On Saturday, July 13th, Discovery Wrestling will be hosting their latest event in Edinburgh. Last week Craig Hermit managed to catch up with Co-Owner, Alan Smith. He discussed the event, Discovery Wrestling, and much more in this exclusive interview.
On July 13th, Discovery Wrestling returns to the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh, what can fans expect from this?
Well, it’s now going to be a bigger show than planned. It was supposed to be in a smaller venue, the Portobello Town Hall, which had been a great venue for us throughout the years. Unfortunately, it’s currently not in a good state. We got a call from the council to say that they are having repair work done at the time of the show. So we discussed mid-sized venues with the council, but Edinburgh suffers from venues of that size. We have the Jam House, which is perfect for the size of our core fan base, and there weren’t many options on such short notice. So we turned to the Corn Exchange. A place where we have held big events in the past because it is so much bigger.
This does give fans a chance to get tickets for this show as you were practically sold out before the move.
Yeah, we were close to selling out, I mean it holds up to 300 people, and now we are moving to a venue that holds 1000 people. It’s such a massive venue and to move there on such short notice, I’m at the point that if we can make it half full, I would be delighted. It is a bigger challenge, but we have a great card with Joe Hendry versus Rampage Brown, which is a main event anywhere in the UK. We have many debuts for Discovery: Sam Barbour, Jason Reed is back, Fraser Thomas (who has made his way into Progress,) Alexander Dean – someone I’ve been speaking to for a couple of years, trying and waiting for the right moment to bring him in, he’s a great talker and a great talent.
We have Martina, the Session Moth, back making her first Women’s Title defence, and we have now added to the card, Hikuleo who is involved with Rev Pro at the moment. I reached out to see if he was available, thankfully he was. The Bullet Club has that following, that strong connection with the fans, it’s gone through its different stages throughout the years, and fans still keep wearing the t-shirts. Also, we have El Phantasmo, who we worked with in January. So when we saw that he was in the UK at the same time, it was fantastic to have him back in Discovery. It’s good to have members of the Bullet Club here and keep our Bullet Club relationship going.
Tell us more about your main event, Joe Hendry versus Rampage Brown?
We have to take every opportunity we have to bring in someone like Rampage Brown. He’s just got that presence. When he walks through that curtain, the size, and height of that man, the crowd immediately go “Right, this is gonna be a war, it’s a fight.” Joe Hendry has been on a massive winning streak with us over the last couple of years, and he’s now in a position to challenge for the Y-Division Championship against Joe Coffey. Hopefully, we can get the contract signed for that soon and then that match can happen on a later event. With Joe Coffey currently with NXT UK, we thought who can we get for Joe Hendry to test himself against, who better than Rampage Brown. Joe had a fantastic battle with Timothy Thatcher last year that we have on YouTube. It’s a proper legitimate hold for hold contest, and it cemented Joe with the fans that this is our guy. Everyone is looking forward to witnessing this main event with two of the best wrestlers in the UK right now.
Earlier we spoke about Martina, who is returning to defend her Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat match against Ashley Vega and Emily Hayden, your thoughts on that?
Session Moth Martina won our Disco Derby in March (it’s like a Rumble with a twist in the end when the final two face each other in a match). This year we had the Women’s Championship on the line, and Session Moth was a part of the final two against Kasey. Session Moth won, and the reaction at the Jam House was incredible. Everyone knows her for her comedic antics, she’s wild, and she’s a lot of fun. She’s had memorable contests with Gene Munny and her winning the Championship. She’s very entertaining, and she’s a very talented wrestler.
Martina attending the WWE Tryouts a few months ago:
Yeah, which is excellent because she works so hard. She’s known across the world right now. She’s travelled to America, to Japan, and all over the UK. She’s just so much fun to have around. The fact that she is so talented as well, and the fans love her makes it even better. We are delighted that she’s back. Emily Hayden made her debut in the Derby, again, very entertaining. Everyone at the start of that event said they want to win it. She said she wanted to make the final five, and she entered when there were only five people left so instantly goal achieved (laughs). She’s very popular with the fans.
Ashley Vega, her debut was back in January against Angel Haze, the two of them are very new on the scene, training with PBW and Source. Sammii Jayne had watched them and asked us to give them a chance because she saw the potential of those two and both gave a great match for two people new on the scene. To go in there, a full house at the Jam House and Ashley Vega made her mark then. So, anything can happen at this show.
