How do people become a Hulk Hogan or a Stone Cold Steve Austin? Life as a Manchester hardcore wrestler – Part 2

By Matt Naylor

Read Life as a Manchester hardcore wrestler – Part One here.

It is easy to forget that once upon a time, your John Cenas, Stone Cold Steve Austins and Hulk Hogans of this world were young kids, albeit athletically-gifted ones, setting off on their first steps to superstardom.

To reach those levels, however, there has to be a certain ‘it’ factor: a natural charisma, an awe-inspiring set of moves or a unique look and style.

Before all that, though, is years of hard work and preparation.

Dave Rayne, head trainer at Futureshock, a wrestling promotion and training facility in Failsworth, explained just how and why people begin their own wrestling journeys.

“I suppose the first thing that makes people want to do this is that they’re a little bit odd,” tells deadpan Rayne at the East Manchester gym.

“You see your idols and you want to be them.

“Kids often don’t see the reality of it though – when I was younger, I wanted to be a Power Ranger.”

Located in an old warehouse building just off the Oldham Road, Rayne’s facilities are minimalistic: in a small room adjacent to the on-site gym, sits a full-sized wrestling ring which dominates the already-limited space.

Within the ropes stand some 15 plucky trainees, practising their hip tosses as Rayne watches, his pensive viewing interrupted only by his occasional technical pointers and demonstrations.

“Not everyone who goes to a football academy will play in the Premiership one day,” explains the charismatic trainer.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t want to come down and learn.”

Rayne’s own love of the business stems from watching his childhood idols – a view shared by wrestler Jimmy Havoc, who can even recall the exact day he got drawn in.

“I remember watching WrestleMania VI with Hulk Hogan versus the Ultimate Warrior,” says Havoc.

“I just remember thinking the Ultimate Warrior was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

“I suppose that’s what started me on my track to being a wrestler.”

As nostalgia takes a hold on him, a smile of youthful exuberance stretches across his face.

“When I first started wrestling, I just thought ‘I’ll give it a go and see what happens’.

“One of the first things I learnt that shattered a few illusions was how much chops [backhand slaps to the chest] hurt.”

Rayne agrees that it is the physical side of the wrestling game that catches out new hopefuls the quickest.

“Some people come in thinking that it looks easy on TV but it’s not,” explains Rayne in the Futureshock ring he calls his ‘office’.

“The ring is made of wood and metal, it’s not the bouncy castle that some people expect.”

The Futureshock alumni trained by Rayne include many mainstays on the British wrestling scene such as Cyanide, Zack Gibson and Damon Leigh.

When MM spoke to Leigh, he admitted that having a wrestling school in his native Manchester was something that, ten years ago, he and his friends jumped at – and he hasn’t looked back since.

“My mates and I were always what I would describe as ‘living room wrestlers’ chucking cushions at each other,” says the Urmston dad-of-one.

“I never thought it would get the stage it is now, but it’s like anything in life – the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

“I would say it’s always worth giving it a try because you never know what you’re going to be capable of.”

Having an actual match in front of a crowd does not constitute ‘giving it a try’, however, as Dave Rayne claims the fastest he has ever seen anyone go from first day with him to their opening bout is a staggering nine months of training.

“It all depends how quickly you get ‘it’, hone your craft and find your niche,” he says.

Rayne is able to concisely sum up the opening stages of a wrestling career far better than most.

“The sooner you realise how ridiculous wrestling is, the sooner you can get on with just enjoying it,” he remarks with that trademark mix of humour, self-deprecation and earnestness that have made him a popular, as well as respected, figure on the Manchester wrestling scene.

For more information on Futureshock wrestling school visit their website at

Picture courtesy of SimonOnly, with thanks.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles