The Ayrshire Boy that Won the Royal Rumble

If you are in any way familiar with the world of ‘sports entertainment’, you’ll probably have heard of the Royal Rumble. One of the ‘Big 4’ pay-per-views held by WWE, along with Summer Slam, Survivor Series and of course, Wrestlemania. Originally proposed by wrestling legend Pat Patterson, the first Royal Rumble took place in 1988 (and was won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan). The rules of the match are simple; it usually involves 30 superstars who all draw a number for the match. Number 1 and number 2 start the match in the ring with the rest of the entrants coming to the ring at 2 minute intervals (sometimes less) in order of the numbers they have drawn. A superstar is eliminated from the match when they are thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the floor on the outside.

In it’s modern iteration, the last wrestler standing at the end of the match secures themselves an opportunity at winning a title in the main event at Wrestlemania. To this day no wrestler from the United Kingdom has ever become the WWE champion, but many think the wrestler that won the mens royal rumble this past weekend might just be the first.

Andrew McLean Galloway, who currently wrestles in WWE as Drew McIntyre was born right here in Ayr. He has been wrestling since 2003 and started off on the British Independent scene. He began training at the age of 15 at the Frontier Wrestling Alliance Academy and made his debut in the inaugural show of the British Championship Wrestling promotion in Glasgow. He soon developed his first character and went by the name ‘Thee’ Drew Galloway, a cocky, self absorbed heel (bad guy). He would find continued success wrestling for different promotions and even became the first Heavyweight Champion of the now insanely popular Scottish promotion Insane Championship Wrestling, a promotion that Galloway would become synonymous with both before joining WWE and after he initially left. (On a side note if you’re looking for a good night out you could do worse than one of the many shows run by ICW. Support your local indies!)

Drew McIntyre as he’s known in WWE

Galloway first signed to WWE at the end of 2007 where he would change his in-ring name to ‘Drew McIntyre’ and when he eventually moved on to the main roster properly in 2009 he would be heralded by Vince McMahon himself as the ‘Chosen One’, hand picked by Vince himself the be a future world champion. He would go on to have various feuds with the likes of Matt Hardy, R-Truth and Kane and won the company’s intercontinental title early on in his main roster career. He performed through various storylines and eventually became part of a group called 3MB (Three Man Band). At this point it was becoming increasingly obvious that he was never going to be put in the main event spot at that point in his career and after some middling feuds he would be released from his contract in 2014.

This alone would have been enough to make anyone give up hope but Galloway had different plans. The month after he was released from WWE he appeared again for the Glasgow based Insane Championship Wrestling promotion for the first time in 7 years. Back to wrestling as Drew Galloway; by November of the same year he had once again become the Heavyweight Champion. This marked the beginning of a very successful run in the European, Australian and American independent wrestling scenes where he would defend the ICW championship against all comers. Some of the biggest promotions he would wrestle for included Evolve, PWG, TNA, AAA and ICW.

After all of this he would eventually re-sign with WWE in 2017, returning to his WWE name ‘Drew McIntyre’ he wrestled first in the NXT development brand. All of the new experience he had from his run on the independent circuit made him more exciting to watch in the ring and with his new skills and menacing demeanor he quickly ascended to the top of the NXT brand and won the top title there before moving back to the main roster where he currently works.

Mens Royal Rumble 2020 winner

So after all Galloway has been through in his wrestling career, he seems to have come full circle. Vince McMahon only has wrestlers win the Royal Rumble match if he has complete faith in them to go on to carry the company forward. The ‘Scottish Psychopath’ as he’s been billed recently has certainly proven himself worthy of this trust and looks set to possibly be the first ever Scottish WWE champion in the company’s long history.
In saying this Vince McMahon seems to change his mind every 10 minutes and WWE has had a bit of a history of disappointing its fans when it comes to anything to do with Brock Lesnar.

We’ll have to wait and see but here’s to hoping that the big man from Ayr can vanquish the beast and finally fulfill his ‘Chosen One’ prophecy.


