Quite a long time ago Kat and I talked about starting a wrestling promotion, since Brighton didn't have one. It was going to be heavily intergender, have an emphasis on storylines and have the ring announcer come out to Too Many Man by Skepta. Inevitably, we didn't get around to doing it ourselves, but thankfully most of our ideas have ended up being fulfilled in Riptide, the promotion that started up here last summer (except the bit about the ring announcer coming out to Too Many Man—he comes out to Call Me Al, which is good too).
Their home is the Brighthelm Centre, somewhere I've been for smaller tech conferences and various political meetings. I wouldn't have pegged it as a natural wrestling venue but it actually works very nicely. It doesn't have the atmosphere-deadening feel of a leisure centre; the main hall is a very neutral space, and lends itself to being an aesthetic canvas—the sound of waves playing when there's no music, blue light and ripples being projected everywhere.
I've been to most of the shows so far, and while I wasn't enormously keen on the first one I went to (Riptide Returns), the I've been to since (Point Break, Black Water and, last Friday, Deep Six) have all been good, and better each time. Deep Six is one of the best live shows I've been to in quite a while. The first half had a good mix of comedy nonsense, messy multi-man madness (of a kind the booker seems fond of—there's been some kind of match with 5+ people in the ring at every one of their shows I've been to) and serious story stuff.
The second half, though, was the real standout. Millie McKenzie vs Chris Brookes was great but terrifying, as McKenzie was limping throughout—I really hope my emotional investment in that match wasn't bought at the cost of her leg. The Speedball Mike Bailey/Travis Banks match was hands-down one of the best matches I have ever seen—nonstop intensity, incredibly hard-hitting. Speedball's moonsault fallaway slam is astonishing. I will go out of my way to seek him out going forward. Main eventing was a great Sexsmith/Ridgeway vs Trivet/Mozer tag match which furthered the Sexsmith/Trivet storyline that's been running (I think) since the first Riptide show.
I was going to say it took me a while to work out what their booking strategy was, but I think it may have taken them a while to develop it—plus being a young promotion, they may not have known how long they could commit to doing stuff for. Now they've got the whole of 2018 booked in, though, things are clearly slotting into place. They've built up stories on the undercard over the last few shows, with a few folk clearly pegged as their storyline competitors going forward: Chuck Mambo, Jack Sexsmith, Candyfloss, Spike Trivet, a few others—and had big names and imports on the upper card. You might recognise those names as lower-to-midcard guys on the bigger promotions; here, it seems, they'll be given the chance to flourish.
It's working too: now the audience has bought into the stories, they get to move up the card, as we saw on Friday with the Sexsmith/Ridgeway vs Trivet/Mozer tag match main-eventing. Some of the Bigger Names are being brought into the storyline stuff too—making Jimmy Havoc a Proper Heel after a few shows of the semi-comedy Likeable Jimmy was definitely a good move. I am very excited to see how it all develops, especially as they move toward creating a championship. Big things ahead!