Stixx is Nottingham’s very own HHH; a technician, brawler, trainer and promoter. He has contributed massively to Nottingham wrestling’s ongoing rejuvenation and has fought and trained some of the best in the world. Whilst Stixx benevolently left mainstream recognition to his protégés, to those in the know, there can be no doubt he is he is one of the linchpins of wrestling in the midlands. Sitting in the post-show wreckage after another bruising bout, LeftLion hangs out under the tree of woe with Notts’ most garrulous gigantic grappler.
Stixx, you run Nottingham’s indigenous, original wrestling promotion, and perhaps more significantly, wrestling training school - could you tell me about “The House of Pain”?
Well I came to Notts in 2004 the “Heavyweight House of Pain” was really just a nickname for me. Back in the day my trainer told me that if my name was on a poster with no picture, the fans should be able to get an idea of my character just from the wording, I am a heavyweight, who inflicts pain; you get the idea. When I took over Nottingham’s training school in 2010 the name just seemed to fit. Plus, it lends itself well to chants (HOP! HOP!) so that always helps. We put on shows around Nottingham, but have also trained the next generations of UK wrestlers.
It must be edifying to see guys you have trained, like Joseph Conners, Paul Malen, and Gabriel Kidd achieve so much on the national scene and even with WWE now?
Yeah, its great, UK wrestling is in such a strong place now and I love that we helped make that happen. Not so long ago it was a different story, world class guys like the late great Kris Travis (RIP) who was based in Sheffield used to have to come to Nottingham if they wanted to train. And don’t forget the next generation, like Visage and Kyle Kingsley, who will keep the scene going and I am sure will achieve a lot.
You mentioned that UK wrestling is in good place right now, you actually retired a couple of years ago, but thankfully in classic wrestling fashion, like Flair or Funk, the retirement didn’t stick – did the feeling of missing out on the excitement in the UK right now convince you to come back?
Well, I certainly missed performing. My retirement match at a Southside show in Nottingham was a blast, my last match was with Damien Dunne, another guy I trained who is achieving a lot of recognition now so that was satisfying, but there is so much going on, great matches, great performers, I couldn’t resist getting back in the ring.
Do you prefer playing heel (Villain) or babyface (Hero)?
Well, I played heel for ten years, but in the end, every promotion turned me babyface. I think when I am playing heel it’s more of an act, whereas the role of babyface I can just be me. But also, it depends on the crowd, to be honest, if it’s a family crowd, a day time show or a Butlins or something I enjoy playing a heel more. If you can make the old women in the front row come at you with a handbag, you know you are doing your job right.
A big part of wrestling is the interplay between the crowd and the fans, what’s the most annoying crowd chant from your perspective?
This might sound weird, but I think I would have to say “this is awesome”. Wrestling is supposed to be good versus evil, I can appreciate fans enjoying the match as a whole and cheering both performers but it can take away from the point of the match. I prefer an old school reaction where the crowd cheer for the one they want to win! Its like football, the crowd is always split between the two sides which makes the atmosphere. If fans do like the heel, they should boo him - that’s the negative reaction they are working so hard to get! Weirdly by cheering the baddy, crowds can make the heel feel like they have done a bad job!
When you picked your finishing move, the devastating “Stixx Shift Driver” what factors did you take into account?
I wanted high impact, for sure. As I am usually the bigger guy, I want something visually big, and also big from a sound effect perspective. But there are other factors, can you actually pull it off against every other guy for example, as there are some seriously big units out there, even compared to me.
If you could have any band of all time to perform your entrance music, who would it be and why?
Damn that’s tough - I would have to say anything from Guns n’ Roses Appetite for Destruction, one of the best albums of all time – blasting out Welcome to the Jungle would get a decent pop for sure.
Having just watched the enormous effort you put into your matches, I wondered how do you prepare for these matches, for example do you have specific rituals, or perhaps specific foods you eat to get in shape?
This might sound weird, but to prepare for my matches, I want a food that will give you energy, but not bloat you out. So I usually eat hot dogs, not the buns, just the meat. That’s what I had today, a massive plate of hot dogs, after a match I like to treat myself to some proper junk food, like a McDonalds.
Over the years you have put on hundreds of matches with some massive stars like Chavo Guerro, Pete Dunne and Mick Foley, who is your favourite opponent and why?
I have always been a huge Kevin Owens fan, so getting to wrestle him was such a pleasure. Actually, we are currently one for one after two matches, so I keep tweeting him threatening to jump the barrier and settle the score next time WWE are in Notts.
You heard it here first folks, Owens better keep his eyes peeled next time he comes to Notts, if he dares with the mighty Stixx breathing down his neck! Any aspiring grapplers out there should check out the house of pain website and local fans keep an eye out for upcoming shows on their Facebook page.
High-brow pursuits met high-flying pugilists as independent Wrestling show Spandex Ballet dropkicked into the Nottingham contemporary art gallery last weekend. The debut Nottingham show from the unusual Wrestling Resurgence promotion played in front of a packed house in the art gallery’s exhibition space. Pitching their tent firmly at the tongue-in-cheek, theatrical end of the spectrum, Resurgence nonetheless shoehorned in enough bone crunching spots and proper old fashioned wrastlin’ to entertain fans of all tastes.
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...