Former WWE Star Chris Masters meets his match in Sheffield
Rumble in Sheffield
Professional wrestling in the UK did not die with Big Daddy. It might not be a staple of Saturday afternoon TV anymore, but the scene is still alive and well.
On the 25th of January I made the trip to see my first wrestling show in ages. Phoenix Events, in conjunction with Elite British Wrestling, were putting on the ‘Rumble in Sheffield’.
On the night I took a seat towards the back corner of the Sheffield Library Theatre and waited for the action to unfold. The crowd was a decent size- especially considering the show was competing with an appearance by Sylvester Stallone just 10 minutes away at the City Hall. I didn’t know what to expect from the show itself but was there predominantly for one match- the main event.
‘Mean Machine’ Mark Sanders- local wrestling institute, UK veteran and old friend of yours truly- was going to step into the ring with former WWE SuperstarTM Chris Masters.
Masters burst onto the scene in WWE back in 2005 while still only in his early twenties, with a limited move set but an amazing physique. Based on that alone it seemed as though he had a very promising career ahead of him. Unfortunately though it never really seemed to click. Despite feuding with greats such as Shawn Michaels, he never won a title during two separate stints with the company and eventually fell out of favour.
I was intrigued about what the rest of the card held but that match was the one that had convinced me to buy a ticket. I’ve known Mark for well over 10 years and wanted to show my support as he fought the biggest match of his life.
As it turned out, the show overall was great. Caleb Crow, Joey D, El Ligero and Bubblegum and The Hot Blooded Males all deserve a mention.
As does Sam Goodison, who picked up a win in his own biggest match of his fledgling career against established UK talent Stixx.
Before I knew it, it was time for the main event.
While most of the crowd shuffled forward in their seats in anticipation of the arrival of ‘The Masterpiece’, I did so out of nerves and hope for Mark.
Masters came out and looked a million dollars.
Mark came out and didn’t look out of place. In fact, I was happy to see Mark was actually a little bit taller than his adversary.
As the match got going, the crowd went back and forth between local pride and superstar worship. Chants of ‘Master Lock!’- Chris Masters’ signature move, were traded with chants of ‘Mean Machine!’ from the other side of the Theatre.
I looked on with pride as my old buddy went toe-to-toe with Masters and didn’t miss a step.
The tension built as the two traded attempts at putting the Master Lock on, and when Mark managed to pin Masters for the 3 count with an improvised victory roll out of nowhere, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause.
I was chuffed to bits for him.
Nobody deserved the chance to lock horns with such a big name more than Mark, and he did himself and the promotion credit.
Until next time?
I spoke to Mark a few days later, after the dust had settled, and he said:
"I knew I had been building towards something but I had no idea what. I'd spent the best part of two years trying to better myself in the ring, working on my look, losing weight, working on my in-ring skills, just really pushing myself, but without a given end.
Then it was presented to me, with just two days notice. I'd be facing former WWE Superstar Chris Masters. In Sheffield, my hometown.
This was a once in a lifetime chance to justify my thirteen year plus obsession. Standing in the ring with someone who represents everything that most of my peers would strive to be gave my experience an almost supernatural feel. Here was the embodiment of all our aspirations.
The emotions I felt in that ring on that night were as real as it could ever be. I was literally in the fight of my career to finally prove to myself that I was right to continue on when my motivation was so low only a few years before.
In what my closest friends are calling my best match, I pinned a WWE Superstar's shoulders to the mat for a three count, and at once I had found my peace. At least until next time."
At least until next time- I like the sound of that. I hope it isn’t the last time Mark gets a chance to really show what he can do against a top guy. I might be slightly biased but he is in my opinion one of the most underrated workers in the UK.