We mentioned Gene Munny earlier, he hinted on social media about the return of The Mundertaker, explain this to the fans.
Last year we had a horror-themed event. We had a zombie lumberjack match, and the first person who ‘died’ was Gene Munny (laughs). Check it out on Youtube, its just bonkers. So in Discovery Wrestling, Gene is gone. In January Session Moth had an open challenge, and then the ‘gong’ hit and out walks the Mundertaker. Gene Munny looking like a well known global superstar got a pop that I had not heard before. I know with things like this you think it’s going to be stupid, and people are going to be on one side or the other. In this instance, they loved it. The mannerisms were spot on, and it was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. There’s a moment during that match when the Moth and Mundertaker imitate the SummerSlam Lesnar sit up spot, and it was one of the funniest moments I’ve seen. I can say he will be here on July 13th. I don’t know who he’s coming for.
Also, after Discovery Wrestling, The Joe Hendry Show will be happening. What can we expect from that?
Yeah, it was an idea that Joe Hendry had. He hosts his own podcast along with Dave Conrad and his brother. He approached me with the idea that as Discovery already has our shows in the afternoon, could he do his Podcasts in the evening. So Discovery fans can visit his Podcast in the evening. So to kick this one-off, we would do a Disco special, A Night at the Disco, and we went for it. We will talk about Discovery. I’m so proud of what we have done in the last five years, a lot of memorable moments. We’ll sit in the ring and answer questions.
One of the things you said is Discovery Wrestling will be celebrating its Five year Anniversary on the 6th of October.
Yeah, it’s amazing to think that it’s been five years. It’s gone in a completely different direction to how we wanted it to go when we started, and it’s interesting because anytime you start something you have ideas of where you’re going to be in five years time, but with anything new you’re constantly learning new things along the way, and you evolve to adapt. That’s what we have been doing. So on October 6th, we will be at the Jam House to give people exactly what they expect from Discovery, people have exceptions when they go to a Discovery show, I know they will be buzzing.
When we started, we had no idea what to expect. Same with the fans. But now, I think we have a Discovery feeling, our own style. When we started out, we were aiming for the fourteen plus audience. We have characters, but it’s not dumbed down. It’s fun. We can give something adults enjoy too. We like to find a balance between the two. It’s strange we’re billed as a family-friendly show, but 75% of our audience are adults (laughs).
Other Promotions have heavyweight Championships and world titles. Discovery Wrestling has the Y-Division Championship.
A lot of people when they hear the Y-Division Championship think it’s something that’s a spin on the X-Division Championship. If you look at Discovery and its logos, there’s a Y there. We are all about Generation Y. We’ve moved on from Generation X, and about Generation Wrestling. So where are we now? We are Generation Y. The original thought process was we will have a Y-Division Championship based around Jnr. Heavyweights, and it’ll be around guys who will take off from the top rope. Very much like the X-Division and we’ll introduce the Heavyweight Championship down the line because we don’t have hundreds of events a year. We didn’t want to dilute the card with countless title matches. We decided let’s have one main title that everyone wants to fight for. None of this, I’ll have this title then I’ll aim for this title. No, we’ll have one main Championship. No divisions. I mean we had Ricochet versus Damo (Killian Dain), it’s on YouTube and Ricochet hits him with a spinning powerbomb.
So there are restrictions. It has become known as the “wrestler’s championship.” Our Y-Division Champion, Joe Coffey, had a hell of a main event with Andy Wild back in January, the atmosphere was unbelievable. They tore the roof of the Jam House. It was exhausting, due to the emotion in that match. Joe won, and Andy said he couldn’t mentally come back because of that match. Of course, we would love to have him back, but that’s what it means to be the Y-Division Champion. People want the championship that badly. Also to have Joe Coffey as our Champion, he never lets us down when he steps in that ring. He always does something different. Every match he has done with us has always been a main event calibre match. You want a Champion who will give it his all every match, and that’s what he does.
Fans who have never been to a Discovery Wrestling Show before, what should they expect?
I think they will see a complete wrestling event, there is something for everyone, whether it’s heavyweight wrestling, women’s wrestling, or tag matches. There’s also going to be a couple of matches on the card that will have you belly laughing. There is something for everyone. We look at a wrestling card and try not to only have singles matches or the same kind of singles matches. If you’re sitting for three hours, we want you to go home buzzing. I see the responses on social media from fans after every show we have done, and people talk about going home buzzing after being that entertained and so that’s what we try to do.
