Hello one and all, to another edition of my diary. Not just any edition of my training, but a huge special edition. It’s the day Doug Williams came to South East Wrestling to impart his years of knowledge on us students. I’m not going to mince my words here, it was an amazing, out of body experience. Out of body I hear you ask? I’ll explain in more detail in my blog.
Anyway, how you all keeping? Good I hope. Me I hear you ask? Well I’ve been in the wars, but I’ll get to that later on in the blog, along with some pics, just to get the point across!
So enough with my faffing about, let’s crack on with my most looked forward to lesson yet….The Doug Williams Seminar.
The day began as it always does on training days, at 6.45am. Dan Conroy (one of my best mate’s and now a pro wrestler) wasn’t coming round to pick me up until 7.15am, easily gave me thirty minutes to get myself ready, especially as I pack my training bag the night before. So I took my time in getting ready…..Until I got a text at 6.55am from Dan saying he’ll be over in ten minutes! Dammit! So there I was, running around trying to keep the noise down and not wake the wife and Logan up. I wasn’t doing a very good job as the muttering under my breath was actually so loud that Logan told me to be quiet as he was still tired!
After being ticked off by my four year old son, I promptly kept the noise down and carried on getting ready. You know, quick breakfast (banana), quick drink (pint of water), brush hair and teeth. All that done, I grabbed my bag and ran outside to meet Dan.
As I jumped into his car, he quickly apologised and attempted to placate me by offering to get me a drink from McDonald’s (cheap plug there, need to ask them for my fee at some point). With the prospect of a bottle of OJ, I was sold, and off we went on our merry way to training.
The usual 20 minute drive was filled with us talking about Doug Williams. His career, stand out moments, how he would be with us at the academy, hard and tough or soft and thoughtful.
Before we knew it, Hawking was upon us, and so was a pretty momentous day for the South East Wrestling Training Academy. Our first seminar…..
We weren’t the only ones that were looking forward to the day’s events. Steve P and Chris H (who I hadn’t met until this point) were eagerly awaiting Doug’s presence. After a minutes chat and catch up (Steve will be providing this site some imagery soon, so we had a quick pow wow to discuss things) we were soon joined by Head Coach Matt H and his wife Amy. We quickly went inside the Community Centre to put up the ring as quickly as we could. By doing so meant that Doug would have more time with us and less time with the mundane tasks like erecting the ring etc.
After finding out that we would be in the smaller hall for the morning, the six of us were joined by frequent commentator and toilet aficionado Ollie S, Meathead himself Nathan H, Senior Referee Dan H, Mr Will Power aka Luis L and Jacob L with his mother Roz. Great timing as always, as they all helped in getting the ring constructed in super quick time. The fact that Doug was coming pushed us all to be as quick and efficient as we possibly could. We didn’t want to look like some third-rate jobbers, we had an Academy and an image to promote.
With the ring now up and looking as inviting as always, it was now time for Coach Turvey to put us through our paces and warm us up. I have to admit that after missing the last two training sessions I really felt it that morning. I was very out of breath after the warm up, so much so that I had to take my asthma pump for the first time in a few weeks, but at least I didn’t have to do punishment push up’s, unlike Ollie here. Not sure what the reason was, but I’m sure the punishment was justified as always!
With my lungs grabbing as much oxygen as it could, H/C Matt then took over the class and put us through our paces with some strength and conditioning exercises like always. But it was cut short as our esteemed guest arrived just ten or so minutes through the exercises. Matt dismissed us and let us grab some water and change into our wrestling shoes/boots while he went over and had a quick chat with Doug.
Now right here I feel I must name and shame someone. Remember my rushing around as Mr Conroy was even more eager than I was and got to me earlier than I expected? Well in all that rushing around, I forgot my wrestling boots. Now I know I also said that I had packed my bag the night before, but I left my boots in the boot of my car (how apt) and was meant to get them before jumping in Dan’s car. I was the only member of the Academy that didn’t wear their boots and felt I let down Matt and the boys. So Conroy, next time, no rushing me ok? 😉
With my little rant out of the way, I’ll get back to the point in hand, Mr Doug Williams.
After his little chat with Matt, Doug joined us students inside the ring and wanted to see where we were development wise. So we all lined up around the ring and were asked to do some forward rolls, left and right shoulder rolls, back bumps, face bumps, and flip bumps. I’m going to be straight up and honest with you all…..I shit myself a bit. Out of the six things Doug had asked us to show him, I couldn’t and hadn’t done four of them due to my damn ear. In actual fact I was bricking it. First thing he asks and I have to bow out of the ring. Great start.
But then I thought to myself that I’ll never have this opportunity again. I need to man up, and just do it (much like Shia LeBeouf tells you in those memes 🙂 ) So that’s exactly what I did….
Watching everyone do something as simple as the forward roll filled me with dread. I can do the roll, I just take about ten seconds to get off the mat due to the spinning I would feel. Amy, who was in front of me in the line up turned around and made sure I was ok. I nodded yep, I got this. Steve behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked why I hadn’t left the ring yet. I replied saying it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to do this otherwise I’ll kick myself forever over it.
