I’m a girlie girl and my nights out in Leeds usually consist of high heels, cocktails with the girls, a boogie in Viaduct and a 3am Big Mac, but recently my eyes were opened to a different type of evening out.
My boyfriend, Billy, persuaded me to go to RISE: Underground Pro Wrestling with him, after he’d been to one of their events a few weeks before. I’d never watched wrestling before, nor did I have much of an interest in it, but I’m always up for trying something new so I agreed to give it a go.
All I knew about wrestling was that it’s choreographed (which I thought meant fake) and that men wearing lycra had to throw each other around a ring and pin their opponent to the floor for 3 seconds to win. It turns out there’s so much more to it, and actually it’s a really fun night out that I would highly recommend! Here’s my beginners guide to Underground Pro Wrestling for those who want a different night out in Leeds and are wondering what to expect.
What is RISE: Underground Pro Wrestling?
Good question. Apparently it’s England’s maddest wrestling show, and it’s held at a variety of venues around Leeds. The event we went to, Spooky Slam 2, was held at Temple of Boom which is just outside of the city centre near Mabgate. Previous events have been held at the likes of Brudenell Social Club and Sheaf St. Each event consists of a series of matches, sometimes culminating in a DEATH MATCH. Scary right? More on this later.
What’s it Like?
Pretty much every aspect of the wrestling surprised me. Here are some revelations I had to give you an idea of what to expect:
- The stories. Although I knew that wrestling was choreographed, I wasn’t aware that so much emphasis is put on the story around the matches. There are ‘loser leaves town’ deals, ongoing feuds and stories of love, loss and revenge.
- The costumes. Of course there was plenty of lycra as expected, but there was so much more! There were Suit & Tie matches in which the contestants were literally dressed in suits, shirts, ties and office shoes, and in one match team mates Boys II Men (I had no idea that there could be more than two people on the ring!) sported some incredible Mario and Luigi costumes.
- The props. Again, I had no idea that there would be props involved! Various objects made an appearance including deodorant (in the ladies match), Fruit Shoots, chairs and watermelons.
- The atmosphere. There was so much chanting, most commonly “HOLY SHIT” and the whole audience joined in, encouraged by the contestants and an extremely eccentric commentator. The matches often spilled out of the ring and into the audience, with fights literally happening at your feet, and I accidentally touched Spiderman’s penis when he rubbed up against me during his entrance dance.
- The death match. The headline match, also know as the death match, was actually supposed to be in a barbed wire ring but this was shut down at the beginning of the night for being too dangerous (apparently there was a snitch, or so the chanting told me). Even so, it was so violent!! In this match the props included fluorescent tube lighting, drinks cans with the top sawn off to expose sharp metal and, terrifyingly, an actual hedge trimmer! There was broken glass and lots of blood, but somehow I found myself shouting along with everyone and really enjoying it.
RISE was a surreal experience, and not something that I thought I would enjoy. But for some reason, I’m compelled to get tickets to the next event!
Taking place on 1st December at Sheaf St, Big F’n Joe’s Xmas Bash will include a Taipei death match – apparently this is where the contestants dip their hands in broken glass and punch each other.
If you fancy spending an enjoyable evening drinking Red Stripe and shouting “HOLY SHIT” amongst other things, you can get your tickets here.
Maybe see you there!
Photo credit: Shaun Joesph Potts, Gary R Ward