If you’ve ever thought about getting in a ring with a pro-wrestler, then now’s your chance. Photography: Tony Knox/PCW
There are cave drawings in France that are over 15,000 years old. Early Babylonian and Egyptian reliefs depict wrestling bouts where wrestlers are using most of the holds known to the modern-day sport. Wrestling was a big part of ancient Greek literature and legend, so it’s not surprising it represents one of the oldest forms of combat. It occupied a prominent place and served as the focal sport of the ancient Olympic Games, where crowds roared and cheered on their favourite contestant. In fact, with the possible exception of athletics, wrestling is recognised as the world’s oldest competitive sport.
In the 70s and 80s, wrestling in the UK was very popular. To anyone under the age of 40, the names Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks won’t mean much. However, they were colossal wrestlers, whose bitter rivalry became one of the biggest attractions on TV. It seems hard to imagine the family sitting down to watch them on a Saturday afternoon, but that’s what we did. While wrestling was broadcast nationally, it was predominately the north of the country where most of the wrestlers came from and where it is still popular today.
The sport has continued to change and develop over the ages and whilst audiences have grown, especially in the United States, through increased media coverage, it has become more of a spectacle, with the winners divided deliberately into heroes and villains. Larger than life characters from the WWF/WWE (World Wrestling Federation now World Wrestling Entertainment) like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker, wowed audiences in the early 90s before the anti-heroes of the Attitude-Era saw wrestling reach its global peek with Stonecold Steve Austion and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Wrestling manoeuvres have become increasingly extravagant, artificial and theatrical, in a bid to become more entertaining for the crowds, and less of a sport. Something which has probably changed most are the costumes, now donned with colourful masks and make up, competitors are more glamourous than ever before.
Fast forward to 2011 and that’s when Preston City Wrestling was founded. With its training academy based on St Mary’s Street Preston, it is a British owned independent professional wrestling promotion company which puts on quality shows using the UK’s best wrestlers and others from around the world. The shows attract fans from all around Lancashire and beyond, for a fun filled night of entertainment. PCW regularly presents family-friendly wrestling shows in Preston’s EVOQUE nightclub and in Blackpool’s Tower Circus. Fans of the show are as close to the action as you can get and often those lucky enough to be in the front row have to leap out of their seats to avoid a wrestler diving out of the ring. There’s something for everyone at PCW, from the opera-singing Magnificent Matthew Brooks to the Alpha Male Iestyn Rees to the 7ft giant Big T Justice.
One thing that sets PCW apart from other British wrestling promotions is the PCW Academy. Rather than relying on talent trained elsewhere, PCW develops its own stars with the likes of Tel Banham, Philip Michael and Sheikh El Sham – the Ruler of The Buyout, the Prince of Panache and the Middle-Eastern Millionaire – all having graduated from the academy. Anyone can join the academy and learn the art of professional wrestling. The academy features a full size 16ft wrestling ring, a mock TV studio, benefiting from PCWs vast array of high spec video and audio equipment, a 4m squared crash mat area and a top of the range gymnastics crash mat. The training is for all ages, men and women and there’s even an under 16s training intake. Not only will you get the chance to learn from some of the top UK trainers, but international guest trainers too, including Gangrel, AJ Styles, Nick Dinsmore, with many more lined up in the future.
In February 2019, PCW secured a deal to supply 52 weekly episodes to be broadcast on Fight Network UK. The show is broadcast at 9pm Saturdays on Sky channel 192/Freesat 161 with the show being repeated the following Thursday on PCW’s Facebook page.
For those who fancy swapping the office for the wrestling ring to find out what it’s all about, you can sign up for White Collar Wrestling. It’s a chance for amateurs to train for an appropriate amount of time, then get in the ring for a charity of their choice. Not only is it an opportunity to get fit and healthy, but to raise money for a good cause, through ticket sales and sponsorship. Participants are given eight weeks of free training (worth £200) in the PCW Academy with professional wrestling coaches, where they will learn the basics of wrestling, along with moves to be able to defend themselves in the ring. Contestants will be fairly matched with a pro PCW wrestler in terms of fitness, weight, ability and age. They then get to perform on stage in front of their friends and family at a special PCW live show.
Having attended an event recently at Evoque Nightclub in Preston, to support a colleague, it’s more like a modern-day panto, with the goodies against the baddies. I’d been to a similar event watching cage fighting but this was more theatrical. The contestants all encouraged their fans to get behind them as they entered the ring and the atmosphere was great. It didn’t really matter who won and who lost, but the taking part was a great achievement for those involved and it would be something I would definitely go and watch again.
For those interested in doing something different, visit: www.facebook.com/PCWlive
Watch PCW every Saturday at 9pm on
Fight Network UK (Sky channel 192/Freesat 161/TVPlayer.com and app)