Hello again true believers! I know what you’re thinking….two posts in one week?!? And yes you’re right. But I did leave you on a bit of a knife edge didn’t I? Ok well not so much a knife edge, more like a patient waiting for me to tell you huh?! 🙂
Well you all know how the last blog ended right? With me about to set foot inside the ring and wow the crowd with my exceptional talents? Cool, as I’m going to start this blog with the continuation of…….Hustle And Heart – The Birth Of Mark Blake!
There’s something I need to tell you all about my suit that I was wearing for the event. I was told to look professional by SEW management, to look authoritative but approachable. So I went out and bought a slim fit suit coupled with a black roll neck instead of a shirt. Check out this photo incase you can’t imagine my svelte, ripped body in a suit (DISCLAIMER: I’m not svelte or indeed ripped. the only thing ripped about me is the packet of chocolate beside me)
This suit was a bit more slim than I thought, and I had trouble raising my legs any higher than knee height. I instantly thought that I may not be able to step through the ring ropes to actually enter the ring without fear of ripping said trousers! So before the crowd began to take to their seats, I got changed and tried out getting into the ring. Success!!! I got in with no trouble at all, and could rest easy that the crowd wouldn’t be seeing a botch (or my underwear) within minutes of the opening segment!
So now, back to my tale……
With my pre shows checks made, and with a few minutes until the show began, I went to the backstage area. There was a curtain in front of the backstage so technically I was in the “Gorilla position”. If I have to explain to you what the “Gorilla position is (and NOPE it’s not THAT) then go Google it, and come back, it’s ok I’ll wait 😉
Standing in Gorilla behind the curtain, the new and exclusive Hustle & Heart music kicks in, and instantly I’m not just nervous, I’m bloody petrified! I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, my hands began to not just shake but tremble, and most important of all…..I forget everything that I’m supposed to say in that ring. All those last moment checks have now been erased from my mind, and all I’m thinking is how not to be sick!
I knew I’d be nervous but sheez! This wasn’t in the script!
The opening bars of the music fade and the beat kicks in and that’s my cue to mosey on out and make my way into the ring…..So I do just that. I gave off a false bravado, that I was supremely confident and this was a walk in the park, but inside I was a nervous wreck. the crowd are cheering and hollering, making so much noise that for a fleeting moment I forget my nerves and look at them. But as I step closer to the ring, that vanishes and trepidation kicks back in once again.
I hop up onto the ring apron, and set foot inside the squared circle in front of a baying and expectant crowd…..Yup, this is going to be one long difficult segment! 😂
Live mic in hand, the Hustle & Heart theme music fading out, it’s now my time. My time to shine. I can’t wrestle (it’s ok, I’ve come to terms with it, so should you) but damn skippy I can talk. I can chew the hind legs off a donkey with the amount I talk, so nervous or not, I’m doing this. And do it I did.
I’m not gonna lie, I was bricking it. I was bricking it so much, you could have built a 10 bedroom mansion with the amount of bricks I….er….bricked. I totally fluffed my lines so to speak, I ummed and ahhhed too much, but I don’t think the crowd wasn’t entertained. They knew the running order of the show, they knew our social media outlets, they knew about our merch table in the corner…..Just not in the way I planned it! I got the house rules out of the way (sitting in seats when wrestlers make entrances/exits, make as much noise as possible etc etc), and before I knew it seven minutes had passed and it was time to announce the first match.
The first match was the six-man tag match between Team Conroy and Team Power! I stood dead centre in the middle of the ring, faced the hard cam and made the announcements. First out was Team Power! Making their wrestling debuts were 2Tone (wearing the “swat” vest) and Luke Vega (wearing the “Assassins Creed” type jacket) who were led by their team captain Will Power! As soon as they made their way into the ring, accompanied by a huge amount of boos, I stepped away and to the side from my central position and walked backwards so my back was touching the ring ropes to the left of hard cam.
Next out, also making pro wrestling debuts, were Jack Voltage (guy in the lucha mask), fellow Ashford Posse member One Fan Dan (blue and white tights) and “The Original” Conroy. As they made their way out from the curtain, the crowd were right behind them, cheering them all the way.
