In 1994, the World Association of Wrestling was formed in Norwich, Norfolk by Ricky Knight, his wife Saraya Knight, and his Superflys tag team partner Jimmy Ocean. The Superflys were already two-time British Tag Team Champions at this point, and would go on to win the titles another two times together, as well as once more each with different tag team partners. Alongside their manager, Sweet Saraya, this unit was practically unstoppable throughout the 90s.
From humble beginnings at the debut show “The War of ’94”, held at the Talk, Norwich, WAW has built upon its loyal fanbase over the last twenty-two years thanks to a highly interactive product and is now home to some of the best performers British wrestling has to offer, as well as attracting internationally renowned stars from around the globe.
The biggest opportunity to occur for WAW during it’s early days was securing the Old Corn Exchange venue, which had long been associated as Norwich’s home of British wrestling. It was from this venue that WAW based itself and began looking to the future, leading to the birth of the WAW Academy, whose first graduates include Roy Knight, The UK Pitbulls, Bash, and Hot Stuff. These students graduated from promising young talent to main roster members and eventually became some of the most sought after wrestlers on the national wrestling circuit.
The WAW Academy initially ran shows from the Old Corn Exchange every two weeks, giving students a chance to showcase their talent and creating the intense loyalty that local fans have for homegrown talent which continues to this day, to an extent where many prefer to see Academy graduates over established names. When WAW began running these early Academy shows, attendance at the Corn Exchange rose from a lowly 80 to over 250 as word about the high quality entertainment provided by competitive wrestling spread. Shows at the Corn Exchange continued to be a staple of WAW events until the building was closed in 2000.
Though the closure of the Corn Exchange was a time of sadness for both WAW and its fans, it would only be a matter of months until a new high was reached when a highly ambitious project to run a supershow showcasing the very best of British wrestling was announced. Held at the Norwich Sport Village, Fightmare saw a capacity crowd of 2000 fans in attendance, with an additional 500 being reluctantly turned away, witnessed the crowning of Tiger Steele as the first ever WAW World Heavyweight Champion and set the tone for progress in the new millennium.
Now the longest running wrestling school in Europe, the WAW Academy continued to thrive despite the closure of the Corn Exchange, and now produces two shows a month at the Owen Barnes Room, Costessey, and caters to students with no prior experience, as well as serving as a place for already experienced wrestlers to further hone their craft. Several Academy graduates have found their way to the United States, performing at the biggest shows and ultimately winning the most prestigious titles the wrestling world has to offer. Many current Academy students aspire to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, a passion which helps drive the success of WAW as a whole.
Future prospects continue to expand for WAW, the Academy, and its graduates and students, with a Youth Club preparing young wrestlers for the Academy under the watchful eye of mentors Zak Knight and Ben Williment. The most impressive of these youngsters feature on special ‘KidMania’ shows, competing for the right to appear on Academy shows alongside existing Academy students and graduates, gaining vital experience from such a young age. Even today, fortnightly Academy Shows consistantly remain sellout shows, creating a special connection between the wrestlers and the fans, allowing Academy graduates to gain the vital support needed to make the jump onto the main roster and excel within the ring.
Over the years WAW has found a home in several different venues throughout Norwich; beginning with the Talk in 1994 before moving to the Corn Exchange until 2000. With the breadth of shows gradually expanding throughout Norfolk and the rest of East Anglia WAW now regularly tours the entire United Kingdom.
A new home was found in 2012 in the form of EPIC Studios, a top quality television production studio in the heart of Norwich, allowing fans from all over the country to easily attend shows thanks to a multitude of transport connections. EPIC Studios became home to Epic Encounters, featuring premium quality wrestling which eventually made its way onto national television on BEN TV and MyChannel in 2014.
A brief sojourn from EPIC saw WAW return its original home, the Talk, in 2015 which finally paved the way for a return to EPIC Studios in January 2016 for the biggest event yet as a TV pilot taping took place, attracting numerous international stars to the organisation who left in awe of the immense homegrown talent existing within WAW.
Things are looking bright for the future of WAW as the prospect of international television deals loom on the horizon, and the renaissance of British wrestling on a worldwide scale looks set to continue with WAW at the helm.