A Brief History
JR Tower Observation Deck T38, Saporro City, Hokkaido, Japan
Will Craddock sat across from his mentor, Daisuke Sonoda. The bespactled Sonoda ran a hand through his shock of greying hair, glancing down at the coffee-stained sheet of paper in front of him, then at Craddock. Then back at the paper.
“So, you’re telling me you don’t want to wrestle for me anymore? I brought you up in this business, Craddock-san.” Sonoda placed his glasses on the table and narrowed his eyes.
“Well, I mean—no, y’didn’t.”
“Let’s call it what it is, Sonoda-san: y’helped. Y’ taught me a lot ‘n I ain’t denyin’ that. Y’ did it yer own way by bludgeonin’ me ‘alf tah death wit’ god-damned light tubes ‘n forks night in ‘n night out, but ya didn’t ‘make’ me or bring me up in this business—”
Sonoda slams his sake down, raising a hand to interject.
"With all respect, Craddock-san—"
“Calm down ‘fore y’ burst a damned blood vessel, Sonoda-san. Believe me, I couldn’t-a done it without ya. I was a name ‘fore I came here. I’m not sayin’ I didn’t need ya. I did. Y’taught me so much. I stole half yer damn moveset.”
Sonoda furrows his brow, contains a small chuckle by taking a sip of his drink, lets Craddock continue. Craddock, however, is silent for a minute. He peers over Sonoda’s shoulder, taking in the whole of Saporro City—the unmistakable NORBESA Ferris Wheel the main attraction among a backdrop of office buildings and a smatter of technicolour; arcades, bars, dance clubs, and cars speeding along wide roads. Somewhere, off in the distance, Craddock knows the mountain looms beyond the heavy fog, beyond the heavy skyline. His feet are familiar with it. Every Saturday, Sonoda would burst into his tiny apartment with hiking equipment on; two coffees in hand, and they’d hike as much of it as they could.
Craddock continues after a long sigh.
“I ‘prreciate everythin’ ya’ve done fer me. An’ it’s been a lot. Y’ taught me ‘ow tah run a promotion—‘n ‘how not tah run one. Y’ taught me ‘ow tah work a deathmatch. Ya god-damned took me tah the ‘ospital when that dickhead Ichi slashed a god-damned artery. Y’ made sure other promoters treated me well. Y’ let me work my own style when we figured out deathmatches weren’t workin’ fer me, y’know? An’ I think I taught ya some shite back.”
Sonoda nods and a smirk gives way to a surprisingly soft laugh. “Smash Brothers and some English, yes.”
“Exactly. And I ain’t never gonna forget what ya’ve done fer me, but I can’t—I think it’s time, Sonoda-san. I’m spendin’ ‘alf my time ‘ere, rentin’ an apartment in Toron’o, basically givin’ Nikki rent money tah not even live there. ‘N she’s not even livin’ there ‘alf the time herself. I’m startin’ tah get a name back in the UK wit’ PROGRESS, wit’ SMASH in Canada. It’s getting’ tah the point that I can’t do much else, y’know? I’ve done pretty much everythin’ I can do ‘ere ‘n at the end of the day, I’m still a Gaijin, y’know?”
“You go to bigger promotion. ZIP JAPAN?”
Craddock laughs. “After the shite we pulled on ‘em? Even if that was a storyline, y’ really think the ZIP fans’ll like me? Christ, Sonoda. I know y’ been hit in the head a lot, but come on. They’ll fuggin’ kill me. Believe me, I love it here, I really do, but the UK’s still my home, Sonoda-san. I gotta go back ‘ome. Not just fer me, fer Nikki, fer the UK scene. Fer my own sanity. I needa be home. Just look at this—my official resignation 'n a 'business plan', I guess y'd call it.”
Sonoda simply nods. After a prolonged silence the two rise from their seats and spend the rest of the night wandering the city. Ten hours later, Craddock is on a plane back to the UK.
Rhydyfelin Community Centre, Pontypridd, Wales
“And yer first ever SHTCW:a champion: Will Craddock!”
A smattering of cheers lazily rises and just as quickly dies in the small, echo-y hall with roughly 35 people in it.
As Craddock raises his the title in his hands and climbs the top turnbuckle, he is blindsided by two bears and a pig: Animal Farm.
