Indie Spotlight Watch: ‘The Product’ David Starr

David Starr
Photo / Rob Brazier @ The Head Drop

The cream in your coffee; Your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler; The Jewish cannon – David Starr.

Currently sitting near the top of a very hot UK wrestling scene, David Starr is certainly a man you need to take notice of. Starr’s ledger has him coming off an epic run as Rev Pro’s British Cruiserweight champion. Just last week he defeated Rampage Brown to become the Defiant champion. And the big one stands as his victory at PROGRESS’ Super Strong Style 16 tournament in May. For those who are unaware, this guarantees the victor a world title shot at the show of their choosing – usually taken at September’s big show. His biggest contribution to the industry may not lie in the ring, however. Starr, along with photographer James Musselwhite, is seeking to change working conditions for all pro-wrestlers with their We The Independent movement.

The physical embodiment of charisma; The king of taunts; The main event

Born Max Barsky in Philadelphia, PA in 1991, Starr showed all the signs of where his journey would take him when he began amateur wrestling at the age of 7. Amassing an impressive record, Starr was third all-time with 92 wins. Wrestling for the school of Abington High, he placed in the top 16 at the National High School Coaches Association nationals between 149-157 pounds. Dropping out of college in 2012, Starr would take to the indies all over America.

Wrestling in promotions as diverse as World Xtreme Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, TNA, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor. Making a name for himself across the circuit as a solid hand, Starr, nevertheless, was unsuccessful when he received a try-out for WWE in 2014. Working a ground-based, unflashy style Starr wouldn’t necessarily stand out during a brief try-out. Indeed, it was really when he dipped his feet further into the waters of European wrestling, that Starr began to get real notoriety for his skills.

David Starr
Photo / Twitter @TheProductDS

Mr. Americanrana; Davey Wrestling; The most entertaining man in professional wrestling

It’s somewhat hard to classify in Europe where most wrestlers would call a home promotion (being as you see a lot of the same faces in a lot of promotions), but wXw in Germany is surely close to Starr’s heart. His revered, and long-running rivalry with (current WWE UK champion) Walter began there and has taken in a multitude of promotions (Starr is yet to defeat the Austrian). wXw was the company in which Starr began to express himself creatively to his fullest, and set the stage for his work across the English Channel for multiple promotions in Britain.

Of note, he embarked on a year-long run with Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Cruiserweight title. From May 11, 2018, to May 11, 2019, Starr reigned and wrestled every show, whilst the Heavyweight title was absent (held by Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki at various points). This lead to the cruiser title being seen as the company’s main belt, and Starr being cheered. Despite working heel, as an anti-Andy Quildan (Rev Pro’s owner/promoter), conspiracy nut, fans respected Starr’s work ethic and style. Consistently putting on rock-solid matches and cutting killer promos, Starr would become more of a tweener, so consistently consistent was he. It wasn’t enough to save him from passing the title on to El Phantasmo in an excellent ladder match at Epic Encounter, however.

The Bernie Sanders of professional wrestling; The 104-minute man; He’s really good at Twitter

As one of the three biggest promotions in the UK, PROGRESS seemed a bit of a non-starter for Starr for his first couple of years. Being brought in, due to fan demand, for Super Strong Style 16 in 2017, he wouldn’t exactly set the world on fire as far as wins and losses are concerned. A look at profightdb.com tells us that, to date, Starr has won just 9 matches and lost 19. Still, putting in sterling (losing) efforts against the likes of Zack Sabre Jr, Chris Brookes, Travis Banks and, of course, Walter, certainly didn’t harm his standing in the eyes of the PROGRESS Ultras.

Wrestling with Strong Style, and utilizing fan-pleasing mic work – such as his multitude of nicknames during his ring introduction – got Starr over to the point that wins and losses didn’t affect his standing the eyes of the fans. And so, it was a surprising development when our man took the win at this year’s Super Strong Style 16 in May, beating NXT UK luminaries on his way to victory. This was especially surprising as the three men who book WWE’s British brand are the founders and bookers of PROGRESS.

Many expected a WWE contracted star to take the win, not a fully independent wrestler – someone who harked back to PROGRESS’s roots. And therein lies what may be Starr’s most important contribution to the British wrestling industry. This was the weekend that saw the start of the We The Independent movement “to promote solidarity amongst fellow workers,” in his own words. T-Shirts bearing the Independent insignia were dotted through the crowd, and something was clearly afoot.

David Starr
Photo / Twitter @TheProductDS

The Product; The Independent – David Starr

If you visit www.wetheindependent.com (and you should), you will be greeted by an eloquent, inspiring promo from Starr explaining the purpose of what may look like any other site selling a wrestler’s merch. You can find t-shirts, hats, pins et al, but the meaning behind the term Independent here is to “[…] ensure the security of our rights, and the empowerment of labor.” Yes, David Starr and partner James Musselwhite are aiming to unionize pro wrestling in the UK. Intending to do this through the entertainment union Equity (www.equity.org.uk), they are using the funds raised from the sale of their merchandise to put into a pot for wrestlers who want to sign up to the said union.

As detailed on the movement’s first podcast (available through their web site), the aim is to create a list of best practice and conditions that promoters would have to sign up to abide by in order to book a wrestler signed up to Equity. This could be something as simple as supplying food and drink backstage for the talent (Starr notes that you would be shocked the lack of hydration available from some companies). Or, having separate changing rooms for the men and women. It could be something as major as paying the talent what was agreed upon when the booking took place.  This is something that could be very important for future generations of pro wrestlers and should be applauded and supported.

David Starr will likely face Walter for the PROGRESS World Title at Chapter 95 – Still Chasing on September 15th. Will the Independent man beat the WWE contracted talent for the first time in to win the big one?