I am fortunate to live in London. I know of no other city in the world that boasts at least three full-time publicly available wrestling venues. Pippa's renowned facility in Manchester is a mere 2 hours away by train and that, in my mind, makes four. I am not counting private facilities in people's homes although there are some great examples.
In my opinion Monica's excellent wrestling centre is the best example of what can be achieved. In the heart of in a suburb of London we have a venue that is clean, safe, perfectly equipped, private, spacious and large enough to absorb substantial gatherings. This is a venue created by a person whose passion for wrestling is as great as anybody else's here. I would like to pay enormous tribute to Monica for creating this labour of love with her own resources and determination. She is truly at the heart of this community and I remain horrified and appalled that she was cast out of this site.
Then there is Pippas in Manchester. Gritty but just incredibly iconic. The thump of bodies on canvass in the ring and the muffled grunts from behind the closed doors of the side rooms and the clink of teacups in the hands of sweaty people on the kitchen couches. Amazing.
I am reminded, on my many trips to Scotland, of life without such facilities. Wrestling in a hotel room on a plastic sheet is a long way from climbing up steps into the ring, under the lights and into your fantasy. I am quite sure that wrestlers in many parts of the world will nod their heads in envious agreement.
To my mind Meetfighters, without these venues, is only half a world. These venues, the people who put them together and keep them open and available, the people who organise the groups and the meets and the people who turn up and get stuck in are the heroes of this community. They are the people who make it all real; without them there would be far fewer recommendations, far fewer past opponents and far less credibility for us all.
Last year I had to cancel half a dozen prearranged wrestling matches. In some cases what had been an enthusiastic lineup of 6 to 8 men gradually dwindled to nothing as excuse after excuse poured in. This is not some generic beef about cancellations and no shows (tempting!). I would like to impress on people that when a session of that type falls apart in that way there are two consequences. One is that it might be too late for Monica/Pippa to make that prime Saturday timeslot available to somebody else. The second is that somebody, and where I am the person booking the venue it has been me, has moral obligation to pay for the session anyway which is galling.
Running a venue like that is not for free. Somebody has to pay the rent. Somebody has to pay the council tax and insurance. Somebody has to pay the electricity, stock the loo with soap and toilet paper and whatever. Allow for the possibility, or even likelihood, that a venue like Walthamstow or Pippas makes very little profit and that what profit it makes is ploughed back into essential maintenance including safety. Anybody who has ever run any kind of project will know that if it makes a loss somebody somewhere has to make that loss good out of their own pocket. Sooner or later that will cause the project to fall apart unless the person is fantastically rich.
The price we pay for playing fast and loose with the wrestling matches that we arrange in these excellent facilities is at least the lack of inward investment and at worst the possibility that we may lose them. I would plead with anybody with whom I make an arrangement which involves a booking at any of these facilities to keep to it.
Be a hero - keep to your arrangements. Just for one day.