Alex Begg & The Problem With Managers

It made the news recently that Ayr based weaving company Alex Begg & Co would be making fifteen shop floor workers redundant in an attempt to cut down costs, due to a “softening in demand and uncertainty over Brexit”. This seems like a weak excuse when comments made by the workers themselves are taken in to account. An insider who contacted the Ayrshire Post claimed that “We were really busy, but it has quietened down quite a bit in the last year and the company had to take out a bank overdraft. But all they seem to do is keep employing more and more management. Now they have decided to pay off the shop floor workers… There’s no management at all going, just the shop floor workers.” This is not uncommon in businesses facing troubling times. Those in the position to make decisions will never vote themselves out of a job, so they calculate how many of the workers below themselves they need to get rid of to keep the company in profit and salvage their own paycheck.

The insider went on to say “They’ve just spent around half a million pounds making new offices, new decking and new computers for office staff. And believe it or not they just spent thousands sending two managers on a team building jaunt to Las Vegas.” So, FIFTEEN of the people that create the products that Alex Begg & Co makes profit from will be out of work just in time for Christmas.

Top-heavy management structures are all too common within businesses, especially in manufacturing. It is believed that a hierarchy is needed, and productivity is only achieved through people telling other people what to do and how fast to do it. However this doesn’t have to be the case; more and more we’re seeing long lasting success in businesses that structure themselves differently. Self-Management (a flat system where workers set their own goals which are reviewed by their peers) and Worker Co-ops (businesses owned by the workers themselves, with decisions made democratically) are just two alternatives to hierarchical business structures which have their roots in Syndicalism (a highly misunderstood and feared term due to its associations with Anarchism), a system in which there are no managers and all workers take collective control of the running of the business. This may sound absurd to some, that workers can get on just fine managing themselves and for these businesses to remain viable, so let me explain…

Having a top-heavy company structure can be inefficient and costly. Having so many layers of approval slows down the system of work. Not only this but having so many managers can result in good ideas being twisted or killed outright by people that are looking out for their own personal interest. It’s a problem that gets worse the more layers you add. Concentrating decision-making power into the hands of individuals- who themselves are often so removed from the realities of production as to be ignorant of its requirements- increases the risk of harmful mistakes that affect the entire business, especially the higher up you go. Decisions that seem smart high up the chain of command often end up being unworkable on the ground and workers on the frontline of the business with experience and insight into the actual production of the products are ignored. Or worse, sacked right before Christmas so bosses can justify expensive new offices and “team building” excursions to Vegas. Having people in far away, incontestable places of power means that bad decisions can’t be challenged and become a huge risk to the business.

In contrast, a self-management structure means that nobody has a boss, employees have a less rigid role in the company and negotiate their responsibilities with their peers depending on what their skills are and what they can bring to the company. There are no job titles or promotions to fight over, knowledge is valued above arbitrary titles. The amount of money that workers earn is decided by peer review and there is no option to move production to other countries so that managers can pay foreign workers less money and gain more in profit. A good real-life example of this working is the Morning Star Company in California. This company processes and distributes tomatoes across a number of large factories and is highly profitable. It is believed that the Morning Star Company is the most efficient tomato processing company in the world and they have no management at all. The company’s vision as described on their website reads “We envision an organization of self-managing professionals who initiate communication and coordination of their activities with fellow colleagues, customers, suppliers and fellow industry participants, absent directives from others. For colleagues to find joy and excitement utilizing their unique talents and to weave those talents into activities which compliment and strengthen fellow colleagues’ activities. And for colleagues to take personal responsibility and hold themselves accountable for achieving our Mission.” Those that work at the Morning Star Company are trusted to do the jobs they are good at and are kept accountable through self-written milestone goals called “Personal Missions” and through review from their peers.

Businesses similar to this have been cropping up all over Scotland. The Worker cooperative sector has grown from 30 businesses in 2015 to 100 in 2018. In Glasgow alone, there has been an overall 17% increase in the co-op economy. For those businesses which have switched over from traditional management structures to worker co-ops, turnover has increased by 35%, and profits are up by 55%. In general worker owned businesses tend to be much more stable as they don’t run the risk of being undone by one bad managers decision.

There is no doubt that there are hardworking managers out there that do their best to contribute to the success of a business and steer away from abusing the power they are given. The point is that there is more than one way to structure a business and it seems that those companies that do move away from hierarchy and the politics of power tend to operate better in the long run.

