Thursday, 30 September 2010

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!

The name of Surf Graffiti will probably mean very little to you. In fact it meant very little to me until I heard it for the first time a few weeks ago.

Surf is a 19 year old making his way in the British wrestling business. A native of the isle of Guernsey he has been appearing for many promotions in the north of England, earning himself quite a reputation.

Step forward Big Benny HG. Obviously that’s not his real name. His real name is Ben Corrigan.

Benny is a member of the UK Fan Forum. The UKFF is one of those marmite kind of things. Those in the British wrestling business either love it for the publicity it can give them or hate it for the criticism they receive.

Over the past few years Benny has organised the annual UKFF Top 50 vote. It’s their answer to the PWI 500, except it only lists British wrestlers, and only those who ply their trade on the British circuit, which means that the likes of William Regal, Doug Williams and Desmond Wolfe won’t be on this year’s list.

As well as compiling the list of the 50 best wrestlers in the UK, Benny also asked the forum members to vote on the worst wrestlers they had seen over the past year, the S**t List as he called it. This follows on from the S**tarse 50 that fellow member CracktonMoj compiled a while back.

This was where Surf Graffiti comes in. You see, the members of the UKFF weren’t exactly impressed with his wrestling skills, and was voted one of the worst wrestlers in the country, and while Benny was revealing the names of the wrestlers who had made both of the lists, he posted an entry documenting Surf’s appearance in the S**t List.

Then, on September 16th, well, it’s probably best if I use Benny’s own words here:

“Well, in all the crazy history of this place, I believe this may actually be a UKFF first.

On Tuesday night, I was visited at my flat by the police, who were following up a complaint against me personally for harassment of her son. Yes, they were talking specifically about an entry in the "S**t List".

It was a rather strange experience trying to explain to two coppers exactly what the UKFF was, what the UKFF UK50 was, and how it worked ("Are you the Ben Corrigan who writes for the UK Fan Forum website?"..."Erm......Yes?!"), though they seemed happy enough with my co-operation. They suggested that I add a disclaimer to entries to reiterate what I had already stated, in that these were not my own personal views and opinions, just a collation of those from all the fans/wrestlers/promoters that had contributed to the list.

As such, I have decided to remove most of the text from Surf Graffiti’s "S**t List" entry. While I'm not sure exactly what the law actually is, and whether quoting the stories that other UKFFers contributed as a write-up actually constitutes harassment, but at least this way it prevents future complications or further complaints from the party in question.”

But that wasn’t the end of the story, as Benny explained later that day:

“My manager at work has called me into a meeting this very afternoon…. Guess what?

Turns out the lady in question actually ‘phoned up my place of work earlier this week to make a complaint about me, claiming that I (as in me, personally) had been going around making derogatory comments about their family on the internet and they’d had enough. Given that I’m not exactly a ground-floor level officer in the civil service, this member of the public’s complaint was treated fairly seriously and her call was forwarded through to the most senior manager in the building….

Now, I’m no expert, but who exactly is being harassed?

I’d just like to reiterate: all of the comments, stories and quotes used in the write-ups for the S**t List were taken directly from the comments and stories actually provided by all of the people who actually nominated them – as in, the people who actually thought that person was s**t. This was by no means a personal attack from me against any particular individual or family.

I’m not going to say any more on the matter, since I don’t want to actually provoke more complaints, calls to my office and pointless work for the police.”

Let’s look at the full story here.

A group of people on an internet forum were asked to vote for wrestlers they didn’t think were that good. One of these wrestlers turned out to be Surf Graffiti, and when he found out that these fans didn’t think much of him and put him on the S**t List, he complained to his mother.

His mother then went to the trouble of tracking Benny down, finding out who his internet service provider was. She then complained to the police, claiming harassment.

She also found out where Benny worked and complained to his employer about her son being included on this list.

So who is harassing who here?

While this is certainly an interesting story, it’s also another example of how professional wrestlers view the internet. One moment they think it’s a wonderful thing, especially when they earn rave reviews for their performances. But the next moment they complain like hell, moaning about people criticising their performances and how their image will be tarnished by such complaints. It’s something I experienced time and time again during my tenure in the British wrestling business.

But the most interesting thing about this story is that in one fell swoop young Surf Graffiti may have consigned his fledgling wrestling career to the dustbin, because in the face of all the criticism he received he got his mother to do all the complaining for him, and from what I gather this isn’t the first time it’s happened.

Imagine if a British wrestling promoter hired Surf for his show and he didn’t put in a good performance. Imagine if the promoter told him that. What would he do then? Would he go to his mother and complain that the big bad promoter said something nasty about him?

I have no idea how those within the British wrestling business perceive Surf Graffiti after his mother’s antics. I have no idea if Surf Graffiti is the next coming of John Cena or the next coming of Barry Horrowitz.

All I do know is that if his career doesn’t get off the ground then there is only one person who can take the blame, and it certainly isn’t Surf Graffiti himself.

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