The North of England has become something of a hotbed for the next generation of British wrestling talent. Talent from the North of England has found their way to promotions further down south, dazzling fans and finding a home in promotions that can cherry-pick the best of British talent, no matter where they’re from.
It’s not just training in the North that has led to this success. It’s taking on board the mantra of “train everywhere good that you can” that was instilled in them by the likes of Zack Gibson, James Drake, Rampage Brown, Nathan Cruz, Marty Jones, Ligero and Sam Bailey, amongst many others, that has led to them training at some of the best schools across the UK. Fighting Spirit, Hustle, NGW and Grapple have all seen this group pass through their doors as they work to improve their craft.
Here’s a collective of talent that every British wrestling fans should look out for. Click on their names (in bold) for their Twitter pages.
Luke Jacobs was recently described as “an old head on young shoulders” by Matt Richards, host of Tuesday Night Jaw and part of the PROGRESS Wrestling creative team, and it’s a huge compliment. In his late teens, he’s got the mentality of Pete Dunne, sensible but never boring, insightful but never boastful and a keen sense of who he is in and out of the wrestling ring. Blending the best of all his trainers, and there’s been plenty including Zack Gibson, James Drake, Sam Bailey and Chris Ridgeway, he’s developed a crisp hybrid MMA-wrestling style that has made him and Ethan Allen the talk of tag team wrestling.
Ethan Allen returned from a serious injury recently and reformed Young Guns with his tag partner, Luke Jacobs. What Allen gives up in size he makes up for in sheer intensity and an unexpected presence in the ring. Allen could have gone down the path of many slight men and become an accomplished high flyer, but he’s chosen a much rarer path in the current wrestling scene, an MMA influenced style that gels incredibly well with Jacobs and sets him out amongst the pack.
Joe Nelson could very well be the future Mark Andrews (and recently faced him in a tag team match at Attack! Pro Wrestling), naturally popular wherever he goes, a high flyer and consummate professional, team player. Whether he’s part of The Lost Boys, Anti Fun Police or standing on his own, all eyes are on Joe as he faces some of the finest in the UK of all styles and he’s been “adopted” by some of the finest of this generation – Kip Sabian, Session Moth Martina, Damien Dunne and others – for good reason!
Big Guns Joe has become something of a phenomenon thanks to a work ethic that made him stand out long before anyone saw him wrestle. He trains across the country and has an infectious enthusiasm that has led to him becoming a fixture in many companies, along with a fine sense of humour and equally impressive in-ring skills. The henchest man in the UK, he claims, and standing at an impressive 1678.4mm and weighing an astonishing 76521 grams, he’s got the kind of popularity that can only rise as he continues to work across the UK.
Myles Kayman can do no wrong. His mantra of “Myles better than you” may very well be true as he excels at anything he sets his mind to, and it’s a considerable mind for wrestling. A firm fixture in the Yorkshire region, he’s also spreading his wings further afield and demonstrating what has made him one of the most reliable, consistent and convincing wrestlers to grace the ring.
Lucas Steel is a modern-day powerhouse with a look that would appeal to practically any major company the world over. For now, wrestling fans should be seeking him out wherever he appears. A former boxer and the living embodiment of “big lads wrestling”, he stands at 6’6” and weighing in at 255lbs, is in his very early 20s and has the demeanour of someone far older. A regular at Wrestle Island, NGW, WrestleGate and making appearances at other established companies across the UK, Lucas Steel is definitely a stand out.
Dave Graves recently returned from injury and did the unexpected – he came back even better than when he went away! Playing to his strengths, Graves has brought with him all the training he’s received from the likes of Marty Jones, Ligero and Nathan Cruz and turned himself into a modern representation of classic British wrestling. Mat-based technical work, a supreme submissions master, a driven desire to be at the top of his game and a firm grip of character has led Graves to be a pivotal part of Tidal, Grapple and NGW, building upon his work of the past and setting him out as one for the future.
With an instantly imposing presence, Jack Turner has become one of the most convincing heavy hitters in the North of England. His natural intensity and explosive aggression has seen him locked in a feud with Dave Graves that has played to both men’s strengths in both NGW and Grapple, and it’s a feud that deserves to be played out across the country. He’s quickly become a must-see wrestler for those lucky enough to see him around the Yorkshire region and it’ll be an easy position for him to replicate across the country.
Man Like Dereiss has all the assets he needs to make an impact in British wrestling, and it’s being noticed across the country. Pure charisma, the gift of the gab and ever-growing levels of confidence in the ring matched with his boundless enthusiasm outside of it, Dereiss is already a fixture around the North and has made his presence felt, in high regard, in Attack! As part of The 0121 with Dan Maloney. Wherever he goes, he’s going to be noticed as he sets out to create a buzz of his own.
Callum Corrie, occasionally known as Sandy Beach, has an impressive resume in British wrestling already thanks to his association with Futureshock where he was christened “The Future of Futureshock”. Whether he’s displaying the pure arrogance and hostility of Corrie or the upbeat enthusiasm of Sandy Beach, he’s become a gifted in-ring performer who has so far graced the likes of PCW, GPW NGW and PROGRESS, amongst others. There’s no doubt that he’ll be seen far and wide before too long.
Dom Black has over the past couple of years had successful runs in North, True Grit, Grapple and RISE and certainly deserves to be seen more. Whether he’s being the “Pork of York” with a rather less than family-friendly character in RISE or being the proud champion at True Grit, Black stands out as a man on the cusp of even greater success. He certainly looks the part and has the in-ring ability to excel at what he does, he just needs to be able to show it in more places.
Jack Bandicoot, often seen tagging with The Pop Punk Kid, is ridiculously talented on so many levels and a real best kept secret in Yorkshire. His facial expressions alone are a joy to behold, then you see him move. A fine example of a cruiserweight whose whole persona makes him a big guy, as comfortable highflying as he is with a rather convincing occasional MMA vibe – wait until you see his kicks! He’s largely only seen around the Yorkshire region, but hopefully that will change in the near future.
Reece & Rogan, included on the list in their more common tag-team combination, may be relatively new to the ring, but that doesn’t mean that they’re anything but a worthy addition. Bringing a suitably old-school mentality to what they do, they’re a powerhouse team that focuses on the fight as opposed to flair and theatrics. Similar in size and appearance, both men are leaving a mark in British wrestling with appearances at NGW, Tidal, BWR and more. The Wrecking Ball and The Big Hoss respectively, they’re a team that delivers and have an almost indefatigable desire to succeed.
Wrestling in the North of England is on a high at the moment, with more quality talent appearing on shows across the country and many, many more waiting in the wings for their chance to shine. With British wrestling now in a position where companies have a smorgasbord of quality talent to choose from, the North is surely rich pickings for any company wanting to show off the best of British.
Article image courtesy of The Ringside Perspective and shows Joe Nelson and Trent Seven from their encounter at Fight Club: Pro.