Why Live British Wrestling Is Better Than Gossip Girl

By Bertie Brandes, Photos: Jake Lewis

Last night, I went to a party we threw at Bethnal Green Working Man's Club in East London. We threw the party because we just made a film about British wrestlers and well, what better way could there be to celebrate that than by giving people booze and the chance to see all the ready-made heroes, villians and weirdoes of Insane Championship Wrestling parade around before us IRL?

If someone had invited me to a wrestling party two weeks ago, my opinion of them would have plummeted quicker than my stomach just did after I necked three double cheeseburgers in an attempt to bitchslap my hangover. The idea of watching a gang of musclemen roll around kissing, cuddling and occasionally whacking chairs over each other, was just 100x less pressing than what was about to happen in Gossip Girl after Blair lost her baby in that car crash that Nate’s brother arranged "by accident". But such is life – priorities change.

After watching The British Wrestler, I was intrigued. Did I want to chant “HERE WE, HERE WE, HERE WE FUCKING GO” at tubby men dancing around in leotards? Did I want to scream with joy watching someone jab a gigantic corkscrew into another guy’s head? Did I want to watch my boss being attacked by a huge terrifying man dressed as a pirate? Yes, yes, yes, I fucking did, so I went along last night to see whether there was a place for a physically weak, very high-maintenance girl among all the bodysuits and "Cuntasaurus" T-shirts.

I showed up kind of late with my friend Charlotte and as you can see above, there was a rather unequal ratio of boys to girls. There was more bad news when she admitted that she hadn’t seen The British Wrestler (bad behaviour). Although I have obviously seen and loved it, considering the only experience of wrestling I’d ever had was on a screen, I was worried that in the dim light of Bethnal Green the farce of the physical "contact" might be too transparent, and that Charlotte might have the worst time ever.

On the other hand, I have an embarrassingly low tolerance of violence (watching boxing is my ultimate worst nightmare, huge yawn) and maybe I was wrong about this whole thing being girl-friendly, maybe I should have stayed in and streamed Wild Things instead. Much safer. Except we were here now, and we had complimentary drinks, and this shit was going down whether we liked it or not.

Then all of a sudden, almost without realising, we were wailing, booing and yelling along with everyone else at The Working Man’s Club in which a teenage me once snogged a man nine years my senior. (Thank god that memory will be eradicated forever and replaced by one of a very drunk man slurring into a microphone about blood and honour, btw.)

Maybe it’s a wrestling world stipulation that I didn’t know about, but the ICW wrestlers are really good at talking. Like, shivers down your spine, I’m going to get in the ring and body slam something, good at talking. And better even than the introduction, was the appearance of Rob Cage, a rotund, wobbling villain with the face of a cartoon bully and an outfit stolen straight off Rihanna circa Umbrella. As much as I never use the word "hate" and really love preaching about "the bigger picture", there’s something so fucking glorious about watching a bad guy getting annihilated by Grado, a camp, underdog idol, resplendent in his stretched-out yellow Lycra bodysuit.

Watching good vanquish evil is great and all, but it’s the insane energy of the characters that makes wrestling so hilarious. The sneering, spitting and self-abuse that went on between each round was nothing like the roaring Hulk Hogan bullshit that took up way too much time on every season of Brooke Knows Best. (Am I right?!) If you want to see what your Barclays account manager looks like in leather knickers rolling on the floor like a gigantic, cross baby; then wrestling is the sport for you. The importance of having picked a good character was particularly evident in the final match of the day, which pitted an ageing Captain America against the scariest man I’ve ever seen in my life.

The man not screaming in agony is Jack Jester and he promised blood. And he delivered, sort of, via this gigantic corkscrew. They also spilled out of the wrestling ring and into my personal space, which shook me, but not as much as when I bumped into Jack Jester on the stairwell afterwards and he repeatedly flicked his tongue into my ear and whispered something about his bedroom behaviour. Trust me, I was too terrified to listen. After that, this guy had pins squashed into his eyes, boards of barbed wire smashed onto his back and chairs and snooker cues destroyed over his head. It was adorable.

And with that, it was over. Except it wasn’t really over, because we kept bumping into wrestlers all over the venue, shaking their oily hair at people and making out with girls on top of fussball tables. Plus apparently they stormed Dalston afterwards, and spent the night "living the dream". If I haven’t convinced you yet, just think about it this way: Who doesn’t want to dress up major fabulous, have a bitch fight with their best friend in a crowd and then get fucked up on E? Sounds just like Fashion Week, right?

Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes

Click here to launch the gallery of photos we took at the wrestling match last night.

Watch our film, The British Wrestler, here.

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