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2010: A British Wrestling Odyssey

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Alex Sanderson: Extinguishing The Ring Of Fire?



Posted by AJM, January 5th 2010 13:42GMT


In an exclusive sit-down interview (well, I assume it was, but in this age of mobile computing who knows what he was doing!), TEW.co.uk's Andrew J. Mowbray interviews the owner of new British promotion, the British Wrestling Association, about his past, his present and his future



AJM: Hi Alex, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, I know you're busy at the moment.


AS: Not at all, my man. I've always got things to say to those who want to listen, you know that better than most!


AJM: Indeed! Well, I guess we'd better start at the end... what happened in Birmingham?


AS: It was all going so well. Maybe that should have made me suspicious? I don't know. Robert [Robert Brown, a.k.a British Samurai -ed.] was a strange kind of guy. He didn't want to bother booking the shows himself, yet he never gave any control to the guy he appointed to do it. I guess it was because his last spell in charge went so badly. 2007, when I arrived at the company, was terrible. Nova hit them hard in 2006, and they had to look to home-grown talents. The thing is, other than a few greens from the training school, there -were- no homegrowns. We essentially had Rob, Petey [barnes], Walter [Morgan] and of course Merle [O'Curle].


AJM: I notice you put Petey Barnes at the top of that list...


AS: Rob refused to recognise Petey as a legitimate draw, because he was so ****-sure he'd follow [Adam] Matravers out of the door as soon as he got some limelight. Petey's one of the nicest guys in the game, so I try to give him extra credit wherever...


AJM: I see. I notice you mentioned your arrival at the Ring of Fire in mid-2007. Before that you were a relatively small-time operator for the Bournemouth-based South Coast Wrestling. Why did Samurai come to you? Also, isn't calling him by his real name, and first-name-only at that, a little disrespectful?


AS: Rob - if he wants respect he should start showing some - brought me in and expected me to help him reignite his Ring of Fire. Steve Johns, the owner of SCW, knew Rob distantly, and had heard the rumours. He put us in touch. At first he gave me plenty of petrol, but no matches. Then the petrol dried up too, so then I left. That's basically an overview of the situation.


AJM: Very... poetic. So you arrived in RoF, but your influence wasn't truly felt until the beginning of 2008. Why was that?


AS: Rob wanted me to 'get settled in'. Which basically meant doing what he said and making cups of coffee.


AJM: So what was the first 'Alex Sanderson' idea the public saw?


AS: The DuPont brothers. Our tag division was shot to hell: We had two absolute rookie teams, the Martins who aren't exactly seasoned vets, and the Shooters who should, by all rights, have been split up by now. Rob wouldn't have that, though. 'We need them to carry the division!' he'd keep telling me. Ironic really, how that all ended up, huh?


AS: Next was Burning EXILE. Merle suggested him when he came back from a tour out east. I was weary, because the guy had a reputation for pissing off the people he could least afford to, but Merle assured me he was an alright guy, and if Merle liked him enough to go as far as recommending him, he must be some sort of saint. So I did the deal, got him in... Rob demands to wrestle him first. Great. So the most exotic talent RoF have had for about five years is going to job to the boss on night one.


AJM: Exile didn't exactly accomplish much after that, did he?


AS: I had to build him up slower than I'd have liked, starting with Glen and Martin Heath. The idea was to build to a battle of the super juniors with UK Dragon, but Dragon left for Japan - ironically - before that could happen, so I cut my losses. He would only agree to three-show stints anyway, too short-term for my liking. Anyway, WLW ended up running that match, and it was a disaster. Nice to know.


AJM: You seemed to go to great lengths to make your mark on the company. You even changed the commentary team while you were there...


AS: I did it more to defy Rob than anything. Peaches McCream was getting on my tits with her constant bickering backstage. So I decided that while Rob 'calmly explained' to her why things happened the way they did, I'd take a more direct route. Of course, his dick wouldn't let me fire the damn woman, so I just hired a replacement and refused to book her. But Justin [blackham] and Mel [anie Florence] didn't work so well together, so with regret I pulled the same trick on him and ended up with Manny [Morhan] and Mel, which sounds as good on paper and went over ok by all accounts. I maybe shot myself in the foot there, with hindsight... But I didn't know I'd be needing announcers of my own a few months later, so it worked out well at the time. I think Justin and Peaches are still employed... *chuckling*. I'm glad the man has money. Not sure where he's getting it from though.


AJM: You also got rid of the #1 Contender's Trophy, replacing it with a new title for the youngsters.