We want you to go home feeling like that. Some promotions are storyline driven, which relies on you knowing what has happened previously, we aren’t like that. We will have ongoing feuds or storylines in the background if you’re a Disco fan, but you don’t always need to know because you’re there for ‘that was a great match’ moment. So if you’re coming to a Disco event, don’t expect too much in the way storylines, we have developed our motto “All about the wrestling,” which is what it is. It’s all about what happens in that ring. Just arrive, sit down, and enjoy.
On July 13th, you have a number of new talents which we discussed earlier. What are your thoughts on the new wave of younger talents in the UK right now?
I think we are spoilt with the quality of new wrestlers right now and we don’t have enough spaces on the card for them all. It’s a nice problem to have that there is so much quality around at the moment. In the last five years, people have realised that you can make a career out of wrestling now. With WWE arriving and the UK brand, UK wrestlers are signing with AEW, NJPW, Ring Of Honor, wherever there are UK wrestlers making it. Five years ago there would have only been a handful, now there is so many doing it, and young wrestlers are seeing it and going where do they train and how did they do it? So we have all these new wrestlers coming through, looking after themselves much better, learning under more experienced coaches and finding the path to do it. I think the biggest challenge new wrestlers will find is getting a spot on a card and getting that experience in front of a crowd, and it will come, it’s just waiting for that spot to come.
Thoughts on WWE and NXT UK:
I haven’t kept up with WWE recently as much as I would have two or three years ago. It’s not down to not enjoying the product. There is not enough time. I try to watch NXT UK because there’s a lot of people I know on the show. The Discovery connection is there, and I like to see how people are doing. It’s incredible that they’re in a position to launch a brand within the UK, to give all these guys a chance to make a living and get decent money from wrestling. Then you see the standard of their performance centre down in England. I think it forces us to step up our game, a lot of training schools in the UK are looking at that and thinking it may be unattainable for us, but that is what we should be aiming for that level of professionalism and quality.
All Elite Wrestling:
Exciting. Very Exciting. I’ve watched their first few events, and it’s an exciting time for wrestling. There is another big promotion that people are saying that will cause WWE to change and become more exciting again. They already made some changes, Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff are given roles within the company again. We have worked with Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks, we sat down, talked to them and we know what kind of people they are, they’re genuine. They are down to earth people, so for me, it’s great to see people who are passionate about wrestling, who have a vision, ensuring people look after wrestlers. I think that is exciting and that will enforce changes within the scene.
UK Wrestling Scene:
It’s busy. I don’t think there have ever been more promotions in the UK than there is now. We are talking about a scene that is saturated because there is so many and there is only so many ways people can go see a show. Promotions in Scotland know where their homes are, where their core fanbase is, so there is a general understanding of where everyone is. But with so many promotions popping up, the risk is the over-saturation of the scene where everyone isn’t working together. There is an analogy from one of our commentators, Randy, when we first started, “Everyone should be working together to make the pie bigger rather than everyone trying to take the small piece of the pie, if everyone works together to make the pie bigger then you’ll get a bigger slice,” and that is where you’d want to see the UK scene go.
Let’s make the scene as big as it can be, and we can all benefit, the fans, and promotions. The positives, though, with there being so many promotions, there are more spots for new younger talent. With more promotions, you’d hope instead of using the same people time and time again, perhaps to keep the card fresh from what someone else is doing close by. That was the big thing when we first started, how can we create a card that will draw people in, that isn’t the same as everyone else.
Blood in Wrestling:
I think there is a place for it when used sparingly to create an effect. We don’t allow wrestlers to blade. The only time people have bled is when its real and something has happened. It’s not intentional, but these things do happen, you get busted open, and you bleed. I think there has to be a time and a reason. Our shows aren’t violent. There’s rarely a hardcore match. So when someone hits someone with a chair, the crowd gives the right reaction because it never happens. I mean if we did that on every show, where do you go next? People will do riskier and riskier things, where is the limit? There is a market for hardcore matches. There is a market for deathmatches, and there is a market for people bleeding. There is a market for everything in wrestling as long as there is a fanbase for it.
