After all the months of hype and preparation, Wrestling MediaCon is over. And I’m shattered! But I’m also satisfied as a member of the organising team that we put on a successful event that I hope will live long in the memory of everyone who was at Bowlers in Manchester this weekend. I know it will live long in mine.
So what exactly was Wrestling MediaCon? Well, it was whatever you wanted it to be. It was ‘Wrestling Tapas’, as my WrestleTalk colleague James Dixon so eloquently put it, meaning that you could have a taste of many different flavours. If you wanted to watch some amazing live action, you could. If you’d rather relax and listen to legends tell their fascinating stories, you could do that instead. If you’d rather hang out with the cult heroes of wrestling’s YouTube revolution, the opportunity was there. If you are a wrestling history and tradition buff, you could attend the MediaCon Hall of Fame. Or if you are a grapple fanatic who loves collecting merch, autographs and photos of yourself with the stars, you had the chance to do exactly that.
It was also a celebration of wrestling media. Without communication, life stands still. It’s the same in pro wrestling. Without the dedicated newsletter and magazine writers, TV and radio broadcasters, and the community of new wave digital personalities hosting YouTube channels, social media accounts and podcasts, the word of pro wrestling could never spread, and the industry would not move forward. Wrestling MediaCon gave those unsung media heroes their deserved due for years of tireless work keeping pro wrestling in the public eye.
This is why the Wrestling MediaCon Hall of Fame was my personal highlight of the weekend. Well, that and the sight of Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger having a whale of a time as WrestleTalk‘s Oli Davis rode around the Convention Arena on a Segway dressed as Wonder Woman…!!!
The Hall of Fame was special. And it was special, because everybody in attendance treated it as special. The inductors, the inductees, and the audience who stayed until 10pm and gave such enthusiastic and respectful reactions. It was a HAPPENING.
Eight years ago I was involved in an attempt to run a British Wrestling Hall of Fame and it all fell apart. So Saturday night felt like redemption. We’d had some early teething troubles and technical issues early on Day One. But for the Hall of Fame in the evening, the stars aligned. It ran like clockwork and it was a presentation of which I am immensely proud.
I had a goosebumps moment backstage as Jeff Jarrett was preparing to go out to induct his friend Martin Goldsmith. Jeff was resplendent in a shimmering gold tuxedo. He’d made an effort on a par with how he was dressed for his own WWE Hall of Fame induction earlier this year.
— Wrestling MediaCon (@WrestlingMediaC) September 8, 2018
I could see in his eyes what it meant to him. It meant a great deal to Martin too. Clad in his airbrushed Summerslam 1992 Jimmy Hart jacket, this unsung hero who has been instrumental in the growth of wrestling in this country finally got the credit he deserved. And when Diana Hart – widow of The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith- appeared on screen with a personal message for Martin, well, that was a MOMENT.
— Wrestling MediaCon (@WrestlingMediaC) September 8, 2018
I was lucky enough to be given some huge opportunities this weekend. They included managing the stage shows and the Hall of Fame ceremony, hosting The Rise and Rise of British Wrestling panel and interviewing Peter Ellis from Leather Rebels championship belts. But to be asked to induct Dave Meltzer into the Wrestling MediaCon Hall of Fame is something I will never ever forget. As I mentioned in my speech, Dave is a journalistic hero of mine and I can’t imagine the sacrifices he has made to produce the epic editions of the newsletter week after week. He truly deserved the honour and it was a pleasure to meet him.
My former boss at Power Slam, Findlay Martin was another well-deserved inductee. It was heart warming to see Findlay chatting with fans and wrestling personalities over the weekend, each telling him how much the magazine meant to them and inspired them over the years. Findlay was always a great mentor and I learned a lot from him. I’m glad he got to have his moment.
Colt Cabana is another gentleman I’ve known for 15 years ever since I worked on the same show as his European debut for the FWA in Bethnal Green back in 2003. Colt has always been a joy to be around and again, he has truly earned his place in the Class of 2018 as the King of the Podcasts.
The Wrestling MediaCon Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Colt Cabana, Findlay Martin, Dave Meltzer and Martin Goldsmith
There are so many people to thank for helping make my experience of Wrestling MediaCon such a positive one.
First of all, thank you to my esteemed colleagues in the organising team, particularly Mr MediaCon himself, Paul Benson – the chief organiser who worked his backside off basically putting his life on hold for months to get this event off the ground!
Thank you to my small but perfectly formed Theatre Stage team of Julie Millar (British Wrestling’s Ms Fix-It, always so supremely organised and capable), sound and video genius Simon Corby, Oly from Inside The Ropes, MC Kieran from our sponsors Wrestling Travel, and my old FWA pal Steve Cox. Steve it was great to see you again after so many years. We had a few moments on Saturday when it looked like we might drown together but in the end we both floated and by close of Sunday we were swimming strongly!
Thank you to Andy Simmonz and Andy Quildan. We really need to do that podcast!
Thank you to So Cal Val and Joe Hendry. Awesome Hall of Fame hosts. Both of them are so talented, well prepared and dedicated to what they do. I can’t praise them enough.
Jeff Jarrett. Wow. What can I say? I had the privilege this weekend of working closely with a legend. A man whose career I’ve followed for almost 30 years. I thought I was a ‘detail guy’. But Jeff put me to shame with his eye for the little things, his professionalism, his vision and his single-mindedness to make every single stage show segment the best it could possibly be. I will also treasure the personal words of encouragement he gave me. Ain’t he great? He certainly is! And so were the entire FITE team.
Thank you to Doug Williams (sorry for the high-five Doug, I realise now you were probably just stretching when you held your hand up, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging just in case, ha ha ha!) birthday boy Nathan Cruz and the Revolution Pro Wrestling Andys for being great guests on my panel show. Chatting in public about British wrestling is one of my favourite pastimes and it was truly special to share that stage show with four men who have done so much to push the UK scene forward. I was also extremely moved by listening to the WOS Wrestling panel and hearing Nathan, Joe, Adam Maxted and Justin Sysum talk about how much it means to them to be part of the ITV wrestling comeback.
Richard Young – great to see you again my friend! Reconnecting again with people I haven’t seen for many years like Youngy, Andy Simmonz, Andy Quildan, Jonny Storm, Stevie Cox and others has been very special for me in 2018.
Kenny McIntosh- I really enjoyed working with you for the first time Kenny and I can see why Inside The Ropes is such a success. You are a natural presenter and interviewer and also a top bloke!
Jennifer Louise – thank you for being such a bubbly and supportive presence backstage at the Hall of Fame and it was great to work with you for the first time too!
Simon Rothstein and Lauren-Klair Woodward – thank you for being so great to work with on the press stuff in the run up to the event and it’s clear that IMPACT Wrestling‘s return to Britain was a huge success!
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) September 9, 2018
And thanks too to Carly Taylor for doing such an efficient job as on-site media co-ordinator over the weekend.
Mark Kay- it was great to have my best mate back at my side at a pro wrestling event. Hopefully the MediaCon team saw what I’ve known for many years, that you are an asset to this crazy business! Hopefully it wasn’t a one-off!
And finally to everybody I met at Wrestling MediaCon, all the fans and everyone on the team, thank you for your kind words over the weekend and for supporting the event, and sorry to anybody I’ve missed out. You’re all amazing.
Regrets? Only that I didn’t take enough photos and I was too busy to watch any actual wrestling!
If you went to Wrestling MediaCon 2018 or watched the stage shows on Fite, what was your personal highlight? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter here. You can also join us on Discord to chat with Oli, Luke, the magazine team, the website writers and each other here!