Recently our newest contributer had the opportunity to interview on of the best up and coming wrestlers in the UK, David Graves. A relative newcomer to the British Wrestling scene, Graves is probably one of the best kept secrets on the UK scene but recently did enough to earn himself a spot in the Calling Spots Championship Tournament. Despite being eliminated from the first round by his friend and occasional tag partner Liam Slater, Graves’ showing against such a highly talented performer such as Slater was enough to convince Kelly that Graves is someone that will not a secret for much longer.
Lewis Kelly – Hello David and thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Coming up in the world of British wrestling seems to be a very hard task. How hard do you have to push to get your name out there? And are you wrestling as often as you would like to be?
David Graves – Hello, thanks for having me! It’s definitely not easy, I do think however with the increased popularity of social media and more accessible, good quality training it’s easier now for guys coming up to build a body of work, a brand and have eyes on that pretty much straight away. Especially in comparison to those currently in the upper echelon of British wrestling who had a lot more leg work to do. Come the end of September I’ll have been wrestling for four years and I know in myself that I’m only just starting to scratch the surface. For the first two years I wrestled only for Grapple Wrestling (where I’ve had the majority of my training) I think because I didn’t feel ready to wrestle “outside” of there, then came the end of University, the end of my rugby playing and coaching duties and an increased quality of training which all combined to push me forward and out of that comfortable bubble I was in. For the last couple of years I’ve been working hard to wrestle as often and as many places as I can against as many different opponents but I know that I can always work harder. I’m definitely not satisfied with where I’m currently at is what I guess I’m trying to say.
LK – Speaking of finding time to wrestle whilst balancing a regular job, we recently spoke to Jed Masters. Jed is a postman by day and a wrestler by night. How hard does a wrestler have to work out here on the indies to make it a full time thing? Do you set yourself goals for how often you want to wrestle and train?
DG – Much like with any job if you want to make a career out of it then you’ve got to put in the time and effort with training, making the most of opportunities presented to you and networking. I look up to El Ligero massively in that respect. You only have to look at the number of matches he wrestles a year, the hundreds of different promotions he’s worked for and the hours spent training on a weekly basis to realise that wrestling is not a hobby to him, it’s his life. it’s something he’s worked hard at for a long time with the goal of making a full time living out of it, and he’s doing it and I am so envious of him for that, but then at the same time seeing him do it and listening to him talk about it on a weekly basis is really inspiring and makes me want the same success in the future.
As far as goals for wrestling and training go, I look to get in the gym for weight training at least three or four times a week and then I look to get myself to all of the sessions at Grapple in Morley with Ligero and Marty Jones three times a week. This can vary depending on work commitments and of course wrestling bookings but for the most part this is a routine I stick to. I also get up to Hull when I can for training at NGW. As for weekly wrestling booking goals – I’d love to be wrestling every weekend and for a short period of time last year I managed that but for whatever reason I’ve found it harder just recently to maintain that momentum. I’m hoping now though (post summer) that I can get back on track with regular work.
LK – You spoke highly of El Ligero as someone you look up too. That seems to be a very common thing on the British scene. Is he a guy you would like to face on a huge stage? Who else do you look up too in the world of professional wrestling?
DG – That doesn’t surprise me, he’s been a massive influence on my training, as have Marty Jones and JC Thunder too actually. I’m incredibly lucky to have those guys there as mentors. Of course he is, I’ve had a few matches with him in front of smaller audiences so it’d be great to test myself against him somewhere with a bigger reach. As far as people I look up to there’s obviously my trainers as mentioned previously, as well as guys like Liam Slater – he’s always forthcoming with advice on nutrition and workouts, and I love watching Johnny Saint – I’ve been fortunate enough to train under him on a few occasions.
LK – Independent wrestlers aren’t tied down so to speak to any specific promotion. You have upcoming dates with Tidal, Grapple wrestling and RISE just to name a few. Is it a good thing to have so much freedom? Or would you prefer a more stable schedule?
DG – I think I like the idea of being my own boss more than I like the actual technicalities of it so sure, having a more stable schedule with contracts and full time work would be great but it’s not really something I see happening in the immediate future for me. The closest I’d probably get would be to take on more dates with Megaslam Wrestling. The team there are great so I’d like to do that. I’m going away with those guys over the October half term school holidays to the Isle of Man which will be a great learning experience, a first for me in the sense that I’ll be away from home for 4/5 days to concentrate solely on wrestling, with more matches in a short space of time than I’m used to, I’m looking forward to it! With that being said I love working for the companies you mentioned and Grapple especially is close to my heart, I’ve been there pretty much since day one and seen it evolve into arguably one of the best training facilities in the UK. The quality of the shows has improved as well so all in all its a great place to call home. Of course, all of those promotions you’ve mentioned are based in Yorkshire for the most part so it’s on my ‘must do’ list for next year to spread my wings a little more and put the work in to try and get those opportunities outside of Yorkshire in places like the North East, Lancashire and the Midlands, that would be great.
LK – @Gigantasaur on Twitter asked us to ask this: You’re doing Megaslam which is the holiday camp circuit, do shows like that differ from your regular outings?
DG – Good question! I’d say right now that Megaslam is my regular outing to be honest. I’m under no illusion that I’m some sort of “independent wrestling star” or whatever. Of course that’s part of my goals for the future, to have that brand / name that people go to shows to see, and I have been lucky enough to get opportunities at Tidal and NGW recently but for now I’m wrestling on the holiday camps as often as I can to try and learn from and test myself against some of the country’s best pros. The shows differ from others in that they’re for a more family oriented audience who aren’t necessarily “wrestling fans” – they’re a captive audience for whom, in some cases, wrestling is the only form of entertainment on offer at the camp, so it makes you wrestle in a way that offers the optimum level of action and entertainment. We’re there to give people the best show we can and try and create wrestling specific memories for their holiday scrap book!
LK – You friend, former tag partner and occasional opponent Liam Slater asked us to ask this: Why do you have so many tag team partners? Why can’t you just have one?
DG – I’m a team player aren’t I?! I’ve only got two really and both result in a different team dynamic. I’d be telling massive fibs if I said that I wasn’t interested in proving myself as a singles competitor, but I do really enjoy the challenges associated with tag team wrestling. There’s so much potential to have really entertaining, exciting matches and there are tons of great tag teams in the UK and the rest of the independent wrestling world who it’d be great to tie up with so I guess the more teams I’m in the more chance I’ve got of facing those teams… That’s how it works right?…
Interview conducterd by Lewis Kelly who runs British Wrestling’s Finest