This week I managed to sit down with one of my favourite UK Scene wrestlers who I have been wanting to interview for some time that being Baxter Burridge. This was a chance meeting after Baxter emailed me responding to what I had written about him in one of my columns. So then I knew I had to get an interview with the man and he granted me that wish.
What have you been up to lately Baxter?
Hi mate lovely to be here. I have been quite busy lately doing the great British tradition of wrestling on the holiday camps. Its a busy time of the year doing them for everyone this year, Brian Minelli, Brian Dixon and Ricky Knights camps. Great fun and you learn a lot there on the camps about showmanship, crowd work showing out etc. In between doing some hall shows mainly for premier promotions and soon to make my CWC debut at Southampton.
What made you want to become a wrestler?
There is probably not just one reason I could pinpoint to make me want to become a wrestler, it was a cluster of a lot of things. I can remember my first moment I knew I wanted to become a wrestler after watching Kerry Powers v Robbie Brookside with Mal Mason refing at a holiday camp when I was young, I think that was what got the ball rolling so to speak. I had always followed the WWF as a kid, and as a kid you stupidly think that’s all there is in the world so when I found out about British wrestling I was hooked so I could say if it wasn’t for Robbie Kerry and Mal I probably wouldn’t of known a lot about the British scene and I thank them very much, I owe them a lot. I remember my first match I had when Mal Mason was refing and thinking, blimey what an honour a couple of years back I was watching this guy and now I’m in the same ring as him and the same goes when I tagged with Robbie at Butlins I was truly honoured. Its moments like that when you feel you have achieved something and I will never forget in my career as they are landmarks for me, they are like childhood dreams come true.
Do you think trainees have it easy these days compared to how things were done in the old days?
This question is a weird one to answer. I am not one to speak as I am still a rookie myself in a way as I have just finished my 17th month as a pro. Basically if you have the heart and are willing to work hard and realize you have to do whatever it takes then you’re on to a good start, reputation wise as well.
If you’re a sort of guy who would just go training, not listen to instructors doing your wrestling moves you learnt from watching WWF tapes in ya bedroom you aint gonna get respect . Plus image is everything, wrestlers are athlete’s that means working out and a good diet and more nights down the gym than in the pub. Any trainee who is worth his weight should know these things and live by them.
I think to get a good reputation is very important. I’ve heard stories of well established British wrestlers of today being put through some tough shit back when they were a new guy. If you put a foot wrong in a match, they would make you run a mile down the motorway for every mistake you made that day. Also things like beating the crap out of them just to see if they would come back next week and if they kept coming back they knew they had the heart for it. I would probably agree with the fact that trainees have it too easy today especially when I hear these stories. The only reason those guys would do them things was to test them and was a part of paying your dues so when you did establish yourself, You must of thought you really earned it and paid your dues well and that’s how you would of earned your respect plus wrestling is’nt as (secret society) it is today due to many factors. Where people wanted to become wrestlers would get broken bones week after week to test them and see what they had. Whereas today a guy could walk in to a school have a lesson on wrestling and come out with a free t shirt showing of his newly learnt skills in his back garden with his mates saying “its ok it wont hurt!” thats bollox!, and its bad for the business of wrestling . No one becomes a wrestler over night it takes years to become one and in fact you are always learning new stuff. Back to the matter of respect, its like any other job, when you start a new job, you don’t go in there on ya first day all smug and arrogant saying “I’m the best damn shelve stacker in the world, don’t you forget that” you’ll get the sack. Nobody likes a arrogant f**k. First impressions stick, when you go in to a locker room its the same thing because they are your workmates you want to set the best impression of yourself possible. That’s the start of learning about respect, I have seen a lot of trainee guys who storm in down the gym thinking there the best thing since Tori Wilson’s tits, had one weeks training who think there ready for a show who have no clue about wrestling “I’m the big I am!” kind of attitude, not willing to listen to advice ” I don’t want your advice, I can do a rock bottom!” good luck in your career path pal, its about as long as my little finger. I have no time for guys like this they haven’t got a clue about paying their due and never will, and would never earn any respect. When I am down Dropkixx I will give my time to anyone as long as there willing to listen. I’ll tell them advice on their wrestling and how to act backstage but that should come naturally if the guy has half a brain. If I have a match on a show, I will always take any post advice given to me as all they are doing is trying to help me out and make me a better wrestler and I thank you as it is much appreciated to me and that’s one way to earn respect.
Things like helping putting the ring up and down at shows is a must to pay your dues. I was saying to the dropkixx trainees the other day because they didn’t help put the ring up They Said “I paid my money to train” so I said “exactly this is training” wrestling isn’t all about the moves. If you do a camp show its mandatory to put the ring up if you have no idea how that thing goes up, then they are gonna think well who’s this guy? But imagine the impression you could set if you knew, where everything went, you’re more likely to get more work if ya set a good impression, you could be the best wrestler in the world but if you’re attitude sucks then you’re not goin anywhere .
