TRCH Classic Thriller Season

School of Hard Notts: Wrestling Resurgence Present Spandex Ballet

31 August 18 words: Chaz Wright
photos: Rob Brazier

On Saturday 8 September, three of Nottingham’s ‘ardest men will wrestle for supremacy in an inter-generational battle of wills to crown the Sheriff of the Nottingham grappling scene. Wrestling fans are used to seeing their larger-than-life heroes getting down to business in sports halls or nightclubs, but in a world first the “Battle of Nottingham” will be contested in the renowned Nottingham Contemporary art gallery - a venue more accustomed to chin-stroking than chin-music. Chaz Wright talks to Sam West, producer of the exciting new promotion Wrestling Resurgence, to find out more about Spandex Ballet...

Sam, one of the matches coming up at Spandex Ballet pits three generations of Nottingham’s best grapplers against each other; Stixx, Joseph Conners and Gabriel Kidd, in a highly anticipated local brawl – could you tell us a bit more about these three Nottingham Wrestlers?
When we started planning “Spandex Ballet” we knew we wanted the best of the local talent and when people think of Nottingham wrestling, they probably think of these three guys. Stixx is a legend on the Nottingham scene who has also built a big reputation with other promotions. Originally, we approached him to help us promote the show as he had recently retired, but luckily for us, he decided to get back in the ring, so of course we asked him to appear.  Stixx actually trained Conners, who is a great talent and is now doing big things wrestling with WWE and was always an essential booking for us. Neatly, Conners also trained Kidd who is a young star on his way up, building a big name for himself and currently appearing on national TV with World of Sport.

So it’s the old master vs apprentice story with three participants, sounds like it’s got the potential for a great match?
Wrestling Resurgence are a new company and we want to tell stories with compelling narratives, so this match was perfect. This is a story that really tells itself, based on the genuine history, relationships and respect between the three participants. What better way to promote a show in Nottingham than to have these three guys going at it in the ring at the same time?

Many of our readers won’t have attended live wrestling shows before, could you tell me a bit about your experiences at local wrestling, why live wrestling is such fun for the audience and what we can expect from the “Spandex Ballet” which, by the way, is a wonderful name for a wrestling show.
Thanks! We try to attract new audiences, so we have had quite a few people who hadn’t seen wrestling before at our earlier shows. I think one of the things that sets wrestling apart is the unique role the audience plays, it can be quite democratic with fans having a direct influence on the match, unlike like other sports or live theatre where the crowd is more distinct from the performers - it can be quite a buzz!

I think some people looking at wrestling from the outside might think it’s quite serious and violent but the silliness and comedy is a huge part, as well as spectacular action. It’s a pantomime mixed with a rock show. I would encourage any readers who have not been to a local show to give it a go - with the proviso that you might get addicted!

The “Battle of Nottingham” is just one of the matches you have lined up for grappling fans, which other bouts are you particularly excited about?
Women’s wrestling has just exploded in the last few years and we have a couple of women’s matches I am really excited about. I think Candy Floss vs Chakara is one that could be a show stealer. These two are great talents who have known each other since they were age thirteen, genuine best friends cutting their teeth in the business together, so once again it’s a great natural story for us to tell.

We have always enjoyed the absurdity and fun inherent to Wrestling so in that spirit we have the ArtCore Match. Like most good art it’s an evolving, and potentially messy concept! A six-way hard-core style scramble match, the ring will be littered with various props and we encourage the fans to bring their own art materials along for the wrestlers to use – though for obvious reasons we decided to limit it to dry art materials for now! We will also encourage the fans to attempt some live drawing during the match. We think it’s a pretty original idea and can’t wait to see how it goes down.

I am also looking forward to seeing some of the other top upcoming stars we have on the bill - Cara Noir is an interesting and complex character who channels the Black Swan and we have some exciting prospects like Chuck Mambo and Millie McKenzie - big names for the future.

I love the sound of the ArtCore match – a real one-off concept! Based on the promotional materials and interviews I have read, it seems that as well as wanting to put on an entertaining wrestling show you also bring quite an academic background to Wrestling Resurgence, how should fans expect this to be manifested at the show?
My Background is actually as a curator of contemporary art at the Attenborough arts centre in Leicester, where we put on our first shows. They were fun events that went brilliantly in a really intimate atmosphere. We bring this theatrical approach with strong stories and our experience of AV and lighting tech to make our shows really stand out. We have taken some inspiration from other wrestling promotions like Progress and Attack! and try to bring that theatricality to indie wrestling shows, but with our own unique approach.

I know you have some more rising local talent booked for the show - anyone else we should keep our eyes peeled for?
We have a local wrestler called Visage who comes from a theatre and drama background but was trained at House of Pain by Stixx and Joseph Conners so has a really strong wrestling education as well as the drama side. He draws on his identity as an LGBT person, incorporating drag aspects into his performance as part of his persona, The Queen of Queens. He is a really strong, positive role model as well as an entertaining wrestling character.

Traditionally, wrestling could be considered quite a macho and testosterone fuelled world, especially if you look at the guys we grew up watching in the eighties, many of whom appeared to be on a constant diet of steroids and hard drugs. Wrestling Resurgence’s approach seems to be at the other end of the spectrum – how have the worlds of art, theatre and wrestling meshed in your experience?
Whilst the wrestling world as a whole has become more inclusive, I certainly think that wrestling, as a performance form, has a lot of different ways of interpreting it. Wrestling resurgence is certainly to the left and I think what makes our approach special is that our promotion reflects the diversity of the UK, we aren’t going through the same old stereotypes as you might have seen in the past. It’s important to us to do something positive but like a lot of art forms, I think the world of wrestling can easily incorporate many different approaches.

You sold the show out really quickly with a notably high demand for tickets, which must bode well for the future. Are you hoping to do more shows in and around Nottingham, and if so do you have your eye on any more unusual venues – “Brawl at Wollaton Hall” perhaps?
Not a bad idea, but we are not looking to do huge shows to turn a profit. Our next show “Top of the Chops” is back at Attenborough art centre in Leicester, but we hope to get back to the contemporary in early 2019. Our goal is to keep having fun, putting on entertaining, original wrestling shows every couple of months in small fan-friendly venues. Hopefully Nottingham will have the appetite for that so we can keep coming up with new ideas for entertaining matches.

Tickets for Spandex Ballet are sold out.

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