by Craig Hermit
A little more than two years ago, Discovery Wrestling produced their debut show at Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh with ‘No Fear No Mercy’ with stars like Cryme Time, Chris Sabin, Marty Scrull and many more. Since then the promotion has developed, complete with it’s loyal fan base they regularly produce phenomenal matches and successfully blend their family friendly shows with a hint of adult wrestling to please all fans.
Last week I managed to catch up with Alan Smith, Co-Owner of Discovery Wrestling to reflect on the last two years and what 2017 holds.
VH – Discovery Wrestling started back in 2014 with Alex Fowlis and yourself, so what made you both start a new promotion in the UK?
Alan – It actually all started when Alex lost his father, his Dad had passed away and he was going through a tough time, so we would meet up have a cup of tea, we would just talk wrestling. Obviously we were already involved in wrestling but we had our own ideas on things and how wrestling could be so that’s really how it all started. Then we looked at the other promotions, what they were doing and the areas within Scotland and thought where could we bring what we’re doing to the wrestling scene. We decided on Edinburgh and the type of promotion we wanted to be and we just went for it. I mean you’ve got these ideas and you’ve got this ambition, don’t sit on it, go for it, give it a crack and see how it goes. That’s been two years we’ve been doing this now, we’ve been delighted with the response we’ve got, the types of crowds we are getting and how passionate people are getting about Discovery not just the fans but also the wrestlers as well. They often talk about Discovery being one of their favourite places to come and wrestle, that shows that the decision was the right decision. Now, it’s really starting to take off.
VH -You mentioned Discovery’s two Year Anniversary, what would you say has been your highlights in Discovery so far?
Alan – There’s loads, there has been so many highlights (laughing).
VH – I realise that as I asked the question, you’ve had Joe Coffey versus Jay Lethal, Ricochet.
Alan – I think the highlights for us…I mean it could be easy for me to say everything was a highlight, everything we have done is my highlight. We are coming at this with a biased point of view but actually the highlight for us has been seeing the quality of some of these matches that we have got and people walking away from these events saying well that match could have been on any card anywhere in the world given the quality. I think for 2016 when it comes to highlights perhaps it’s hard to look past the fact that we had hosted a Ring of Honor Championship match in Scotland, we were the first promotion to do that to secure Jay Lethal, to secure the Ring of Honor Championship with Joe Coffey in a match. For that, for us that is a highlight that kinda got us onto a Global footing, a lot of new followers on the back of that, a lot of new people desperate to see that Joe Coffey/Jay Lethal match. And Jay Lethal, wow, he gave us that speech after his match as well in how this is how wrestling should be and how he loved that match and the settings. That for me, I can’t speak for Alex, that is a personal highlight, that match for me signalled the moment for the type of promotion we are to show the ambition that we have.
VH – Certainly that match was highlight for many fans, something that has brought a series of highlights has been the Y-Division, now with the current Champion Lewis Girvan who was previously the Interim Champion with previous Champion Chris Sabin unavailable, how did that all come about?
Alan – Well, Chris Sabin was our very first Y-Division Champion, which was a big moment for us. That we had a short tournament and it came down to the final two that being Chris Sabin and Lewis Girvan. I think a lot of people thought, this guy is from abroad, he isn’t going to be around, he isn’t gonna be the Champion but he did you know and it was a phenomenal match unfortunately not long after he won the Championship he had a really serious injury that kept him out for months. We then didn’t know if or he would be in a position to come back, you know it got to the point where a couple of events had past and we had to come to a decision. We did believe that Chris had the right to be known as the Y-Division Champion and if and when he gets fit again he should have the opportunity to come back to show he is the Champion. But at the same time we don’t want to be a promotion without a Champion on the show, what’s everybody vying for, whats the point of these people fighting? Does he not like him, or whatever may spark a feud. If they are wrestling in a promotion they all should be fighting for the one thing and that is to be the Champion, if we don’t have that Champion on that show what is everyone fighting for? So we made the decision to create an interim Champion to give Chris a chance come back and get fit, it came down to a match between Lewis Girvan and Christopher Saynt. Christopher Saynt didn’t like the circumstances of how that came about and he’s been holding that against us ever since and that’s his take on it but Lewis beat him fair and square in that match and became the interim Y-Division Champion. Thankfully Chris Sabin is back, great to see him back in Ring Of Honor, I managed to go down to ROH last month and had a sit down with him to discuss plan going ahead but it also mean’t that last month at our awards ceremony, a year since Lewis Girvan had become the interm Champion who has had some great matches defending that Championship, it was only fitting that he should be known as the Y-Division Champion. Chris Sabin understands that but he has said as soon as our schedules all match up, he’s coming back and he’s coming for that Y-Division Championship.
