Both myself and Mike Weaver were wrestling less and less for Max Crabtree. Dave Reece had gone under. I herd a story that Dave’s wrestling ring had been seized by bailiffs for unpaid bills. I don’t know if it was true or not, but all of a sudden Dave was out of the game.
Max was doing well at the time. He was running every night with Davey Boy Smith at the top of the bill. I don’t think Shirley was working at that point. Davey Boy drew money everywhere he went. He was fresh out of the WWF/ WWE. He came back to England to evade a lawsuit. He was being sued for allegedly putting someone in a Grovit and causing them brain damage. By then Max restructured his team, and we weren’t getting as many bookings.
One evening, Mike went to watch the All Star Wrestling at Victoria Hall, in Hanley. I think Klondike Kate (who also lived in Stoke at the time) introduced Mike to Brian Dixon. Brian showed an interest in booking Mike, and Mike put in a good word for me. Mike telephoned me to ask if I’d be interested in working a few jobs. Well, naturally I jumped at the chance. At first I think Brian booked us because of logistics and economics. Klondike Kate was a huge draw, but she couldn’t drive a car. It was easier to try and use either myself or Mike for transport, and if you can book three, or four people to travel together in one car – the petrol expenses are more economical.
It was a fantastic learning experience. I got the chance to work with people who were not working on Max’s team. Experience is the true teacher. Brian had a stronger emphasis on tag team wrestling. He had some great working teams like “The Liverpool Lads”, “Task Force 1” and “The Superflys”. All of them were fucking awesome workers!!!
I remember one day, wrestling for Brian in a tag against The Superflys. It was at a place called “Cornerstones” and I think Brian was paid “bill money” to provide a show there. The only uncomfortable thing was that the place was an institution. A mental asylum. That was a very surreal experience to say the least. The Superflys seemed quite at home there though…
Brian starting to book The Dynamite Kid – Tom Billington. Tommy looked like a shadow of his former self. I’d say he weighed 11 stone when I first met him. It wasn’t long before he beefed back up again. A few weeks later and he was looking awesome! You could see a few tell tale signs of his injuries, but he still had the same work ethic. He did all his knee drops off the top rope, his snap suplex, his dropkick off the top rope, and his his diving/ flying headbutt.
There was a young Japanese worker who was on tour for Brian. I remember Dynamite Kid having fluent conversations with the guy in Japanese. Unfortunately I don’t remember the Japanese workers name. Brian just called him “jaaaaappp”. He had a good physique, a mullet and a bum bag (fanny pack) …but then, who didn’t back then?
It’s a pity Tommy and Davey Boy couldn’t reconcile their differences because that would have been like printing money for any promoter. It would have been awesome for business.
Instead, they went their separate ways. Davey Boy was working with Max Crabtree, and Dynamite was working for Brian Dixon, and both promoters went head to head with each other every night.
It was a fantastic time in my life. Not only had I worked for Max Crabtree for a couple of years, I was now working for Brian Dixon and getting even more opportunities, and I was working at the other end of the spectrum.
Max liked very traditional old school technical wrestling. Brian Dixon had the same appreciation, but he liked the odd big bump and the occasional high spot. Just a few months before starting with Brian – I recorded some lucha libre off a satellite TV station. I showed the old VHS tape to Mike Weaver and we worked out a few short high spots to put in our matches. We were the first guys on the scene to do this. I’m not being big headed but we had something a bit new or unique looking. Also, we had been watching some pro-wrestling from Japan called UWFI Bushido. It was a stiff worked MMA style, but marketed as a legitimate sport. Mike used a lot of big bump power moves on me like the German Suplex.
I’m not bragging about it because it takes two workers to have a good match. It takes two to tango! It was luck more than anything else. We saw something that little bit different and just infused it into the traditional British style. We capitalized on it. We saw the right thing at the right time. OK, honestly? …We stole Mexican and “Japanese” moves – but we did it when nobody else had even seen it. Right time – right place. …and sometimes you just have to be an opportunist and jump on it before no one else does. The important thing was that it got us over that little bit more. Variety is the spice of life.
Nowadays everyone throws a bit of lucha in their matches, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The UK has now become a multi cultural melting pot of different styles. There’s more variety to a match, or a show. I like the idea of adding to our unique scientific technical British style – I just hope that over time we don’t dilute that style, because it’s our heritage. Our culture. Once something is lost – it’s lost. Gone forever, and you’ll never get it back…
One of the best things about working for Brian is the infamous Brian Dixon impersonations that some of the wrestlers do. Robbie Brookside was so good at this, that he could telephone wrestlers and they would be convinced that they were talking to Brian. Now there’s arib for you. …..Eeerrrrrrr fuckin’ ell – as Brian would say.