My services no longer required for the moment, I made my exit from the ring and let the wrestlers take centre stage. Now I can’t remember much from the match itself. I’m sorry folks. It’s just that as soon as I left the ring, I went and looked at my sheet again, I didn’t want another brain freeze for the next segment. So I studied what I had written and looked up occasionally to see what was going on.
My wife and close friend (also a future Academy member) Lee were close by and asked if I was ok. I quickly explained that I lost all train of thought, ummed and ahhed too much and generally made a hash of the opening segment. just not very professional on my end. To their credit they both took me in hand and said yes, I may have done too much umming and ahhing, but I didn’t look too nervous. I spoke really well, not dropping h’s or t’s, I didn’t wander around the ring like a little lost sheep, and I looked good up there like I belonged up there.
Instantly, I relaxed. Yes I messed up a tad, but who doesn’t in their first time of doing anything? To hear from them that I did ok made me all the more determined to get ok to great and more.
As soon as I got my mojo back (hey there Austin Powers!) Jack Voltage pinned Luke Vega and the first match was over. I instantly jumped on the mic and announced the winning team while the crowd cheered along with the victors in the ring, while the losing Team Powers! skulked to the back.
Buoyed by the confidence given to me by my wife and Lee, I jumped back into the ring to promote the next SEW event (Wrestival 3, April 22nd at the Hawkinge Community Centre, sorry can’t help myself), shill social media once again and remind the crowd that the main event is a 10 man over the top rope Battle Royale featuring all of today’s competitors. But my main focus in this segment was to get people to buy raffle tickets. The prize for today’s raffle was two ringside seats for the Wrestival 3 show next month, a meet and greet with the wrestlers after Wrestival 3 and a box of wrestling goodies. Now raffles are usually a hard sell. People see them as old fashioned and fuddy duddy, so I had my work cut out for me. But I had a plan…..
The plan? To embrace the fact that it was indeed a raffle. To make it fun and kitsch. So I did…..After annoucning the prize I must said the word raffle about four times, each with an increasing amount of enthusiasm to try and get the crowd on board. By the fifth time, the crowd were right behind me, laughing at how over the top I was making it. Inside I was smiling as I knew that just by being my usual self amped up to 11 made this work and the raffle was over with the crowd!
With the crowd and myself on the same wavelength, it was time for the second match of the afternoon. Again, this match had two debuting pro wrestlers, although by their entrances, you wouldn’t believe it! Both of them came out from behind the curtain with so much fire in their eyes!
The Silverrrrrrback (that’s how Justin wanted me to announce him, not some bad typo) entered the hall to a mixture of boos and cheers. The cheers came from Justin’s family and friends who very nearly out-screamed the booing public 🙂
Ax Bludfist jumped through the curtain with so much enthusiasm that I thought the stansion holding the curtain up was going to fall down! He reminded me of when Rocky Maivia made his debut at Survivor Series 96, but after drinking five cans of Red Bull, with no sleep! He burst through and instantly the crowd knew he was the face/good guy, good work Adam 😉
I’m not going to tell you about the match, nope, I’m going to show you the match. All the matches were recorded by SEW and a few have been posted onto the SEW YouTube Channel, which you can see and subscribe by clicking right here. So sit back, and watch them go at it. Also, a special note about the match commentator Dick Valentine. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from him throughout the year…..
Not a bad little match huh? Bit hard to believe that both Silverrrrrback and Ax have been at the Academy for a little over six months and put on a solid quality match like that. Just shows that what’s being taught at the Academy is paying dividends for the students.
As soon as Justin’s music had finished I was back on duty, pushing the raffle and redeeming myself. You see when I announced the Battle Royale main event in the last segment, I omitted a quite vital piece of info. So thinking on my feet, I announced to the crowd that during the last match, SEW management had informed me that the winner of the 10 man Battle Royale would earn a place on the Wrestival 3 card next month.
