Who are TNT Extreme Wrestling and why now?
Over the past decade, a wave of wrestling promotions has emerged throughout the UK, building up the British scene as one of the most dominant territories worldwide.
My introduction into the indies was what some would consider as being thrown in at the deep end – my first show included the remnants of a smashed light tube flying through the air in my direction, walking through the crunching sounds of shattered glass, the screams of amazement from a lively crowd 500 strong, all the way to the visual of deathmatch king Ricky Shane Page impaling Charli Evans with a plethora of barbecue skewers.
That was just the tip of the barbed wire crown from what I witnessed that night, during all of this mayhem – I myself would also be making a debut of my own, as a backstage interviewer. In between the onslaught of brutal bouts, I would have to deliver a high quality of backstage interviews and promos with some of the most renowned talents from all over the world, including Session Moth Martina, Ricky Shane Page, Jimmy Lloyd, Clint Margera and many more.
This was my introduction, this was the indies, this… was TNT Extreme Wrestling.
Back in 2015, the British wrestling scene was well and truly underway to establishing itself as one of the top territories for must-see shows. Multiple promotions were making more than enough noise to drown out a Vickie Guerrero promo – and we were blessed with incredible homegrown talent from the likes of British Strong Style, Grizzled Young Veterans, Chris Brookes, Mark Haskins and Nikki Storm AKA Nikki Cross. During this period the UK scene was also seeing it’s a fair share of international talent move their lives from all over the globe, to step inside the ring with some of the best up-and-coming athletes in the business.
Also in 2015 on a cold February night, the inception of an all-new promotion was about to enthral a boisterous crowd at Liverpool’s community centre, The Black-E. They called themselves TNT Extreme Wrestling; the plan was to bring something diﬀerent and to oﬀer an experience the UK scene had been crying out for.
TNT’s debut show would go by the name of Merseyside Massacre where each match would hold a unique gimmick – such as a cage match, a Singapore cane match, tables match, deathmatch and a falls count anywhere match. The show may not have included any household names from the British scene at the time, but this event wasn’t about a who’s who in the industry – it was more of an introduction for TNT to begin the long road to establishing themselves as one of the pioneering promotions in the UK.
Fast-Forward to 2017 and after plenty of trial and error, TNT Extreme Wrestling would come back after a strategic break to continue building the foundations on becoming the number one promotion in the Northwest. They would come into the year with a brand new venue to meet the ticket demand, new ideas and an increase in talent recognition that the promotion had not yet seen before – the likes of Pete Dunne, Jordan Devlin, Mark Haskins, Joseph Conners and Lana Austin were appearing regularly and showcasing their abilities to a diehard crowd.
This was the year that saw many memorable moments for TNT, including the crowning of the first-ever Women’s Champion, a World Title change that would see Joseph Conners taking the spotlight and the debut of arguably the best tag team in Europe, Kings Of The North. Each show carried a distinctive feel to it, similar to an ‘In Your House’ vibe – raw but vigorous. The management had a clear plan of what they wanted to achieve and how they wanted these events to look and feel, this wasn’t broadway, this was extreme wrestling.
The question that TNT management would be left with at the end of 2017 was “How do we top that” and with plenty of brainstorming going on, the answer was simple – to launch a second brand. Much like some of the bigger global promotions have done in the past, having another platform to expand your product is never a bad idea if executed carefully.
TNT realised that having a yellow brand of their own would mean more opportunities for both talent and fans to engage with something totally diﬀerent in comparison to the usual brutality that we were accustomed to in recent years. Introducing TNT Ignition, a family-friendly show with the concept of developing young up-and-coming talent from the UK, this would also give performers you wouldn’t usually see on the extreme show a chance to take the spotlight.
By creating this colourful second brand, it gave many opportunities for TNT to get a foothold on the business and create new experiences that they weren’t able to explore on Extreme. This would be the first opportunity for More Than Hype to make their UK debut, the mouthy trio would be introduced at TNT Ignition: All Eyes On Me in a match that would see them lose to the team of Jack Bandicoot and Jake Silver – better known as Crashboat.
Ignition was also a great place to not only showcase new talent but to also form new partnerships and TNT began as they meant to go on, by having the OTT Gender Neutral Championship defended for the first time outside of its home promotion.
With appearances from the likes of Xia Brookeside, Eliza Roux, Chris Ridgeway, Soner Durson and LJ Cleary – TNT Ignition was making a statement as a must-see show, just as much as the Extreme brand. Set in a brightly lit nightclub with standout graphical production and an entranceway that would allow the talent to fully engage with enthusiastic fans, the backdrop for these shows was intentionally created to have a very diﬀerent look and feel. This wasn’t about watching the haze set on a grungy venue, where you’re eager to see who was going to get split open by a few too many chair shots to the head – this was bright lights, high impact, high octane, fast-paced wrestling that gave oﬀ a completely diﬀerent kind of energy.
