The co-owner of Manchester’s Sovereign Pro Wrestling has urged social media ‘critics’ to ‘lighten up’ after they mocked the booking of 70-year-old ex-Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones for next month’s ‘It’s Dark and Hell is Hot’ show.
Louis Essien said: ‘Wrestling is supposed to be ‘unexpected and surprising’.
The Street icon is set to make his wrestling ‘debut’ as his soap alias Les Battersby at the Trinity Centre in Manchester on February 24th. The announcement caused a huge media reaction for a sport which is normally struggling for coverage.
And much of the focus has centred on Jones’ age and fitness.
Criticism on X (Twitter) has ranged from ‘It’s a living I suppose’, to ‘This is outta (sic) pocket’, and ‘Anything for publicity.’, while others have described it as ‘perhaps the wildest thing I’ve seen in a minute’
Co-owner Louis Essien has defended Sovereign Pro’s decision, saying: ‘It’s meant to be something fun and what’s more fun than one of the most legendary soap stars [in a wrestling ring]?’
Although he’s not expected to actually wrestle at the event, he will play a “big part” in the proceedings. He’ll also be doing meet and greets around the show.
Essien continued: ‘We are aware of his age, we are aware that he’s not a trained professional wrestler or anything, but we are sensible enough not to do anything that would put himself or anybody else at risk.’
The booking was formed after the promotion saw a post from the soap star after his festive pantomime bookings fell through.
Essien continued: ‘Being Mancunian-born and raised, we grew up in that era of Coronation Street. We were having a laugh and joke about it, and he got back in touch saying “yeah, I’m interested”’.
The announcement has been seen over 300,000 times on X and the reaction comes as no surprise to Essien.
‘It was part of the goal – to do something unexpected. Bruce Jones is a national treasure; he has all this history behind him. We did think it was going to generate some interest, but it’s surprising just how much interest it’s picking up for essentially a small British independent wrestling company.’
The news has reached the national press, with the likes of TalkSPORT, The Mirror, Manchester Evening News and Daily Star covering the story.
‘OK Magazine picked it up, the big celebrity gossip magazine – and our wrestling company is in there! That was all a bit insane.’
‘It’s Dark and Hell is Hot’ takes place on February 24th at Trinity Centre in Manchester and will also feature TNA Wrestling stars Leon Slater and Harley Hudson.