A roundtable discussion on WWE’s YouTube channel last year featured no fewer than five Scottish wrestlers draped in championship gold.
And while that number is now down to just one, after Nikki A.S.H. won her first ever single’s title earlier this week, grapplers from this part of the world remain hot property.
As a wrestling writer and podcaster, Kenny McIntosh has watched the Scots stars of sports entertainment ascend from community halls in Glasgow to the arenas of the US.
McIntosh, who runs the Inside the Ropes website, is not surprised that the likes of A.S.H. and Drew McIntyre – who held the WWE championship throughout most of the pandemic – have seized opportunities with both hands.
“They’re all people who’ve wrestled at least ten years each,” he said. “When they were in the UK they were booked all the time, wrestling was their life.
“The Scottish wrestlers are very polished because they’ve worked and worked because they know that the chances of getting an opportunity to be on the likes of Raw are very slim so when it comes they need to be ready.
“When you’re in America, becoming a big wrestling star is more attainable because you’re there, you can work as an extra on TV as a security guard for somebody.
“But in Scotland it’s such a faraway dream you almost need to work ten times harder. All of them having that kind of drive, and especially Drew doing so well last year, seeing him beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, that showed them that they could do it too.”
A GLASWEGIAN WOMAN JUST WON #MITB 😍😍😍😍
— Kenny McIntosh 🏳️🌈 (@KennyMcITR) July 19, 2021
McIntosh was bursting with pride when he saw A.S.H. climb the ladder in the Money In The Bank match, and cashing in for the title the next night on Monday Night Raw.
“It was a very surreal moment to see a Glaswegian win Money in the Bank,” he laughed. “For Nikki to win it was amazing. I remember years ago, in 2012, the second ICW show I ever went to at the Classic Grand, Nikki Storm as she was then was on the show.
“She was wearing a pantsuit and had a clipboard and screaming at all these people. When she won, I was thinking that if someone had turned round to me at that 200-seater room and said in nine years she’ll win Money in the Bank you’d have laughed that person out the building.
“What a great world that that’s now possible. I felt very proud, I think Scottish people have a real affinity with any Scot who does anything of note and claim it as our own victory. The fact that she was able to do it was really inspiring for Scottish people who maybe never thought that kind of thing would be possible.”
A number of Scots stars currently ply their trade with WWE’s developmental brand, currently running shows at the BT Sport studios in London, NXT UK.
Kay Lee Ray has recently come to the end of a long title reign as women’s champion and the likes of Kenny Williams, Noam Dar and Isla Dawn could be next in line to become major stars.
McIntosh also tips Ayrshire-born Wolfgang to take the next step.
“He’s someone who’s got the potential to do a lot more. I think he could be a bodyguard or heavy for somebody, a Diesel to a Shawn Michaels type wrestler.
“I think he could do really well, he has a really good look, he likes riding bikes, has a big beard, is in good shape, can do moonsaults… He’s someone to watch.”
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) June 18, 2021
The majority of the Scots in WWE have been a major part of Glasgow-based Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), which thanks to a loyal fanbase grew from holding shows in community centres to selling thousands of tickets at The Hydro.
As crowds look set to return to wrestling shows across Scotland in the not-too-distant future, it’ll be up to the next generation of talent to fill the gaps left by those who’ve moved on.
McIntosh said: “ICW are in a sort of flux period where they’ve not made new stars yet.
“Going to shows when they come back will be really interesting. If you go later this year, you could be seeing the person who in five years could be on Raw or SmackDown. It sounds cheesy but these could be the stars of the future.”
Inside the Ropes – An Evening With Paul Wight is headed to London, Manchester and Glasgow in October. Tickets on sale from 4pm next Friday at ITRTix.com
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