The cult of personalities

The promotion: TIDAL Championship Wrestling

The show: High Tide 2017

The venue: CHURCH Leeds

There is a place we can go, to soothe our troubled souls.

A place where the rights and wrongs and ups and downs of everyday life can lose some of their significance.

Where, even if just for a couple of hours, our lives can be paused whilst we just… absorb something else. Something new, and different.

So, I went to CHURCH, on a Sunday, and got to thinking about hero worship. After all, it comes with the turf, right?

Wrestling wouldn’t be what it is without its personalities. Characters and personas that make you… feel.

They can move you, if you let them — sometimes even if you don’t, you’ll find yourself somehow manipulated by their actions into loving or hating them; envying them, worrying for them, being angry with them.

They tell their stories with actions moreso than with words. Their path to a logical conclusion is littered with brutal physicality, the stories they tell are intellectual and yet primal.

They’re brave.

Not because of the physicality, though that’s definitely part of it. I have zero desire to ever be on the receiving end of a Canadian Destroyer.

They’re brave because they’re putting themselves out there. They’re brave because they’re making these characters, of their own accord and with little help or input, and without the perceived benefits of years at drama school, or degrees in English literature, to sit alongside their wrestling training.

They’re brave because they fucking commit, to everything you see in front of you. Because if they don’t commit, whether it be to their words, their actions, their moves — then it won’t work, for them or for us.

And we, as wrestling fans, aren’t always the most forgiving. God himself knows the moves often aren’t.

They must peel away the layers of themselves, to be exposed as actors, performers, stuntmen and women. To create whatever distinction there is between the ‘real’ them, and their character in the ring.

To charm us; to disarm us.

Their job is to engage a live audience, to engage each other, to connect with an audience through a camera lens, all at the same time. To tell a story using their bodies, their movement, their faces, their voices, but generally not their words.

I watched at TIDAL, as the show went on, more and more faces poking out from behind the backstage door — and so standing in front of a stained glass window, the light of a setting sun behind them, watching what was happening. Learning, and absorbing, whilst being absorbed themselves.

I watched young wrestlers watching more mature, more established characters and I saw them get drawn in, just like I was drawn in as a fan. And I wondered how many careers had been influenced by these people. Who has seen Jimmy Havoc, Rampage Brown, Primate, and been motivated to seek out a training school or develop a character?

More than I can count, I’m sure.

And as these characters, these magnificent personalities fought all around me, I considered for a moment how important this escape has become in my life.

They’re brave, they’re my heroes.

They’re superstars.