One by one the people in front of me dwindled down, until all of a sudden it was me. So, there I was standing in front of a wrestling legend, about to do something that Logan could do easily, and I was a nervous wreck.
For some weird reason, I felt like I had the full weight of the Academy on my shoulders, over something as little as a forward roll. Me over thinking things as normal hey Matt? 😉 I walked forward and went for it…..and it went as perfectly as it could for me. I stumbled back as I was getting to my feet (everything was still dizzy as normal but I had to push through it) but apart from that it was a success! Steve and Amy congratulated me as I was trying to keep down my banana that I had for breakfast, I got a wink of approval (well I hope it was of approval) from Dan and all of a sudden that weight, that monkey on my back, was lifted. Apart from feeling a bit queasy, I felt like I was invincible! Bring it on!
Next up: Shoulder rolls. That feeling of invincibility soon disappeared when it dawned on me that I had never actually done one before! I had seen them done plenty of times but doing them? Nope, not once! That feeling of dread closed in on me the closer I got to the front of the queue, then Amy dropped a bombshell. She too hadn’t performed a shoulder roll. Doug calmly walked Amy through how to do it and lo and behold, she did it! Pretty good one too in my eyes! The dread lifted from me as I heard Doug’s words in my head as i attempted mine. My left roll was miles better than my right roll, I still felt dizzy and queasy as I got up from them, but again, I had pushed myself to do them. At this point I honestly felt like I could do anything, I was so freakin happy!
With the rolls out of the way it was bump time. No probs! I had been practicing bumps in and out of the ring for months now, I had this!
Back bump? Now I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but it was easily the best back bump I had ever done. Doug noticed too and commented, saying “not bad”…..HOLY CRAP! Doug Williams just said I did a not bad back bump! Man I’m on cloud nine by this point!
Face bump? Yeah I think I was too over zealous when I attempted this. As I took the bump, I smacked my stomach on the mat. Not the ideal way to take the bump, even more so when you feel queasy and trying really hard to keep down that damn banana! No praise from Doug, but that’s ok, I don’t want to be seen as teachers pet!
Flip bump? Uh oh! I’m in trouble! This is the one bump I really can’t do. No amount of practice can make me better at it. My problem is that as I flip, I rotate too much to my left and don’t land flat. Plus I haven’t actually done the bump in the ring. Things weren’t looking good again, but this time with good reason. Soon enough, it was turn. I did say to Doug that I hadn’t taken the bump in the ring. He asked if I wanted to step out and pass, but no way was I flaking out. Nope, I was here and I had to do this. I stepped up, and flipped…..
Everything was a blur as I got up, and my ears were ringing. I’ve since found out that the ringing was the class applauding me as apparently it was a pretty great bump. I really wish someone was recording that!
With the basics out of the way, the class and I went and grabbed ourselves a quick drink while Matt and Doug had a quick conflab and decided where the lesson was going next.
Refueled with a slurp of some orange squash and a quick swig of water, I was back in the ring again with the class and Doug. Now we were learning how to put on a side headlock properly. Pretty basic right? Well team that up with the person in the side headlock, pushing you into the ropes behind you and then shooting you off those ropes into the opposite side, and as you rebound from those ropes, you are met with a shoulder check? Not so simple now!
So we all paired up, Finn (local lad, not the Balor kind. That’s us in the picture above with some one-on-one time with Doug) and I teamed up and learned the spot over the next five minutes or so. Once we were all confident with the spot, the parings went into the ring and performed said spot for Doug to assess.
Just a quick break in proceedings to shill some social media bits and bobs. I actually have a page on Facebook totally dedicated to this blog. It’s cunningly called “Breaking Kayfabe – A Training Diary”, and you can find it at this link right here. I’d also like to plug mine and South East Professional Wrestling social media too as I have your undivided attention. Click the links, have a gander and if you’re feeling particularly nice, maybe gives us a like and a follow too 😉
South East Wrestling website – http://www.sepw.co.uk
South East Wrestling Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SouthEastPro
South East Wrestling Twitter – https://twitter.com/SouthEastPro
My Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/30SomethingTrainee
My Twitter – https://twitter.com/ski101
I’ll now hand you back over to your regularly scheduled reading material…..
Now remember at the top of this article, I said I’ve been in the wars? Look at these and I’ll tell you how I got my war wounds…..
Finn, the guy I was working with, is a big guy. He’s also incredibly strong and doesn’t know his own strength. When he shot me into the ropes, he threw me with such force that I didn’t have time to turn around and let my back hit the ropes and rebound back. Nope, I went throat first into the ropes! The top rope caught me straight on the larynx, and as I tried to move after hitting my throat, I turned my right hand side, causing that quite impressive rope burn on my right shoulder. It must have been bad as I heard the class all shout “OOOWWW!” as I did it! Doug was nonplussed, he’s obviously seen his fair share of more impressive cock up’s than that, but he did ask me if I was ok? I was good, bit choke-y around the throat but good.