VH – Speaking of Championships, this year you’ve announced you’ll be creating a Women’s Championship what made you have the idea create this Championship?
Alan – I think everybody can see just how good women’s wrestling is and there has been a great recognition certainly in the last few years that all over the world, globally women’s wrestling is as good as anything that you’ll see that why is that we see them as wrestlers not just women wrestlers, they are wrestlers. The big focus for us was getting the Y-Division established, that is the main Championship for Discovery Wrestling, it gets to the point two years in what’s next, to we create a Heavyweight Division? Do we create a Tag Team Championship or do we create something unique in creating a Women’s Championship, not every promotion has a Women’s Championship and for us it was the next logical step. We’ve got so much great female talent within Scotland alone, then across the entire UK and then you look further afield that it was time for us to go we recognise how good women’s wrestling is, its time to showcase how good it is and we are going to have a Tournament for the Championship. The belt at the moment is in it’s development stages, this belt is going to be one of the most stunning belts in wrestling. It’s not going to be butterflies, or diamonds it’s not going to be anything like that it’s gonna be a Championship you look at and guys and girls go I want that Championship, your not gonna look at it and go thats a Women’s belt nah, your gonna say that’s THE Belt.
I’m very excited for 2017, including Candice LeRae, I think the fans have enjoyed the announcements night by night, we really can’t wait for the moment in September, I know it feels like a long way away, but it’ll be when we crown our first Women’s Champion. We have incredibly talented wrestlers announced so far – all at different levels in their careers but all equally exciting. For us – it’s time to showcase the best in women’s wrestling and give it as much attention as we give to the likes of the Y Division, we want to send out a signal that we take women’s wrestling seriously.
We also want fans to know that the Women’s Tournament won’t be the only women’s match on the card, we don’t want to go don’t that route of there’s your token women’s match. We want to grow this, we have a string of women fighting for the Championship, we are also going to have to think ahead of who’s going to be the challenger to face the Champion, and who has the right to call themselves the No1 Contender come the first defence of the Champion.
VH – You have announced that multiple time TNA Knockouts Champion, Angelina Love is coming to Discovery Wrestling safe to say the complexion of the Tournament has completely changed?
Alan – Well we said were putting a big focus on women’s wrestling in Discovery in 2017 and I think the addition of Angelina Love puts an exclamation mark on that statement. When the world was watching TNA for women’s wrestling – Angelina Love was among those leading the way. So to have such a decorated champion joining this tournament gives it so many added dimensions
And now that we’ve announced all 8 entrants – all eyes will be on who will face who there are so many potentially great match ups!
VH – Absolutely, with Sammi Jayne and Debbie Sharp announced as well fans are looking forward to them colliding again and the debut of Nina Samuels, your thoughts on the impression she’ll make on fans?
Alan – It’ll be interesting to see exactly what type of impression Nina will make…..and if she’ll have back up in the form of the Buffet Club when she comes to Scotland. You only have to go online and watch some of Nina’s matches to see what an exciting talent she is! She may be an unknown quantity to many wrestling fans in Scotland and perhaps that’s why it’s such an exciting addition.
VH -Also the return of Betè Noire, I’m sure there will be hell to pay on her arrival?
Alan – We’ve seen Bete Noire twice now in Discovery Wrestling and despite not having picked up a victory yet….she has made an impression. Walking out on Nikki Storm in her debut match, upset at playing second fiddle when Viper had to pick a tag partner to face Bae Club and only just losing out to Storm when they fought earlier this year. Bete Noire is tough and determined – she has set her sights on becoming our first women’s champion and in a one on one situation – out of the wrestlers in this tournament – there’s very few, if anyone tougher.
VH – Last year you began the Pivotshare on:demand service and this year heading into 2017, you’ve began the Season Pass, how is that going so far?
Alan – It’s something different, two years in, we now have a loyal following and that takes time to get to that point where people know they are going to come to every show and enjoy every show that you do, and we reached that point where we see the same people, a lot of familiar faces in the front row, we thought well, let’s give something back to the guys who are always there, who are always the first in line. Because we are more efficient in our forward planning for next year we announced all our events in Edinburgh for next year so here’s a little incentive to buy those tickets now. It’s a Season Pass where they are guaranteed for the full year they get front row seat for the full year, they can also save a bit of money by doing so as well because it’ll be £85 for a Season Pass for five events that saves over £20 during the course of the year, its always good to give something back.
VH – Looking at stars you’ve had in the past like Damo and Ciampa who have become regular stars in NXT, what’s your thoughts on them?
