Breaking Kayfabe: The Saint Seminar by Wayne Tomkins

Well whatta we got over here? A couple a’ hundred readers?!?

Hello and welcome once more to that brief part of my life that I share with you all, my wrestling training! The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that the title of this blog has changed. With the oncoming onset of my 40th birthday (122 days and counting, I accept wrestling merchandise and chocolate), I couldn’t carry on calling the blog “A Diary Of A 30-Something” as it would be factually wrong. And there’s no frickin way I’m changing it to “40-Something”. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that I’m turning 40, let alone seeing it every time I blog. I asked folks on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for input in deciding a new name, and after a few entries, including some age related ones that really weren’t funny, I decided to ignore them all and go with something that popped into my head late at night……Breaking Kayfabe!

This entire blog is doing just that. Telling you all what happens at training, describing spots and routines that we practice, I’m breaking kayfabe.

So with that in mind, sit back, and read about the day The Saint came to SEPW to hold his seminar. Be warned, I may gush slightly about the man, in my eyes he is simply awesome…..

It’s 6am, Sunday April 23rd, the day after Wrestival 3 and I am still buzzing. I hardly slept a wink the night before as every time I closed my eyes I saw snippets of the night before. I’m there in the ring announcing all the great and many talents including The Saint, MeatHead, Will Power!, “The Original” Conroy, “Savvy” Sid Scala, JD Knight and the SEPW Heavyweight Champion Eddie Ryan. I can see the bumper crowd all around, the lights, the smoke…..everything that made that night one of the best nights of my wrestling life. I’ve seen WWE events over here in the UK, I’ve seen NXT when it held Takeover in London, I’ve been to countless UK indy shows and nothing, not one of them holds a candle to Wrestival 3.

But that was then, and this is now. I’ve had roughly three hours sleep, and in a few hours I’m back to Hawkinge, back to training for a very special seminar. The Saint is a very well respected veteran of the UK scene. He appeared the night before on the Wrestival 3 card and very graciously agreed to spend the morning passing on his huge wrestling insight and knowledge to the SEPW Academy students. And I for one couldn’t wait.

With the other three members of the Ashford Posse picked up, we made our way to Hawkinge and began telling Lee the previous night’s events. He couldn’t make the show as he had a prior engagement. Even though he enjoyed himself, he did feel bummed out that he missed an awesome night for SEPW and was adamant that he wouldn’t miss another one, and was going to go in his words “balls out” today to make up for it. I’m hoping that it is just a saying as we really could do without that today.

Arriving at the Community Centre we were relieved that we didn’t have to set up the ring. Luckily we left the ring up from the night before, which saved us students at least thirty minutes of our lesson time. More time well spent learning from The Saint.

As more students began to arrive, we found out that Luke (Chris Castle) would be running the warm up today and straight after, Saint would begin his seminar. Luckily it was a nice gentle warm up as many were still feeling it from the night before. Not myself, I just stood in the middle of the ring and talked all night, I needed to rest my voice more than rest my limbs! Easier said than done though, ask the academy students!

With ourselves nicely and gently warmed up, The Saint took over the session for the remainder of the morning, and what a morning it would be. I’ve attended a couple of theses famous or veteran seminars before and even though I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to, I learned a hell of a lot from The Saint. Things that I could use on the mic, and things I could use in the ring, if I ever take the next step and become a fully fledged manager for a talent.

Up first from The Saint was a set go routine. This had everyone in a large circle (or two small ones in our case as there were too many students and not enough ring space) in a ready position. On our toes ready and waiting for him to say set. As soon as set in shouted, we have to hit the ground as quickly as possible in a kinda sprawl position. Upon the word go, we sprung back to our feet back into the ready position but trying not to use our hands. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It probably is for most people but not me! I was too busy watching my spatial awareness so I wasn’t kicking folk in the face when I hit the deck! Couple that with how quick Saint was saying “SET, GO!” and I admit, I was blown up in a short amount of time. But that was nothing compared to what was coming next….