AS: Ahhh, yes. My favourite of all Rob's 'divine interventions'. Rob had this stupid ****ing idea of the Number One Contenders Trophy. Despite all logic, he thought it was a genuinely good idea to have a separate title - that's effectively what it was - for the guy who's next in line to fight the champion. 'What's the champion going to do while people are fighting over that?', 'Wouldn't it devalue the trophy somewhat if anyone else fought the champion?', 'What do we do with the trophy when the holder has faced the champ?', 'What are you smoking?', 'Can I have some?'. These were all genuine questions, I thought. But Rob simply ignored them. Not only that, but in 2007 he gave the wretched thing to Jonni Lowlife! Lowlife vs. O'Curle bombed, of course. Nothing wrong with Jonni, but he wasn't ready for that. Then Rob re-thought the idea.


AJM: Which is where you came in.


AS: Yeah, that's where I came in. The Young Lion's Cup. Same trophy, different placard. So we saved money on a new title, too. Of course, this being Rob, he had to **** that up eventually. I was clear, he was clear, we were both clear, this title was for the youngsters who'd never held a singles title before. The young breed, like [Glen] Ward and [Eric] Future. It was Eric, you'll remember, who was the first champion. Now, I'm not going to say he set the world on fire with that reign, but tell me - is he a better wrestler for it? Of course he is. So I'm held up at the airport in Germany one month after scouting a Germany indy and Rob has to book a show by himself. God forbid that ever happens again. Billy bloody Robinson goes over Eric for the cup. Destroying the meaning of the trophy, destroying my plans - Billy wasn't even supposed to be on that show. That pissed me right off. I finally get him to agree to give the young guys something to do, and he gives it to a championship contender the first chance he gets. Yeah, he's only 24, but that's not the point you little ****. Sorry, not you, I'm ranting.


AJM: And that lead you to resign? Can't say I blame you.


AS: No, that wasn't the final straw. But that particular straw was residing on the camel's back when it broke, for sure.


AS: All along, ever since my arrival in 2007, I'd been trying to get Rob to change the product. He was so focused on being an 'alternative' to [Jeff] Nova's group, that he totally lost sight of everything else. He didn't even know what his product was at that point, it was just 'the opposite of what Nova was doing'. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of the re-jigged 21CW, but I can at least see that people are attending. People are purchasing tickets, and merchandise, and that in turn is generating this strange papery stuff called 'money'. I seriously don't think Rob has ever seen any. Most of it went into the wrestler's back pockets.


AJM: Back in 1997, his style of traditional British wrestling as seen in the 70's and 80's was all the rage...


AS: Traditional British wrestling doesn't necessarily mean 'you're not allowed to talk' though, does it? Jimmy Fix, Antidote Cooper, John Martyr. They all said quite a bit in their time. The kids love booing the bad guys and cheering the good guys, that won't ever change. That's what wrestling is to many people. But this isn't the 70's and 80's, or even 1997. What Rob wanted to do was put the genie back in the bottle and pretend everything was a legitimate competition again, and nobody was buying it. Figuratively or literally. He was too blind to see that. My repeated attempts to tell him fell on deaf ears.


AJM: Your blind, deaf, mute wrestler-owner wasn't very happy when you started forcing the promotion down a different route in 2009, was he? I was there in Milton Keynes for Heatwave...


AS: Oh, you remember that? Yeah. He... he wasn't happy. I'm not sure what pissed him off more, JD's run-in or the blatant cheating in the main event.


AJM: If I recall, the fans weren't terribly receptive either. Me excluded, naturally.


AS: That's because those fifty fans were probably the only fifty fans in the country that agreed with Rob. You can't run a wresting company pandering to the same fifty fans in the same venue every month. I guess that's what Rob wanted to do. I wasn't happy with that. Do you know how long it took me to get him to run a show in such an exotic location as Milton Keynes? I think Walter even got lost on the way. I wanted to tell stories, inside and outside of the ring. I wanted a reason for the Bloggs family to bring their ten year old kid Joe to the Norman Blue and watch him have fun. I wanted the fans to hate my heels and cheer my faces, not merely admire the athletic competition. That's what Japan is for, right?


AJM: You mentioned 'the other' Morgan. Why did you decide to bring him back across the ocean?


AS: I brought JD in because I wanted a change from Merle at the top, he was starting to get over big in Japan, as you do when you have his talent. Frankly there was nobody on the roster at that point who could've taken the title away from him and done more with it than Merle did. I'm not saying Walter or K'Lee or even Rob would've been 'bad' champions, just that it's been proven time and time again that Merle is better than them. The new champion needed to come from outside the company. Kevin Jones came in, he was my original plan, but he largely flopped 'cause he's entertaining and can't help it. When JD contacted me about returning to England, I knew it had to be him. Looking back, I wish I'd held up on JD for a year or two...


AJM: And towards the end you started hiring more of the 'experienced' UK wrestlers. Who's idea was that?


