On Tuesday, over at that there new BBC Scotland channel, Rogue To Wrestler started. A new reality show covering a bunch of “rogues” trying to become professional wrestlers. It’s almost like the premise is given away in the title. Coming into watching the programme I had initial fears it would be cringeworthy and it would do little to enhance the wrestling scene in Scotland.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Taking place at the Glasgow Pro Wrestling Asylum, the school within the headquarters of Insane Championship Wrestling. The “judges” (for lack of a better term) were former ICW Heavyweight Champion and Hardcore Icon, Jack Jester, current ICW World Heavyweight Champion, Lionheart, both of whom are coaches at GPWA, plus the owner of Insane Championship Wrestling, Mark Dallas.
They would be putting the contestants through physical and mental challenges to guide them through a crash course lesson in professional wrestling by condensing their training programme into just four weeks. The winner would win the Rogue To Wrestler belt.
It started off with us being introduced to the misfits, some had suffered addiction, went through the care system, some were just liking to start fights. They all had a “thing” that made them a tick the boxes of a rogue. We were treated to a short montage of some of the unsuccessful applicants, added with comments from the judges. Like that bit in X-Factor when they have to put folk to bootcamp.
The contestants entered the Glasgow Pro Wrestling Asylum one by one with additional talking heads about their life and backstory. They were of all shapes and sizes, from Paul, the 4 foot something pitbull, to Big Da… or Jordan to his pals, Rab The Crab, who excuded confidence in the talking heads, then Maguerita, the only female in the contest. There was no prototypical wrestler, other than maybe Lil Scoop from Cameroon, who had the body but it remained to be seen if he could walk the walk or talk the talk.
To kick off the drills, Lionheart and Jester wanted a forward roll and other basic movements to gauge what they were working with. It’s been a long time and a couple of stone since I’ve done a forward roll so I was already gathering sympathies watching each try a roll. One of the bigger contestants, Fraser, was cut at this point due to him being unable to progress. Fraser came across as an actual wrestling fan, had the right attitude but didn’t have the fitness and co-ordination to get to where he would need to be in four weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about Fraser losing weight and coming back to GPWA in the future as he looked to really want it and had even said that he had lost weight in the run up to taking part. He was still a big lad but his passion was clearly evident.
So with the initial fitness taster out of the way it was some mental challenges next to tap into whatever charisma or “banter” that each had. The only way logical way to test that was taking them onto an open top bus with The Wee Man and taking turns riffing off the cuff about the surrounding area adapting to whatever came their way. Some excelled, like Mags and Jordon, while others looked a bit like they’d been caught in headlights.
Part two of the mental challenge was a roast battle hosted by Billy Kirkwood as Yes Bar in Glasgow. Matthew was pulled aside at this point and we got a little of his backstory, Dallas pretty much told him that he sees something in Matthew but he needs to step up. The rogues were paired off with Matthew facing a wildcard at the conclusion of the evening. We were treated to some stingers of put downs in this portion with one of the highlights being Mags whispering to Darren, who was very thin up top, to “just shave it off” to an uproar, a classy response to Darren stuttering something out about her possibly being trans. She looked like a star in this segment.
Back to training, which is what I really wanted to see, and they were put through bumps, Irish whips in the corner and flip bumps. Despite his chiselled body, Lil Scoop was surprisingly uncoordinated and would throw himself about for back bumps instead of doing it like Lionheart had shown him. To sidebar about Jester and Lionheart at this stage, they were fantastic coaches, it’s not their first rodeo, but if something went wrong they were very encouraging in pointing out the positive parts before the ways to correct it. Even when cracks were beginning to show with Matthew not quite grasping an Irish whip, Lionheart was clearly getting frustrated but keeping his cool to help as much as he could. It was revealed in the talking heads that Matthew had done some wrestling training in the past so with that I would’ve expected him to catch things a little quicker or have his footwork a little better, but each learn at different speeds. Rab The Crab struggled with the flip bumps with and without the crash mat.
All that lead to the final portion of the show with Jester, Lionheart and Dallas ranking each on their scientific “Baws” and “Banter” scale. Wherein each where judged on their performances during the phyisical and mental activities. It was down to Matthew and Rab to be cut. Rab The Crab looked perplexed to be in the bottom two then eliminated to little surprise, from me anyways. Despite plenty of charisma in the talking heads he showed little of it in the challenges and didn’t have the coordination during the physical portions. He went off in a huff and calling wrestling fake. So fake that he couldn’t keep up with the physical aspect…
Rab confronted Jester outside of the building, as Jack casually ate a salad, saying that there wasn’t a good reason that could be given to him to cut him from the competition before he was told, in no uncertain terms, to leave.
I feel like this isn’t the last we see of Rab The Crab in Rogue To Wrestler…
A highly enjoyable hour of entertainment, Jester and Lionheart are great, the concept is very easy to grasp, as it’s the first episode we got a lot of backstories but I would think that going forward it will be more about the training and the challenges which is the bits I like. It had a little of the sob story but it brief and avoids being super cheesy. The ones to watch coming out of it are Mags, Jordan and Paul, in my opinion. Each are totally different but have something that I want to see more of. Plenty charisma, so if they can pick up the in ring stuff then it’s a match made in heaven. Matthew being on the outskirts of cracking that top pack in the early stages but Darren and Lil Scoop are lagging in my opinion.
Anways, there’s some recap and opinion on the first episode Rogue To Wrestler. It’s on iPlayer now, get it watched!