10 Questions With… Michael ‘Milky’ Bell (@RefMilkyBell) By Craig Jarrett

10 Questions With... Michael 'Milky' Bell (@RefMilkyBell)

 

1. When did you first become a fan of wrestling?

I’ve been a fan of wrestling as long as I can remember, I’m 35 on the 28th of January and my Dad was always watching it when I was a tiny along with my grandparents so I’ll have to go with all my life!

2. How did you become involved in wrestling?

I got involved in wrestling totally by accident and by being in the right place at the right time, myself along with Dale Mills visited the wrestling shop owned by the Gauntley family and saw that 1PW’s A Cruel Twist of Fate Show was coming to Doncaster Dome and from there on we went to the first couple of shows while still visiting the shop and getting to know the family we asked if they needed help setting the venue up, we started off only with small jobs there, I had a blast being on security for a while and I started working in the shop for them too when they opened up their training school which I took my younger brother to and I watched quiet little Rob Bell turn slowly into Robbie X, training with Keith Myatt, training him while I just observed quietly watching and learning without realising it, next thing I know is I’m refereeing the matches in training, then thanks to both Keith and Steven Gauntley, I started to referee on 1PW’s shows and from there someone would ask me to referee other shows and everything spiralled from there and I was refereeing almost every weekend Fri, Sat and Sun for different companies!

3. Did you ever want to be a wrestler or did you always want to be a referee?

I never in my wildest dreams imagined doing either, I was nieve and new nothing of British wrestling, I always thought it was only in America after it went off national TV here so it was an eye opener when I realised there was wrestling out there, I always loved Earl Hebner though and with the condition I suffer with, wrestling was never an option so refereeing was the natural and only choice if I wanted to be involved in the business.

4. Who (if anyone) helped you out along your time in wrestling?

So many people have helped me out over time, I always made a point of asking every wrestler I refereed for advice on how to improve so they all helped but from training schools obviously there was my mentor and one of my best friends Keith Myatt, Kris Travis, El Ligero, Stixx, Martin Kirby, Steve Sykes, Cameron Craze all were a great help improving my skills, also Steve Corino’s advice and encouragement helped boost my confidence a lot.

5. Which promotion have you most enjoyed being apart of?

Wow which promotion have I most enjoyed being a part of, that’s a really tough one because I always felt honoured to be asked by every company I worked for, 1PW was very special to me because they gave not just myself but more importantly to me, my brother our breaks in wrestling, from there I loved working for RDW during the holiday season at Skegness, DPW in Leeds had great potential I thought and loved working for them, I think without a doubt NGW in Hull are something special, fantastic design on there entrance way and the wrestling was always worthy of such a great place, a lot of great and even a few embarrasing moments their, a top top company, however I loved every show I did for Southside, SWE, more pressure but almost every match has something special happen, the pressure was never a problem I think it improved my performance but once I stepped through the curtain I forgot about it, and I got to referee Robbie win his first major title which means the world to me and all I ever wanted was to get him on the wrestling ladder, respected and a top star in the UK, and I think we both earned the other wrestlers respect over time.

6. Which promotion in the UK would you love to be apart of?

I’d have loved to have worked for IPW-UK at some point and the big promotions in Scotland run by Lionheart and Kid Fite, but the distance was always a problem, the same with PCW, the cost of petrol worked against me as a referee there when there are equally good referee’s closer to them companies, and i think most people want to work for All Star at some point so I’d have liked to have done more work for them, there’s more companies now to that Rob works for now but I’m retired now typically so that’s not going to happen now.

7. What match that you have refereed have you enjoyed most?

Four matches automatically spring to mind but I’m a 100% certain that I’ll have missed more than one out, Firstly Keith Myatt vs Mad Man Manson on the Mortal Kombat show in the afternoon for 1PW, it was so much fun I was on a high for days after, then there’s El Generico (WWE’s Sami Zayn) vs Jerry Lynn at 1PW’s show at Sheffield Ice Arena, superb match and I got so much thanks from both wrestlers afterwards that meant a lot to me, my very final match El Ligero vs Prince Devite for Southside, a great honour being in the ring with both men for my final match, having both the heels and faces come out and applaud me off was amazing and very emotional but I’m gonna go with as my number one just as a personal one to me, being the referee for Marty Scurll vs Robbie X for the SWE Speedking Title because I got to ref my brother win his first major championship, so proud of him coming so far from the quiet 12yr old to where he is now, the worlds his oyster now in my opinion! Obviously I’m proud of all the other matches involving imports from ex WWE stars, TNA stars, former ECW talent to guys and girls who are now in WWE or TNA too and thankful to all who gave me those opportunities.

