Ahead of their first show, we speak to the promoter of new UK promotion Acid City Championship Wrestling, and interviews Danny Lerman, the 18-year-old Brit who made his surprise debut on WWE Smackdown! a couple of weeks ago…
In previous interviews here on Collar & Elbow over the past few months, we’ve conversed with a promoters and wrestlers from established wrestling companies. Whether it’s Doug Williams and Samoa Joe from TNA or our friends at FPW and PCW, we’ve tried to bring you an insight into the workings of some of the biggest promotions around. And whilst we (and hopefully you) enjoy those interviews, today we’re doing things a little bit differently as we look at a promotion that has yet to debut. Today we talk to Acid City Championship Wrestling – a Blackburn based enterprise with ideas. Big ideas.
Promoter Lewis Costello is confident that he can make these ideas a reality, but as with any new venture there are risks as well as rewards. The beauty of interviewing somebody in these initial phases is the abundance of optimism that comes across in Lewis’ words. It’s an optimism that’s easy to catch hold of, making some of the bolder predictions seem more than plausible.
With ACCW’s premier event a mere two weeks away, we caught up with Lewis to talk about all things Acid City. Not only that, but in a special bonus feature, we have an exclusive interview with one of the many talents that will be on display in Acid City. Here goes:
Pilkington: How long have you been a wrestling fan and what are your first wrestling memories?
Costello: I’ve been a wrestling fan for longer than I can remember! We used to go and see a show at King George’s Hall whenever it came to town – I was that young, I didn’t actually realise that ‘Undertaker UK’ wasn’t the bloke off the telly. I didn’t really start watching it regularly on TV until around 2002 though, I think… I distinctly remember the first line of commentary I heard, from Michael Cole, which kind of hooked me: “If you take out the leg, you get rid of a vital part of Rob Van Dam”. So I started paying attention.
Pilkington: Where did the idea for Acid City Championship Wrestling come from?
Costello: It happened very naturally! Me and my friend started slowly piecing it together at the weekends … who we wanted to use, what the show would look like, but most importantly the style – by then, we’d started watching wrestling very regularly again, and aside from WWE, we were giving equal time to promotions like Ring Of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling and TNA. Our priority was to put a show together that was entertaining, and a lot of fun – we’d sit and brainstorm ideas, shoot different opinions around, and I think we were definitely influenced by these promotions. They gave us a better clue of what we liked, what we didn’t like, and in the end, what we wanted to do.
Pilkington: With several established promotions in the North West alone, how do you hope to differentiate ACCW from the competition?
Costello: I certainly think we’re offering something very different! We’re very intent on profiling various styles of wrestling, and not giving one precedence over another. At our first show, ‘Wrestleriot!’, we have all the titles on the line… and each title is important as the next, that’s how we’re viewing it. No tag team champions forever on the mid-card in ACCW! As I mentioned though, we do want the show to be very entertaining, and bottom line, we want people to leave having had a great time. We’re going to be very story-orientated, without taking anything away from the wrestling aspect. This, really, is thanks to the internet. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, sites like YouTube, and even our own site, we are able to build feuds in some very creative ways, as well as inside the ring. In fact, we will be recording all of our shows and making them available through our website, and every second week in between live shows, we will have a shorter length show available for free on YouTube, which will act as the bridge between our monthly live shows, and allow the odd new guy to come through. We have a great commentary team lined up for that, by the way, which we will be announcing on the site!
Perhaps the biggest difference though, is the ‘Acid City’ aspect – Acid City is actually a fictional city we’ve created, and the wrestlers are the inhabitants. This doesn’t mean Vince Russo gimmick matches around every corner – this means we can have some great fun with character development, and explore some really interesting storylines for everyone involved. Think of it like Gotham, Batman’s city. It’s a bunch of nutters trying to take control! Really, you have to come down and see the show, I could talk forever… but I promise it won’t be like anything you’ve seen before!
Pilkington: There are names on the show that people may be familiar with, such as Frankie Sloan and Kay Lee Ray, but who of the lesser known talents do you expect to make the biggest impact?
Costello: The Beast and Gareth Angel certainly have the chance to make a big impact, in their No Disqualifications match. The Beast has actually been wrestling for years – in fact, he had a hardcore match against Abdullah the Butcher not too long ago. He knows how to work a hardcore match really well, so I think he’ll make a big impact. Corey ‘Valo’ Carver and The Mysterious Mister Enigma are two others I think are capable of stealing the show, and the tag-team division looks very strong too. I’m really confident that these talents are going to do fantastic, and be a massive part of ACCW.
Pilkington: Which match are you personally looking forward to the most?
