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SMALL TALK - Ladders, duct tape and pyrotechnics: an obscure wrestling love story

1st October 2022, Trinity Sports Centre. My step count is through the roof and the show hasn't even started yet. A thin black curtain separates the Nation from the complete and utter anarchy that is spewing backstage.

The fans have settled into their seats, I've scoped out the snacks and promise myself I'll come back for a hotdog at some point, and already smacked my head four times on the fucking bleachers. I wasn't sure if it was the concussion making me imagine what I saw next, but there was a fucking ladder propping up technical equipment in our makeshift office. A ladder. By this point, I’ve lost count of how many staff members have asked me for duct tape to secure the ladder and I wasn't sure if we were perhaps living a pipedream at this point.

I figured we'd be one and done after this show, what with everyone running on fumes, we were ever so slightly late in starting the show, every so often ducking and diving and standing still whilst weaving through talent backstage that were warming up. Partially trying not to get hit in the face, and partially because we were all incredibly star struck by our international arrival! And of course, there was a ladder holding up 40% of our tech.

Fast forward to 11.59pm (lol) and we hear our beloved Nation chanting: “Sovereign Pro! Sovereign Pro! Sovereign Pro!” all the way out the venue! The reality of everything that had transpired on this day, hit us all at very different times thereafter.

An in-person ramp down session at HQ surrounded by pizza at 2am, eyes barely open, Salt of the Earth serenading us in the background as we worked our way through processed cheese and sugary tomato paste on bread, I’d like to think it hit a couple of us then and there that we had just put on a successful first show (with acknowledgement from our resident Northern diplomat Mr Essien outlining areas of concern and components we need to work on asap prior to show no. 2).

Some of us managed to get a solid 3-hour sleep, woke up and had it slapped in our faces through the beauty that is social media. The images, the videos, the chants! All there, plain as day, @SOVPRO @SOVPRO @SOVPRO, and intermittently seeing the phrase “stay hydrated”, in the words of Janice: “Oh… my… god….”

Others, they shall not be named, had a moment of clarity and realisation on the M6 back to London. There may have been tears. May have been.

For me, I’m not even sure I had the opportunity or rather gave myself the opportunity to soak it all in for a very, very long time. It was a blur. My car, my hair, my shoes, all had the distinct smell of birthday cake…. If you know, you know. The smell lingered for months, to the point I wasn’t even sure how to tell passengers how it originated without explaining the fucking rules of the match… “So first of all, all things pink were legal right… And then there was cake…”. I just opted for, “who the fuck just farted in my car!?”

I actually just continued about my day, each day. Redundancies, feeding the rabbit, feeding the husband, redundancies, checking Twitter, “lol stay hydrated… lol can I have a hot boss, ahhhhh get out of my head… Dun, dun, dun, dun…!” it continued in this way right the way through to Heavy is the Head and beyond. No, I still feel it hadn’t quite hit me what had transpired on day 1, show 1. Don’t get me wrong, I had no doubt we would be a fucking sensation (well, I did, but trust me you would too if you saw that ladder). Heavy is the Head was phenomenal, Warpath was a beauty. We all saw that rabbit, right? That wasn’t a long-term side effect of my First Reign concussion, right?

Boiling Point. 11 June 2023. Manchester Academy. Commonwealth championship match is seconds away from beginning and the talent are due to make their way into the ring one by one. I am standing at the corner of the stage looking up at Ninja Mack slowly step out from behind the curtain that neatly sections off the anarchy that is likely spewing backstage.

And this is when it hit ME. Ninja Mack, front and centre, pyro-fucking-technics. They go off out of nowhere engulfing the stage in an upwards shower of controlled sparks, lighting up the entire god damn stage inches away from where I’m standing! The self-proclaimed operations manager within me (I’m mostly just the babysitter making sure the lads have eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner and are staying hydrated…. Badum dum tssss!) starts wondering, did we pay for this? Is this in budget? Does Shotty know this is happening? Who did the H&S checks? DID WE FUCKING ARRANGE THIS?

As I looked around at all the staff smiling and taking it all in, the fans chanting, screaming, jumping, fist pumping, the entire damn venue erupting into loud cheers, I realised the following, and in this particular order too:

Firstly, oh okay, this is part of the package I guess, we arranged for this, okay cool.

Secondly, holy shit, look at what we’ve created! Holy shit, look at what I am a part of. This is madness! I can’t believe we’re doing this, I can’t believe we’ve DONE this.

We literally went from a ladder and duct tape to pyrotechnics and unique chants in the space of four shows, with an online presence that is stronger than ever thanks to our beautiful fans! In a world with fully established nations that leave little for us to be proud of, backed by leaders and people that are just complete and utter fuckwits, it truly is a remarkable feeling being part of the Sovereign Nation, I consider that a worthy substitute!


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