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Now, unlike the previous interviews we’ve had, today we’re actually featuring her husband, Alex, who is more commonly known as Crater (yes, the Crater of ITV fame).
Why aren’t we interviewing him directly?
Well, have you read this? Have you seen the following video? Yep, we’re talking to his wife. 😀
JADE: Full disclosure, I’m a massive WWE fan but stopped following wrestling altogether when I moved to the UK, wrongly assuming that the UK is all about football. I was totally clueless!
So, imagine my elation when I met Dani online and then found out that she’s married to a wrestler! Obviously, we just had to ask if they’d be okay with Crater being featured in our Beyond The 9-5 Series and they AGREED!!! (Ahem, yes, sorry for the full-on groupie shriek hah!)
Anyway, let’s get a move on and go to the good parts of this interview so you can learn more about Crater, how to become a wrestler in the UK and go beyond your usual 9-5.
As his wife, can you give us a brief intro, Dani?
Crater (or Alex, as he is more commonly known by his ol’ wifey!) is my 29 year old, 30+ stone Manchester-based wrestler of a husband.
When he’s not throwing people around in a wrestling ring, he loves a bit of gaming, watching films, losing himself down a YouTube rabbit hole or Netflix binge & working out strongman style in our purpose-built garage gym, fully equipped with atlas stones, a yoke & farmers carry.
Although a super heavyweight, working out is important to him for reasons beyond his wrestling career & paid off when he smashed first place in the strongman competition he entered.
On wrestling in the UK
Soooo, wrestling. That sounds like fun! How did he get into the business? Who/what inspired him? Did he always want to be a wrestler?
Although his younger brother was a big fan, Crater wasn’t a huge follower of wrestling as they didn’t have Sky TV so was more of a fair-weather fan til his brother was watching WWE DVDs on a portable player on the way home from a family holiday & he thought how fun it looked.
He’d always played rugby but was growing tired of it & wanted a new outlet so searched for a British wrestling school & found an established, reputable one locally.
He joined Futureshock 13 years ago with what he thought was just going to be a hobby & never looked back.
As it happened, not only did he enjoy it but was pretty damn good at it & began getting show bookings after just 11 months of hard training, starting locally before travelling across the UK & later wrestling internationally.
What was the journey like for him? What were the high points and the low points? What made him keep going when things got challenging?
In the early days, it was full of fun & excitement but he soon learnt that it gets tougher the further on into the journey he gets.
The pressure he puts on himself gets more intense as it goes from needing to be good enough to entertain a crowd of 20 to a crowd of 2000 but there’s always comfort in knowing that he’s not alone in this, with a good bunch of friends in the wrestling industry feeling the same highs & lows as he feels.
The overall challenge is in continuing to love the sport when it stops being a fun hobby & starts being a serious job, but it’s a labour of love that he continues to do to make his late mother (& biggest fan) proud.
Other than multiple concussions & losing his wonderful mum just before things really started getting good, his lowest point was breaking his ankle on a show in Holland & having to take months out to recover.
But the high points far outweigh the lows.
In the last year alone he has been a major part of ITV’s Saturday night wrestling revival, WOS Wrestling, on a 10-part TV series & a nationwide tour. He also went on a wrestling tour of Pakistan & had a wrestling residency on a televised wrestling show in Germany in addition to his plethora of local north-west & UK shows.
And things just keep getting better with more & more opportunities being put in front of him.
Did he ever consider giving up or going back to the 9-5? Why (not)?
Working full time in the financial industry plus doing up to three wrestling shows a week was always very tough because he quite literally didn’t have a spare minute & life became exhausting.
But over the years as more opportunities started opening up, wrestling has become the new 9-5 & spare time – despite still being a luxury – has been reclaimed. We have a life again!
Did he ever work as an employee? If so, what was it like to transition from being an employee to working for himself? What’s the most fun/rewarding part? What are some of the challenges and how did he manage these?
The transition was tough because it meant not having a day off from either job for months at a time, sometimes even having to take annual leave to finish his office job early in order to make a wrestling show the same evening but he has always been a firm believer in “hard work pays off”.
It was as mentally draining as it was physically gruelling & friendships with anyone outside the wrestling industry began to fizzle out.
Finding time to train & prepare meals became a hassle but, by doing all of this, he was able to go from working ridiculous hours 7 days a week to doing a job that he loves!
