During my journey through the best (and sometimes worst!) of British wrestling, I have been lucky enough to rub shoulders with some great talents; experienced, inexperienced and underrated. It dawned on me whilst looking at this months 'One to Watch' in Fighting Spirit Magazine (plug!) that there are some great young, and unearthed talents that warrant showcasing in this way. I hope, in some small way, that I can give a little spotlight on such talents and maybe get them the recognition and exposure that they deserve.
I met Chris Andrews about a year-and-a-half ago and was instantly impressed by him both as a man and a wrestler. Although I can't claim to know him very well, I have always felt sure that he is a kind, polite, at times very quiet guy, that has a desire to do his best in everything that he attempts. I've always been sure that he has the look and skills to take him far in wrestling. I'm pretty sure that if you read any of my weekend of British wrestling reviews I have never had a bad word to say about Chris. This isn't due to a need to ass-kiss, but because I am genuinely entertained and impressed by what Chris brings to shows.
When Chris enters to his (usual) music of 'The Power', you're instantly blown away by the physical presence he has: clearly, Chris looks after himself and is a great example to any young and aspiring wrestler of how a you should look. If Vince McMahon is into big, chiselled, muscular wrestlers then he should look no further than Chris! I had quite a few questions for him that he was kind enough to get back to me on:
Jimmo's Angle: What got you into wrestling?
Chris: I think my Gramp used to record WCW in the early hours of the morning for me. My first real memory was seeing a match between Nailz and British Bulldog while my dad was flicking through the satellite channels. I asked if we could watch it and I then became a fan. The first big show I remember was Summerslam 92; shortly after that WWF did a world tour where they held a show in the Westpoint Arena, Exeter. Me, my brother, best friends and dads went to watch. There were some massive stars there: Legion of Doom; Shawn Michaels; Bret Hart; Yokozuna - all the big names except The Undertaker, which I remember being disappointed about; I wasn't really old enough to appreciate it, though.
How long have you been wrestling for?
Who trained you? Where did you find out about wrestling training?
I was trained by the UK Kid in 2005 at the VPW School of Excellence in Portsmouth. I knew I wanted to start training for a long time before I managed to start full-time. I did a few weekend camps at FWA [Frontier Wrestling Alliance] etc. Then a small school started in Exeter where we were trained by guest trainers each week, one of them was The UK Kid. He saw potential in about six of us including my brother Sam and close friend Joel Redman [WWE/NXT's Oliver Grey] and took us to Portsmouth to start full-time training.
How long did you train before being 'show ready'?
I was lucky really as I was a fairly gifted athlete growing up so found the physical side natural and seemed to pick up the movements and timing quickly. I think Tom (UK Kid) took us up there at the beginning of March and I did my first match on a show in May.
Did you feel ready when you debuted?
I felt ready; I don’t know how ready you can be really. Like a lot of trainees, my first match was with my trainer so I could be pulled through it and made sure I got a good pasting throughout [laughs]. I remember wanting to know everything that was going to happen in the match and memorise the whole thing. You don’t really start to understand the psychology and drawing real crowd emotion until you work a lot of shows so I didn't really get why we couldn't just do that; its all part of learning.
I started working for All Star, wrestling a lot to start with and usually did either one, or both, of the Butlins Minehead shows each week. That was great experience for learning how to control the crowd and share a dressing room with some very experienced veterans. I was lucky enough to wrestle some great talent very early in my career, one of which was against Daniel Bryan. The massive one for me (due to him coming off WWF TV/being in TNA at that time) was Billy Gunn. It was such a big opportunity for any wrestler let alone someone with only a few months experience in wrestling.
|Impressively suplexing Dave Mastiff|
What companies have you worked for?
I don’t think I could list them all but VPW (Varsity Pro Wrestling), RQW (Real Quality Wrestling), All Star, Premier Promotions, Wrestling.IE (Ireland), DWA (Devon), Pro EVW, LDN, Pride Promotions, Kamikaze Pro, House of Pain: Evolution, Wrestleforce, PWA (Plymouth)...
What companies do you see as the best/most established in the UK?
All Star have been running for years and run shows everyday so they would still have to be considered most established.
Who would you like to work for that you haven't yet?
There are a few companies that have caught my eye. Unfortunately, everyone else also wants to work for them, too; they include PCW, ICW, Rev PRO and Southside.
You're now branching out more-and-more from the South-West; what factors do you give credit for this?
Getting rid of my fuel guzzling truck [laughs]. I guess it probably comes down to having more time for wrestling; the more shows you do, the more people see you and the more shows you get offered. I drastically cut down my bookings around 2009 to free up some time to build a house for myself. I couldn't afford to take time off work for this so my evenings and weekends were pretty much taken up by it. It was a hard decision but I had to think about the future and there are no guarantees with wrestling. I was still able to squeeze in some shows but it was more like one-a-month or a small tour than the two-to-three shows a week I had been doing. When I finished the house I could get going again properly with wrestling.
Who are your closest friends in wrestling?
I don’t know if they would really be considered “in wrestling” as they were already my friends before and we got into wrestling together: my brother Sam Andrews and good friend Joel Redman. They are obviously both lifelong friends. The only other wrestlers I'm close to - who came to my wedding - are Nick Riley, PJ Jones and UK Dominator. I met them in about 2009 through Joel. I have recently been travelling with Iestyn Rees a lot, and have been joined by Nick [Riley] and Chris [Walker] (collectively, The Magnums), and Charlie Garrett who are all good company. I remain good friends with Tom (The UK Kid), too.
What are your ambitions in UK wrestling?
Mainly to enjoy it; it's hard to say something like “to make a good living from it” as the money isn’t really there in Britain at the moment.
What are your ambitions in wrestling overall?
I would love to think I could make a good living from it. As I said before the money isn’t really there to do that in England so it would really mean moving overseas. I still want to give it a go and definitely won't write it off.
Biggest achievement to date?
Being asked to go to WWE try-outs and being invited back. Also, obtaining work in wrestling overseas.
What established wrestlers have you competed against?
Billy Gunn, Bob Holly and D'lo Brown (for VPW), Daniel Bryan and Sheamus (for All Star), and Kid Kash (for PWA) would be the most well-known due to them working with WWE. I have also been lucky enough to work with top British talent such as James Mason, Doug Williams and Karl Kramer.
You're wrestling TNA's Gunner soon; what are your thoughts on that?
Yes, that’s for a show in Plymouth for PWA on Sunday 4th May. I'm really looking forward to it! Anytime you get to work with someone who has made it into a good position in the business can only be a good thing. He looks like a big, tough guy so should be good. On that show I am also looking forward to being introduced by Duke Nukem [laughs] - Jon St. John is doing the MCing who did the voice for the video-game.
As I've said before, Chris is a top talent in the UK. Maybe his name hasn't reached as far as it should have by now but that will surely change the more people get a chance to see him perform. He has the look and experience that should be used on more shows across the country. He has had great opportunities against some big names that have been stars and are currently plying their trade in the biggest organisation in the world (WWE).
If you would like to know and see more then look out for him on local shows, Facebook and Twitter (@chris84shark)...
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