AS: That was probably the final straw. The one that forced me to sign the letter of resignation I'd already mentally written. I'd built the tag division back up from 'complete shambles' to 'somewhat plausible', and Rob just tore it back down again. He released Martin [Heath], but not Jon [Michael Sharp]. He released Jacques and kept Pierre [DuPont], got rid of Gob [Narfi] but not the other one, what's his name? [Rhys Vali -ed]. He released Johnny Highspot - for NO reason. My pet project Eric Future...


AS: And he brought in guys that... I don't want to be cruel or anything, they're all good hands. But he released the youngsters, and hired older guys that completely contradicted my entire period as booker. There's nothing wrong with Ali [bloxsome], or Razor [Valentine], or Keith [Adams]. And there were some good hires; Nigel Svensson, and... ok, there was -a- good hire.


AJM: Don't forget Larry!


AS: Ah! Thanks for remembering that! I'd brought in Larry myself in late '08 basically because of an idea a fan inadvertently had. There was this one kid at ringside who'd always yell "go and pick on someone your own size!" at Menace when he was beating up the trainee kids. So... he did! He picked on Larry. And the fans loved it. Rob, for some unfathomable reason - probably finance related since he was quite expensive to be fair - didn't. So yeah. There was an element of hypocrisy there too. My old guy wasn't allowed, but his old guys were great ideas.


AJM: So you left, and it wasn't long before rumours surfaced about a brand new wrestling promotion based in London...


AS: I wanted to base us in Milton Keynes, just for the hell of it. But no, London makes sense. Right under Jeff's nose, but hopefully we'll be touring the south coast a bit, maybe as far as Bristol. And Milton Keynes. But yeah, I started up a wrestling school of my own when I left Ring of Fire, and eventually the nagging impulse in the back of my brain became too much... I had to run some full shows.


AJM: Would it be fair to say that the main goal of the BWA is to take down RoF?


AS: Completely unfair, but probably truthful. Have you become a counselor since we last talked?


AJM: Sometimes, in some of these interviews, it feels like it. Believe me. What would you say made you different from 21CW, or dare it I say it, Ring of Fire?


AS: The BWA will be to 21CW what TCW is to the SWF, but translated to British wrestling. I hate the fact that anything vaguely entertaining that includes such terrible atrocities as a *gasp* microphone is called 'Americanised' British wrestling. Balls to that. We're going to take the fundamental elements of the old school British scene, and fuse them together with the fundamantal elements of modern-day wrestling. Unlike RoF, there'll promos and characters and storylines going on to entertain the kids and the casual fans and keep people coming back for more, but unlike 21CW we're not going to let them interfere with good, traditional wrestling. Title matches will be first to two falls or a knockout, with a maximum of twelve five minute rounds just like the old days. But anyone is welcome here. If you're competent at your style of wrestling, whatever it is, you'll be given a chance. We don't shun the high fliers just because they're 'not traditional'. Likewise we don't tell the technicians to be 'less boring'. We just let them wrestle. If they're good, they'll be back.


AJM: So will this venture feature mostly Ring of Fire workers in a different environment?


AS: I've tried to avoid that as much as possible. There are lots of FORMER RoF workers that Rob has released for no goodly reason, but very few workers will work for both of us. Can't be bothered with the politics.


AJM: If there was one wrestler who you'd love to sign to your promotion but for some reason can't, who would it be?


AS: Nigel Svensson. I've got a Norwegian and a Finn, so it would be fitting to have a Swede too. But like I said, I've got this thing that says 'don't hire people just because they're doing well in RoF'. I've taken the guys Rob didn't want, and one or two of the stragglers from the top of the card. I don't want to start taking the guys that are successful for them too. Call it a personal vengeance, if you will, and feel free to laugh at me if I fall flat on my arse because of it. Nigel Svensson... he could become a star by wrestling The Minor Annoyance in dark matches every month. He's no challenge. The challenge is making the stars who don't make themselves, but are there to be made. Eric Future... Absolutely Flawless... the DuPonts...


AJM: Getting back to the point of the question... what about workers that you CANNOT hire, that you'd like to?


AS: Tommy Cornell? Sean McFly? Angry Gilmore? You expect any other answers to that question? On a more realistic level, I'd love to score Stevie Stoat away from Jeff. Or Luke Cool. Or [Johnny] Stones. Or Joey Beauchamp. There's nothing wrong with Twenty's roster, just the way they're being used that I don't like.


AJM: You said you've been running a training school, anyone we should look out for?


AS: We're part of the National School of Wrestling, so I've seen a lot of talented kids lately. Karl McCormac, Bobby O'Connor... There's some new kids too that look promising, look out for Ricky Storm and Wade Orson in a few months. Orson in particular looks exciting.


AJM: Finally, to finish off with, some namedropping...


AS: Oooh, goodie, I like these.


AJM: Merle O'Curle

AS: Ultra-talented, on the wrong side of a conflict, but happy there so good luck to him.


AJM: Edward Cornell

AS: Won't be Tommy, will still be good.


