Saturday, June 8, 2013

Crimson Mask, Part 1

I love shooting bloody wrestling pictures.  Not all the time, but I never missed an opportunity to get a good bloody face pic.  I had several wrestlers who made sure to "freeze" so I got a good shot.  Used wisely, blood adds drama, anger, sympathy and vengeance to a match.  Used unwisely, it looks amateurish and desensitizes the crowd.

I came across these pictures below this morning and thought I would share them.  This was a six man tag match between Ethan Case, Law and Tattoo against Wicked, Torment and _____(?-I can't for the life of me remember his name, if anyone can help),  I can't recall the events that led up to this brutal match, but here you go.  From 21 January 2006, Southern Wrestling Association in Forest City, NC:


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reid Flair

I was on the road in Spartanburg, SC on Friday, 29 March when I got two simultaneous texts after 1pm.  Reid Flair is dead they both said.  Tragic news and I thought what a shame, and what a loss, and what a lesson.  I'm not going to go into the wrongs or rights about Reid's life - it's not my place.  I was just a wrestling photographer.  So I'm going to show you some pictures.

These were taken on 6 December 2008, at Vance High School in Charlotte.  Wrestling in the Queen City on  Saturday night - a great feeling.  I was working for Highspots doing the VIP photo ops for Ric Flair.  This was the year of Ric's retirement and his big match at WrestleMania 24.  Everybody wanted a photo with the Nature Boy and I was lucky enough to get to be the cameraman.

His appearances for Highspots would culminate at a Premiere Wrestling Showcase show on 12/6 where he would be at ringside with his sons David & Reid versus The Nasty Boys with Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart. The special guest referee: Hulk Hogan.  The match was touted at Reid's debut match...which was sort of true.

As you can see below, Ric was a proud father at ringside.  He spoke before the match about his history in the Charlotte area and thanked the fans for supporting his sons and his career.  The Flair family was at ringside also.  The Nasty Boys did their best to beat the crap out of Reid, but in the end it was a 3-way Figure Four leglock that ended the show (the crowd went apeshit for this-it was a wall of sound coming at me from behind).  I had forgotten about the last two photos, and they seem more important now that Reid is gone. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Turn out the lights…the party’s over…

Originally published on 31 January 2010

To the fans, wrestlers, promoters, friends of RSPDN and others,

Of course you’ve all noticed that I have been on an extended break.  The last show I shot was NWA Anarchy on 19 September 2009.  Since that time I have been doing a lot of thinking and I have reached a decision.  It has taken me over four months to reach this decision because pro-wrestling has been a very important and large part of my life since 2004.  March 2010 would be my sixth anniversary of taking wrestling photos.

I have decided though, it’s time for me to hang up the camera.  I’m not going to say retirement, because you retire from a career, and I think the word “quitting” sounds so negative, so… I’m stopping.  I’m not saying that you will never see me at ringside again but for now I am done.

First, thanks to you all that helped make this possible.  You’ve helped make a childhood dream become reality.  There are too many to list, but I’ve thanked them before and I do so again.

In the past years I have given up a lot to be a part of wrestling, those of you involved understand.  At the time you focus on getting to the next show.  I have realized though that during this time I have neglected much in my personal life; friends, family, my career, etc.

I’m not getting any younger – and though I’m only 34 years old (I know, most of you thought at least 40!) I wish I had gotten involved in my early 20s, not 30s.

In my short time I have seen a lot of great talent – men and women who eat/sleep/breathe this sport – who strive with every fiber of their being to “make it.”  To them I wish the best of luck!  Many of you deserve it.  Then I’ll be able to say “I knew _____ back when!”…Then maybe I could make big money on their old photos!

I’ve also seen my share of folks who are just happy to go out and entertain the fans who showed up at the local show, and are good at it.  More power to you guys, you make it real for the local fans…What else have I seen?  Those poor souls who have no training, no clue, no gimmick, no personality, no chance.  In the word of a friend, ‘take two weeks off, come back and retire.”  I’m not going to name any names but there are plenty out there.

I never expected to make a living doing this and all told, I’m way in the hole, but that never bothered me – I was having too much fun.  I had one goal – to get published in Pro Wrestling Illustrated – and I did!  A handful of times, and I’m not ashamed to admit I have at least 3 copies of the magazines my photos appeared in.

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough.  Again thanks to everyone who supported us – financially, or by just saying “that was a great shot.”  It was all appreciated.  For now, I will be content to buy a ticket and sit on the other side of the barrier; it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.

Blake Arledge