Social Media in Wrestling:
Darren, Discovery’s other boss, who also runs our content is a total stickler for how people use social media. He thinks as part of the training for wrestlers, there should be classes on how to use social media. On how to use it to sell yourself, to sell what you do, to gain followers, build a fan base. We have seen it recently on Twitter, wrestlers from different promotions saying things to each other and then it develops into this feud between promotions. I think there should be, for wrestlers coming through, lessons on how to use social media and what to use it for. There is a lot of negativity throughout the world. Wrestling should be for fun, wrestling should be for entertainment, and keeping people engaged. If you’re promoting negativity on your social media what’s the long term gain for that.
We’ve talked a lot about Discovery Wrestling. What about yourself, how did you get into wrestling?
I tried to get into wrestling a couple of times, and it didn’t work out. The first school I went to was a couple of hours away. I remember trying to keep myself motivated, which is difficult when you’re by yourself. Then I tried a different school which was closer to home, and I found that very cliquey, you know people had already broken into their little groups, and I thought do I need to be spending my money and my time with this? When I don’t need to. I will find somewhere else. And then I was working for a radio station, and there was a local wrestling company with a big show coming up, they had no marketing budget, and they wanted to know how could they get talked about on the radio. The breakfast presenter at the time knew I was a big wrestling fan and told them to train me, stick me in a match, and he’ll talk about my progress. That’s how it started, was only supposed to be one match. But I got such a buzz, such a kick out of it, I ended up doing it for five years before doing Discovery.
And how about your love for wrestling?
That started when I was six, and we got Sky during the late ’80s. My older brother and I were flicking through the channels, and there was a promo by the Ultimate Warrior shouting out from the TV. The hair, the makeup, and instantly we were like wow, who is this guy? Then the next promo came on, and it was Hulk Hogan, and for some reason, we knew who that (Hogan) was. It was Thunderlips from Rocky 3. From then on, we just started watching it, and I was always very much a WWF/WWE guy.
The late 80’s? Did you head to Wembley in ’92?
No, I was too young. But I remember heading to a few shows in Aberdeen when Steve Austin faced Big Show and hit him with TEN stunners in a row! Also, Triple H and Ric Flair were facing a tag team at the time and (laughs) ended up having their bare arses out in a spot. As a fan, I’ve never stopped watching wrestling. There’s just too much now. But then there’s the WWE Network. I think because of what I do now, I love the backstage stuff, the 365, and WWE 24, how things are and the camera following people around. I’d love to do something similar for our Fifth Year anniversary, you know, the Journey of Discovery. Get a lot of the wrestlers together and watch some of their favourite matches. But it is down to the time, and effort. It’s one of those things.
Touching on that last part, Discovery this year will be reaching the Five Year Anniversary. What about the next five years, what’s your goals? Your dreams for Discovery going forward?
I want to keep doing what we are doing. I don’t want to set out big goals. It sounds unambitious when I say it, but I want to keep doing what we are doing. We have a great venue in the Jam House, to provide the fans with quality events there. I’d want to do more of them, have a packed year and do two big shows at the Corn Exchange. Yeah, doing that, I’d be so content if in five years time, Discovery would still be going and we are providing fans with more events throughout those years.
Is there anyone else you’d love to get for Discovery?
When we first started it was Kenny Omega, he was the biggest independent wrestler in the world at the time, and when he came to Discovery, it was unbelievable. So you have to think who compares to that. But on a personal level, it’s not about who the biggest star on the planet is. I’d want to see Chris Sabin come back. We talk a lot, he’s had surgery, and it was great to see him back. I tell him every time I plan an event, I look at the flights from Detroit, thinking if we can get Sabin. He said if he comes back to the UK, he’d only want to wrestle for Discovery which is awesome. The dream, though, would be if he brought Alex Shelley with him. Motorcity Machine Guns arriving. But a lot of work would have to go into that.
Them against the Kings of Catch?
Yeah, that would be an amazing match. Another match we still need to see is the Kings of Catch versus The Young Bucks. Last time The Bucks were here, they were a part of the four-way tag team match, and the Kings of Catch pinned The Bucks in questionable fashion, and The Bucks said if we come back, it’s going to be two on two. It isn’t going to happen because of the success of AEW, and some things won’t happen. But like I said the dream is bringing MMG to Discovery.
Photos by David J Wilson and Discovery Wrestling
As you’ve read in the interview, Discovery Wrestling has their show on July 13th at The Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. For more information head on over to https://www.discowrestling.com/