Regular readers will remember my time hanging out and interviewing the great William Regal a few months ago (and if you haven't seen that post, you can read it and download the interview podcast here). We keep in touch, and last week he let me know that WWE was swinging through London on one of their crazy European tours, so on a freezing but sunny Sunday, off we went to Wembley Arena to see the show and hang out with one of the best old pros in the business.
It was a fun show, but the best match for my money was the one Regal was in. How can you not love a man who cheats his way through a match, does an old Catweazle gag (Seen here at about 8.30), and then finds a reason to do the Morecambe and Wise dance? Put that together with some of the best technical skills anywhere, and the absolute greatest facial expressions bar none, and frankly, if you're not a fan, then you're no friend of mine!
Chatting to him afterwards is a lesson for anyone involved in the entertainment business. There's no swagger. Nothing is taken for granted. he's soft-spoken, and thoughtful about the art form and his place in it. And he's very aware of the financial sacrifice that families have to make to come to one of these shows - he knows times are tough, and he knows that wrestling has always had a predominately working class fan base, so he makes sure to deliver the absolute best performance he can. I'm not sure I've ever met a performer for whom giving the audience value for money is so important. There's a few out there who could learn from that.
It was interesting to hear him talk about how he finds performing on home turf tricky. He's usually a heel - that's wrestling speak for a bad guy - but when he's working in his home country, the audience won't let him be - they just refuse to boo him - so he has to be a good guy (a "face"), which he finds a little challenging. You wouldn't know that from watching though, and by god, the love in that arena for him was a beautiful thing. As his entrance music hit, the guy behind me in the audience literally shouted to himself "Wait..that's regal's music..is he? IT'S REGALLLL!"
So the combination of good seats and a smuggled in zoom lens, meant that I could do a little shooting, which are the images that accompany this post. Hope you like.
The last time I was at Wembley Arena was last year, when I was asked to shoot a few portraits of some of the TNA wrestlers - if you're interested, you can see the results of that shoot here.
Oh, and finally, don't forget to mark Feb 28th in your diary. Announcement soon. Promise.