It actually worked out pretty well this way, as when I made the announcement I actually heard the crowd murmur and talk amongst themselves about the “reward”. Sometimes, just sometimes, I amaze myself 😉
With my little faux-pas now corrected, it was time for match three of the afternoon. Now I had been telling all my family and friends that this match could steal the show. Us Academy students had seen a quick practice run of this match the week before and, well I can’t speak for the others but I was blown away by how polished it was. In front of a live crowd I knew they’d bring it and more.
So below, (after a quick shill of the SEW YouTube Channel page, click here folks and subscribe) and entrance pics for the guys, is the match in its entirety. The strange and rather worrying Meathead against the hometown hero Alex Aces. Seriously guys, awesome showing!
So was I right or was I right? Yup…..I was right 😉
With the end of that match, again the ring was mine before the interval. So in I jumped (by this point I had become so comfortable getting into and actually being in the ring) and addressed the crowd one final time before a well earned break. I basically reminded the crowd about the raffle, and how I’ll be drawing the winner as soon as we come back from the interval. I also plugged the merch table and their wares including those Wrestival 3 tickets (April 22nd, Hawkinge Community Centre boys and gals!). A quick note that it was a 10 minute interval and BOOM they were all gone for toilet breaks and to hit the merch table…..I really could sell ice to Eskimos.
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 “Diary Of A 30 Something Trainee Wrestler”, and you can find it at this link right here. I’d also like to plug mine and South East 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.southeastwrestling.co.uk
South East Wrestling Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HelloSouthEast
South East Wrestling Twitter – https://twitter.com/HelloSouthEast
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…..
Interval time, and I went to the wife to get her feedback on how I was doing. One thing about her, she doesn’t sugarcoat things and tells it exactly how it is. Which is what I needed to hear after my stumble in the beginning segment. Luckily for me she said I was doing a great job and the nerves from earlier seem to have disappeared as i looked very relaxed and comfortable in there.
Wiping my brow and breathing a sigh of relief I wandered backstage to see how the boys were doing. A quick chat with Mr Wicked about his upcoming Lord Admiral Mountevans/World Of Sport match, a catch up with the rest of the boys about how they’re all doing and feeling, and it was back on the mic for me telling the audience that there were two minutes before the action resumes. I really wish I had more time to talk to them all in that interval as they were on such a high and I just wanted to feel a part of that with them. But a professional ring announcers job is never done and Part two of the afternoons activities was about to start…..
Raffle drawing done (well done Mrs Silverrrrback) and it was time to explain to the crowd how a Lord Admiral Mountevans match worked. Now I won’t explain this again as I have already done so in the last blog post, but what I will elaborate on is the little “angle” that Will Power! and myself had in the middle of the ring.
With both competitors and their respective cornermen in the ring I would announce both “teams” to the crowd, but Will Power! had other ideas. He took it upon himself to announce his mentor to the audience after deeming me unworthy of doing so. With them booing him, Will asked the audience if they were enjoying my work of MC’ing the day’s event to which I got the biggest cheer of my life. I’m not sure if it was the adrenalin that was running wild (brother) or if the pop was that big, but BAH GAWD it was so hard not to get emotional in that ring. That picture above is Will asking the crowd before the pop. If I had a picture of just after you would have seen me trying so hard not to cry/laugh. It really was one of the most brilliant and emotional moments of my life, and one I will treasure for the rest of my life. I had got used to being an MC and maybe, possibly a manager, being the one that gives the reactions to the crowd. To get a reaction from a crowd, at my very first live event, that damn loud…..shit I’m trying really hard not to crack as I’m typing this.
I can’t thank Will/Luis and H/C Matt enough for this moment, especially after what had happened just a few weeks before. Once again it was my SEW family stepping up and helping out a fellow member…..
With my moment done, Will then introduced Mr Wicked to the crowd, as you can see I don’t look impressed. By this point I had regained my composure and remembered kayfabe so I acted the part. After introducing Mr Wicked, Power! then handed the mic back to me, by thrusting it into my chest rather firmly. Not taking the bait, and with the crowd on my side, I then introduced Chris and Karl Castle.
