For many years wrestling has been my “secret” love. I’ve been a fan going back as far as I can remember. I fell in love with the over the top characters more than the great matches. While I didn’t particularly hide my enjoyment of it but not really talked about it a lot either. One of the reasons for that if I’m honest is that I don’t like a lot of wrestling fans.
To me fans are often the “Smarky” stereotypes you see. Almost always negative about the product, prefer to get themselves over than watch the matches (I HATE BEACH BALLS), and just general dicks.
I knew all wrestling fans weren’t like that, but most of the ones I’d encountered in queues for WWE events had been. At the start of 2017 the wife and I went to the WWE UK tournament, and after that discovered this whole world of UK Indie wrestling we’d never realised was about – companies like Fight Club Pro, Lucha Forever and Progress and realised that there were some really good decent funny fans out there. Just before we attended Wrestlemania I started listening to a podcast I’d discovered hosted by one of the three owners of Progress Wrestling called Tuesday Night Jaw.
Jim Smallman is the host on the Distraction Pieces Network Podcast which features a blend of different episodes – from Jims Q&As, top ten lists, indepth interviews with some of the biggest characters in the UK wrestling scene today and my favourite – pay per view recap roundtables. One of the biggest things that I’d say about the show though is it tries to focus on the positive rather than the negative – the opposite to pretty much anything else I read online about wrestling.
As someone who is new to the British Indie scene the interviews have given me a bit of background to some of the people behind the character. The first time I saw Flash Morgan I wasn’t overly sold on him, but listening to the interview with him made me look into his old matches and story. Trent Sevens interview is also a great listen – from the origins of his name to his past in sales it gives you a real insight into him and developed him into one of my favourite guys on the indie scene. Zack Gibson, James Drake, Jack Gallagher and even William Regal are all great episodes that don’t focus on just the obvious questions – Zack Gibsons storys of touring in China are brilliant.
The list episodes usually see Jim breakdown (either on his own or with friends) the top 10 matches for a particular PPV. He usually throws some rules in to make it more difficult (no wrestler can be featured more than once, no more than one match from a PPV etc). A particular highlight for me is the May 16th episode – The Top Ten Wrestling Matches of All Time Special with Chris Brooker and Matthew Richards. Without spoiling the results, Matts favourite match of all time is for pretty emotional reasons and moved me to make a donation to a charity he mentions.
The last typical sets of episodes are the round tables. When I started listening to the podcast I’d started making my way through mainly the episodes that were interviews or top 10s. I saw someone mention it in a Progress Fan group on Facebook say that the old round tables weren’t worth listening to so I asked if that was right. One person replied…
Well Jim, you were completely wrong.
The round-table episodes have become some of my absolute favourite episodes.
Whether its Pip mentioning how he’s really fucking famous, Matt making a reference to a old Japanese match which I make a mental note to look up then forget about 5 minutes later, Chris blatantly not paying attention as he’s thought of another wrestler based pun, or Jim saying for the 100th time that people shouldn’t cheer a heelbut should boo with a smile on their face – these episodes are 4 people sat round a table talking about wrestling in a positive way. Listening to the old episodes has been great to hear what they got right, what they got wrong and just make me smile while listening.
They have changed my opinion on wrestling fans. I want them to all be my friends so I can sit round and chat about wrestling with them, and Tuesday Night Jaw lets me a be a part of that whether it be on my drive to work or drive home. Yes some episodes go on for longer than the PPVs themselves but they’re a great listen.
So overall I heartily recommend Tuesday Night Jaw, whether you’re a fan of the indie scene or just someone who watches WWE. Just be warned that if you binge it like me you will end up inadvertently singing along with Scroobius Pips intro every week.
Please note I’m not completely up-to-date so a lot of these are older episodes. I’d also recommend any of Jims Q+A sessions, though I can’t remember the content to definitely say they’re a great episode
May 16th 2017: The Top Ten Wrestling Matches of All Time Special with Chris Brooker and Matthew Richards
May 9th 2017: TNJ Meets Travis Banks
April 18th 2017: TNJ Meets Flash Morgan Webster
November 21st 2016 – The TNJ Guide to Wrestling Video Games
October 25th 2016 – TNJ Meets Trent Seven
September 6th 2016 – TNJ Meets Zack Gibson
July 19th 2016 – TNJ Meets the Legendary William Regal
May 9th 2016 – TNJ Meets “The Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher
Since listening to Tuesday Night Jaw I’ve started following more and more wrestling fans on twitter. If you can obey Progress’ Golden Rule then give me a follow – @TaffMaster https://twitter.com/TaffMaster
So 2016 was an eventful year for me – I had one of the best days of my life, the happiest day of my life where I got to feel happy, sad and excited all at the same time while stood next to the woman I love.