Set go’s complete, everyone minus myself looking in a good condition, Saint gives us a breather and tells us where he got the set go’s and his next routine from. None other than UK legend and current WWE Performance Centre trainer Robbie Brookside! These two routines are standard at WWE tryouts, and any WWE officials there expect all wrestlers at the tryout to complete them and many more without any hardship whatsoever. This was basically a warm up and a check on cardio. Obviously the set go’s and the next routine would last a lot longer than the few short minutes we had, but we get an idea on a tiny part of a WWE tryout should any of us ever be lucky enough to get that far.

Water and information taken on board (gotta say I marked out a little hearing Robbie Brookside mentioned. Been a huge fan of his for many years and hearing from someone who has worked with him was huge in my eyes), it was time for the second and last part of cardio for the morning. Now I start this by saying I wish I took pictures of this as it was hugely entertaining and gruelling at the same time, but I was involved so I couldn’t. I’ll try to explain it as best as I can, close your eyes (after you’ve read the description first!) and imagine it…..

The group that’s in the ring are told to find a corner or hold onto the top rope around the ring, and when Saint says go, you must run on the spot with your knees no lower than the middle rope of the ring, arms extended while at the corner or holding the top rope. Easy right? Oh yeah, forgot to say that it was for two minutes!

And with that Saint shouted “GO!” and off they went. Rookie error from most in that ring – pretty much everyone went like the clappers! They were sprinting on the spot for at least 30 seconds then they began to tire out quick smart. I was watching Ollie as he started at a good pace, not going mad like many others in the ring, but not slow and steady. In actual fact he was going great guns until about 80 seconds in when all of a sudden he just stopped running and began to just lift his knees on the spot. He was blown up and the lactic acid in his legs built up so much that it was legitimately difficult to raise his legs. Damn! If he was blowing up with a good 30 seconds left then what the hell am I going to be like?

Watching the rest of the ring for the last 30 seconds was hard. People with great cardio like Justin and Dan C were struggling badly, which gave me no confidence at all.

Two minutes were up and everyone looked awful in the ring. Sweating like I’ve never seen them before, struggling to leave the ring and walking so slowly to get some water, and I began to brick it. I have the lung capacity of a kitten (a cute kitten I might add) and very little stamina. This was going to be hard!

My group was called into the ring and I went and grabbed the top rope in the middle of the left hand side of the ring. Took a deep breath and waited for the go……

A huge GO filled the hall and we were off. I deliberately took my time and did a slow high knee jog on the spot while choking that top rope like it owed me money. I wasn’t going to eff this up.

Saint was walking around the ring checking that our knees were high enough and giving us a countdown. He passed me twice before he mentioned that my knees were dipping under the middle rope, so I made a concerted effort to keep those damn knees higher than the middle rope and push on.

One minute gone and I was feeling pretty good still stamina wise. Admittedly I sounded like a dirty phone call with my heavy breathing but I was still in the game and time was ticking quicker than I thought. I suddenly began to believe that I could do this, I could finish this without somebody giving me the kiss of life (I’m looking at you Ollie!)

“Twenty seconds to go!” is roared by The Saint and all of a sudden my legs feel like steel girders and get heavier by the second. There’s no way I’m not finishing this, so I slow the pace a tad and push through. I look around for the first time and I’m relieved that everyone is pretty much struggling to certain degrees.

“Five, four…..” That’s it I’m sprinting home! Last five seconds flew by as I ran on the spot with my knees waaaay higher than that middle rope.

“Done!” I slow down rather than stop instantly, giving my legs a “warm down” so to speak. Don’t want to stop and just crash to the mat in a crumpled heap in front of Saint. A few seconds later and I make my way out of the ring very gingerly and walk over to the stage to grab my water bottle and more importantly my asthma inhaler. Taking a sip or 10 from my bottle, I quietly congratulate myself on not making a dufus of myself and finishing. Now if I can have a ten minute sit down, that’ll be great. But nope, straight back to it and back into the ring to show Saint our bumps.

Just a quick break in proceedings to shill some social media bits and bobs. I actually have a page on Facebook totally dedicated to this blog. It’s cunningly called “Diary Of A 30 Something Trainee Wrestler”, and you can find it at this link right here. I’d also like to plug mine and South East Wrestling social media too as I have your undivided attention. Click the links, have a gander and if you’re feeling particularly nice, maybe gives us a like and a follow too.