Introductions out of the way, the match begun. Now again I feel like I have to apologise here as I can’t exactly remember what happened. I was kinda running on auto pilot as I was still on cloud nine after my moment. I can remember a few bits and bobs but it wouldn’t make much sense to you guys so I won’t put them down, but suffice to say, Will Power got his comeuppance after trying to interfere in the match. “The Original” came to ringside and chased Power! to the backstage area after a few stiff forearm shots. Chris Castle soon picked up his first professional wrestling win of his career making Mr Wicked tap out to his submission finisher.
Nearly two hours had flown by and just like that, we were down to our last match of the afternoon, the main event, the 10 Man Over The Top Rope Battle Royale. Announcing this way easy for me as I just basically said their name as they walked through the curtain, which was a god send to me as I still wasn’t thinking straight, damn fame 😆
The competitors were as follows: ‘The Original’ Conroy, One Fan Dan, Jack Voltage, Ax Bludvist, Alex Aces, Chris Castle, 2Tone, Luke Vega, The Silverrrback and Meathead (easy gig this last match). Now I’m not going to go for a play by play match recap, as if you’ve seen a Battle Royale it’s pretty hard to differentiate who is who and what they’re doing. What I will say is that Meathead is a crazy dude! He was eliminated via a springboard dropkick on the apron, and rather than take an easy bump and roll off the apron onto the floor, he decided to pretty much take a flat back from the apron onto the floor! (I have since spoken to Meathead who assured me that he rolled onto his side as he hit the floor…..but still, he’s a crazy ass dude for sure!)
Eventually it came down to The Silverrrback and Jack Voltage as the last two left. Predictably due to his size advantage, Silverrrback took control and threw around the Lucha In Training like a mexican rag doll (Si Si Si!). After hitting his Eat Defeat signature, Jack steadied himself against the ropes. Silverrrback incensed, ran toward him to clothesline him out the ring but Voltage ducked, pulled down the top rope and sent Silverrrback tumbling to the floor……Voltage wins!!! Jack Voltage earns a spot on the Wrestival 3 card in just over four weeks time!! Jack lost the plot and threw himself around the ring in delight, jumping onto all four corners, celebrating the most important win of his fledgling career with his first live crowd!
Eventually calming down and realizing that he had earned his spot next month, Jack made his way to the back and I made my to the ring for the last time of the day. I stood in the middle of the ring with no bullet points to say, just another plug for Wrestival 3 and to say goodbye. But I went “off script” so to speak. I did the plug as asked but my goodbye was a little bit more heartfelt, seeing as this was Hustle and Heart after all.
I looked straight down the hard cam, and into as many people’s eyes as I could, as I thanked each and every person there for their wonderful support during the day. Who would have known that us Academy students would have sold out all 125 tickets just a week after release and two weeks before the event? I, on behalf of the boys in the back, the merch table staff in the corner, SEW management and myself thank you all for letting us put on this show for you all. We hope to do it all over again very soon.
I then bowed to the hard cam as the Hustle And Heart music began and exited the ring, knowing that not only myself but each and every person of South East Wrestling gave everything they had and more to today’s events.
As silly as it sounds, I felt, and still do right now, so extremely proud of what the South East Wrestling Academy has achieved in such a small space of time. That even though I’m a small part of the machine, that I helped get us where we are right now. Things are looking up for SEW, and March 19th……Is just the beginning for SEW and “Smart” Mark Blake 😉
And there folks is the birth of “Smart” Mark Blake. I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. I do apologise for this being a rather wordy post, I’ll try to make the next one less wordy. OH……Talking of the next post, I’ll give you a bit of teaser as to it’s subject matter…..
The next post will be about an “evolution” (don’t get your hopes up, it’s not HHH, Orton, Batista or Flair) and the Academy’s newest member. Don’t miss it! Big news and as always, more laughs.
Thank you for sticking by me folks. Thank you for letting me share this journey with you all, but if you think that just because I’ve fulfilled my dream of performing in my church that that’s it, I’ve got news for you…….this is just the beginning 😉
TTFN folks x