Welcome, one and all, to what may seem like a bit of an oddity. This particular posting is going to be a little different to my normal content insofar as it won’t really pertain to the normal things that I tend to cover, such as anime, games, or my own projects. Instead, I’m going to give you all a little insight into my way of thinking. Now, the reason for this is that over last couple of months, I have been told multiple times that I’ve had an interesting life. The thing is, I don’t generally tend to think of my life as either interesting or uninteresting; it’s just here, it’s just my life, it’s just the way things are. What I’ve come to realise from talking to people is that the reason this statement comes up so often is simply that I’ve done a lot of different things and I tend to do OK at said things. The thing is, I’m not anything overly special. I only get to achieve these things because I pursue two particular lines of thinking with a dogged stubbornness. So, what are these two magical things? I’ll get to that. First, I’m going to tell you a story about how this all started.
As a kid, I loved pro wrestling. I’d seen some UK World of Sport, I watched WCW when it was on TV, and my next-door neighbours used to video tape the WWF PPVs for us. During lunch breaks at school, if we weren’t playing football, my friends and I would be picking our favourite wrestlers and playing wrestling. Over the years, I got to be Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, Marty Jannetty, and even The Ultimate Warrior. When I was about eight or nine, I found a photo of myself at the beach where I was running along wearing my swimming trunks. What did I do with it? I cut it out, drew on some face paint and tassels, stuck it to a piece of card, and labelled it Ultimate Warrior II. That’s right, I had my own collector card.
By the time that I hit high school, wrestling was getting a huge resurgence in popularity thanks to WWF’s infamous ‘Attitude Era’. Sure, it was really different to what I’d enjoyed up to that point, but I still loved it. About that time, a wrestling company promoted a show at my local leisure centre. I went along, and enjoyed every moment. I also decided to hang around outside the locker room in the hope of getting not only some autographs, but some advice. I forget who the first guy that came out was, but I leapt on him with one, simple question: “How do I get to learn to do what you do?” Now, I was a young teen who was covered in acne and weighed about as much as a packet of crisps, so I was expecting nothing to come of this. To my surprise, he told me to wait there while he signed some autographs, then returned to the locker room and brought out a man named Ricky Knight. Don’t know Ricky? You may know his daughter, Paige, who works for WWE.
Anyway, I explained to Ricky that I had grown up loving wrestling, and that I desperately wanted to do it. He told me about his training school, and said that I was welcome to come along any time. Unfortunately, I was in full time education and the school was about 135 miles away. I didn’t want to let it go though. I was kid with what was probably an unrealistic dream, but I refused to just give up on that. So, when Trans-Atlantic Wrestling Challenge was filmed for and aired on a local TV channel (over a year later I might add), I set about trying to find someone that I’d seen on the show and thought was cool. He was a long haired, goth-looking, fire-blowing guy who wrestled under the name of Majik. Thankfully, he also had a website that was miraculously easy to find, even in the 56K dial-up world of AOL.
So, I e-mailed him and told him what I’d told Ricky Knight. I explained my issues with travel, and he said that that was fine. While he was based in Coventry, which was 138 miles away, the company that he wrestled for had a school just outside Sittingbourne, which was only 12 miles away. Not only that, but the first session in said school was absolutely free. That company was NWA-UK Hammerlock, and setting foot in that gym was the first steps towards discovering the way of thinking that I try to apply to most things. You see, I was tiny. Wrestlers weren’t tiny. When I told people that I was going to go to this school and learn to wrestle, they laughed. I wish that were an exaggeration, but it’s not. My friends laughed at me, and told me that I was far too small, that I wasn’t fit enough, and that I could not do this. I was a really sensitive kid too, so that was heart breaking to hear, and it left me with a very clear choice: I could believe them, because they were probably right, and give up on this crazy idea. Or, I could give it best shot that I had, and try to prove every person that I’d spoken to wrong.
