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The Ballance Sheet #7 : A Year In Review (2013)

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Wrapping up the year soon, folks, so I think a few words are in order about what’s gone down in 2013…

FAVOURITE MATCHES

Had two favourites this year: with ‘Fabulous’ Nicky at CCW Revolution, back in May, and with Stevie Xavier, at WrestleZone’s Aberdeen Anarchy show in June. Two great guys, two incredibly enjoyable matches, and two amazing crowds. Definitely hope I get the chance to work with both guys again, down the line.

My other more enjoyable matches this year were with Jordan Devlin, Bam Katraz, and BT Gunn, amongst others. It’s been a good year, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some superb talent, and in front of some great audiences.

           NIGHTMARE SHOW

A Wrestling.IE show I did in July was an absolute, unmitigated nightmare. I was driving there with Seán Maxer, Danny Butler, and referee Niall Fox. I picked up Niall first, in Liffey Valley, in Dublin, after I’d finished work on the Friday. I was due to pick up Seán and Danny shortly after, at the Tesco in Naas. Unfortunately, due to my lack of knowledge of the Naas area, it turned out that there were actually TWO Tesco’s in Naas. Seán and Danny were waiting at one, I was at the other, and no one had anyone’s numbers. The internet on my phone was out of commission, too, so I couldn’t access Facebook or Twitter to get in touch. We ended up working it out, and meeting up, but the delay of nearly an hour set us back, and we were later than usual arriving at the venue for the show in New Ross, in Wexford. My petrol was low as we pulled into New Ross but, due to how late we were arriving, I thought it best to top up once the show was over.

I worked with Bonesaw that night. We’ve had some really good matches together- unfortunately, on this night, it wasn’t one of our better ones. Definitely hoping to work with Bonesaw again in the near future, though, as he’s one of my favourite opponents.

The nightmare truly began, though, once the show was over. The post-show meet & greet with fans lasted ages, and by the time we got out, it was after 11. I pulled into the Topaz service station up the road literally just as they were bringing down the shutters, and had switched off the pumps. The guy working there was apologetic, but couldn’t help, and told us he didn’t know of anywhere nearby that would still be open at that hour.

What followed from there was an hour and a half of me searching for petrol stations on my SatNAV, driving from place to place, in search of fuel. A Campus Oil station nearby had a 24 hour pump- but only for diesel. A Tesco petrol station- purportedly open ’til midnight- had closed at 10pm. Several other Topaz’s were also closed. With my fuel gauge well below ‘E’, and the warning light glaring mockingly in my face, I was anticipating the car just coming to a stop in the middle of nowhere, and having to spend the night there. Thanks to some directions, over the phone, from a friend of show photographer John Morrissey, I ended up taking us to Waterford- 20 to 30km away- where we finally found a 24 hour service station, I topped up, and was hit by a tidal wave of relief. (Definitely relief on a par with a “post-exam piss.”)  A very, very, very stressful day.

LOCATION, LOCATION, (DIS)LOCATION

This year, a feud developed in CCW between myself and Ross Browne. Ross had ruffled a lot of feathers- my own included, initially, I’ll admit- and earned a fair amount of derision with comments on radio shows and in interviews, in the weeks leading up to CCW’s show in August of this year. Having never met the guy prior to this show in Waterford, I didn’t know what to expect from him.

I’ve mostly done ‘one-and-done’ shows around the place for the last few years, so haven’t really had the chance to do angles, especially not stuff involving shoot/semi-shoot material. Starting from a place where you don’t really know someone, it’s a tricky situation to gauge how far you can go with comments before you begin to cause ACTUAL offense, and irritation. I know Ross’ remarks caused upset and annoyance to a good few people, but strictly from my own point of view, he was grand to deal with, and sound with me, and that’s all I can go off. The comments (about me, anyway) never crossed a line.

The irregular nature of CCW’s schedule, unfortunately, didn’t really allow us to do much in the way of feud-building on shows, themselves; due to promos and stuff on social media, however, there was a little anticipation heading into our match at the end of November, in Cork.
Unfortunately, on that night in Cork, the blow-off to our feud didn’t deliver. Through a horrible spot of bad luck, Ross dislocated his shoulder quite badly, early into the match. Three very uneasy minutes passed, as he tried to pop it back into its socket, with no luck. Having done this a while, I’m fairly comfortable in the ring, and am happy enough that if something goes wrong during a match, I can cover it and move on. As Ross was across the ring in the far corner, though, I genuinely had no idea what we were gonna do, and felt pretty helpless. The crowd were getting restless, and a sarcastic “this is wrestling” chant broke out.

The ref for the match was Adam Abz, Ross’ former tag partner, and I was glad he was in there. A green/rookie ref wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with the situation, but Adam- as a wrestler, himself- knew when I was working, and trying to buy some time for Ross. On a more personal level, at the planning stages, he pushed for a finish that would keep me looking strong. He didn’t have to do that. I was on my way out, and wrestling precedent would have it that the guy sticking around is the one who comes out looking the strongest. Though the finish he suggested, unfortunately, didn’t come to pass in the end, I greatly appreciated that he tried to give me one that would allow me to go out with dignity and respect. It was an extremely sound and classy thing to do, especially since- at the time- he didn’t (excuse the pun) know me from Adam. Heh heh. Nice guy.

At any rate, Ross was unable to pop his shoulder back in, and we had a massively shortened match, lasting under ten minutes. It was a mess. Everyone was disappointed- me, Ross, the fans in attendance. It was a shame the way it went down, but it happens. I attended a show in 2005, before I started training, between Jody Fleisch and the original Irish Dragon. Very early into the match, Dragon and Fleisch both went to nip up simultaneously after a spot, but Dragon caught Fleisch’s heel in his face, accidentally, breaking his nose. The match wrapped up soon after, with a quick roll-up. Obviously, I’m sure they intended a longer match, but the safety of the competitors should always take precedence. I was disheartened and disappointed not to get to work the match with Ross that we’d talked about, but not at the expense of his well-being.
The whole angle was an interesting experience, nevertheless, and I enjoyed my time with CCW. It was cool to be crowned their first Heavyweight Champion, the road trips to Cork were a blast, and I had some very enjoyable matches there.

TRAINING

Having done a whole blog for Irish News Review on the subject of training before, I won’t re-hash content. I will, however, say that I have had the pleasure this year of doing a number of really, really enjoyable classes. Two for Wrestlezone in January and October, and three for MSW, in the latter few months of the year. Though all were fun, a recent class in MSW with eleven participants stands out the most. It was a jam-packed three hours of work, everyone put in a great effort, and I was (corny as it sounds) really inspired by the potential on display. I love teaching, and I love wrestling. Put them together, and I’m a happy chappy.

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC

As I head into 2014, I do so with a reasonable amount of hope and- dare I say- optimism. A number of things this year have helped put me in a good place, mentally. Regular ring time in MSW has helped me restore confidence and tighten up my ringwork, allowed me to dust off a few classics from my ‘vintage Bingo Ballance’ repertoire, and make a few new friends, which always helps. If it’s not fun, there’s no point doing it, but I’m enjoying myself at the moment, and looking forward to what’s to come.

Article courtesy of Gary “Bingo” Ballance. Read more about the trials and tribulations of Irish wrestling on Gary’s personal blog located at  http://theballancesheet.blogspot.ie/.

Image courtesy of John Morrissey Photography And Design 

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