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Top actors’ union Equity has unanimously approved a motion allowing professional wrestlers to become members.

The news follows a recent collaboration between the Old Vic Theatre and top UK wrestling promotion the Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA), which has been battling for years to achieve mainstream recognition for its talented roster of performers.

The wild and wacky world of professional wrestling has traditionally been viewed by the mainstream as a bit of a joke. The muscle-bound American panto we see every week on Sky TV and the fat "Big Daddy" types we used to watch on ITV World of Sport have created a stigma that has been hard for the current generation of British wrestlers to overcome. But thanks to the ground breaking ruling by Equity, that could all be about to change.

Formed in 1930 by a group of performers in London’s West End, Equity looks after the rights of its members across the whole range of professional entertainment - including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stage managers, theatre directors and designers, variety and circus artists, television and radio presenters, walk-on and supporting artists, stunt performers and directors, and theatre fight directors.

However, pro wrestlers have never been members until now. This is largely because the pro wrestling industry was hidden under a cloud of mystery for many decades, with promoters pretending wrestling was a "real sport" rather than staged entertainment where the results of the "fights" are determined beforehand. They hoped that if punters thought the action was real, shows would attract more fans and sell more tickets.

This stubborn refusal to reveal pro wrestling's secrets made it tough for the establishment to take wrestling seriously, to define its true nature and realise that in reality, it should be part of the arts and entertainment genre.

The FWA is different. It argues that wrestling deserves respect and recognition for what it really is: a form of highly-skilled and extremely physical performance theatre which is often unscripted and improvised. In line with this approach, the promotion recently staged an event in central London supported by the Old Vic Theatre in London, whose artistic director is Hollywood ace Kevin Spacey. Wrestling and theatre fans mingled in the crowd together to create an amazing atmosphere, standing side-by-side to suspend disbelief and enjoy the twists and turns of the action, just as they would for a play, a movie or a soap opera.

Shakka Bunsie, head of digital media at the Old Vic, said: "British wrestling brought in a truly diverse audience to our “Coming Up” festival, with wrestling fans and theatre lovers cheering and heckling the performers together. The FWA has successfully demonstrated that a well-run and produced wrestling event is definitely total theatre."

Shortly following wrestling's début in the heart of London's theatre land, Equity bosses met on March 22 to pass their judgement on the spandex-wearing stars. The Equity Council agreed that pro wrestlers should be recognised as fulfilling the criteria for membership of their organisation.

Now the FWA has paved the way for the future of the British wrestling industry and created a level playing field for its performers to have the same rights as their counterparts in television, movies and theatre. This is an unprecedented step – even in the United States, professional wrestlers have never been members of a trade union. Many observers have argued that this lack of collective bargaining power has contributed to poor working conditions and the astonishingly high rate of premature deaths in the wrestling world.

Alex Shane is the founder of the BWC, a British Wrestling Coalition that has worked alongside members of Equity to get this ruling passed. "It is a tremendous day for our industry," he said. "Ours is an industry that was once a national institution watched by millions every Saturday and attended by the Royal family. It is about time British wrestlers were given the same respect for what they do as actors and stuntmen, because we are both of those things in many senses. The Equity decision allows us to get well and truly on our way to achieving a new golden age of television wrestling here in the UK once more. The US industry is worth billions and there is no reason why our own could not be too, as the FWA's recent mainstream attention has proven."

Fresh from this weekend's Season 2 starter, the FWA are still reeling from the events from the weekend at the Birmingham NEC.

We can however release some match footage from Day 1 of the weekend's action, which pitted the team of Sha Samuels and Nick Riley against The Agenda - Iyestn Rees and Joel Redman.

Monday, 28 March 2011 19:27

New Frontiers 2011

Day 1:
Axl Rage and Xander Cooper defeated Shane Oldham and Zack "Diamond" Gibson via pinfall in a tag match from the FWA Adrenaline division.
The Resistance (Leroy Kincaide and Nick Riley) defeated The Agenda (Iestyn Rees and Joel Redman) via disqualification.
Nathan Cruz pinned RJ Singh to win an impromptu triple threat match which also featured El Ligero.
Colossus (the newest member of the Agenda) defeated Leroy Kincaide via referee stoppage.

Day 2:
Shane Oldham pinned "Textbook" Dave Breaks in a match from the FWA Adrenaline division.
Nathan Cruz defeated El Ligero via count-out.
A brawl between Rockstar Spud and Jonny Storm resulted in a no-contest.
David Deville pinned Nick Riley to retain the FWA World Heavyweight Championship on behalf of The Agenda.

More details results and roundup will be coming shortly from Dave Bradshaw on FWAUK.com!

Day 1:
Axl Rage and Xander Cooper defeated Shane Oldham and Zack "Diamond" Gibson via pinfall in a tag match from the FWA Adrenaline division.
The Resistance (Leroy Kincaide and Nick Riley) defeated The Agenda (Iestyn Rees and Joel Redman) via disqualification.
Nathan Cruz pinned RJ Singh to win an impromptu triple threat match which also featured El Ligero.
Colossus (the newest member of the Agenda) defeated Leroy Kincaide via referee stoppage.

Day 2:
Shane Oldham pinned "Textbook" Dave Breaks in a match from the FWA Adrenaline division.
Nathan Cruz defeated El Ligero via count-out.
A brawl between Rockstar Spud and Jonny Storm resulted in a no-contest.
David Deville pinned Nick Riley to retain the FWA World Heavyweight Championship on behalf of The Agenda.

