1. When did you first become involved in wrestling?
I first got involved in professional wrestling in 2002 after moving from Nottingham to Grimsby. I found myself out of work and got sent on a back to work programme.
Whilst on this course everyone was asked what their dream profession would be. One of the lads said he wanted to be a professional footballer and he was put in touch with the local collage and later enrolled on a sports course and it was arranged for him to spend six weeks training with Grimsby Town Football Club. Others were helped on the road to self employment.
When I was asked what I would like to do I replied with “I would like to work in the professional wrestling industry” after a few laughs the course tutor asked what I would like to do in wrestling and when I replied “I would love to be a pro-wrestler” he sat me at a laptop and got me an interview for Kwik-Save, a local supermarket. I didn’t finish the course and signed off the dole the following day.
I did some research and contacted a company in Norwich called WAW. I asked how much I would get paid to become an apprentice and got the answer “Fuck all mate, you need to pay to learn” That was my first mistake and first lesson in professional wrestling. That was also the first of many conversations with Sweet Saraya.
I was advised to contact a local professional wrestler called Stevie Knight who in turn referred me to one of his students who had recently set up a school in the area. My first training session and the following three months worth of Sunday morning’s were spent in an abandoned art college in Grimsby. Learning to bump in a boxing ring and generally being the punch bag and training dummy for my coach. These sessions were attended by another lad, who started on the same day as myself. After a few months we heard about another school about ten miles away that were holding a show, something our school did not offer. We went along, watched the show and took our first session the day after. I then spent the next three years visiting schools and seminars across the UK learning my craft and training from the Immingham based training facility and then, three years after that initial phone call found myself at the WAW training academy in Norwich.
2. When did you make your debut and how were you feeling?
I made my debut in 2002 at Thorpe Park, a holiday park in Cleethorpes. I had no business been in the ring at the time and the match was rotten. I had no gear and had to “borrow” something from the entertainers prop cupboard and the 15 minutes match had 27 clotheslines in it. I recently watched that match back and I would not let any of my students anywhere near a ring if they were as bad as I was then.
3. Who has been an inspiration to you in wrestling throughout your career?
Ricky Knight and his family. There is no bullshit, their advice is honest and they are not afraid to do things their own way. They taught me never to hold back and never to settle with OK. Everything they do they give 150% The advice I received from Saraya after a match against Big Mike from the UK Pitbulls at a show in Hunstanton was the single best piece of advice I have ever received with regards to my wrestling career.
4. What are you opinions on the UK wrestling scene?
At the minute there are a good number of solid promotions all producing great events with fantastic attendances. I still believe that there is a lot of talent waiting to break out that unfortunately are not given the chance to showcase their talent. In GWA we have some great male and female wrestlers who just because they don’t ride with the right people or aren’t friends with the right people don’t get the opportunities that they deserve. (Name dropping: Spyda, Havok, Will Jackson, Tom Weaver, Asylum, Ellie Rollins, Leah Heart and Billie Joe to name just a few.) If these guys are not given a chance to showcase their talent what happens when the current top names move on to bigger things?
5. What role is it that you undertake at GWA?
I am the head coach at GWA, caretaker and general dogsbody. I spend a lot of time getting to know the students strengths and weaknesses and helping them develop as professional wrestlers. It’s rare that I actively wrestle on the GWA events but spend a lot of time in more of an agents role or as a referee.
6. Is there any ones to watch for the future over at GWA?
Spyda, Havok, Will Jackson, Tom Weaver, Asylum, Ellie Rollins, Leah Heart and Billie Joe. Over the last twelve months Spyda has been involved in some fantastic matches with top International talent such as: Davey Richards, Ultimo Dragon and Kid Kash as well as top British stars. Havok over the last two years has lost almost fifty percent of his bodyweight and reinvented himself as a very smart villain character. His crowd work and in ring psychology has always been fantastic in my opinion and that has not changed, what has changed is he now has more than double the speed, agility and in ring fitness than before which makes him a very dangerous individual. Jackson is another guy that needs to be seen by more people, he’s currently picking up work for NGW in Hull which is a great step forward and hopefully just the start of things to come for him. In every venue he has performed in the GWA or RDW and regardless of alignment he has always been well received by the fans and has been a great addition to the GWA events at Central Hall in Grimsby.
7. Who do you consider to be the best worker on the UK scene?
The Hooligans. Promoters if they are not on your roster you need to have a serious word with yourself!
8. Who has been your favourite person to work with in your career?
Keith Myatt. Genuinely nice bloke and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I had a great series of matches with him for Pro-Wrestling 101 a few years ago which involved a great storyline and some of my most memorable matches.
9. What promotion other than GWA have you enjoyed working for the most?
Several but all for different reasons.
LWL in the Midlands – I got to work with some great up-and-coming guys and the staff there were so friendly and really wanted to push their promotion forward. I was quite sad to hear the news that they were forced to close a few years ago.
All-Star Wrestling – I had the opportunity to wrestle some great wrestlers from abroad and in front of some great crowds. From the over 18’s hardcore show at Butlins to the Haven camp run, crowds of 1000-3000 people on a daily basis. Wrestling a schedule like that in front of crowds that size is what I enjoy the most about this job. But, it’s not just the wrestling. The traveling, setting up the ring, rushing from one venue to the next and getting to spend some quality time with some great people. I have some very fond memories from tours with All-Star and had some of my best matches (several of them with Spyda)
I’ve also really enjoyed working for DPW in Leeds, UKW, WAW, 1PW and 101 but I’ll save stories from there for another time.
10. Do you watch much wrestling in your spare time?
I Sky+ everything. TNA, Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Superstars and when I can I try and keep up-to-date with ROH. My favourite show by far is NXT. The quality of wrestling in my opinion is of a much higher. The guys look like they want it more and it shows in their performance.
Thank you very much to Sykes for taking time out to do this interview for me, you can go and follow him over on Twitter @GWASykes