_ The glory days of British wrestling are being brought back with a bang thanks to Garry Vanderhorne, 37, and his unique wrestling organisation Lucha Britannia, which provides brilliant storytelling and belly-laugh comedy with hardcore grappling. Here’s how he built it up from nothing… _
Lucha Britannia is in its eighth year now.
I thought, if what I and other wrestling fans want to see isn’t out there, maybe I should do it myself. How can I make this thing that I love better?
Wrestling is an art form.
It’s high art as well as being low art, and it should be treated as such. As performance art, there is nothing like it. With Lucha Britannia, I combined the powerful iconography of the Mexican masks with the idea of British comedy, daredevil skills and high-flying acrobatics.
Great shows think outside the box and are original.
It has to have a twist, a USP. Copying other people won’t work. That’s where a lot of promoters slip up. They copy from a blueprint.
It should be like a comic book come to life.
You need to be able to make the audience laugh one second, then leave their mouth and eyes wide open the next, with them saying “oh my God”.
Some wrestlers are really meek and mild, then they get in the ring and they’re total animals.
Others are just the same out of the ring, they just turn their volume up.
I’ve never been in a circus, but from what I’ve heard, what we have is a lot like a circus family.
You’re in something that’s quite dangerous, very skilful, like a secret kind of society.
I want people to go into work and say: “I saw a monkey swing through the rafters, drop 20ft down on to a guy’s head, then that guy fought a psycho clown.”
Then a voodoo witch doctor came in, knocked him out of the ring, and then Freddie Mercury came in and knocked the witch doctor out with his voice.
Remember it’s a promotion.
Have the machine in place. It’s no good putting the 20 best wrestlers on and just 10 people watch. Get your artwork sorted and shout about it on social networks.
When moves go wrong, it can really hurt. I once had to dive from the top rope, but the people I had to dive on were too far away. Only in mid-air did I realise I wasn’t going to reach them. I ended up shattering my heel, broke my ankle and tore my Achilles off. I had to be carried to hospital.
The most bizarre sight I’ve seen at one of our shows?
Jonathan Ross carrying a barman from the bar into the ring, then getting involved in a match.
Occasionally we’ll get a drunk punter wanting to join in.
They’re dealt with. Pro wrestling’s not all for show.
How to take the first steps into starting your own wrestling foundation...
People who have a dance, martial arts or gymnastics background can be easier to teach. Find a good wrestling school. There are quite a few reputable ones up and down the country. And watch as many different styles of wrestling as you can, from Mexican to Japanese.
Study classic British comedy. Monty Python, Kenny Everett, Spike Milligan, ’Allo ’Allo!, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, even The Mighty Boosh – character comedy. It should give you a sense of humour and remind you not to take yourself too seriously.
Ask an organisation for an apprenticeship. Help out, put out the chairs, film it for them, work for free, find out how the show runs. Learn the business from the grassroots up.
Check out www.luchabritannia.com