My training was nothing when you compare it to the stories that you hear as I mentioned I never had to run a mile or get broken bones week in week out. I knew what ever it took I would make it, my goal to become a wrestler, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy and if any of these things happened along the way then it was just part of the price I had to pay, I am glad I started doing amateur, even though it wasn’t for long it taught me respect. I went to hammerlock for a weekend training camp as at the time it was the only school in Britain .I did learn some good stuff, it was my introduction in to wrestling .I then went to the FWA London School which was great. It wasn’t until I met Tony Scarlo that I realized the full potential that wrestling had to offer and I learnt a whole new respect for old school British wrestling.
Tony Scarlo was one of the best technical wrestlers of his day. He would show us some old school moves and we would be stunned in amazement it was like magic trick, he knew a reversal for every move and each one more spectacular, this is where I learnt that there are better ways to get a pop than put people through tables. The wrestling that we were shown I grew to love as I had never seen some of these moves before and wanted to learn every move I could. I started watching 70s British wrestling tapes “this is what wrestling’s all about” I thought. With the help of Vince Randell , Mel Stewart and Frank Rimer I was improving all the time. Mainly because I listened to every piece of advice they would have to say, it took me in all, just under two years till I had my first match. Basically that’s near enough that but to sum it all up Respect is important but it can’t be taught, only earnt.
You don’t seem to get as much coverage as other UK wrestlers why do you think this is?
I think that there are a couple of reasons, one is that I do sometimes wrestle under different names Baxter Burridge, Rainbow Kid, The Gay One, the fans don’t know what side of Baxter they may see that day, I keep them guessing. I also like to keep my look fresh and keep changing my appearance almost showily and I suppose that could throw people a bit. Someone said to me the other day that I was unlucky, I asked “why is this ” and he said “its like your always in the right place at the wrong time. Where someone would work one match you would have to work 5 matches to get the same exposure” I sort of knew what he was saying, I think it was a complement lol! But what you got to understand I haven’t been professional for long so any exposure to me I am very grateful. I think it is more down to the promotions not getting the right coverage they deserve being that a lot of the fans aren’t familiar with some of the promotions in Britain by this I mean Premier Promotions .
Premier is one of the biggest and best promotions in Britain who put on a fantastic show it is also traditional British show in rounds, which gives the show a difference from other shows, who’s workers include Robbie Brookside, Doug Williams and Flash Barker as champion and yet it doesn’t get as much exposure as other federations. Its also down to territories I do most my work in the South, Southeast part of Britain. Some weeks you could work all week others not one it depends on the time of year. This time of year is very busy due to the camps and there are a lot of camps in Britain. Its funny cause as I write this I have just returned from Wales after wrestling my first match for FWA so I probably more people might have heard of Baxter Burridge by the time this comes out. I have been focusing heavily on working abroad; I really desperately want to work in Germany, as I have wanted to do that since I can remember. I got a year contract in Italy so that’s great. But it seems there are a lot of promotions popping up and then doing one show and then going under after doing one show and losing money, they can’t afford to do another. But I am just happy wrestling and learning more and more about the sport with each show But hey I’m thankful and very grateful for the work never ask what wrestling can give to you only what you can give back to wrestling.
Do you think the Internet helps or hinders British wrestling?
This is an interesting question, it’s a bit of both its like this, a hammer is a tool used for construction, and used properly it can construct some of the beautiful things imaginable. But it is also used as a tool of destruction and demolishes to create a mass of ugliness. Its like the Internet it can promote the British scene or mud hole stomp it to the ground. I never read the forums or show reports because I don’t agree when they slag the wrestlers off. Its one thing to hide behind a screen and do it but how many would say it to the wrestlers face. These guys risk their health everyday for the business and put their body on the line in every match I don’t think its right to talk about them and on the net its like a version of talking about them behind their back. And besides what they write is their opinion and I suppose they are entitled to it. By the way I have set up a website for wrestlers where we analyze the fans its called tongueincheeck.com where we write things about the fans and tell them that they didn’t cheer correctly and there hand clapping looked very sloppy on occasions lol!!! But saying that, I like this website because it always positively pushing the British scene which is good.
You have recently been to abroad to Italy is this something you want to do more of?
Yes I am very keen to get abroad, Italy was cool, it’s like a volcano waiting to explode and with the right kind of guidance it can erupt into something huge. My goal this year was to get abroad and I’m glad I did that. I want to go to Germany in the future for sure as I think my gimmick goes down well in Europe . I would like to one day wrestle in places like Japan and Mexico that would be great, but I would only wanna go when I knew I was ready and could really do myself justice and set a good example of British wrestling. Definitely want to work in the states. I am thinking of going to Florida in the near future to train with Adrian Street and do some of the independents out there. Yeah so the more work I could get abroad, the better I love traveling.
I love your character and you play it very well how did you come up with the idea?
