THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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Last September I had the pleasure to interview John Chapman, one of the new, young breed of wrestling promoters in Britain. It was just six months after his debut show, and not long after heâ€™d signed a deal to become the official British affiliate to the legendary American Wrestling Association. In the ten months since that interview, Chapman Promotions, or AWA:UK as they became known, has signed deals to provide wrestling segments for Sky Sportsâ€™ popular Soccer AM show, and to provide programming for the new Fight network, due to launch in Britain later this year.
Yet just hours after holding a successful show this past Saturday afternoon, John announced that he was calling it a day, and that AWA:UK was closing down.
When I first heard the news, I wondering what had happened to make John reach this decision. Since his first show, in May 2005, Iâ€™d heard nothing but good things about his promotion. Unlike other promotions, it seemed that every wrestler who worked for John enjoyed working for him. His shows drew decent sized crowds, and earned good reviews from those in attendance.
I immediately thought that something had happened, that the politics that frequent each and every part of the professional wrestling business got to him, and, like so many others over the past few years, heâ€™d had enough, and decided to give British wrestling a wide berth.
But after reading his statement, it seems that this wasnâ€™t the case. It seems that John has simply become a victim of his own success.
AWA:UK, in just over a year, did things that took other wrestling promotions a lifetime to achieve. They signed a deal to get national and international television exposure, became an affiliate to one of the oldest and most prestigious worldwide wrestling brands on the planet, and looked to be heading to greater heights. As the old saying goes, the sky was the limit.
But as many others in the wrestling business have found, John discovered that no man is an island, and running a highly successful wrestling promotion is not a one man job, and is not a job that anyone can take lightly.
John more or less started Chapman Promotions as a hobby. As a lifelong wrestling fan, his dream was to put on a few wrestling shows. But with a young daughter and a full-time job outside of wrestling, as AWA:UK became more successful, it demanded more of his time, and became something of a chore, and when something you once enjoyed doing becomes less enjoyable, John decided to simply stop doing it.
So where does this leave AWA:UK at the moment? Quite simply, the promotion no longer exists, as of this past Saturday night. The deal with Sky Sports will now be taken over by Sanjay Baggaâ€™s LDN Wrestling promotion. As for the Fight television deal, John has recommended Stephen Gauntleyâ€™s 1PW and Daniel Edlerâ€™s IPW:UK promotions for the channel. Whether the powers-that-be at Fight will take either of these promotions onto their schedule remains to be seen. The show that was held last Saturday, which was originally scheduled to air on Fight, will still be released on DVD by Pinfall Productions.
As for John, he wonâ€™t be leaving the wrestling business entirely, as heâ€™ll be taking on a part-time role with the aforementioned LDN Wrestling.
Having seen one of Johnâ€™s shows on DVD, it looked like he was heading the right way as far as the wrestling business was concerned. Iâ€™m sure that like many of you, the fans and supporters of the British wrestling business, will wish John Chapman well with his future endeavours.