He suggested that Rach, Dunc and I sign up for the final day, but warned we should check the course first. Rach signed us up before we’d had a chance. Dunc didnt manage to get in as we took the final two places. They only allow 55 people to enter per day – 15 people doing a single day and 40 people doing all 5 days.
A week after sign up we went for our first look at the course. You can see a video of this below.
I think the majority of the video features me swearing as a new challenge appears. Its important to stress this marathon isn’t a standard marathon like London that you may watch on TV. Its more a trail type run, 8 laps up a hill, that features two flights of steps and downward paths that can be even more challenging than the uphill parts. You can see my course review I did here which features pictures from every step of the way.
In the build up to the marathon it became common place to have the below conversation about it
“Oh we’re doing a marathon”
“That should be fun where is it?”
“Do you know Rivington Pike?”
“Well its running to the top of that, then back to the bottom, 8 times”
As a training plan we went for Hal Higdons Intermediate 1 training plan. We went back and forth over plans, but this got the most recommendation, and when we were originally going to do the Novice Plan Martin managed to get us to change our mind last minute and switch to the intermediate. I cant recommend these plans highly enough. My tip would be to read through all the notes first as they really helped – walking through water stations proved a valuable piece of advice and having a training plan that said no intervals came in useful on nights when Martin was suggesting them.
I dont want to bore you with full reviews of the 18 weeks we spent training. What I will say is I went through spells of feeling great, and spells of feeling low. There werent any set goals in the training, we didnt really know what our marathon pace was (and it wouldnt have been the same as this marathons pace anyway). The one thing I did want to do was go sub 2 hours on a half, but as that got closer my speed over 5k seems to totally die out and I lost all hope. I felt like I’d done something wrong, then all of a sudden on the week of the half everything clicked and I managed to smash my goal and finish in 1 hour 56 minutes.
As got closer there was meltdowns, Rach having one really low point halfway through our first 20 mile run was a particular low, there was pain, but there were no real injuries, and we got to the week. At this point its time to remind you, while we were doing one day Martin was doing 5. So each day we got the updates. Grotty toes. Pain.
On the friday Rach went to see him and was greeted by a face that she said looked broken. A small walk with him later and he completed that. We went to see him together the next day, and you could tell that it wasnt the time for joking or taking the mickey out of him. He was a broken man. And here we were about to join him
November 15th 2015. Hell of a Hill
I had a restless nights sleep. I think I got 3 hours at most. I even spent time in the middle of the night googling “night before race cant sleep” only to find a multitude of people saying it’s fine, as long as you are lying there your body is resting.
I got up, had breakfast, a small bowl of cereal. We dressed and got in the car. And we got our first peak at her.
In the run up to the marathon one of Rachels friends, Zoe and her boyfriend Paul had managed to get later entries to the run. Martin had decided to run with us, and Zoe was going to stick with us too while Paul did his thing. We were ready
No one told me my top was pulled up. The buggers.
So that was it. We were off. Everyone started together, and we ran up the small road that led to the start of the lap – where the terrain went awful and went uphil. And then everyone started walking. I loved this – it was like a herd of elephants walking holding each others tails. It felt like even though we wouldnt be together for the whole thing, in that moment we were together.
The first few laps were uneventful. I’d even go as far to say they were pretty comfortable. As we entered lap 4 tho it changed. All of a sudden Rach started struggling. We took it in turns to give her little pep talks but she was finding it tough.
As we entered lap 5, there was a friendly face stood at the end of the lap – my best man Top Dave. I’d never been so happy to see him, and having him there was amazing. It was nice just to see a face that would say nice words about me that didnt feel like lip service. I made him walk up the first bit with us, and chatted along. It gave me a boost.
I’d started to feel some pain in the back of my right ankle every time we went from an uphill to a downhill. It became really hard to do the downs, and on lap 5 while I was at the back of our mini pack I slipped on a downhill and went down like a ton of bricks. But I dusted myself off and got back up.
At lap 6 Becca, Rachels sister arrived. This gave Rach a real boost, especially as she walked with us up the first bit. At this point we had a real pack, there was the 4 of us – me, Rach, Martin and Zoe, I’d made Dave walk up and he was holding my Camelbak bladder like an IV while I was drinking, and Becca and her boyfriend Ash trekking up the first part of the hill. We werent even halfway up that first part when suddenly Becca declared she wasnt going to make it – it was too hard! At this point I think it gave Rach even more of a boost – she’d already done it 5 times that day and was midway up her 6th, and Becca couldn’t even do the first part. For the rest of the marathon Rach seemed energised by that.