Thanks, what ya mean “character that’s how I always am? I love wearing pink I am Baxter Burridge I live my “gimmick”
Many people are quick to compare you with Adrian Street what are your thoughts on this?
Yes , Adrian street is one my all time favorite wrestlers and one of the greatest the world will ever have . I definitely will go to the Skullcrushers gym in Pensacola Florida to pick the brain of the great one. But I don’t want to be the next Adrian Street; I want to be the first Baxter Burridge. I think I am original with a hint of Adrian Street and others but I don’t think you can compare me with other wrestlers because I try to do it differently. Some people are too quick to judge but it is an honour and I take it as a complement when people tell me this .If you compare me with Adrian, with have a different kind of style as well. Just because Goldberg looks like Steve Austin doesn’t mean they are the same wrestler. I get chants of Rico sometimes that annoys me because I heard Rico has suddenly changed his style or gimmick, they should be chanting “Baxter” to him but I haven’t seen it so I can’t compare.
Have you ever had any complaints or gotten in to trouble over your character?
In fact I have, its quite funny actually. When I made my singles debut against George Castano at the guildhall Southampton for TWA, it made quite an impact. I was told a week later by Scott Conway that the guildhall had received written letters of complaints about inappropriate over use of homosexuality or something like that. Its funny because a week before, Graham Norton did stand up at the guildhall and got no complaints I was quite chuffed they thought I was more camp than camp itself. I remember when I did Bristol, I was outside the ring as I was gathering my thoughts on how to get one over on my opponent when this lady and she was one big mother, came charging at me with her stiletto in her hand, I rolled back in the ring .I think I was more scared of getting a beating of her than I ever would of my opponent. I think I made the right decision I didn’t fancy the idea of having a shoe rack for a head. When I was a guest on a radio show, I think they had too delete a lot of what I said on that show because it sounded to extreme to broadcast before the watershed. But apart from this, nothing to major, I think that the men are to scared to approach me because there scared ill kiss them or something.
What are your favourite promotions to work for?
I love premier promotions shows because it’s the wrestling that I am more suited to, traditional British and the atmosphere on the shows are great, Its a good blend of fans who go there to enjoy themselves and get lost in the wrestling. I think there should be more traditional style promotions like this around Britain with rounds and seconds and such. If there’s a show near you, go and check it out, ya won’t be disappointed. If I’m there come say hello ill give ya a kiss. Yeah baby!
Who are your favourite wrestlers to work with in the ring and out of the ring?
Off the top of my head, new guy Charly Rage is one of my favorites, we really do batter the shit out each other when we fight, I think we are running in together next at the Dropkixx show at Pufleet on the 3rd September. Lee Darren I also like fighting. We have a little rivalry going on the Premier shows. My fellow XIW wrestler Joe Riot is another I can see us feuding in Italy on a regular basis. I learnt a lot of wrestling Micky Cortez who is Lee Darren’s dad and Blondie Barret along with Mel Stewart. Flash Barker is cool; he will always give ya advice when ya need it. Johnny Kidd is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet at a show I love it when I’m on the same show as him, Alex Shane’s the same, you’ll always have a laugh with him. Ya just can’t say no to the show!
What would you like to see happen or like to change about British Wrestling?
I would like to see all federations getting on together with no heat and that would benefit British wrestling a whole lot in my opinion I think that that is the only way British wrestling could get back on its feet again like it was in the seventies etc. Everyone has to come together as one. I can’t see it happening soon but it would be good to make a start
Where do you see the UK Scene in 10 years time?
Hopefully back on telly, I can definitely see that happening in the next ten years in some form or another. I’d like to see the time when British wrestlers are the guest on programs like SMTV and stuff like that, doing cameos on programs and action figures in Woolworths, yeah definitely that’s the most important, ACTION FIGURES IN WOOLWORTHS!! But I can see the British scene expanding and growing its like a volcano that has been left dormant and is waiting to explode and no one knows when.
So what does the future hold for Baxter?
The futures bright, the futures Baxter’s. lol. Hopefully I can keep wrestling and learning and enjoying this great sport. Hopefully I can stay involved in the scene till I’m an old man. More tours abroad for sure. I am concentrating now on the Baxter I picture in my head. I want to go out there to an arena and be at the full potential that I could possibly be, I’m not close to that yet, there’s still a lot of Baxter waiting to be let out. I wanna up my weight to about 230, 240 pounds and hit the gym hard so I can be in the best physical shape possible. So far my first year has been great, I have achieved so much in such a short space of time and had a great time along the way fulfilling my dream. There are a couple of things for Baxter in the pipeline but I don’t want to give them away till I know for sure, just have to wait and see. But I want to keep taking each day as it comes and I’m just happy to be a part of this wonderful thing called pro wrestling.
Thanks for your time Baxter, any last comments?
And thank you Adam, it’s been great having you sit on my knee throughout the show.