I chose the latter. The way I saw it, I’d wanted this far too long and far too much to let it roll over and die. Plus, the first session was free, so it wasn’t like I was wasting money if it turned out that everyone else was right. So, I turned up to the school, not knowing what to expect. The man who greeted me was ‘The Bad Boy of British Wrestling’ Jon Ryan. I’d also seen him on the TWC show with Majik, and he was one of the others that really stood out to me. I told him about what other people had said, and he looked me over and replied, “we can do something with you”. What happened from there was that I took part in a five-and-a-half-hour training session with very little in the way of a break at any time during the day. The main thing though, was that I survived. I was knackered, but I was still standing. The next day, I woke up covered in bruises and cuts, I was achy all over, but I’d done it. And the week after, I did it again, and again the week after that, and again the week after that, and so on. A year later, I made my in-ring debut as ‘Tad’. Had I suddenly gotten bigger? Well … watch this video and see. I come in at 16:20 wearing blue spandex and a dashing purple vest top.
No, I didn’t get bigger. And do you know what was scary about that night? A lot of things. I was so small that my spandex was loose, I was a horribly shy teen and my debut was in front of over 1,000 people, and while I trained regularly with my first opponent, my second opponent was someone that I met for the first time about an hour before the opening bell. But, I went out there and I did it. Not only that, but I remained stubborn afterwards. In the ten years that I was directly involved with wrestling, I took on a number of roles too. For example, check out this music video:
The highlights for my match start at 00:36. Not only that, but I was helping out at the company’s training school, meaning that I helped train everyone in the opener. Oh, I was also the head booker at the time, meaning that I picked every match on that show. Not bad for someone who was too small to make it through one training session, right? So, here’s the first of those two things that I try to live by:
If you want to try something, do it. If people tell you that you can’t, or that you’re not capable, be stubborn. If this is something that you truly want, then no amount of can’t should stop you attempting it.
I applied that to wrestling, and lasted ten years. I got to train and work with some really big names in the current scene, and I got to tour with some of my heroes. Why? Because I refused to let can’t factor into whether I did it or not. But, all that said, who was I in UK wrestling? To many, I was an ‘also-ran’. Now, don’t get me wrong. I had some really good matches, I experienced every part of the business, and in the areas where I wrestled the most, people still remember me. That’s right, over five years after retiring, people still remember me. Not only that, but I do sometimes still get asked for advice by people who trained or worked with me. I did end up with my own collector card. OK, so I was also once announced as weighing as much as a packet of crisps too, but that’s another story. Anyway, all that aside, in the grand scheme of things, there are people out there far more successful than me. But, that brings me to the second thing that I try to live by:
Success is all to do with perception.
I never became Ultimate Warrior II, I never broke it big and became a household name, but at least I got to live that dream for as long as I could. The thing is, to a lot of people, I probably didn’t really achieve anything. What you have to remember though, is that those are the same people who either did tell that I couldn’t, or that would tell me the same if I attempted it now. Did I get into wrestling to prove those people wrong? Initially, I thought so, at least in part. Over time though, I realised that I didn’t. I got into wrestling because it was something that I wanted to do. I got to experience far more than most people thought I would, and that’s cool, but if I’m being honest, the fact that I gave it everything I could is more than enough for me. If I’d stumbled and fallen at that first session, would I be thinking differently now? Yeah, probably. Like I said, I was a sensitive teen, and I would have taken that to heart. Should I have though? Of course not. I may not be the most famous wrestler to have ever stepped foot in the ring, but the fact that I threw myself at it at all is a success. That I remained stubborn and got to do all that I did, is a success.
And now, I apply that to so many things. I wanted to write books, but everything that I wrote was a Lovecraft pastiche (and not always very good pastiches at that), but I kept at it and refused to let the rejection letters get me down. Now? By the end of 2017, I will have released five books at a minimum, maybe more. I wanted to work on cosplay, but my first few sucked. Then I made Renamon. Why? Because I stuck at it. I wanted to run this website, so I set it up and started stumbling my way through. It’s growing. All these things will have limits for me, I know that. Eventually, I’ll hit the ceiling and have to struggle to get higher, but I’ll keep trying until I can’t try any more, because these are things that I want to do.
Here’s the thing: When you try things, you won’t always turn out to be the best. Does that mean that you shouldn’t try to begin with? No, it does not. Refuse to let people tell you that you can’t, and refuse to let a few stumbles along the way stop you from moving forward. Push for what you want and remember that simply turning up for the dance at all is more of a success than most people will ever achieve.
Thanks for reading everybody, I’ll catch ya later.