However, Craddock’s opponent, a bloodied Nikki Knux raises to her feet and dumps both the bears to the outside of the ring with clotheslines before she sets her sights on the pig. The pig backs away, only to back into Craddock, who decimates him with a Rolling Elbow. The pig staggers back towards Knux and his clocked with a straight punch, which leaves him crumpled in a heap in the middle of the ring. Knux and Craddock embrace, then both jump up on the turnbuckles to little to no fanfare.
The crowd has gone home. In the parking lot, Craddock is packing things away in his Mini Cooper.
“They just witnessed ‘istory an’ that’s the appreciation I get? That SHE GETS?”
Craddock motions towards Nikki Knux, who now is in street clothes, chugging a Gatorade, blood still caked in her hair.
The man who played the pig, also known as BIG HAM, is taking a long drag of a cigarette.
“Well, I mean—it was kinda shite. Ya got a buncha blokes in animal costumes takin’ over the show after you ‘n yer Mrs. are high-fivin’ all the kids one minute and then just beat the ever-lovin’ piss outta each other for 25 minutes. In small-town Wales, no less. This ain’t fuckin’ R/Squared Circle, Will. It’s Pontypridd, Wales. Ya wanna have somethin’ like PROGRESS, but then ya wanna have somethin’ like CHIKARA. Ya don’t know what the fuck ya want to do, so yer out on yer arse looking like a fuckin’ prick.”
“Eh, fugg you, Ollie.”
The next month in Wrexham, Animal Farm is not seen again. The two bears make one more appearance that night in a tag team tournament, where the Scott Brothers, two young men from Canada who trained with Nikki Knux, debut to send the last remnants of Animal Farm packing.
It has been one year since Will Craddock left Japan. In that year, he has wrestled throughout the United Kingdom, Canada, and periodically the United States, as well as brief returns back to Japan. A career that started in small town Wales has come full-circle in barely five years: Cardiff to Liverpool to London to Toronto to Tokyo to Hokkaido to London to Liverpool to Toronto to nowhere permanent. An apartment still in Toronto that he doesn’t need, doesn’t pay for. He has won multiple championships by himself and alongside Nikki Knux. He doesn’t know what to do with this promotion.
January, 2016: SHTCW:a Finds an Identity.
Trallwn Community Centre, Swansea, Wales
In the months since that talk with Oliver, SHTCW:a has solidified what it wants to be—embraced its strange, seemingly disparate influences.
In any given show, its ever-growing audience is just as likely to witness a half-hour classic that blows up among “smarks” as it is a comedy tag-team match between two Blacksploitation-inspired cops and the underdogs from small-town Canada, the Scott Brothers.
It is on this show that in the main event, Nikki Knux gains the championship in one of those classics against Will Craddock. The two clobber each other with simultaneous Rolling Elbows, but Knux is smart enough to collapse onto the prone body of Craddock for the three-count. The crowd is barely more than 75 people, but the swelteringly-hot community centre erupts.
Craddock and Knux continue to fight over the belt off-and-on for months. Off-and-on because despite the groundswell of support for SHTCW:a, it still struggles to regularly book shows.
None the less, the two carry the main-event scene throughout the summer and well into the Fall until Craddock takes what looks like a routine bump at a show in Newcastle and jams his neck. Badly. Surgery. He’s out for months.
Knux soldiers on, takes on all comers, makes the best of the opportunity by applying her trade not only in SHTCW:a, but in PROGRESS, in SMASH in her native home of Toronto, Canada. And she proudly wears the ornate, over-the-top pink and black SHTCW:a world title belt wherever she goes.
January, 2017: Craddock Returns, New Blood is Injected into SHTCW:a.
Bradmore Community Centre, Wolverhampton, England
Will Craddock is still nowhere to be found, but a “Red Dragon” has appeared on the main event scene and been feuding with champion Nikki Knux since November. It all culminates on night one of a two-show gig for SHTCW:a in Wolverhampton in a title-versus-mask match. Knux uses Craddock’s own Cardiff City Special (Dragon Sleeper) and the Red Dragon collapses. It’s revealed, not so surprisingly, that Craddock is Red Dragon. The next night, Craddock and Knux have a rematch and Craddock seems to be closing in on the title when he’s attacked by an unknown assailant. He has no biases, though, and takes out Knux as well.
