This week I managed to catch up with one of the most influential men in wrestling training this side of the pond. Mark Sloan started by setting up his own gym which has now turned in to one of the biggest and most respected training academies in the UK for the FWA. I talked to him about the successes of the ground breaking FutureShock shows as well as the new talent coming through.
How did the idea to run the FutureShock academy shows come about and besides yourself who was involved in getting the first FutureShock event off the ground?
Well basically Futureshock was an idea I had just after FWA : No Surprises 3 in July last year and the concept was shows to showcase what my students had learned and giving them a controlled environment in which to work on crowd interaction before being cast into the spotlight of a main FWA show. It also provided us with videos which we can study and improve on performances which wouldn’t reach too wider an audience that it could be detrimental to their development.
The shows are self supporting, but the FWA Academy was always the back up should the shows not “draw” shall we say, but to be honest, the shows do well enough on their own , a lot of small groups would be proud to have 4 shows with a combined turn out of 600 hundred paying customers. I have a partner on the FWA Academy his name is Graham, he doesn’t really appear on shows or anything so he’s not somebody you will have heard of. He is a major part of the FWA Academy.
The FutureShock events this year have become a regular occurrence which has made FWA a more active federation who gave it the green light to go on a regular basis this year?
Erm, Well they were planned last year and it was just a case of getting a venue and advertising it, we did that and away it went. The venue had to be changed midway through at very short notice and it kind of messed us around but the cards stayed strong and a lot of people liked what they saw. The guys at the Academy worked very hard on every show and it really shows.
The FutureShock series has been praised by everyone who has attended and read about the events how well have you thought things have gone?
In a word, Awesome, the response has been fantastic, we weren’t sure what people would think but the responses have been great. Each show has been unique and a little different. I am trying to think of a bad match on one of the shows and I really can’t remember one. The crowds have enjoyed the shows and the trainees have said how valuable the rate the shows in their learning experience. The guys know what the shows are for and they go out and try and better themselves. The tapes get circulated inside FWA and they know that people will see them and that’s how you get your call up.
The trainee’s better themselves every time and there effort is second to none, they study their matches and try to improve constantly which is all you can ask for. The matches speak for themselves, maybe one day we’ll get round to a best of Futureshock tape.
Many of the FWA shows are now taped for Local TV and SST tapes do you think it would be a good idea to tape some matches from the forth coming AfterShock series to give fans not in attendance a taster of what the future holds for FWA after the success of FutureShock?
Yes and no. I’ll tell you why. Yes because its great to see these guys and they put some great great matches, the stars of the Future if you will at an early stage but then why show it now, when they will more than likely see them on FWA shows in the near future. Although you also get to things on a slightly lighter scale its not so much pressure, one of the Futureshocks were did a 10 man tag at the end of the show and it was a blast, and just about everybody was laughing and joking afterwards. The reasons why I wouldn’t do it, is because of the lack of atmosphere to tapes, I like our edited TV footage tapes but the one camera unedited tapes lose something and people will not feel as excited as they would at the live event. I also believe that’s the reason SST doesn’t get full shows to sell anymore.
FWA has one of the biggest training programmes in the country at the moment which guys that you have trained or watched are your tips for the future and will there be a new wave of talent for the Aftershock series or will it be more grooming of some of the guys seen on the FutureShock series?
Every guy that has an FWA Academy t-shirt is a talent for the future, they are part of my team, my crew. These guys have such potential that they are almost dead certs to be stars in the future. The guys are in groups or series if you like. A few guys that really stand out as possible stars:
James Tighe – “What more needs to be said about this guy , already made the transition to the main FWA roster, POW magazines rookie of the year and one of most competent workers around”
Chris Justice ” Now starting to find his niche, with the dancing gimmick is enjoying great success”
Rajah Ghosh ” A lot of peoples tip to win this years rookie of the year, I have never seen him have a bad match”
Andy Simmonz ” The underdog of all underdogs, very intelligent worker who really understands his roles in matches, and is very over with the crowd
Graham Hughes ” James Tighe Jnr, A great worker with a great attitude at just turn 16 he will be knocking on James door very soon”
Paul Birchall “6’4, 280lbs of the most agile guy I have ever seen, People are raving about him already….Only made 4 appearances in battle royals but this is one guy I would bet everything I owned on him being a breakout star”
Max Olesker “If anybody can do it all its little Max , At just turned 15, he is already comparable to the flying of Jody Fliesch and has a great mat base as well. He also came 2nd in a national public speaking competition so is no stranger to the mic. Great worker.”
