Husband and wife wrestlers The Masons on British wrestling, hardcore matches and Don’t Tell The Bride

By Steven Oldham 

Married wrestlers Mike and Becky Mason believe the time is right for hardcore combat to take centre stage as British wrestling continues to enjoy a resurgence in popularity. 

‘Loco’ Mike Mason won his match with Mad Man Manson at the Manchester-based HXC Wrestling’s launch show, One Dark Night, on Sunday, with Becky in his corner helping him to victory. 

With steel chairs as legal as headlocks, hardcore wrestling is a world away from the child-friendly content currently shown by leading American promoters WWE, but Mike believes this is no bad thing. 

He said: “Professional wrestling goes around in circles. We grew up with Hulk Hogan, and then in the nineties, things got more grown up when Stone Cold Steve Austin came on the scene. Then John Cena was the old-fashioned good guy again, but now guys like CM Punk are getting cheered. 

Kids who are growing up on the family friendly stuff on TV need something to move on to.  Hardcore wrestling provides that, and the over 18 shows are definitely the way to go.” 

HXC’s successful opening show featured, amongst others, chairs, tables, tacks and fluorescent lighting tubes used as weapons by top British wrestlers including Cyanide, Dave Rayne and T-Bone. 

Though not wrestling, Becky, 26, played her part in helping her husband to his victory and is positive about the promotion’s future. 

She said: “They have an experienced promoter in Mike Hough and he has a massive passion for wrestling. It will definitely stand out from the other promotions out there at the moment.  There’s definitely a market for hardcore shows.” 

While Mike loves the hardcore matches, his Cardiff-born wife admits she cringes when he’s involved in such matches. 

“He thinks nothing of being in these matches but as his partner obviously I don’t like to see him hurt,” she said. 

Both agree however that working with their partner helps their in-ring performances, and the pair need to be on the same page as they wrestle at shows up and down the country most weekends.

Becky said: “I love working with my husband. Someone is always there for you, and you always have a training buddy. You can go through your match afterwards, and if you have a bad match they can help you improve for next time. Sure, we have disagreements and difference of opinion but it would be boring if we didn’t!”

Their growing reputation within the industry has also seen them booked for a French show in the summer. 

Mike and Becky have also gained attention by appearing on BBC Three reality TV show Don’t Tell The Bride recently, which culminated in the pair getting married in a wrestling ring.

Despite the happy outcome, Mike says the experience was difficult at times, with every last detail of the wedding day down to him. 

“Don’t Tell the Bride was a very stressful three weeks. I had to battle with the film crew to have the things I wanted. There’s a lot to think about. You can’t just walk into a shop and start filming, you have to get permission. If they don’t allow it, you have to try somewhere else – this all takes time and it was hard. I couldn’t turn to the person who I’d normally turn to because we couldn’t contact each other,” he said. 

Becky also found being separated from Mike tough, but says she was very happy with what he organised for their big day.

“We had to disable Facebook, change our mobile numbers and everything. They really do mean ‘no contact’. When I watched the shows before I was a bit dubious when I saw the girls crying and i did think just get on with it! But I spent a lot of the time in tears and we had to reshoot a few scenes because I was in such a mess,” she added.

As the HXC launch show proved in the packed MMU Student Union, the British wrestling scene is enjoying somewhat of a revival with many promotions across the country.

In the North West alone there are a number of companie, including Wigan’s Grand Pro Wrestling, Stockport’s Futureshock and Preston City Wrestling which all have fiercely loyal fanbases.

More promotions means more room for talented wrestlers across Great Britain and Becky, who has been wrestling for six years, has noticed a real improvement in the standard of women grapplers, who have moved away from purely providing eye candy for the crowd.

She said: “The girls have definitely improved. When I took a break to finish my degree, I came back and thought, wow, I’m really going to have to up my game here. “

Becky made history by being the first female accepted into the Storm Academy, where she was trained by former WCW and WWE star Lance Storm, and the multi-time world champion Chris Jericho.

“My style has been described as flamboyant.  Mike trained with the London School of Lucha Libre. The great thing about that school is that they work on you beyond mat skills. They look at how they can develop your character and make you unique.

Mike and I have developed our characters over the past couple of years and continue to do so,” she said.

The Londoner’s dog gimmick – he is lead to the ring on a lead, woofs and chases tennis balls – has gone down well with audiences and is often used for comic effect. 

Despite being trained at a luchador school, Mason is not a typical high-flying cruiserweight. He describes his style more as that of a brawler. 

He said: “As I’m at the top end of the cruiserweight division, I can throw the smaller guys around a bit but I can also pull off a quick move and surprise people.”

Both Masons strongly believe that British wrestling is once again in the ascendency, and that a return to the days where Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy and Kendo Nagasaki were household names is not far away. 

He said: “British wrestling definitely has a bright future. I don’t think we’re far away from what everyone calls the golden age. It’s only a matter of time before it is shown on national television again.” 

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Photo courtesy of Mike and Becky Mason, with thanks

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