The eyes have it

The promotion: Fight Club Pro

The venue: Starworks Warehouse

The show: Stranger than Fixxion

Pete, Lykos, Trent and Tyler

There’s nothing quite like being able to look someone in the eye. For all my love of technology, I’m a big fan of looking for the clues and cues that you only get from peering through the portal into the soul of another human being.

I’m aware of the mania evident in my own eyes as we join the short queue outside Wrestlehouse 2.0. We’ve just driven more than 210 miles, tried to evade traffic jams, and been exasperated at the cab driver who didn’t know where we were going.

But we’re here, and there’s so much to take in. A huge, sprawling space. Industrial, but somehow not cold. Fight Club Pro is welcoming; that much we already knew.

We walk in and walk up to a friend who’s had a very special, once-in-a-lifetime experience that day centred on his favourite wrestler… and I see his eyes before I see the rest of him. His entire face is animated, his eyes shining with delight and excitement, and it’s contagious.

A second row seat affords me the chance to see clearly the faces that take to the ring. Beginning, as it would end, with Trent Seven; the charming, charismatic man who is the face — or at least one of them — of Fight Club Pro, a promotion he founded to fill a gap in the British independent scene for high quality matches.

It’s a different version of Trent that you see in this ring to other promotions, and I can’t work out whether to be surprised by that or not. The line between the man and the character is thinner here than other places I’ve witnessed it, and it’s both engaging and endearing to behold.

What doesn’t surprise me is this: the ship is tight here. The performance is king. There’s an air of being laid back — timekeeping isn’t on the list of things that concern them — but what takes place in that ring, for that audience, isn’t left to chance.

One glance. A glance of his striking eyes, and sometimes a tiny gesture of the fingers, tell the ring crew and the announcer just what he expects of them. It’s not a harsh glare — though I can imagine it *could* be — but they don’t need to exchange words to know what needs to happen, to solve a problem Trent spots, or to make something better for the crowd.

One glance. One dart of the eyes and people appear from different directions, fixing microphones, bringing belts, gathering up wrestler’s attire safely out of harm’s way. They appear fast, too. Keeping things safe, and operating as they should.

One glance… to my right, and I get to watch the eyes of my teenage son, as he hears the music of his favourite wrestling characters. I get to see his reaction as we realise that we’re not getting the advertised matches tonight; that they have something far more imaginative in mind for their new, shiny belt. He’s stunned, and bemused, and it’s a joy for a parent to watch.

The Child…

I get to see his eyes as he’s made to leap out of his chair to avoid an incoming aerial assassin; excitement, tinged with an entirely appropriate amount of fear as bodies fly past his head. This is a weird kind of normal, I realise, as I watch the group of people diligently reassemble their chairs into neat rows again.

In a moment of quiet, I get to see him just taking it all in. His eyes surveying his environment; preparing a hundred different questions for me that will keep us occupied most of the journey home. He’s absorbing the entire experience, and I’m thrilled for him, because I know how magical it is.

And I get one last moment before we leave, as I see my son caught completely off-guard by the superstars in front of him. Mesmerised, fascinated, and spellbound by their presence, their proximity, and the genuinely warm way they interact with the queues of people who want just a moment of their time.

I know those eyes. Those awe-struck eyes. He gets them from his mama…