8. Do referees look up to other referees in wrestling and if so who?

I’m sure referee’s do look up to other ref’s, it doesn’t have to be in this country as I certainly look up to some referee’s on TV, but at times criticize them too, every ref has their own technique and not all refs agree with how the other works, there are some very good refs in the UK but not many people train to be refs and training is rare, Joel Allen is a top ref as is Chris Roberts and Des Robinson, I’m sure there are many others too, refs will like me, others that won’t, ego’s can be a problem in wrestling but I’ve always been respectful to everyone on the shows, not just the workers, but everyone involved with putting the show together, another thing Keith Myatt taught us, politeness costs nothing! I always took every piece of advice on board even though I only used what I thought could help me and you can usually tell who likes you and who doesn’t but I’m not gonna name anyone, sorry My favourite referee used to be Earl Hebner, so when I got called the UK’s Earl Hebner by one of the best workers in the country I not only took it as a compliment, but also knew I was doing ok, just before I retired I was still asking wrestlers for tips and advice, you can never stop learning and improving, I got quite emotional at one show after I asked Steve Corino for any pointers and he said yes, Don’t Retire!!

9. Do you watch much wrestling when you are not involved in it?

I always watch WWE, and their ref’s lol TNA I record and usually watch given time, I’d love for there to be a tv channel showing all the best British wrestling, shows I can’t get to, I try get with Robbie to most of his shows, depending on my health, I really want to go watch and see the guys from NGW again, I’ve always been ill when there shows have been on and they gave me a great send off too, I miss them. I’ve only missed 2 SWE shows since I retired, they are amazing shows and I’d recommend them to anyone, top shows, I want to go back to all the companies I worked for at least one time, I’ve made it to RDW, HOP and SWE, but that’s all, need to get to XWCA in Cleethorpes who treated me amazingly, NGW in Hull, UKW too amongst others but will get around to it eventually and also the other shows Rob works on I’d like to get to, if I can’t get tho Robbie always records his matches so I do get to see them while he looks back seeing what he can improve on.

10. Is it your job or do you also work a “regular” job?

Wrestling or refereeing in my case was always what I’d class as a hobby for me, it was hard work, and i loved every minute of it, a lot of the time i loved it more than life itself because from 1st of October to the 26th of November I lost my dad, killed by the hospital, lost my Nana, dad’s mum a few weeks after, my gf had a miscarriage with my baby and then 9 weeks to the day after my Dad died I woke up to find my 6 month old step son who I loved like my own had passed away in his sleep, so wrestling was my escape from everything but it was all made harder by my illnesses, but for me refereeing was always fun more importantly. It’s a job for people like El Ligero who is in constant demand, even though i’m sure he loves it as well, the works always available if he wants it, and deservedly so, top talent and was always a pleasure to work with, There was nothing I wouldn’t do if it was going to improve a show, even if I suffered for days after, I guess you could call it an obsession because even now I struggle knowing I will NEVER referee again.

What a lot of people don’t know is that on the 1st of October 2011 my life was gonna be changed forever, my Dad, my hero, was taken from us by a huge hospital error and that was the start of the worst 9 weeks most people would ever endure, Dad was unnecessarily taken from us, then a few weeks later his mum, my nana passed away, then my gf at the time had a miscarriage, losing the baby I was longing for at the time, then 9 weeks to the day after my dad passed, I awoke to find my 6 month old stepson whom I loved as my own passed away in his sleep, I didn’t deal with those things to well, from there refereeing was my escape, the only thing keeping me going on autopilot, I remember very little apart from looking forward to getting to the shows and forgetting about what had happened, so to me at that point it was neither a hobby, a part time job or a normal job, it was my lifeline and without wrestling and my 10yr old son at the time (he’s 12 now) i would not be here, wrestling saved me, and as i type this now, emotionally, it’s hard to this day, knowing I’ll NEVER referee again because of my illnesses, it’s up to Rob to carry the torch now, I lit it, he can carry it, thanks to everyone who booked me, I hope I never let you down, especially when a “Milky Bump” occurred.

Thank you ever so much to Milky for open up in this great interview, wish him all the best and I you can all go over to Twitter to follow him @RefMilkyBell

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