Grappling with goal of wrestling success for Orpington company
PUBLISHED: 17:13 04 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:13 04 April 2013
Professional wrestling is a topic that can immediately divide a room.
It pits those who cry fake against those who enjoy the entertainment, as well as dividing generations that stand in the corner of Big Daddy or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
This weekend sees the biggest event in the professional wrestling calendar Wrestlemania, in America, and though millions will tune in to watch the stars that sell thousands of T-shirts and action figures – the wrestling community is actually very small.
However, an Orpington promoter and his company, International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK), has a rapidly growing fan base and is providing a platform for British wrestlers with big ambitions.
Dan Edler, 27, started out interviewing high-impact stars for websites from a young age before creating his own company shortly after his 18th birthday.
He said: “About a year before it all started a friend in Blackburn asked me to help out with one of his shows. Luckily I didn’t, because the ring didn’t show up.
“I thought to myself, ‘I could do that better’ and started looking into venues.
“The first show, we probably had about 40 or 50 people, but then we started selling places out every month, getting 500 people in.”
IPW:UK started with local shows before relocating to Swanley in 2009 where it runs training sessions twice a week at The White Oak leisure centre to prepare for regular shows around the South East.
Not all who attend training make it to the live shows, but enthusiasts travel hundreds of miles to train with Dan’s company.
One of his success stories started as a local fan.
James Davis, 23, of Bromley, is now one half of a tag team known as The London Riots with Rob Lynch, 23, from Essex.
He said: “I watched Dan’s shows and paid to get in. After a year of watching IPW:UK, I started training at the academy and that’s how it started for me.
“As a kid I thought it was just WWE, I didn’t even know British wrestling existed.”
The British style can appear more brutal than other types, such as Mexican Lucha Libre, but hasn’t stopped big names such as WWE’s Daniel Bryan and Scotty 2 Hotty joining Dan’s roster for shows.
IPW:UK has also proved a platform for the top American companies and former soldier Paul Ryker, 29, has his sights set on the big time.
He said: “I used to box in the Army, and when I got out I tried my hand at wrestling and I took to it very quickly.”
Paul, James and Rob have accumulated many injuries over the years that go some way to debunk myths that wrestling doesn’t hurt.
From damaged shoulders and knees to split lips and broken hands, injuries are an accepted annoyance among the circuit. But while bumps and bruises are tolerated, a lack of respect and etiquette are not.
Rob said: “Regardless of whether you like someone or you don’t, you shake everyone’s hand in the locker room. It’s a respect thing.If you look at the amount of people who actually wrestle, you need to stick together.”
The rise of IPW:UK signals a rise in British wrestling – it may not be long before some of Swanley’s finest leave their boot print on the American scene. Visit ipwuk.com.