Wrestlesphere visited Rascals Children’s Pro Wrestling Academy’s Saturday Showcase event, where we were reminded why wrestling can have such a positive influence on the lives of young people. It also reinforced the important mantra of Wrestling Is For Everyone.
We weren’t 100% sure what to expect when we visited Rascals Children’s Pro Wrestling Academy in Blackpool on a rainy November weekend. Of course, we’re familiar with wrestling schools and how they operate, but we had never seen anything quite like this. Here we saw kids, from young children all the way up to those in their early teens, celebrating a shared love of wrestling, but not only that, we saw them actively participating in the Sport of Kings – and to a level that amazed us.
Operated by popular UK based wrestler, Judo master and the current PCW Crusierweight Champion Rossy Rascal, the Academy offers children the freedom to learn how to wrestle at their own pace, while under the watchful eye of seasoned professionals. Some of the UK indy wrestlers assisting Rascal include, AJ Grimm, Liam Cafferkey and Ernest Boggs, among others.
Many of the children already had established wrestling personas and gimmicks that were remarkably clever and well thought through. Some were dastardly heels who relished being booed by the crowd, while others were brave and steadfast babyfaces, committed to doing the right thing and inspiring their audience.
Before the show began, we spent time chatting to some of the trainers, the children and their parents discussing how each of them got involved and what it meant to them. Keyboard Warrior was a memorable heelish character, one who essentially trolls his opponents online, rating there matches with only one star to damage his enemies from behind the safety of his keyboard – before needing to back up his bravado in the ring.
Keyboard Warrior told us he created the character with his dad and had initially planned on being a viking, but was put off the idea after he realised WWE was already doing it. Instead, they felt like there’d be more comedy value in portraying a character who could goad opponents online, then face their comeuppance when the bell rang. We also felt that the Keyboard Warrior persona also serves as a satire on a segment of wrestling fans – which we found especially funny.
One of the babyface wrestlers that really stood out to us was Scarlet Crystal, a performer who’s in a tag-team with her sister, and fellow Rascal, Empress Jade. Scarlet told us she preferred being a face as she “smiles too much to be a heel.” She went on to tell us that she is most inspired by Becky Lynch, because “She, Charlotte and Ronda proved that women could be main event stars.” We asked Scarlet about her love of wrestling and what she gets from taking part in it? She told us, “Joy and happiness”.
Other wrestlers we spoke to included Cannonball, Ella Star, Casey Diamond, The Ego, Vacay and King Harry, the latter of which was enjoying performing as a heel. We asked King Harry if he was inspired by any other wrestlers who’ve gone by the title of The King, Harry told us, “No, it’s because I’m the King here.” He then told us all about his love for WWE but is still yet to be convinced by AEW.
However, another youngster’s love of wrestling was sparked by the advent of AEW, especially Darby Allin who’s become his favourite to watch on TV, going as far as to emulate his makeup – but with his own unique style. His dad told us, “Wrestling was just always on in our house, so he grew up being around it. He didn’t really begin to notice until Darby Allin came along in AEW, now he’s hooked.”
Many of the parents of Rascals superstars are wrestling fans themselves, so their children have inherited their passion. Although, some of the parents had little to do with wrestling until their son or daughter expressed an interest, and have now developed an appreciation of their own, seeing the positive influence its had on their child. Some have even gone on to become actively involved in Rascals Academy, giving up their time to help with the shows, realising the important impact it has on their children’s lives.
One parent told us about how learning how to wrestle has helped with their son’s fitness and overall health, allowing him to lead a much more active lifestyle while doing something he enjoys. Others spoke about the benefits to their children’s mental health and the sense of community being a member of Rascals has given them, such as new friends and skills such as team-working. For others, wrestling provided an outlet for their child’s creativity and raised their confidence by encouraging them to cut promos in front of a live audience.
When the show started we the opening match was a between a trainer and a young superstar. The trainer was independent wrestler AJ Grimm, heeling it up on his way to the ring. His opponent was one of his students, the young and popular babyface known as Vacay – so called due to his Hawaiian shirt, straw hat and clear love for places sunny. When the match began, we soon forgot we were watching a child wrestle an adult. Vacay performed spots like a natural and sold his (safe and light) bumps like seasoned pro. It truly was an incredible spectacle and we think this young man, and many of the youngsters who wrestled their matches after his, could go far.
As for the opening match, Vacay scored the pin over Grimm after luring him into the turnbuckle then choke-slamming him from the ropes. Once the bell rang, Vacay offered Grimm a handshake and a beach towel in a show of sportsmanship. Grimm accepted, gracious in defeat and the two danced to Vacay’s music. While we knew we’d be impressed by the superstars of Rascals, this opening match exceeding our expectations, so much so that we’re very much looking forward to the next event.
What was immediately apparent about Rascals Academy was that the trainers, young superstars, their parents and everyone else involved is a close-knit family, connected by their love of wrestling and commitment to supporting each other, regardless of ability, age, gender, disability or background. The wrestling school is clearly having an incredibly positive impact on the children who attend, but it also demonstrates that wrestling itself is a force for good – and that everyone involved in it should take a minute to appreciate this and be proud.
Rascal’s Christmas Chaos event will take place on December 17th 2023 at the Kaidokan Judo Academy in Blackpool.