So, perhaps if Alex Begg & Co wish to future-proof themselves and move forward with creative solutions to production, they should first fire the managers, and let the workers do what they do best.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Theatre On The Borderline

by Ryan Wilson

Last week the Daily Record reported that work is underway to reopen the Borderline Theatre in Ayr. With development spearheaded by Kelly Craig and Ross Hunter, along with Chris Taylor of Hipshot Youth Theatre group, the historic theatre is set to reopen after a decade of closure.

The Borderline Theatre first opened in 1974 and quickly developed a reputation for entertaining and accessible productions, often with an emphasis on community theatre and engagement. Throughout the years, The Borderline Theatre played host to an abundance of Scottish stars, including Billy Connolly, Elaine C Smith, Alan Cummings and Robbie Coltrane. Many productions found widespread acclaim, touring national theatre circuits and garnering numerous awards. The theatre supported emerging talent- commissioning renowned Scottish playwright Liz Lochhead’s first play Shanghaied in 1988- and collaborated with the likes of Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in producing Douglas Maxwell’s Our Bad Magnet in 2001.

In 2006 however, the Scottish Arts Council removed regular funding for the Borderline theatre. The theatre, while still producing acclaimed works, operated on a shoe-string budget but was nevertheless forced to close its doors in 2009. The Borderline Theatre Company- the production company who founded the theatre in the converted Darlington Church on Main Street – now operate out of the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr.

It isn’t altogether surprising that this once renowned theatre would close amidst cashflow problems; with widespread austerity and cutbacks, arts funding is often the first thing to go from government budgets, and with the undeniable pull of the city for emerging talent- with its bigger stages and status as cultural hub- inevitably, smaller art spaces and projects bear the brunt of the damage. While theatres standing empty with windows boarded up is a sorry sight for residents of these towns, the effects this can have on communities is more widespread: School trips to the theatre suddenly become more expensive or stop altogether; youth drama projects stop teaching young people new skills and building their confidence; small businesses can no longer advertise their services to local patrons; new and emerging talent aren’t given a space to develop their skills, and are often forced away from the local area to the highly competitive arts scenes in the city; most importantly, without the communal spirit of the likes of the local theatre, communities become more insular and atomised. Opportunities to tell our own stories and celebrate our own talents are missed. Without local arts, whole areas become nothing more than commuter towns, towns with pubs and beds and factories and little else. Local arts in any form unites people around a common interest and provides a platform of communication and entertainment away from the isolation of the living room.

Across the board, from musicians and actors to painters and filmmakers, artists are facing difficulty in pursuing and developing projects, never mind bringing them to an audience. In a world of personalised Spotify playlists and Netflix recommended feeds, it can be difficult to coax people out of the comfort of their homes to take a chance on something they might not enjoy or be accustomed to. For arts venues it’s increasingly important to promote and provide for diverse works; venues fare better when the space is adaptable to a wider variety of artistic pursuits and interests.

The team behind the Borderline Theatre reopening are well aware of this and have outlined plans to use the space for community theatre, as well as film screenings, live music events, and arts classes. Of the development of the project, Kelly said, “The town is crying out for a venue like this to be revived. Ayr is full of students and there is a desperate need for a live music venue and community theatre space.” This would present a fantastic opportunity for UWS and Ayr College students- campuses with significant numbers of performance and arts students- to bring their work out of the classroom and into the community, and the same would be true of local artists or groups from a wide range of artistic backgrounds.

While the benefits of theatre and arts for communities is undeniable, and the Borderline Theatre renovation is a welcome and worthy venture for Kelly Craig and Ross Hunter, its unclear how feasible it will be to maintain the project long term amidst a tumultuous arts funding climate; The larger Gaiety Theatre in Ayr had its own regular funding cut in 2018 and was forced to scale back its operations. With government funding cuts to the arts, it falls to us, the residents of these communities to support the arts and entertainment we want to see, whether that be through fundraising, volunteering services or simply buying tickets.

If Ayrshire is to continue to have its own artistic voice and identity, then it’s important for us to show our support for innovative and restorative projects like the reopening of the Borderline Theatre.

If you would like to support the project, you can contact Ross Hunter at: