“Holy shi*t that’s a lot of people!” I remember thinking after stepping in the ring at Auckland Armageddon 2012. This was the year Bushwhacker Luke came to visit and we were located in the 3rd shed at ASB Showgrounds. I entered the ring with Danny Jacobs as we normally do. Parading around with pride in ourselves. However, the crowd didn’t take too kindly to us and were hurling abuse of all sorts. “Boo!” “You Suck!” they would yell.
As I stood there, I tried to find where the crowd ended but there was no end in sight. There must have been about a thousand-people squashed into this large shed. That year, it was empty in the shed apart from our ring in the corner and the inflatable laser strike course. Armageddon has since grown much larger. Now every shed is filled with displays, shops, activities etc. and takes place all over New Zealand throughout the year.
Being hurled abuse was not new to me. You see, since my debut in 2007, I had been the bad guy, the “heel” as they call it in the pro wrestling world. When I first started wrestling, I was adamant I would never be the bad guy. That’s so horrible, I’d thought. Why would you want to be so mean? Well, let me tell you why.
Being the bad guy is so much more than being hated and being the one for the crowd to hurl abuse at. This may be an opinion you disagree with. However, I believe that the bad guy is really the hero at the end of the day. Think about it…
- Without the bad guy, what reason do you have to cheer on the good guy?
- What is there for the good guy to overcome?
- How boring would it be to be cheering for both opponents to win?
The fact is, you need a bad guy.
The bad guy/heel is a difficult role to play. They control the match, its pace and the crowd. They’re responsible for ensuring their opponent is kept the centre of attention. They generate sympathy and bring out the desire from the crowd to see the good guy, the baby face, retaliate and win.
What does the heel get in return? Abused, belittled and told they’re scum. I have been called every name in the book. From children as young as 4 to adults who should know better. “whore!” “slut!” are some of the common ones I was called back in the day. However, the worst name I’ve been called is one I’m still called to this day. Even as a good guy, the crowd yells at me: “Britney”…. *eye roll*… I don’t know how many times I’ve told the crowd, that’s not my name. My name is Britenay (bri-ten-ay). I find it incredibly disrespectful not to get someone’s name right.
Apart from the name calling, my worst experiences as a bad guy have been the numerous times I’ve been spat on. I’ve had candy and drinks thrown at me, including a whole can of drink once. That sucked as I’d just lost and thought I had a broken nose, only to turn around and be pummelled by a member of the audience with their drink can. (Don’t worry, my nose wasn’t broken, just very sore). I’ve had people reach over the barrier and grab me. Some people seem to think they have a right to touch me simply because I’m part of a show. It is never okay to grab someone without their permission. Especially on the ass. But that’s another story.
Needless to say, it’s a thankless role but a rewarding one. At least, I find it rewarding. Why!? You might be thinking. Well, because every time my opponent wins and the crowd is going nuts, celebrating, I know I’ve done a good job. My opponent’s happy. The crowd is happy. I’m happy.
So…. Imagine my disgust when they asked me to switch and be babyface three years ago. Me?! I looked at them shocked, “Ha! The crowd hates me, they’ll never cheer me!” I said.
However, not one to turn down a challenge, I decided to give it a shot. Around the same time, my long-time rival, Evie, had turned heel. When the crowd begun cheering for me, I wasn’t sure how to react. This was attention I wasn’t used to. In time, I learned to adapt and tried to be someone the crowd could relate to.
I had opportunities as a face to take on male competitors at Armageddon events. It was on those occasions that I got some of my loudest reactions and biggest cheers. For a crowd to see a woman take on the NZ Heavyweight Champion, that was something they could get behind. Those were some of my favourite matches as well. My competitors being two of New Zealand’s best professional wrestlers, Curt Chaos and James Shaw. The best part of those matches for me was the impact it had on the people in the crowd.
I remember rolling out of the ring and talking with young girls and boys, who hovered around the ring. There I was. A female role model they could look up to. Someone who wasn’t afraid to get in the ring and stick it out with the big boys. I was able to be that person to show them that anything is possible and that they too can do it, one day. Thanks to the boys’ work as the bad guy, they helped to make me that hero to the men, women and the children in the audience.
Fast forward to this year and we have some new competitors in the female division. Some I’ve been helping train for some time in the hopes they can join me in taking NZ Women’s Wrestling to the next level. I have huge aspirations for NZ Women’s Wrestling and I’m looking forward to achieving these goals with the girls currently in training. The future is bright and you can guarantee that, good or bad, I will always give 100% to the role I play in professional wrestling.
If you’re thinking about giving pro wrestling a go too, please hit me up. I’m always keen to chat.
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Thank you Britarmy.