With Total Action Wrestling hosting a show to raise funds for Dunstable toddler Lilly Macglashan, who is fighting cancer, this Friday, I thought it was the perfect time to be ‘shown the ropes’ and become a wrestler for the day.
As someone who grew up watching the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin tread the canvas, this was something of a secret dream come true.
I can hear the ring announcer now. “Ladies and gentlemen, weighing in at 178lbs, standing just under 6ft 1ins, from Manchester England, ‘Wrecking Ball’ Rick Redman.”
Blame our videographer Natalee Hazelwood for the nickname.
I was invited along to attend a TAW training session by Scott Dickins – aka ‘Taylor Made’ – who put me through the paces.
He showed me how to execute body slams, suplexes, back body drops and, of course, how to be thrown around like a soggy rag doll.
He said: “Basically I’ve loved it ever since I was little. When I was younger I used to watch wrestling all the time.
“I gave it a try, I started to enjoy it, and before I knew it they said I was doing well and within about eight months they decided to start putting me on shows.”
Total Action Wrestling was founded by Steve Gibbs about 14 years ago. He fights under the name ‘Samson’.
He said: “When I was younger I used to watch World of Sport with my grandparents, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks – those guys.
“My parents used to take me to the shows and watch the professionals, and then when I was 18 I really wanted to get into it. We start with the basics, we tell people how to land properly, how to fall properly. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.
“The landing is the most important part, and then from there we develop all the moves. It’s nice and safe.”
Holding her own among the huge male wrestlers was 16-year-old Lucy Biggs, who performed her ‘fall-away slam’ on me with ease.
She said: “I watched wrestling a lot when I was younger and loved it, and thought ‘I could actually do this’, so here I am. I like wrestling the guys because I feel really stable in their hands.”
Steve told me that wrestling is more a form of theatre than sport, but such high-octane, testosterone-charged action would look ludicrously out of place at The Globe.
Training with the TAW was a lot of fun, and I recommend everyone to buy a ticket for Friday’s show – especially since it’s for such a good cause.
For a behind the scenes video, and to see me getting beaten up, visit www.dunstabletoday.co.uk.