However, TNT’s new family-friendly show wasn’t the only addition to the company that year – there was more emphasis being put on it’s Extreme Division Championship and it was time to introduce the TNT Extreme Wrestling tag team titles into the mix. This was a perfect excuse to start a war, the TNT Tag Wars to be exact – this would see 32 of the best tag teams from all over compete in hope of being crowned the inaugural tag team champs. The tournament would last a lengthy 18 months, with some of the most incredible encounters you could ever wish to see at an indie show.
The final match would be decided at the staple summer show Going Oﬀ Big Time 2019, where The Purge would face oﬀ against The Kings Of The North in what was a very physical encounter – Kings Of The North would come out on top and at the time of writing this are still undefeated at TNT and still the rightful owners of the tag team championships.
As the company were heading into 2019 in which TNT Extreme Wrestling owner Jay Apter brands as the “Breakout year” for the company, every aspect of the promotion was gaining more notoriety, from the fanbase to the team behind the curtain. Kieran Moran was now establishing himself as the lead voice on commentary and as a member of the creative team, Steve Cullen was handling talent relations and also the production management at live events – and of course, Jay Apter was the man leading the team into another phenomenal year. Aside from the squad working tirelessly behind the scenes growing in numbers, so was the demand for more shows – TNT was about to put themselves on the map with their biggest event to-date, TNT Extreme Wrestling DOA.
This was the straight-up ruthless, outlandish, destructive, bloody brutal deathmatch tournament we always wanted to experience in the British isles. This was the UK’s answer to Tournament Of Death, the local media were so excited by it they would go down and cover the event for themselves.
The attention gained from just one show would allow TNT to form relationships with the likes of Wrestling Travel, Pins & Knuckles Merchandise and Turnbuckle TV (recently renamed Powered4 TV). It goes without saying, with that amount of publicity comes a great deal of pressure to consistently deliver a high-quality return on your product – which TNT was more than willing to provide. The momentum was well and truly underway throughout 2019, with the likes of Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr having some breathtaking singles matchups with PAC and El Phantasmo being particularly captivating moments, to establishing the likes of The Kings Of The North, Mark Haskins and the She-Wolves as a part of their regular roster.
So far in this article a lot of talent has been mentioned, I’ve spoken about some of the biggest names in the business showcasing their astonishing skills inside a TNT ring. What I haven’t spoken about is how TNT has given their platform to help grow some of the hottest prospects in British Wrestling today… Until now. We’ve seen some of the brightest stars of the future compete across both TNT brands including the current TNT Women’s Champion, Lizzy Evo – every time I have worked with Lizzy she continuously amazes me with her desire and passion to succeed, even more so as TNT is her home promotion.
Another homegrown gem is Kameron Solas who is seen more on the Ignition brand and is fearless both in the ring and in front of a camera, not forgetting Miss Main Event Alexxis Falcon who has already shown that she can hang with the best of the best. If you’re looking for your next big heel, look no further than Scott Oberman who is the full package and certainly someone who will be achieving remarkable things in the future. I could write a full article on upcoming talent and ones that I have the pleasure of working with regularly, the likes of Tom Thelwell, Big Guns Joe, Kid Lykos II, Young Guns, Millie Mckenzie and so many more. TNT doesn’t just point the lights and cameras at those who are already household names but looks to help create and build the talent that you call a household name.
What did this all mean coming into 2020? Well, as consistent with the rest of this article and the thinking of TNT management – there were new goals. The first new introduction to TNT Extreme Wrestling for 2020 was the addition of backstage interviews and a fortnightly online recap show which would provide new content for their fanbase, help build on stories, give talent a new platform to showcase their skills and match highlights from the last event. Next up was a brand new venue that would be able to double the attendance of live shows for the extreme brand, enter Hanger 34 – a gritty venue with the perfect backdrop to host a deathmatch tournament.
The year of 2020 was set to be the biggest year for TNT Extreme Wrestling so far, with its 23 date schedule, new partnerships with the likes of GCW and more. However, the world had other ideas – so plans for the future of the company are already well and truly underway with management not content on just selling out shows consistently. TNT has been in talks with some of the biggest international promotions in the world, not only could we see that TNT and GCW crossover we were already looking forward to – but we could see the company team up with another huge promotion. We are also seeing the expansion of talent from all over the UK on the list of TNT’s future storylines including Dan Maloney, Tokyo Cyber Squad and many more.
When I began writing this article I wanted to tell a story, a story of inception, trials and tribulations that would showcase how this small show in 2015 at a Liverpool community centre on a cold February evening, fought against all the odds to become one of the pioneers of the British wrestling scene. As I sit here and reflect writing this article, I never thought that by telling this story would I feel so proud to be a fan of British wrestling.