The Man Who Would Be King – The Rise of Chris Brookes

For regular listeners to Flash Morgan Webster’s Wrestling Friends podcast, there are three names that are oft mentioned by the guests as influences in their careers – Alex Shane, Pete Dunne and Chris Brookes, and rarely could three influences be so diverse in their position in British wrestling and, in the first and last, be more divisive… but, for Alex Shane, that’s a story for another time.

Chris Brookes, it turns out, has helped the careers of many young wrestlers, often selflessly, it seems. His creative, occasionally surreal, mind – you just have to see his graphics work to see evidence of that – has led to CCK (the long-running tag team that he started with Jonathan Gresham before including both Kid Lykos and Travis Banks), but has also given us the likes of Slap Dash Tag Team (with Tyler Bate), Vulture/Culture Squad (with Nixon Newell, now Tegan Nox in NXT) and seen him travel the world to ply his wares, blending the sublike and the ridiculous into compelling, sometimes eyebrow raising, wrestling action.

Standing at 6’ 4” and billed at 187lbs, Chris Brookes has a look that instantly makes him stand out, and it’d be easy to brush him aside for not looking like the archetypical wrestler, but British wrestling is all about variety and this is a man who has made a career of being a showcase for his own talents, whilst also highlighting his partners and opponents.

Brookes stands tall, not just literally, but vocally when he addresses the fans, which is a skill not to be overlooked.  When he speaks, fans want to listen and he captivates them with a vocal dexterity that matches his hell-for-leather wrestling approach.  

Then there’s his flair for the visual, a creativity that has led to some of the most recognisable and consistently in demand merchandise in British wrestling with a presentation style that lends itself to near EC Comics levels of horror, not for the gore but for the beauty.  It would be easy to have style over substance, but Brookes has become master of both, finding a balance in all his work.

Rarely the hardest of hitters, it’s Brookes ability to move like lightning, to execute sequences with flawless dexterity, turning his opponents into a human board game as he jumps, switches, shifts and glides around with almost preternatural grace.  It’s like he’s playing a three-dimensional game of chess mixed with Twister in a game where only he knows the rules.

Whilst he’s capable as a singles performer, it’s in tag team action that he brings a whole new level of finesse. He’s turned Kid Lykos into a star in his own right, giving him the right stage for the problem child of professional wrestling’s superb talents, and allowing the younger performer to shine.  This seems to be a skill of Brookes – he makes his partner the star, whilst never letting the focus entirely leave him. These men, including the likes of Tyler Bate, and women don’t walk in his shadow they stand in his light.

With the fans firmly on his side, and a career that seems to be going from strength to strength, Chris Brookes is a prince of British wrestling and there can be no doubt that WWE has their sights set on him. Will he go to the big leagues? It seems inevitable, but at just 26 years old, he doesn’t seem to be in a rush. He’s in a position where he has achieved so much but has so much more to do. This is a Prince who doesn’t need to ascend to the Kingdom just yet.  When he does, though, it’ll be a majestic reign.

Photo: Oli Sandler