South East Professional Wrestling website – http://www.sepw.co.uk

South East Professional Wrestling Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SouthEastPro

South East Professional Wrestling Twitter – https://twitter.com/SouthEastPro

My Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/30SomethingTrainee

My Twitter – https://twitter.com/ski101

I’ll now hand you back over to your regularly scheduled reading material….

Everyone lined up outside the ring and entered when asked. I purposely stood at the back of the queue as I hadn’t done any bump work at all this year. Again I got worried that I was going to make an arse of myself in front of him. Closer I got to the ring and the more nervous I felt and my legs began to shake, but I put that down to the last drill.

I was waved in by The Saint so in I jumped ready to take my first in-ring bump for about five months. I got into position and without hesitation performed a back bump. No waiting or fanny-ing about, just bang done!

Saint only had one criticism and I knew what it was before he opened his mouth. I didn’t land with my hands flat against the mat. It’s a bad habit that I always do and with more practice I’m sure I could cure it, but as I don’t practice enough it’s still there. Two more attempts in front of The Saint and I do a back bump that passes! Yay, go me!

I leave the ring a lot more confident and watch as flip bumps are next. That confidence soon leaves me as I know this is pretty much the end of my involvement of the seminar. I take a side step and leave the guys and girls to it, watching on while thumping my legs to get some blood rushing around them to stop feeling like tree trunks.

Flip bumps complete and The Saint has a fair assessment of how we are as students. Now it’s time to learn some spots bit by bit and put them together at the end of the session. I grabbed my camera and began to take shots for the rest of the morning.

I wasn’t technically involved in the session after bowing out, but I learned so much from watching and paying attention to not just The Saint but everyone else there. We were all taking in and applying his teachings in seconds. I know I’m like a sponge in learning new things, not just wrestling life but life in general, and seeing the whole academy get to grips with all these techniques (which I’ll explain below) so quick was amazing. It showed me that as a group, we are all so passionate about learning everything we can when we can. So proud of all of us students and the Academy!

With camera in hand, I stepped back to watch The Saint explain in detail what he wanted to teach us all. There were three parts to this that he wanted to show us. Breaking down each part so we all got our heads around it before moving to the next with the intention to combine all three parts to give at least two minutes of in-ring action. So first up was……

Lock up into a headlock into a reverse wristlock.

Got that? Good because us students have been practising those same moves for the past few months now. I wouldn’t say it was easier, but it definitely made learning the way The Saint wanted to show us a lot easier. The students were busying away practising that while I took some shots of them in action.

About twenty minutes later, Saint pulled the class back together as he was satisfied that we had all learnt it well his way and wanted to show part two. This part consisted of another three maneuvers which most of the students had been drilled on before. The moves were…..

Hammerlock reversed into a headlock into a headlock takedown.

Part one finished with a reverse wristlock so part two carried on from there. Turn the wristlock into a hammerlock, which then gets reversed by your partner into a headlock which quickly becomes a headlock takedown. A few students weren’t sure on how to do a headlock takedown so Saint spent five minutes just breaking that move down for us all. Once everyone had pretty much perfected the takedown, they all paired up again to practise these next few moves of the chain. This part took a little while longer to nail, about 40 minutes or so. I even helped out (as best I could) by recording the pairs and showing them the footage I caught to see where they were going wrong and how to rectify it. It’s something I do more often now….anything to make myself useful! So as they were getting to grips with part two I loitered in the background and snapped away.

Part three licked and to The Saint’s liking it was time for the third and final part. This would involve some bumping which is why we were drilled on it earlier. It’s like he had a plan!


This third part went something like this: Stand up from the headlock takedown, feed you opponent into the ropes, take two shoulder tackle on the bounce, sleep (basically lie down as your opponent is running off the ropes and they jump over your prone body), hip toss your opponent followed by an armdrag into an arm bar to ground your opponent. Confused? Yeah I was too and I wasn’t even doing the routine! Above is a quick video I shared on the SEPW Academy Facebook page (feel free to have a look at the page and maybe even give it a like?) showing The Saint and Luke H on how to stand up convincingly from a headlock takedown.

