Peter Pan in a Bullet-Proof Jacket
From Planet 225

Tom Alcott on how wrestling offers a portal into his childhood in Merthyr, and the art of creating new, more exciting versions of ourselves…

It’s funny to watch a person’s expression slowly change when I tell them about my PhD. First their eyes squint and then the rest of their face screws up in a quizzical fashion as they just look at me, desperately trying to work out if I’m joking or not. I always wait a moment just for it to sink in; a PhD in professional wrestling... Then I wait for the inevitable question: why?

Why would a thirty-one-year-old sports and film fanatic from Merthyr Tydfil dedicate over three years of his life to studying wrestling? Wrestling, that elaborately staged sport that so many people associate with larger-than-life American figures such as Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin?

To try and explain I’ll have to go back eighteen years. Back to when I was playing under-16s football for Penydarren Boys Club.

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