Back In The Day

Throw Back Thursdays appear to be the in-thing these days, especially for active and retired professional wrestlers. Each and every week tons of pro wrestlers will share their memories on the world wide web.
Well, today I came across some old keepsakes and just thought I’d share…

Here’s a couple of bookings from Max Crabtree, who was the UK’s number one promoter at that point in time. As you can see, back in the day there was no internet, and only very wealthy people had mobile phones. Bookings were made via snail mail and confirmed via landline. Travelling to a show could take hours depending on the distance. There were no sat-nav systems, and you had to rely on good old fashioned maps and/ or an A-Z street street atlas.

Mike Weaver accepting challenges from all comers at Ron Taylor's Boxing & Wrestling Booth.
Mike Weaver accepting challenges from all comers at Ron Taylor’s Boxing & Wrestling Booth.

Breaking into the grapple game was difficult to stay the least. There was a veil of secrecy and silence that surrounded the entire business. In many was it was similar to joining a secret society. Professional wrestling schools and academy’s were virtually non existent. So, if you wanted to learn the pro style of wrestling you had to pluck up the courage to ask a promoter, or an existing pro wrestler to train you up. …and they didn’t accept just anyone!

Fortunately Max gave me a chance and put me in touch with Mike Weaver, who was a local pro wrestler and a shooter (legitimate submission wrestler). Mike agreed to train me up, and after months of hard training I was given a few bookings.

Initially I only got a couple of local bookings a month, but after a while the bookings came thick and fast, sometimes on a daily basis. This became my living (and an education) for the next few years…

The road trips could become very long and sometimes boring. So, it was a tradition to pass the time with a rib (practical joke). On one long drive to Wales we fooled a couple of boys into thinking that Wales is another country, and that they needed their passports to cross the English-Welsh border. They didn’t have them. So, we convinced them to hide in the boot of the car for several Imperial miles. They fell for the same joke, hook, line, and sinker on the way back too. 😀 Idiots!

We’d pull the same stunt going to and from Scotland as well…

Also, Max Crabtree owned a minibus, that would accommodate about a dozen wrestlers. We’d sometimes rendezvous at a service station on the motorway, and all cram into the bus, especially if we were on a long tour. Sometimes we would con some of the recruits into believing they had had to run behind the “fun bus” for two miles – as a fitness test. It was bullshit, and whenever they got right up to the bus door, we’d drive off again and make them run even further.

A rib – or practical joke could work on many other levels. For example, there was a very young wrestler (very talented) by the name of Kid Sox. His real name was Darren, but Max branded him as Kid Sox – because of the fact that he had very sweaty, smelly feet …and his socks used to stink to High Heaven! The funniest thing was that Darren never realized where the ring-name came from.

A rib could take place inside the ring, during a match. Mike Weaver was (and still is) a force to be reckoned with. His favorite trick was breaking a part of the ring called the spider. The spider connects, and holds the ring together, diagonally, from corner post to corner post. Mike used to take corner postings (into the turnbuckles) really hard. So hard that he would snap the spider. When this happened the ring ropes just went slack making high flying and high-spots impossible. That’s when you have to know how to take it to the floor, and REALLY have the ability to wrestle. I can’t help thinking that if this happened to one of the many “spot-monkeys” who are around today – they’d be well and truly fu@ked! …Well, Mike pulled that stunt on many occasions, and earned himself something of a reputation. He seemed to get a sense of satisfaction and achievement in doing this.

I was really fortunate to break into the wrestling biz when I did. I got the chance to be around and learn from some of the most talented wrestlers in the world. I didn’t get the opportunity to wrestle all the big names, but a fair few who’s appeared on TV and went on to become household names. All men with years of experience. It was all part of the natural learning curve and gaining experience. …and in those early days, I was just beginning to scratch the surface.

To Be Continued…..

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