This is one of the toughest pieces that I will ever have to write. It’s less than three hours since I found out that my friend, travel partner and website co-founder Stewart Allen passed away last night at the age of 37. No details are known about what happened, but Stew revealed on Friday that he was undergoing tests for an undiagnosed illness which may have been lymphoma – though that’s not to say that it was the cause of his untimely passing. However, this post is not about the sadness of his passing but the celebration of his life and how his fingerprints can be found all over the world of wrestling.
Born on September 5, 1977, Stew caught the pro-wrestling bug early by watching British grappling on Saturday afternoons before finding the World Wrestling Federation and National Wrestling Alliance. Moving from his home of Ballymena in Northern Ireland to London to study law helped him to truly absorb himself in the wrestling scene and he became a fixture in the audience as well as immersing himself in whatever he could find to watch on videotapes or DVDs, which led to him discovering women’s wrestling courtesy of Beth Phoenix’s appearances in Ohio Valley Wrestling alongside Aaron Stevens and Shelly Martinez.
An interest with the Glamazon led him to find SHIMMER: Women Athletes, as she competed on the first two volumes before signing with World Wrestling Entertainment. Mass purchasing of the DVDs followed and then led to ChickFight, which was holding its first UK show on January 14, 2007 – which is the day I met the guy who would become one of my closest friends.
Officially, Stew and I were podcasting rivals as we had audio shows – and while the $&M show was more about the British scene and Powerslam Radio focussed more on WWE & TNA, women’s wrestling was a place where things overlapped as both he and I were keen on the rising scene. In fact, it was Stew who advised me on which SHIMMER volume should be my first foray into the product. We crossed paths again three months later at ChickFight VIII and against at ChickFight IX two months after that, and by this point were were pretty familiar with each other and the women’s wrestling outlook. A four-man squad emerged with Stew, myself, Steve McCullagh and Matthew Jones musing over the idea of going to Chicago the following year to catch a SHIMMER event, and the idea became a reality. As it turned out, one trip turned into 12, with Stew hopping the Atlantic twice a year to support the world’s best female wrestlers, as well as taking in trips to New York and Montreal to watch the likes of Jersey All Pro Wrestling and NCW Femmes Fatales.
While visitors to this website will know Stew for his writing and his tireless work on the Women Of Wrestling Podcast – started on a semi-whim in mid-2009 when he and I agreed that there wasn’t enough focus on female wrestlers, the stories that they have to tell and the experiences that they have had – he has been involved in many different aspects of the wrestling scene. As well as being a writer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, he has provided commentary for New Japan Pro Wrestling, CMLL, Dragon Gate UK and Bellatrix as well as for Mixed Martial Arts broadcasts shown around the world.
In addition, he has helped numerous wrestlers over the years to expand themselves by suggesting them to promoters and encouraging said wrestlers to dream bigger than they ever thought possible. While he never had the final say, his recommendations came highly regarded and have seen numerous men and women to achieve in this business. Never asking for preferential treatment, favours or public shows of gratitude, his selfless and tireless work to help others is woven through promotions on both sides of the Atlantic. Even during his recent bout of ill health he reached out and offered support to British wrestler Kris Travis, who has recently undergone surgery for stomach cancer and is facing months of chemotherapy. On a personal level, he was there to offer a sensitive ear when I was going through tough times and I will always be grateful for that. That’s just the sort of guy he was – he would put others ahead of himself, always.
A fan of Arsenal, KISS, Star Wars, James Bond and much more, Stew had many passions and many people who he could call his friends. One of them left her own personal message on Twitter:
Stew supported Paige from day one and followed her ascent from a Norfolk Doll in her mid-teens to the Diva sensation which she is today, and wrote a big piece when she debuted in Florida Championship Wrestling in January 2012 about his hopes for her – all of which have come to fruition. She will never have a more supportive and dedicated fan.
A look at how many people have mentioned his passing on Twitter shows just how many lives he’s touched. His own Twitter bio reads ‘The world is rarely a fair place. That’s why it has people like me.’
The world is a little more unfair now that he’s not part of it.
Rest easy Stew – you’ll never know how much you meant to so many people.
David Stewart Allen
September 5, 1977 – October 13, 2014