The obvious rewards to this are having spare time, family time & an actual life but the benefits it’s having on his wellbeing – both mentally & physically – & social life are amazing.
Being able to sleep is another huge benefit that was never expected to have been an issue in the early days of what was then a wrestling “hobby”.
Can you give us a walkthrough on how to get into professional wrestling in the UK and how to get into pro wrestling shape? What are the first and/or most important steps he took to get started in wrestling?
- The most frequently overlooked thing to understand is that you can start your wrestling career from scratch. Although a certain level of fitness is advantageous, you are taught everything you need to know so don’t feel you must already be an athlete to begin training. However, do be aware that to get there you need to put in a lot of work (strength, cardio, nutrition, meal prep) beyond the wrestling training.
- Finding a reputable training school is key to ensure what you’re done is in good form & done safely. He trained at what was then called Futureshock Training School, who longer train under that name but still put on several shows a month & are in their 15th year.
(Side note: Futureshock shows are my personal favourite shows to watch him on because of the variety of the talent they use & the intensity of the crowd – I thoroughly recommend this promotion if you’re ever in Manchester!)
- The struggle is real when it comes to rejection & ghosting. If you contact 100 promoters for bookings & get one reply, take that as a win! It’s a very competitive industry with lots of wrestlers vying for the same spots so don’t take the rejections personally but use any constructive criticism as fuel for self-improvement.
- Because the competition is rife, it’s so hard to be unique in such a saturated market so finding a gimmick (i.e. your own USP) is important to make yourself stand out. Sometimes these are the product of a wrestler’s own creativity & other times promoters have their input but an original gimmick well done is vital to get yourself seen & – more importantly – remembered.
- Being nervous is normal & if you’re not feeling the nerves when you step through the curtain, your heart isn’t in it. Alex still gets nervous with every show even after all these years & even more so when there’s somebody he knows personally (such as the time I arrived at a show with a whole gaggle of colleagues from my day job & various members of their families!) is in attendance.
- Be prepared for post-show come down afterwards once the adrenaline has worn off & you go from being a star with crowds chanting your name to just another cog in the corporate machine in one fell swoop. The highs are the best highs one can ever experience but the lows really are low.
Knowing what he does now, do you think there’s anything that Crater would’ve done differently?
He never expected to gain such a huge & loyal fan following so he would’ve prepared himself more for that.
Getting recognised “in real life” always makes him feel embarrassed as he never knows how to react; Crater would know what to do but Alex is a different story!
On a more personal level, if he’d have known how much his own self-belief – or lack thereof – was going to hold him back, he would definitely have done things differently to allow himself to fully enjoy & be proud of the many achievements of his wrestling career.
There are so many matches, titles, opportunities, appearances, fan reactions that I’m crazy proud of him for that he is just too humble & uncertain about himself to feel that first hand.
What advice would you both give on how to become a wrestler in the UK? What can they expect? What qualities, skills or certifications do you need to have? What qualifications do you need to be a wrestler?
A certain level of fitness is advantageous & no qualifications are required but, as we’ve already discussed, a reputable training school is vital as most skills required as an athlete & a performer is taught in your training.
Training is such an important part of wrestling & you never stop learning throughout your progress – even now, Alex is still learning & is always open to receive feedback & advice from peers & fans alike.
Aside from the physical aspects of wrestling, determination & a thick skin are important attributes to hold if you want to become a pro-wrestler because, quite simply, it’s tough.
Opportunities won’t be handed to you & you won’t instantly earn a wage doing what other talents on the same roster are already being paid for, you just have to keep working hard, reap the benefits as & when they happen & never take any knock-backs personally.
Does he have upcoming events, activities or promotions?
It sounds a bit cliche to say we never know whether he’s coming or going but it’s true!
Between his work on ITV’s WOS Wrestling & travelling the length of the UK for the likes of Futureshock (Manchester), Pinfall (Salford), Full Tilt (Newcastle), NGW (Hull) & Britannia Wrestling Promotions (Wales), he even finds himself wrestling at the most unexpected places like Butlin’s holiday camps & Gulliver’s World theme parks.
There’s never a dull moment in his itinerary & you can keep on top of it all on his Instagram at @monster.crater.
Aside from being a professional wrestler, what else is he working on? What else keeps him busy?
