Funny to think that the last time I was at a new venue and a new promotion was covered in my Lucha Forever review, and that the next would be run by one part of the team behind that now-fallen venture, Will Ospreay.
Ospreay’s a controversial figure to say the least, and while I don’t want to go into that here, because it has nothing to do with the accessibility of the show itself, I’m not ignoring that facet of who he is and how he responds to things, especially when he lets his words run away with him on Twitter before he remembers to engage his brain. His dogged loyalty to his friends gets him into trouble, and yet it’s that same loyalty that you can see at the core of Frontline Wrestling, a promotion which lends itself far more to the Japanese style Ospreay is so familiar with due to his work with NJPW, than the flashy style we saw from Lucha Forever.
With the effort put into the presentation of the show, the details like ref shirts, ring crew shirts, logos on gear, and Ospreay deciding to step back from being a performer in order to truly run the promotion, I did not walk away unimpressed as to how much thought had gone into the running of the show, and how well things were put together. And so, to the access review! The show I attended was S.P.I.R.I.T, on the 21st of August, at Stratford Circus.
Discussion of Access
When I dropped an email to the address on Frontline’s Twitter, letting them know I was heading to the show and asking for the usual accommodations, I’d already looked at the venue and praised Ospreay for picking an accessible site – the link above actually goes to the access page for Stratford Circus. So I had that info already plainly set out via the venue, but I asked for my usual inability to queue, working out if front row would be safe, and a free carer’s ticket. All were readily granted, I was told to put the info into the comments box when purchasing the ticket, and I went ahead with front row. Easy, simple, sorted. 10/10
Physical Access – Discussed
I knew from the venue website that it was all flat or lifts, and was reassured of this fact. I was told there would be no strobe light, although there would be some flashing lights (the norm for wrestling shows and one I’ve recently found out how to combat). I was told that my safety in the crowd would be assured by my seats having been picked out for me before the show, and that first aiders were available. 10/10
Physical Access – Actual
For the first time in a while, physical access was exactly as described. Due to the toilets being flat access, I did not use an accessible toilet stall, as I had no need of doing so. The lighting was less problematic than I thought it would be, and I was able to just look away while it happened. However, where we were sat was slightly less than safe, as I learned when Mark Haskins’ boot flew towards me, followed at speed by the rest of him, and Penny had to put her hand out to block. I believe Mark had enough leeway not to actually make contact with me, but it was a slightly unsafe and frightening moment. Also, Jimmy Havoc decided that was the way he was getting into the ring, and shoved a guardrail into my legs, but I suspect that’s mainly because he knows he’s the only one who could maim me and still have me apologising to him for being in the way. And it didn’t bruise, so I’m mostly complaining because it winds him up. So perhaps my seats weren’t in the best place, but in the Japanese style, the barricades were held steady by the Frontline Young Lions, so there was a lot less danger to my shins than I would usually expect in such a situation. 9/10
Going The Extra Mile
All email enquires were met with responses from Ospreay himself, he met my group at the start of the queue and led us to the seats which had been saved for us, made sure we got settled, and told us to ask him if we had any issues. He was around and present audience-side for a lot of the show, and seemed to be taking his role as promoter very seriously. If I was feeling particularly petty, I might say he loses a point for using my birth name, which I essentially consider my deadname, as I don’t use it within anything other than family and official documents, but I do refer to him as ‘Young William’, so I tend to accept it as ribbing, rather than a concerted effort to make me uncomfortable. He also hasn’t quite worked out that I use “they” or “them” for pronouns, rather than “she” – but then, nor has most of wrestling. Despite me wearing it on a badge for the last year at least. 9/10
Frontline seems to have settled in with Stratford Circus as their venue, which is great, and seeing as I had to really work not to give this a perfect score, I can safely say I’d be happy to not just attend another show, but recommend it to others. 10/10
As I said above, I did not leave unimpressed with the effort that’s been put into this promotion, and how clearly Ospreay wants it to be something completely unlike Lucha Forever, and indeed, any other Britwres promotion I can think of. Frontline offers something in a very different style, more akin to Japanese wrestling than anything else, and offers it in an accessible venue. 9.6/10 – and as I usually round up from anything .5 or above, that’s as damn near close to a perfect score as I can give.