Started off the weekend with HOPE’s return to Derby to the lovely Polish Club on the Friday, and a first time encounter with Chris Tyler. Tyler and I have clashed in only multi-mans over the last 12 months, after originally being booked in a one-on-one match last February in a bout that got changed to a 3-Way right at the last second, due to Too Cool taking up a good hour of the first half and the show approaching midnight.
Pretty fun match this, despite the ring not being the best quality due to a mishmash of people setting it up, each having ideas of their own about the best way to construct if. This resulted in a wrestling ring that somewhat resembled a boat on the high seas. The show was a lengthy one, with 8 matches on the bill, so it was pretty late by the time we entered the ring, and you could sense the crowd were a bit weary. Luckily, we were able to wake them up by attempting to force a toilet brush down Tyler’s throat. This one went all over the building, and whilst there was some stuff that could have been clearer or hit more proficiently, this was definitely more than adequate for a first time affair. The ending of the match arrived when referee Craig Anderson rang the bell for a DQ after I accidentally struck him, to a very unpopular decision. Anderson is hardly the most popular man in HOPE as it is, and this didn’t do him any favours. He earned a Cutter after the match for his troubles. Annoyingly enough, I managed to suffer quite a bad injury to a muscle in my side at some stage in the match, which was frustrating considering how heavy the weekend was lined up to be. Luckily, I had a really long diversion on the way home to think about it, a diversion that took me in a massive circle to a closed bridge. Twice.
The next morning, after a rough and uncomfortable 4 hours sleep, I headed down to Nottingham to begin a really long and emotionally charged day. Up first, after a lovely workout at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre was a brief encounter with Alex Gracie on Southside’s afternoon event. This served the purpose of making me look strong going into the evenings championship main event, and I was really glad Gracie was in the ring with me, as the guy just gets it. He understands wrestling so well, and totally gets his role, whatever it might be. Only going about 2-3 minutes, this was a nice little additional set-up for the evening show, especially with the stand off between Joseph Connors and I following it.
That done, I drove the 30 minutes down the road to Sutton-In-Ashfield for the 34th Evolution of HOPE Wrestling. Seasick from the ring aside, I had fun opening up their event opposite Rob Sharpe. I’d first wrestled Sharpe about a year ago on a MSW camp in Skirlington, back when he was super green (brand new, not his skin. Which has switched the opposite way now), and I’d likely thrown too much at him for the time. This one was simplified and it was benefited by it. Still not perfect by any stretch, but a perfectly adequate opener. I was pretty happy I was able to convert a rugged elderly Yorkshireman who wanted my horns ripped off at the start into cheering for me by the end. A couple of iffy moments aside, this was easy enough, and whilst it won’t be in any end of year polls, it served its intended purpose.
The 3rd and final show of the day, back in Nottingham, was the site of one of my favourite main event bouts I’ve had in a long time, a No DQ bout for the SWE Championship between Connors and I that had been building for a long long time, with the feud between myself and his Righteous Army having raged on for months. This was the 15th match the SWE crowd will have witnessed that day, if they attended both shows, and they had seen a LOT of great matches, meaning we had a lot to follow. In all honesty, I was slightly anxious that it would be hard work engaging them, which would have been a huge shame knowing what was to come. I needn’t have worried, as even at the opening bell, you could feel something in the air. I was happy before we’d even tied up as it felt like we had the crowd with us, and that carried on the whole match. The whole thing must have bordered on 40 minutes and there was a lot to take in. It was a hugely dramatic ride, with some big moments. It’s no secret, I think Connors is the fucking man. Words can’t describe just how good and just how smart he is. The match was highlighted by 2 massive returns, of both the departed Kay Lee Ray and Connor’s former partner/bitter rival Paul Malen. Some might have foreseen the KLR return at some stage, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated Malen’s appearance and subsequent betrayal. I felt a ton of different emotions after the match, and by the time I returned home (I was one of the very last people to leave the building), I couldn’t have been more drained and wiped out. It genuinely took me 5 minutes to get out of the car and into my house.
I closed the weekend off with another sold-out Southside show in St Neots, first opening up the event with a red hot crowd reaction to the announcement of a 4 on 4 tag on July 9th with some huge stipulations and a pull apart brawl with myself, Connors, KLR and Nixon. Following that, I tangled with Martin Kirby, Tommy End, Mark Haskins and RA member The Pledge in a 5-Way match that managed to incorporate some cool story moments into the usual fireworks and non-stop action. The pacing of this match was so different from the night before, consisting of constant motion as opposed to letting big moments register, but I ended up really enjoying it, particularly with how beat up I was feeling. It helped being in there with some of the best guys we’ve got. Couldn’t have been more thankful for a nice nap when I got home.
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Where You Can See El Ligero This Weekend
May 6th: HOPE Wrestling ‘Evolution XXXV: How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us’. El Ligero vs Chris Tyler. Forest Town Arena, Mansfield.
May 7th: Rising Sun Wrestling ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’. FCW Championship: TG (c) vs El Ligero. Almenno San Bartolomeo, Begamo, Italy.
May 8th: New Generation Wrestling. El Ligero & Liam Slater vs The Proven. Pudsey Civic Hall, Pudsey.
*Our thanks to Nik Towers for the use of his artwork in the column header. You can see more of Nik’s artwork at the Wrestling Artwork NT Facebook page.
Additionally thanks to Brett Hadley: Photography for the images used in the article.