As I said earlier, there’s something about the man who keeps you listening to him. He captivates your attention and explains things so precise and concisely. I already said I was going to gush about the guy so stop the hating on me!

I’ll fess up here and say that the pics that I took of the students doing this part of the training were awful. I’m not sure if it was the camera, lighting, or the guy taking them, but they came out all blurry and completely out of focus. Luckily I took this video showing The Saint and his opponent from the night before Luke H aka Chris Castle performing the last part which just happened to be a part of their match. Am I lucky or what? So have a watch and see just a glimpse of what you all missed from Wrestival 3.

It’s not that complicated really, not when you see it being performed right in front of your eyes. With all of us now seen what he expects from us, we all stepped in with our respective training partners and put all three parts together in front of The Saint himself. Now that would put me off straight away, but it didn’t as I was outside the ring watching and taking pics. I know, I’m such an ass, yet you all know this and you still come back week in week out.

After the last pair showed Mr. Saint (can’t keep calling him The can I?) what they could do, it was a very brief analysis of what he had seen from us all. In short he was very happy with how the school was doing (more of that in Closing Time), how much we were being taught by Head Coach Matt aka Mr Wicked aka SEPW Owner, and how quickly we were coming along. It wouldn’t be long before more students would be on the main card shows like Wrestival, Light The Fuse and possibly his spot would be in jeopardy!

Every single pairing, every single person had stood in that ring and showed a veteran of this business just how much they want to be a part of this business. Just how much they want it, even myself to a lesser degree. I only did a small portion of the actual physical side of the seminar, but I listened and took on board everything he said to me the night before and right there in that ring. I came away from the seminar with my love for learning each and every aspect, burning brighter than ever before!

After his analysis it was literally time to pack the ring away and skidaddle as the hall we were in was needed for a few games of badminton (yawn, definitely not my favorite racquet sport that’s for sure). And that was pretty much it. I had a quick chat with him just before we all left and he gave me some more hints and tips for being on the mic. No I’m not telling you all, I need to look after my spot too you know! 😉 I thanked him quite a lot for his kind words the night before and today’s quite awesome seminar and he took it in stride. Again, he’s so approachable and so willing to teach, and I really hope SEPW get him back asap so I can show him I’m not really a stalker, just an avid fan of the business……

Closing Time

I’m sorry. I’ve read this blog back a few times and MAN do I gush about The Saint. Honestly I just like the guy and can’t thank him enough for his time and insight, and yes I do still love my wife and family and have no intention of stalking the poor guy. Anywaaaaaaay…..

I must also apologise for being late on this edition of the blog. I know I have no time frame for posting these, but I usually try to post them on weekends. The delay is that I had a bit of a health scare last week. Remember my turnbuckle wheelbarrow drill where I felt something in my shoulder go PING and crashed to the mat? Well according to my doctor I hadn’t let it heal as well as I should and that the pain I was experiencing in my left hand side of my chest (right near my heart to be exact) wasn’t the onset of a heart attack, but my nerves and muscles telling me to stop using the damn arm! So good point is that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but the bad point is that I basically can’t use my left arm much for the next few weeks, lucky I’m right handed huh?!?

Typing one handed is a definite skill and one I feel like I have really adapted to recently, so I may add that to my CV, you never know 😉 .

Apart from typing one handed it also meant I couldn’t train yesterday (Sunday 7th May) which sucked donkey balls as it was the SEPW Training Academy first birthday! Yup the Academy and my blog is a year old! Technically my blog has two weeks to go as I didn’t begin to train with the academy until two weeks after opening, but that’s splitting hairs really……it’s a celebration!

You’ll read more about that session next week, well possibly, don’t want to over exert my right arm too much!

I’ll leave you all with a parting gift, ain’t I nice! Remember I said to you all that I’ll show you the videos to the matches to Wrestival 3? Well SEPW management have really pulled their finger out and got not one but two matches from the night on their YouTube Channel, with commentary from the always brilliant, Mr Dick Valentine (can’t wait to see you at training bud!). So below I give to you the entire and uninterrupted matchups of The Saint against Chris Castle and in my opinion, the match of the night between MeatHead and Justin Vincible! Enjoy you lucky luck so and so’s!

TTFN True Believers!