Lap 7 began tho and I was starting to get emotional. I’d said to Dave on the previous lap that I was finding it tough. Everything hurt, and the mere thought of little things was getting me choking up. I’d told him “if you said my mum had called and she wanted to let me know that she loved me, I’d be crying right now”. As we reached the pike for the penultimate time I was at the back of our mini pack, and as we started to go downhill my ankle pain really flared up. I started to drop behind everyone else, and got frustrated as I struggled to keep up. We reached a part where the path zig zagged, and I heard Martin saying we’d regroup at the gate. I knew it wasnt far to the gate, so I dug in and pushed, hoping I could get back in the pack and everything would be ok. I pushed on, got round the corner and to the gate.
And I saw Rach running off round the next corner.
Leaving me behind.
Well, that was me done. I suddenly felt alone, and doubt creeped in about whether I could do this. The tears came, and they flowed. Everything came down to this point and I wondered if Id even make it. A couple walked past me in the opposite direction wishing me well as I pulled my visor down to hide my fat man tears.
I glanced at my watch, saw I was only around 5 hours in, and thought no matter what, I’m going to do this. I limped down the hill to where they were all waiting. At the gate. The gate at the bottom of the hill. The gate where we’d regroup.
For fucks sake Chris you emotional fool.
And just when I’m at my lowest, as we hit the stairs at the end of the 7th lap we heard a ringing in the distance. Martin was next to me and said “someones brought a cowbell.” I think both of us were hoping but didnt want to say. Then we saw him
If theres ever a loony with a cowbell who could raise a smile from a bunch of broken PRATs its our PRAT running buddy Duncs. You can hear me after I pass him really confused as he said he would meet us at the top of the hill.
So it was lap 8 and at the start of it I grabbed Rach and said “Please stick with me for the whole lap”. I also told her how I’d been crying. She hadn’t realised, and stuck by my side. We got to the Pike for the final time
Look how determined Martin was. And how happy to have got up there for the 40th time this week
We finally joined him, and Dunc suggested we get a pic. Now if anyone else on the planet at that point asked me to stop for a pic then I would have been unleashing a hail of swear words on them. But Dunc is Dunc, so of course, we all posed with a PRATs flag, and celebrated taking Rivington Pike in the name of the PRATs
There was still a good 3 miles to go tho, so we struggled on. Near the end of the lap Zoe was finding it hard so pushed forward in front of us. At one point I looked at my watch and said to Rach “We could make sub 7 hours here”, and she just looked back and said “Ive not got anything more in me”.
We pushed on.
And with 7 hours, 2 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock we crossed the finishing line.
Emotions flooded over me. I cant really put it into words. I think this picture sums up how we felt
The medal went over my neck, and the guy gave me a hug and said well done.
I was so overcome
Everyone got a hug
It was just emotional
I looked down at the medal annoyed I was too tired to turn it round.
Then someone said “Wheres Zoe?”
She had pushed on from us but hadnt yet finished, but we hadnt passed her. As we’re trying to scramble a search party there she appears
If you look in the background you see me walk off. I was too emotional and needed a bit of space.
Went and got a cup of tea, and a soup and was ok.
And we got some celebratory pics
So that was it. The PRATs finished a marathon together, and now all the senior PRAT members have completed at least one marathon.
Martin managed to finish 17th in the overall standings. If it wasnt for the slow last day running with the PRATs he could have finished higher – but I dont think he cared
While we only got one piece, he got the full 5 in 5 pie
As for us – well we said all along we didnt mind if we came last… but we didnt!
You do have to say though that the ordering is very suspicious there. Theres no way you can order my name, Rachels and Martins and end up with me coming in last place, which leads me to believe that Martin slipped them a cheeky fiver to make sure they put his name first.
I decided to take some pics of the Hell of a Hill Marathon I’m doing. along with Rach. A friend of ours (fellow PRAT @MaraFunRun) signed up for 5 marathons in 5 days, and suggested me and Rach sign up for the final day as we could do it as a team. He did tell us to check the course before hand, but for some reason Rach decided to sign us up before we had a chance to check it.
Big mistake really.
The course is 8 laps of Rivington Pike near Chorley. Its basically a tower on a hill. Only 55 people enter per day, 30 who are doing the 5 in 5, and 25 just doing that days race. We’re signed up for the final day. Its gonna be mental