You might be seeing his unmasked face on TV screens as he is being snapped up for personal appearances, film & TV work as both Crater & Alex.
He’s so far beaten up Jimmy Carr in a skit on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown & has done some filming with Sara Pascoe, Russell Kane & Phil Wang for TV channel, Dave.
Can you give us a picture of what a typical day looks like for Crater?
The difference between a show day & a regular day is huge.
A regular day is all about family dog walks, TV catch up, gaming, a bit of meal prep & working out in our garage-turned-strongman-gym, while show days are crazy hectic.
On a show day, there’s a mad rush of on-the-go packing & planning that doesn’t stop til he gets home that night or even the next day if it’s a full weekend stint like the Butlin’s camps (where he smashes Skegness, Bognor & Minehead in one weekend!).
It always starts with just a smaller workout so as not to do too much or risk injuring himself before a show, followed by a quick game on the PS4 to unwind & prepare mentally before being picked up & taken to the show venue.
This is always a tedious & uncomfortable part – being bundled into a cramped car for hours.
But it’s still enjoyable as he’s with like-minded wrestlers who can talk about & relate to such a niche that not others can discuss.
Once at the venue it’s all hands on deck.
The ring gets put up by the promotion & the fresher-faced talents on the show, as the general rule of wrestling is that newer wrestlers earn their stripes by helping with rigging.
Due to his advanced years in the wrestling industry & so many people coming up through the ranks, this has become something Alex isn’t asked to be part of anymore. But he still makes sure he’s on hand to help wherever he can, whether setting up the show or giving advice to newcomers.
Then it’s showtime!
And, rather amusingly, this is the quickest part of the day!
It’s a huge adrenaline rush &, before he knows it, it’s time to wind down & go back home.
The aftermath of a show, however, can often be as hectic as the set up with photographers snapping promo shots, discussions with talent & promoters about upcoming shows & usually fan meet & greets, which are always tonnes of fun!
But due to his current gimmick of being the masked monster, he has to protect his character image and being “nice” is not in character. This is usually saved for “faces” (i.e. the good guys), which means Alex having to sneak out of special exits or wait til everyone leaves the venue.
It’s not all glitz & glam!
Finally, after another cramped car journey, he’s home to try unwind as a normal 9-5 shift worker – like myself – would do, with a couple of hours to chill out & catch some TV with me (if still awake as gets home ridiculously late after most shows) before bed, ready to do all again.
But, with all that said, every show & every show day throws something new at him so he is always on his toes & wrestling is always kept fun & fresh for him!
How about you, Dani? Can you tell us a little bit about your own The Unseasoned Wag? Who is it for (audience)? What information can people expect to find in your blog? What made you start a blog in the first place?
We all have an idea of what footballers’ wives are like with the paparazzi & prosecco lifestyle we see in the tabloids but being a wrestler’s wife couldn’t be further from that!
I thought discussing the contrasts & comparisons with direct reference to our lives would be an interesting idea & a lovely way for me to document our married life together & his wrestling achievements to look back on in years to come.
I’m also passionate about mental wellness & have always been a huge advocate of not bottling things up. So, launching a blog is a therapeutic personal outlet that also serves as the beginnings of a portfolio for my writing, as I have secretly had a dream of writing since my teens that, until now, I had never done anything about.
My blog is the ongoing story of how I wife & how I life, discussing everything that I find along the way – from how I spend my alone time when he’s wrestling away to the pressures I face as a fat woman. Although it sounds a ridiculously niche position to write from as the wife of a British pro-wrestler but it’s all surprisingly relatable stuff – as you can see from this whole interview, there’s a lot of life skills that can be applied to or taken from the art of British wrestling!
Thank you very much for taking part, Dani and Crater. 🙂
To recap, these are the things you need to remember:
1. Quality training is a must.
2. A thick skin is all but mandatory.
3. Rejection is rampant but it’s okay. You don’t need 100% acceptance. 1 in a 100 could be enough.
4. Be creative and be unique.
5. Promote, promote, promote.
6. Feel the fear but do it anyway.
7. The highs are incredible and so can, the lows. So, be prepared.
We hope that this interview piece has given you a clearer picture if you wanted to learn how to become a wrestler in the UK.
It’s not all fun and games, as you can see. But if your heart is really in it then nothing is too hard.
Enjoy and we look forward to seeing you in the ring!