Two weeks later, in Birmingham, the assailant reveals himself to be CJ Fresh, a young kid from Philadelphia who has been making waves on the independent scene in America. He’s immediately thrown into a non-title match versus Nikki Knux and beats her to earn himself a title shot. The next night, the Scott Bros., the only tag champions the SHTCW:a has ever seen, suffer a huge loss when Corum suffers a devastating shoulder injury and they’re forced to relinquish their titles. The Beat-Alls step into the picture and win the titles in an impromptu tournament held in their home town of Liverpool, and Craddock wins his second title in the triple-threat match between himself, Knux, and Fresh.
In her rematch the next month in Manchester, Knux falls to Craddock, due to a distraction on the outside from CJ Fresh. Fresh and Knux fight on night two of the two-night card in Manchester and again, Fresh has Knux’s number. He reveals that he only wants to beat Craddock for the title and has his match set for June.
Unfortunately, harsh business realities hit SHTCW:a and their summer shows are canceled. They come back, though, in October, “sponsored” by OSWALD MEGACORP. Matches are presented by brands associated with OSWALD MEGACORP. and shenanigans are afoot as the Oswald MegaCorp. Tiger inserts himself firmly into the lucha division’s upper ranks and a new ref, seeming to be some kind of cyborg and brandishing the OSWALD MEGACORP. logo works a lot of matches.
Craddock and Fresh face off in arguably SHTCW:a’s best match to date. Fresh comes within an inch of defeating the champion, but finds himself unable to beat Craddock. The lights go off and when they’re back on, both Fresh and Craddock are found in a heap in the middle of the ring.
In the coming months, Craddock defends the title against newcomers like Fergus Gray, Marcel Müller, and old-time veteran Milkshake Jones, even one of his mentors in the UK scene: Bobby Donnelly. On that night, the Donnelly Family makes its debut and Saoirse Donnelly, the first and so-far only graduate of the SHTCW:a wrestling school defeats El Gringo Fantastico in the card opener.
In the go-home show of the “season”, everything comes full-circle as Craddock faces off against Nikki Knux for the title again. And again, the two are attacked. This time, by a giant of a man who looks to be “enhanced”—literally made of chrome. Intrepid internet sleuths figure out that the man looks a lot like Crusher Stevens, a UK independent vet who had made a one-off appearance for SHTCW:a months before. In the weeks following the show, cryptic messages are posted on SHTCW:a’s website and social media about a “hostile takeover.”
On December 21st, 2017, what was so strongly-rumoured before is made official:
FROM THE OFFICES OF Charles estlin Oswald, OSWALD MEGACORP.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO THE PRESS:
[quote]It is with great honour that we announce our purchase of Super Hyper Turbo Championship Wrestling: alpha today. As many people know, we have been affiliated with the upstart promotion for several months now—assisting with procuring the funding for venues, for talent, etc. And we are invested in not only the growth of this tremendous promotion here in the UK, but wrestling as a whole. This acquisition of Super Hyper Turbo Championship Wrestling: alpha marks the first chapter in a long and fruitful march towards bringing some of the best wrestling in the world to fans in a way that only OSWALD MEGACORP. can; with the best resources built by OSWALD MEGACORP. Not only will SHTCW:a see its production quality increase, but this acquisition will allow for the SHTCW:a wrestling school to flourish, and partnerships with other promotions worldwide grow. This acquisition also includes the purchase of the archival tapes of many SHTCW:a competitors throughout their careers, including Will Craddock’s stint in BLOOD JAPAN.
With this new acquisition and the end of this season from SHTCW:a, OSWALD MEGACORP. sees the need for a fresh start. New champions. New divisions. New rules. New opportunities.
As such, effective immediately, the SHTCW:a World Championship and Tag Team Titles will be vacated. A luchador division will be formed, with its inaugural title holder to be determined soon. We will also not only be more lenient in our rules than before, but allow for the talents of more “hardcore” wrestlers such as Lady Dirtbag, No Name, Patches, and Kemper Tierney flourish in specialty hardcore and deathmatches.
OSWALD MEGACORP. and SHTCW:a are excited to kick off the first season of this new reboot in the home of SHTCW:a, Cardiff.