Determined to get the spot right in front of Doug, Finn and I did the spot again, this time with less power into the ropes! Everything was all well and good until the shooting into the ropes spot. For some stupid reason (or the fact i was still a bit shook up after the mess before), as I hit Finn with the shoulder charge/check, I took the bump too! The pair of us hit the deck, HARD! And that’s how I bruised my elbow. I came down on my left elbow after hitting Finn, but didn’t notice it until the drive home after the seminar! Too much adrenalin flowing around my body I think.
So after the total car crash Doug just saw, we took another water break and got ready for the next part.
This time around Doug impressed on us the importance of the start of a match. It tells the story of who is the baby face (good guy) and who is the heel (the bad guy, not Scott Hall). If you were going to the ring and the crowd didn’t know who you or both of you were, then this was the time to show them. Mess it up and the crowd would be confused as to who they should boo and cheer. Get it right and the rest of the match would be a hell of a lot easier in storytelling terms.
Doug quickly showed us a quick spot that he then broke down into two separate parts. The first part was that you locked up together, and the heel would then slap a wristlock on the face. The face would sell the hold with facial expressions (very very important) and walk around the ring showing the crowd he’s in peril and in pain. The face would then reverse the wristlock by stepping though and putting the heel into a front face lock. The heel would then back up the face to the ropes to gain a cheap exit from the hold, as he couldn’t get out otherwise. After using Conroy as his guinea pig to show us what he was telling us, he told us to pair up again and practice this first part of the spot.
Again Finn and I teamed up and practised it for about five minutes. Everybody then went back into the ring to show Doug he had all listened and understood. This time around, it went like a dream for Finn and I, it made me feel a bit better after embarrassing myself in front of a wrestling legend like Doug just a few moments before.
With everyone on the same page with the first part of the drill, Doug then showed us the second part. After the heel’s cheap exit using the ropes, both competitors would lock up again. This time the baby face would slap on the wrist lock and the heel would show he is just as technically sound as the babyface. He would reverse the hold and put the face into a front face lock this time, but before he can lock the hold in, the babyface would reverse the reverse (keep with me folks) and put him back into the original wristlock. Keeping up? Good, I’ll continue!
At this point the heel has to show annoyance and anger that he’s being “out-wrestled”. So this time he would perform a forward roll, stand up and break the wristlock with a forearm shot or some other strike. Then just as quickly, he would give the babyface a snapmere (grab the back of his opponent’s head, bring him down and make him do a forward roll onto the mat) and then slap on a reverse chin lock, but again the babyface is too quick and reverses out of that back into the dreaded wristlock. The heel is now incensed that he’s being made to look a fool, so out of pure frustration he strikes the babyface in the face to break the hold. End of spot. I hope you all understood that 🙂
So off we all went and practised again in our pairs for another five minutes before Doug called us back, one pair at a time to perform the entire routine. Myself and Finn were the last pair up and away we went……at a break neck speed. We flew through the routine so quick that we didn’t tell the story and show who was in what role. Doug spoke to us after we had finished and said as much. All I could say in response was that in my head, I was in such a rush to make sure we hit all the required moves, that I rushed it. Again I was over thinking. It really is something I need to stop doing as it’s hindering me in the ring.
With about 25 minutes of Doug’s precious time left, we all sat in the ring for a personal Q&A session. Topics covered included pet peeves in a match, what it was like working in front of a TV crowd to a non-TV crowd, if and when he had got excited meeting anyone else in the industry. We got an insight into the hard slog it can be for a professional wrestler, through the eyes of Mr Doug Williams.
It was a very thorough Q&A and I can’t thank Doug enough for the pearls of wisdom he showered upon us all that morning. Whether it was showing us the big things like the routine Finn and I performed, or the little nuggets like how to get over with the crowd, it was totally and utterly worth it (even the sore throat and rope burn!). A once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from one of the greatest this country has ever produced.
I did leave the Community Centre on cloud nine, an out of body experience, buzzing after the mornings events. It’s not often you spend three hours in a one-to-one setting and learn from one of the best. I’m at home now in my office typing this, and I still can’t believe it. I may never wrestle a match in my life, but I have a greater appreciation for the finer details of a match now. Things I probably wouldn’t have picked up on if I hadn’t seen Doug.
I can’t thank Doug and Matt enough for giving me the opportunity, and rest assured, I will put into practice everything that I was taught that morning.
And there we go. A special edition of my blog. I’m hoping that there will be more special editions as the weeks pass, all depends on if we have any special guests join us, or huge news emanates from SEW officials and management 😉
I hope I did the day justice, and I hope to meet Doug again one day. And this time, not make a total arse of myself .
So until next time, happy reading readers!…..Still waiting on those suggestions for my fanbase name!
Photos With White Border Courtesy Of Claire Prescott Photography