Alan – It’s awesome, it’s so awesome. Before Discovery was was launched, Damo was a big influence from the training days and just being albe to sit and have a few beers and talk over things with him. He was training a lot the talent that we got coming out of Scotland right now, via Source (Source Wrestling School) something that he was so responsible for, when you look at the Discovery Roster, you see Christopher Saynt, Lewis Girvan, Joe Hendry, you see Beté Noire, you see Viper, the list can go on and on, a huge part of that is down to Damo. He has such a vast knowledge of wrestling, when you’re coming up with ideas for your character, he would come up with someone from the Sixties in how to move in a certain way, he would reel it all off for you so yeah he was a big influence in a personal level but most certainly for Discovery, he really help myself and Alex get to where we are. You know, he always speaks highly of Discovery and it’s really get to see. I don’t think anyone could be prouder of him being there, it’s so deserved. And Ciampa, he had been in NXT before and when we managed to get him, it was pretty surreal, because he was announced and confirmed that week was going to be the final wewk of him on the independent circuit. So again a massive honour it was for us to host one of Ciampa’s final independent matches. He said there is only one person I want to face and that is Joe Coffey so we had to make that happen and that match was just unbelievable. His speech afterwards had everyone in goosebumps, he said he wanted to have that match again, but next time in NXT, then the crowd popped. It gave us an incredible moment for this year.
VH – Speaking of incredible moments Discovery Wrestling has had was the arrival of The Young Bucks, with you, how much would you that helped make an impact for Discovery?
Alan – We had he Young Bucks with us in April last year, and at that time so many people knew of them and many more people know of them now, so it was nice to have that that point too. Fans can say yeah, The Young Bucks did do Scotland oh where, they did Discovery. For us it really was awesome to have the first Superkick Party in Scotland and yeah, they were great, really down to earth, they were sound they gave everybody the time of day, and that was great to add the atmosphere. I had a chance to catch up with them and they also said they are desperate to come back to Edinburgh and they know they were treated well and they want to come back and it’s really just down to schedules. Everybody wants to make it happen.
VH – Speaking of Tag Teams, this year you announced that in 2017 there will be a Tag Team Tournament to crown new Tag Team Champions as well?
Alan – Well we had so many Tag Teams in Discovery, in the start we had Cryme Time, we had the Wild Lions, there has been so many teams in the last two years, Fight Club, NAK, and the list goes on, again, we like to give people a reason to fight, especially next year no matches will be just thrown together, there will be a reason for it and we have so many tag teams it makes sense for them to have something to aim for. So we are going to be creating this Championship, so this will be the first Tag Team Championship, its gonna be Eight teams down to four ending in November with a four way tag team elimination match, the winners will get a trophy and we will be doing that every year and really catch the fans attention.
VH – One team that really has caught the attention of fans is the Buffet Club, who won the One’s to watch in 2017 at your awards ceremony this year, but who do you think fans should be watching out for next year?
Alan – Yeah, Buffet Club they debuted this year and were undefeated and it was a fan poll. (laughs) Now I don’t know if it was because of Gene Munny of the Buffet Club said for every vote he would eat three super hot spicy wings and they ended up with a crazy amount of votes, I mean I put the poll up and the next day it rose to hundreds for them all because of Gene’s promise. I don’t know if he has lived up to that bargain but when they are back in Discovery, I’ll make sure they live up to that promise. I expect a big year for Mark Coffey, Dave Conrad even Christopher Saynt and Michael Chase in 2017. I do expect some first class matches and I know these guys will take it to the next level. We are blessed in Discovery to have such a top level of talent like Joe Coffey and Lewis Girvan, 2017 is going to be very exciting indeed.
VH – Every Friday night, yourself and your friend Jamie host Jum’s House on Facebook Live, what is Jum’s House?
Alan – Jum is my best pal, Jamie, and we basically every Friday we get together have a few beers at his house, than that is basically it, normally we sit there and we talk utter nonsense, we don’t like to get heavy about lives issues, we like to have a laugh so we do. Jamie had always wanted to do a podcast, and there are already so many podcasts our there and when we were talking about it thats when Facebook introduced Facebook Live and we set up a camera, before we knew it so many people had joined the conversation, watching us talk. Jamie is just really the funniest guy, he is so witty, and his thoughts are so far out there, and it’s just like ask Jamie questions so we do that now and it’s on Jum’s House Facebook page, also it’s a really cheap way of having a party, you don’t need to by drinks for everyone, or leave snacks for everyone and theres no cleaning up, okay maybe a really lonely party but you still get the fun and banter just without the mess.
Vulture Hound would like to thank Alan for his time for this interview.
Images by Graeme K Cunningham.