This week I had the chance to interview one of the youngest wrestlers in the UK at the moment Max Voltage. In this interview he discusses how he got started in the business and his hopes for the future.
How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a professional wrestler?
I only began following wrestling at the age of 11 or 12, and it completely blew me away. Different to anything I’d ever seen before, it had an incredible mix of drama and physicality, and I knew right from the outset that I’d like to be involved in the business in some way.
You started training at the FWA Academy just short of your 14th birthday, how did that come about?
Upon deciding that I wanted to be a wrestler, I began searching for a wrestling school in the vicinity. I attended any and every wrestling show that took place locally, and approached various wrestlers, asking for details on how they trained and who I should best approach. Being young and foolhardy, I even walked up to a well known and respected British promoter and confidently offered my skills wrestling on his show that very night, despite the fact that I was completely untrained and 13 years old. Claiming to have great technical skills, I assured him that I would make a grand addition to his show. Taking one long measured look at me, he asked me if I could lock-up. Thinking I had found my way onto the show I confidently said “Sure!” and then proceeded to ask for the keys. It took a moment for me to realize the monumental error I had just made, but realize I did, and under a cloud of intense embarrassment I went back to my seat and enjoyed the rest of the show.
I had long been aware of the FWA, and had attended their Portsmouth-based shows regularly. News that they were setting up a training school within the city was beyond my wildest dreams, and I set about attending a session as soon as I could. Sadly, the age requirements stated that I had to be 16, so I was unable to train. Undeterred, I attended the sessions anyway, watching everything I could, getting in people’s way and periodically pleading to get in the ring. Developing a reputation as an extremely enthusiastic and intensely annoying young man, I was longing for the chance to hop from the sidelines and into the ring itself, and it was with huge elation I heard news of the FWA Academy’s first Weekend Camp. With three days of intensive training with Mark Sloan and Justin Richards promised, as well as a lowered age limit of 14, I was finally allowed to begin my training!
What were the first few months like at the Academy?
Finally being able to embark upon something I had dreamed of for so long was unbelievable. I entered the Weekend Camp with enormous enthusiasm and energy, despite being the smallest trainee there. That camp itself was something to remember, as I met quite a few people with whom I’m friends to this day, and the Camp also featured the first in-ring steps of top young British wrestler Ross Jordan.
Following this Camp I had the chance to attend another the following week, which I was more than happy to do. I was then allowed to train with the Academy full time, and began attending their weekly training sessions. Training in these first few months had an enormous buzz to it, as I constantly learnt new things and developed new skills as the weeks went by.
When learning to wrestle, what’s the hardest part of the training?
As everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, this would be something that varies from person to person. Given my (at the time even more) diminutive stature, I found moves involving lifting your opponent up using brute force to be the most challenging. Overall, though, the hardest aspect of my training is attempting to gain size and muscle, and develop a physique. Being naturally extremely small and possessing a fast metabolism, gaining any weight at all proves difficult, and it is an uphill struggle gaining any muscle mass at all.
You have a high-flying style, what made you decide to adopt that style?
When I began watching wrestling, it was always the wrestlers who flew through the air and took the most risks that I enjoyed watching the most. The fact that I was also naturally unequipped to hurl my opponents around the ring meant that high-flying was something of a natural progression for me – it was a style I was interested in, and it suited me in the ring.
What was your first match like in the Academy?
My debut match, against my trainer Mark Sloan, was something I was not aware about until the day before the show. With only a day’s notice I had no time to be nervous or worry about the match, and the rush of wrestling in front of a live audience was incredibly potent. As I was wrestling my trainer, I felt fairly confident nothing could go terribly wrong, but I did experience a great deal of nerves whilst standing on the stage before my entrance. As a debut match it was nothing to be ashamed of, but as with almost all of my old stuff there are points when I look back and cringe.
You’ve met Mark Sloan on many occasions, what’s he like as a trainer and what is it like actually wrestling your trainer in the ring?
