When I was a child, I can remember being slightly disturbed by wrestling. Why were the men hurting each other? Why were they wearing inappropriate clothing for fighting? Why did my nan love watching it every Saturday afternoon and why did it make her shout at the TV? Professional wrestling in the UK has a history spanning over one hundred years but it reached the height of popularity during the 1960s and 70s when ITV’s World of Sport started screening professional wrestling every Saturday. Many wrestlers became household names including Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki and one of the most famous heel wrestlers of all time, New Cross-born Mick McManus. Sadly, World of Sport was cancelled in the 1980s, however British wrestling has thrived on the untelevised live circuit and survives to this day, with local groups such as South Norward-based British Extreme Championship Wrestling (BECW) championing the sport and performing for the modern-day audience.
So, when I saw that BECW were presenting the wrestling event Doomsday in Deptford, I jumped at the chance to relive a little bit of my childhood whilst cheering on Marcus Broome aka The Trashman and proprietor of Deptford tattoo studio Kids Love Ink. The Deptford Project hosted the event in the open space behind the carriage café and the old railway arches. BECW bought with them an actual wrestling ring for the outdoor match and set up the seating so all the wrestlers made their grand entrance through the crowd to the sound of their entrance song over the booming sound system. I managed to get my hands on ringside seats, which were slightly more expensive tickets but which get you a little closer to the action and smack bang in the middle of any audience participation.
From my seat I could see the entire crowd, there was well over a hundred people present and the whole event had a real community vibe going on; there was a broad selection of people present including young children (who really got into it, shouting and singing on cue), entire families, local shop keepers, Deptford regulars and an array of young students.
The three-hour event was split into six different matches, including one-on-one wrestling, an intergender tag-team match, a Battle Royale, two tag-team matches, a challenge elimination match and the final championship match. A half-time interval allowed for a quick food and drink break courtesy of the Deptford Project who had a hotdog special on just for the event.
All the wrestlers put on a great show, some goading the crowd and some working the crowd in equal measure. Despite the grey weather and light rain, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle, with some of the crowd dressing in costume and bringing along props to cheer on their favourite wrestler. My personal favourites included The Trashman, the interestingly-attired GMP, The Bomb ‘Stan Powers’ and Gemini (great to see a lady wrestler!), but after several matches The Trashman trumped them all and won the event, receiving a nice new belt from the BECW.
Overall, Doomsday in Deptford looked to be a great success, it was an entertaining evening which was well-attended. I’m not a huge wrestling fan but genuinely enjoyed the experience and would definitely go and watch another bout. Tickets were cheap, starting at £4 each with a discounted family ticket available. Afterwards, there was also a meet-and-greet with the wrestlers where anyone could grab a photo opportunity and a signature from their favourite wrestler.
The next local event ‘BECW presents RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE’ takes place on Saturday 24 November 2012 from 7pm at The Greenwich West Community Centre, 141 Greenwich High Road, London, SE10 8JA.
For more information on the BECW check them out here: www.becw.co.uk