Costello: Tough one! I’m going to say Ryan Lord v Frankie Sloan, for the ACCW Heavyweight Championship. Ryan Lord is an amazing amateur wrestler and he’s amazing in-ring. Frankie Sloan is one of the countries best performers; in fact, someone wrote this the other day, and it stuck in my mind: “Frankie Sloan doesn’t react to the audience; the audience react to him”. Abandoning my promoters hat and speaking as a fan, that match is going to be absolutely awesome! Kay Lee Ray and SJODIN is a very close second.
Pilkington: Is there anybody in particular that you would like to book for future shows?
Costello: Tajiri, of course! I think that Jake Roberts would be a perfect fit with us in a non-wrestling role, too. As far as UK talent, Jonny Storm and Dean Allmark are two guys I’d really love to book. Others that are really high on the list are Shane Helms, Chavo Guerrero … and if Bryan Danielson ever fancied popping down, I wouldn’t say no! In fact, you’d struggle to stop me from shouting ‘yes’!
Pilkington: Friends of the site Future Pro Wrestling will shortly be celebrating their year anniversary. What do the first twelve months have in store for ACCW?
Costello: Well, we’ve got guys like Jody Fleisch joining us very early on, which I’m very excited about! He’s one of my favourite wrestlers to ever come out of the UK, so having him is a huge pleasure. You can also expect a few US stars joining us; we’ve made a few connections that are really going to help us get cooking, but nothing that can be revealed just yet! In our first twelve months, I think we just want to focus on establishing who we are, and start to grow. We’re really counting on support from wrestling fans to come and check out the show, because they’re the key to growing the promotion and making it successful. You can expect great wrestling, great production values and an entertaining show from start to finish from ACCW. We just hope that wrestling fans will recognise what we’re trying to do, and help us keep afloat while we get the ball rolling. Anything can happen in Acid City, and in the first year, it definitely will!
ACCW Wrestleriot is certainly shaping up to be an interesting debut show, and with the promised mix of storyline and talent it’s an event that I will be happily attending. Will it live up to the promoters’ lofty expectations? Only time will tell, but with the combination of enthusiasm, hard work and a good helping of wrestling know-how, ACCW is definitely a promotion to keep an eye on.
But wait! There’s more! In a very special bonus feature, we have an exclusive interview with one of the stars that will be competing at Wrestleriot!
Meet Danny Lerman, an eighteen year old wrestler with over five years experience under his belt who will be competing at ACCW’s Wrestleriot! Anybody with a keen eye and a penchant for WWE’s blue brand will no doubt recognise the face. Danny recently competed for WWE at their UK tapings, facing off against Ryback in a match Jimmy dedicated to his mother.
“It was absolutely horrible [and] nerve wracking to say the least,” he says of speaking in front of a packed crowd at London’s O2 Arena.
And whilst the match was rather short and more than a little one-sided, Danny tried to enjoy the unbelievable experience. He said: “The thing is, with a crowd that big, when you realise that what you’re doing is entertaining them…that’s all I had in my head. You can wrestle in front of fifty people and wrestle in front of twenty thousand people, you still do the same things and you’ll get the same reactions. You’ve just got to remember that. It was an amazing experience backstage, getting advice from all the big names. Amazing but nerve wracking!”
Wise words for someone so young, no doubt words passed on from Danny’s trainer Robbie Brookside. In fact, it was Robbie, trainer at WrestleLeicester, who set up the opportunity for his impressive student to work for WWE.
“Robbie is good mates with William Regal. They were tag partners and travelled the road together. He was telling him (Regal) about me, my training and some of my matches, saying I was doing a good job and all that. He basically sent me to the arena to do a bit of work and get in the ring beforehand and show them what I can do. I made a good impression and they put me on.”
His ability in his brief flirtation with WWE didn’t go unnoticed. Danny was soon contacted by Acid City Wrestling with a view to competing at their inaugural show, Wrestleriot.
“He (Lewis Costello) had seen me all over Twitter and come across me on Facebook and we got chatting a couple of weeks after I’d been on Smackdown. It’s the first time I’ve been to Blackburn but I’ve been promised there will be a big crowd. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Frankie Sloan and Ryan Lord match.”
Danny will compete against ‘Pakistan’s Number One’ Imran at Wrestleriot, but who would be his dream opponent?
“I have three: I’ve never wrestled Robbie (Brookside) one on one, and also Finlay and Regal. I can’t separate the three.” Lofty goals indeed, but then how many wrestlers can say they have competed on WWE television by the age of eighteen? I for one wouldn’t bet against Danny facing off against any of them, in fact, any chance of you sorting out a Fourway Dance for ACCW’s next show, Lewis?
This article was written by Chris Pilkingon.