these help avoid making wrestling look amateurish and sloppy, which unfortunately there is still a lot of in this country. To any aspiring wrestler reading this, please practice your craft over and over and then practice some more. Wrestlers don't just do themselves harm when they look bad, they make the industry as a whole look bad.
A taste of WWE
Robbie Brookside is a former UK professional wrestler of many years and recently has been signed as a trainer at WWE's performance centre in Florida. He also has his own wrestling school in Leicester that I happened to be passing on my way to London one Sunday. It was so good I drove all the way down there the following weekend too!
Robbie's school combines old English teachings along with many of the drills and concepts used by WWE. Upon my visit, I was lucky enough that Robbie was back for Christmas, so I got to hear first hand how they train and what they are looking for in the big leagues. There appears to be a big focus on intensity and aggression shown by the wrestlers, along with high levels of wrestling fitness and drilling things so they are absolutely perfect, which as I mentioned above is extremely important - especially if you are going out on TV in front of millions each week.
The school also has veteran UK wrestler coincidently called 'Thunder' (no relation!) as a trainer; who is huge and enters the ring in a metal mask looking quite terrifying! I was very grateful to big Thunder for teaching me (fun size Thunder?) how to execute a European style uppercut properly. For years I could never do these very well and it annoyed me. I feel as a European wrestler I should be able to!
So I've been training - lots and lots of training! What's next in the story of JC Thunder? Well, I am now in a position to start performing on wrestling shows again and as luck would have it my first wrestling match back is very soon at St Magaret's Hall in Leeds for Grapple Wrestling against Micky Mayakiss.
Micky is a strong up and comer who works hard and has shown a lot of potential in recent months. Will he be a match for JC Thunder? You'll have to tune in next time to find out....
A great month of wrestling for me and I now feel a lot more confident to appear on wrestling shows again. At times the travel has been a bit excessive, but I think that was necessary as each school I have attended has offered something different and I have managed to fast track my self back into the world of wrestling.
I certainly hope 2014 will be a year of me making an impact on the British wrestling scene. I am now three months in from 'the decision' and whilst I do still have moments of doubt and can feel a bit unsettled at times, I am glad I am on the right path and expect this next year to be a good one.
Thanks for reading!