Mark Sloan is without doubt one of the best trainers in England. The list of alumni the Academy has produced speaks for itself, and one has to credit greatly Mark with this. Countless wrestlers from up and down the country (and other countries) have entered the Academy and been gob-smacked at the level at which the school is run, and again, the reason for this is Mark Sloan. Mark has a real talent for extracting the best out of anyone, and really pushing people to their limits. He also demands perfection at all times, which can be extremely intense, but when you see the results they are invariably worth it.
In the ring Mark is a true innovator, with a mind that is constantly bubbling and thinking of new ideas – it is rare to see a match of his in which he doesn’t produce something eye-boggling and out of this world. I spent the first year of my career wrestling Mark in a number of different matches, and I’m extremely thankful of the chance to learn from a 10 year veteran of the UK scene.
What have been your most memorable matches in the Academy?
A number of different matches hold fond memories for me in the Academy – my debut, obviously, for sentimental reasons. The Four-Way featuring Aviv Maayan, Dan Head, Rishi Ghosh and myself – an enormously fun match in which all four of us took a step up in our careers. I’ve had many memorable matches with Rishi Ghosh, including a blindfold match that I can honestly say I will never forget – removing my blindfold to be greeted with the sight of Referee Andy Quildan dressed in Rishi’s skin-tight wrestling shorts is one that will haunt me for as long as I live!
Who are your favourite wrestlers?
I was always a massive Shawn Michaels fan, and he remains one of my favourite wrestlers to this day. In the WWE at the moment I am a great fan of Ric Flair, an untouchable legend in the business, Rey Mysterio Jr., the most influential high-flyer in the world and still the benchmark after all these years, Paul London and Orlando Jordan. I follow the US independent scene, and am naturally a fan of AJ Styles, American Dragon et al. In the UK I am a big fan of Doug Williams and Jonny Storm, however my biggest inspiration is without a doubt Jodie Fleisch, an inspirational and unbelievable performer almost without equal.
This week you wrestle Mark Underwood who obviously has quite a weight advantage over you, how do you approach wrestling guys who have such an advantage over you?
Throughout my career I’ve been faced with this situation time after time – I’m wrestling an opponent larger than me, with a considerable strength advantage. This time is no different, except the stakes are much higher – Mark Underwood is one of the strongest, most vicious and physically intimidating wrestlers in the FWA Academy, and the match is for the FWA Academy Title. Also, Underwood is someone for whom I have minimal respect – he has bullied and cheated his way to the title, and taken liberties with Dan Head, my tag team partner. I may well be smaller than Mark Underwood, but I’ve beaten the odds against larger opponents before, and there’s no way that I’m going to go down without a fight.
You’ve formed quite a successful tag team with Dan Head, how did that come about and most memorable match?
Dan Head and myself took separate paths at the beginnings of our respective careers, however we were brought together as an impromptu pairing in a tag match against Raj and Rishi, the Ghosh brothers. The pairing seemed to work, and as Dan and I are good friends we were more than happy to team together. We’ve gone on to have a great many enjoyable matches, but the one that strikes me as the most memorable took place in Winchester – it pitted Dan Head and myself against Mark Sloan and Stixx, in the finals of the FWA Academy Tag Team Tournament to crown the Number One tag team in the Academy. The stakes had never been higher but, with multiple matches under our belts already that night, we successfully defeated the pairing and earned our spot at the top of the tag team rankings.
Hopes for 2005?
Throughout 2005 I hope to keep improving as a wrestler, keep honing my craft and developing. I also hope to wrestle more up and down the country, gaining experience against a variety of opponents and making sure that Max Voltage is a more recognized name by the end of the year. Many thanks to my fans for all their support, and look out for “The Human Dynamo” in action soon!
For more info about Max see: MaxVoltage.co.uk
For more info about the FWA Academy see: FWATraining.co.uk