AJM: Peaches McCream



AJM: JD Morgan

AS: Nearing the two-year mark with with what he made into the most prestigious title in Europe. Can't wait for him to lose it so I can sign him.


AJM: Menace

AS: He plays his role. He does his job. Can't complain.


AJM: Jeff Nova

AS: He had a dream, he followed it. I don't share his dream, but loads of other people do so good luck to the guy.


AJM: British Samurai

AS: If he's happy in his little gym hall with 50 fans he probably knows by name, let him rot in it.


AJM: Harley Neill

AS: I feel sorry for the poor bastard. Let's hope he has better luck with Rob than I ever did.


AJM: The Highland Warrior

AS: I have a lot of time for Warrior. He's a good guy. I'm sure we'll drink a bottle of whiskey together over the smouldering corpse of Ring of Fire one day.


AJM: Thanks for such an... enlightening interview, Alex. Good luck with your endeavours!


AS: My pleasure Andy, hope to see you in a few weeks.


AJM: I'm sure you will if you look hard enough.


The British Wrestling Association's first full card, BWA: Inception takes place next Sunday, January Week 4 2010 at the Paddington Club, Westminster, London. For card details and further information please visit www.britishwrestlingassociation.com

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britishwrestlingassociation.com -> Home


BWA: A British Wrestling Odyssey!

Posted by BWA, Monday, January Week 2, 2010 16:34GMT


Mind the gaps and be sure to wear your hard-hats, this site is currently under construction. Have no fears, unlike the Olympic Stadium, this website will be up and running in time for you to check out all the latest news and results from our first show! However, we have managed to find time amongst all the building work to publish this:


BWA: Inception

-Main Event-


Edward Cornell vs. Hugh de Aske





The Big'un From Wigan - The Ventnor Vampire

Walter Morgan vs. Ripper LeStat





The UK Wrecking Crew vs. The Party Animals



Eric Future vs. Jonni Lowlife

Bobby O'Connor vs. Punisher Paul Hughes

Menace vs. Sander Nilsson

Edwin O'Reilly vs. Karl McCormac



Sunday, Week 4, January

The Paddington Club, Westminster, London

Adults £6 | Concessions £4 | Kids Under 12 Free.


((Just a quick OOC (I'm trying to restrict the amount of OOC in 'proper diary posts' in this diary, but...): I'll have a roster up after the first show is posted, which should hopefully be soon... there are some guys I want to keep quiet until after the show. Hence the website being 'under construction' ;) I'm not expecting predictions for the first show by the way, first show predictions are basically blind guesses, but feel free if you insist :p Oh, and if someone wants to make a better 'vs' graphic than my shoddy attempt, that'd be awesome. I tried to do a Union Jack vs., but it looked ****e. So I just did a red one with a shadow instead, and... yeah...))


((OOC2: Because 1PWFan brought it up, I'll just mention that anyone that isn't in the default Cornellverse or the New Workers list (see: Bobby O'Connor, Karl McCormac, Edwin O'Reilly et al) are game-generated workers. Some of them I've changed their name slightly, but I haven't fiddled with any stats. Except me, of course, I'm created. ¬_¬))

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Interested to see where it goes- not sure I'm a fan of your treatment of British Samurai but it does setup a strong personality for the avatar, which is always a good thing.


Edward Cornell vs. Hugh de Aske

An odd choice, especially given that Hugh is 100% pure awesome, but I think Hugh starts with more England overness- and as a new show it makes sense to build around a big name rather than a guy who's a great worker but maybe not so well-known (and who'll probably be off to the big money before long)


Walter Morgan vs. Ripper LeStat

Give him a manager and Walter's a star in any company. He's just ahead of Ripper in every way but charisma


The UK Wrecking Crew vs. The Party Animals

I've never been too impressed by The Party Animals, whereas The Wrecking Crew are one of the biggest names in the UK tag scene


Eric Future vs. Jonni Lowlife

From your first post I think you see Captain Tadpole (seriously, doesn't he just look vaguely piscine to you?) as a bigger potential star than Lowlife


Bobby O'Connor vs. Punisher Paul Hughes

I'm guessing O'Connor and the other new names are created workers for the game- it'll be interesting to see them evolve. I'm going with Bobby here as he's specifically named in the opening post, which suggests he's a potentially big name


Menace vs. Sander Nilsson

I've always liked Menace, though I couldn't tell you why


Edwin O'Reilly vs. Karl McCormac

Again, he was named so he's probably got a lot of potential

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Are these better.. ?






Edward Cornell vs. Hugh de Aske


Walter Morgan vs. Ripper LeStat


The UK Wrecking Crew vs. The Party Animals


Eric Future vs. Jonni Lowlife


Bobby O'Connor vs. Punisher Paul Hughes


Menace vs. Sander Nilsson


Edwin O'Reilly vs. Karl McCormac

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