Wrestling ‘death match’ in Durham investigated over strimmer violence

A “death match” wrestling contest in which a bloodied performer attacked his rival with a garden strimmer in front of children is being investigated by health and safety officers.

Police in Durham said they were working with the local council to investigate complaints about the show at the Conservative Club in Seaham.

A video of the event, circulated online, shows children watching a blood-covered wrestler in his underpants using an electric lawn strimmer to cut his opponent, Ronnie Thatcher. Someone watching says: “A strimmer is for cutting grass, not Ronnie Thatcher.”

Colliery Championship Wrestling (CCW), which promotes themed events based on the north-east’s mining heritage, offered discounted family tickets for the event on 29 April. The posters made no mention that the show would include a so-called “death match”, which involves weapons.

James Barrass, CCW’s promoter, told BBC Tees that the match “escalated”. “Things can kinda sometimes not always go to plan. Obviously there was a little bit more that went down. I spoke to the two guys afterwards. We had discussions and obviously that will not be happening again.”

He admitted the event “wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea”, adding: “We have apologised, but how many times do you say sorry? How many times do you have to be penalised in life?”

Benji, a Teesside-based wrestler, said while so-called death matches were popular in some contexts, they were inappropriate for children to watch. “I’ve never seen this in my time in wrestling,” he told the BBC. “I’ve been involved for seven years and I’ve never seen this type of ultraviolence in front of a family audience.”

He said he did not believe a death match could take place without having been planned.

Barrass, 25, told the BBC he would promote similar events in future but sell tickets only to over-18s.

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Joanne Waller, Durham county council’s head of community protection, said: “We can confirm we have been made aware of concerns about a wrestling event at New Seaham Conservative Club on 29 April.

“Our licensing and health and safety teams are currently investigating and it would be inappropriate to comment further while these inquiries are ongoing.”

A Durham constabulary spokesperson said: “We are working with Durham county council’s licensing team after a number of complaints were received by the local authority in relation to an event at Seaham Conservative Club on April 29. Inquiries are ongoing.”