Aftershock will feature the Debuts and contining progression of Series 1 and 2. Andy Simmonz, Dave Crispin, Chris Justice and Rajah Ghosh will move up into the upper card and the debuting Paul Birchall, Steve Bellinger and Ian Logan will Join Graham Hughes to make up the main focus of Aftershock.
You openly invite anybody to your training sessions including your recent invitation for some guys from other federations what is your opinion on the whole of UK talent?
UK talent? There’s a tough one to be honest, there is too many people i haven’t seen to really pass judgement. But my only real complaint would be I read interviews about guy getting full debuts after only 4 weeks of “training” you know? its like in 4 weeks are you even competent at bumping? I firmly echo the statements of the “oldskoolers” who say that people have it far too easy these days about getting into the business, but Trust me when I tell you if they come out of the FWA Academy, then the can work and best of all their attitude will be spot on, Respect for the business you betcha……..Most important factor right there, no time fo silly ego’s these guys happily pay their dues when ever they are called on.
What would your advice be for anyone wanting to get involved in Wrestling, who do they need to contact and when are the next training camps taking place?
A tough one for sure, Get some proper training, these are the places I would recommend, FWA Academy in Portsmouth obviously, Drew McDonald has a school in Leeds, Chic Cullen has one Liverpool way I believe, TWA in Southampton run quarterly training camps. Hammerlock have produced some great talent in the past. Get trained properly, your a menace to yourself and others if you don’t get it right. There is a FWA London school in the works as well.
The Academy has a Weeklong Camp in July, its nearly sold out but all details can be found at www.frontierwrestling.com in the training section, or when its back up and running again at www.fwatraining.co.uk. The June weekend is sold out but there will be another in September.
Do you think the time you put in training the new talent in the FWA takes away or gives to your own Wrestling career?
Oh my god, its improved me ten fold, I have been so lucky to have such a great team of guys. They are always pushing for better and I can’t help but better myself, I am there 4 times a week, constantly pushing them to better themselves and they push me to my limits as well, I have matches with them and they won’t settle for second best. James Tighe is always working on new stuff with me. Although the funniest thing is they straight shooters, If something I do isn’t all that they’ll tell me, which is pretty funny there is me thinking I have a great moonsault and they tell me it sucked LOL, I cannot believe how much I have improved since taking on the FWA Academy.
When you were breaking on the scene who trained you and did they inspire you to pass the torch on or is training something you have always wanted to be involved in?
I had been training for about 6 years before I broke onto the scene, most influential guy I had when I was training was a veteran called Dave Hines, he taught me how to wrestle and how to respect the business, its something that stayed with me all the time, a lot of people think I am FWA exclusive but I have worked for over 20 different promotions and actually started my career solely with Brian Dixon’s All Star Promotions.
I can’t say why I really started the training, I started the FWA Academy as my own training gym and from there its got bigger and attracted a lot of publicity etc etc, it was never meant as a big school, just somewhere I could build a team of guys to work with and evolve with. It has just become one of the top centres in the UK because we invest a lot of money into the centre and it really shows……
Where do you see yourself in ten years do you want to keep up the hard work training the FWA stars of the future?
Thanks for donating your time so kindly Mark anything else you would like to add?
Not really, just thanks for taking an interest in the FWA and FWA Academy, maybe you can come and sample one of sessions sometime 🙂
I would love to and would suggest to anyone considering a career in wrestling to do the same.