More details results and roundup will be coming shortly from Dave Bradshaw on FWAUK.com!

As one half of JK and Joel he has broadcast to millions on BBC Radio 1, Absolute Radio, and local stations across the country.  He is a star of children’s television, and as co-host of The Sun newspaper’s WrestleCast he was the man who broke the news of John Cena’s real opinion about The Rock.  Now, one of the most high profile wrestling fans in the UK is coming to the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, as Joel Ross makes his debut as a colour commentator today at New Frontiers.


This surprise news was revealed by regular colour commentator and new FWA Head of Content Greg Lambert early on Thursday.  Lambert will be giving up his seat behind the announce desk on Sunday, leaving Ross to team up with Dave Bradshaw for the second half of this weekend’s opener to Season Two.


“I have no idea why Greg Lambert is voluntarily giving up an opportunity to hear the sound of his own voice,” Bradshaw told FWAUK.com this lunchtime.  “Nor do I know how Joel Ross has come to be involved with the FWA.  It all seems very odd to me, but in any case I’d like to welcome Joel to the team – hopefully he’ll put less of a dampener on my Sunday afternoon plans than Greg would have…”


Stay tuned to FWAUK.com for all the fallout from day two of New Frontiers 2011.



FWAUK.com have just received the following videos from wrestlers hoping to make an impact for the FWA this weekend at Birmingham Memorabilia as the FWA gears up for the start of Season 2. Johnny Phere has a message to the FWA roster, the wrestler, from the XWA posted the following on the XWA YouTube channel.



Not to be outdone, "The Showstealer" Nathan Cruz had the following to say to the wrestlers of the FWA, and why he proclaims he is the future of British Wrestling:



Keep tuned to the website this weekend for all the latest news and all of the fall out coming out of the Memorabilia at the NEC!


Friday, 04 March 2011 21:39

FWA To Debut At THORPE PARK

The Frontier Wrestling Alliance is proud to announce that it will be making its debut at THORPE PARK with four days of live action at the Park over the course of Easter weekend. 

Experience some of Europe’s most extreme rides and attractions at THORPE PARK, the nation’s Thrill Capital, from SAW - The Ride, the world’s most terrifying rollercoaster, to the ‘Unholy Trinity’ of Stealth, Colossus and Nemesis Inferno. New for 2011, climb aboard a life raft and get in a spin on Storm Surge, the ultimate sky-high spinning water ride featuring a jaw-dropping 64 foot spiralling descent.

An alliance between the two organisations seems like a perfect fit: the FWA is one of the UK’s most up-and-coming entertainment brands, with a rapidly growing fan-base and some of the most exciting wrestling in the world.  Its second season kicked off with New Frontiers, an action-packed two-day show at the Birmingham NEC.  The THORPE PARK shows will take place on 22nd to 25th April.

“We are delighted to be working with THORPE PARK , and bringing the FWA to thousands of thrill-seekers on one of their busiest weekends of the year,” said Tony Simpson, managing director of the Frontier Wrestling Alliance. “This is another leap towards our goal of bringing British wrestling back into the mainstream, and we know that all the people who see us during Easter will be gripped by the action we bring them.”

It is indeed an exciting time to be a British wrestling fan, with more big news coming soon when the FWA is expected to address the rumours about a regular central London home for the promotion.  Meanwhile, the British Wrestling Coalition as just announced the ground-breaking announcement that the UK's leading performing arts union, Equity, will now accept British professional wrestlers as member. Some say this represents the biggest political change in the industry in over 30 years.

Be sure to check back to FWAUK.com next week for more on both of those stories, and in the meantime make your plans now to visit THORPE PARK (www.thorpepark.co.uk) for an unforgettable long weekend of wrestling this Easter at the nation’s Thrill Capital.

BEHIND THE MIC

Play-by-play commentator Dave Bradshaw begins his blog of FWA Season Two by looking ahead to a potentially turbulent weekend at the Birmingham NEC…

FWAUK.com has just been informed that "important news"  about the promotion’s plans for 2011 will be made at New Frontiers this weekend. But 24 hours before the announcement at the Birmingham NEC, the news will be exclusively revealed on Friday right here at FWAUK.com!
 
For the past few months there has been a great deal of uncertainty among fans about the FWA’s strategy for the year ahead.  With relatively few dates announced for Season Two, many have been speculating that there must have been some serious negotiations going on behind the scenes.  Management were staying tight-lipped at last month’s BritWres-Fest, but rumours were circulating among many of the crew backstage that something big was in the works.
 
Given the success of that 2-day spectacular at Debut London, some were talking of a possible regular home for FWA shows in the capital.  Others were convinced that a deal was being struck with a major media or commercial backer, building on the relationships that the promotion has recently built with the Old Vic Theatre and IdeasTap.
 
Whatever has been happening, the wait will soon be over.  Be sure to check back on Friday 25th March, on the eve of Season Two’s first chapter, when we will all find out what FWA management have meant by their recent claims that Brit Wres Fest was "only the beginning"...

As a preview of the clash between "The Wonderkid" Jonny Storm and Rockstar Spud, here is the three-way ladder match between Jonny Storm, "The Showstealer" Nathan Cruz and Axl Rage all fighting for the right call themself "The Wonderkid" of the FWA.

Don't miss your chance to see the action LIVE at Memorabilia at the Birmingham NEC on the 26th and 27th March.

Dim lights

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