I have a confession to make. I have been waiting since December 2001 to walk through the doors of The World Famous Monster Factory. Growing up in the 1990's in New Jersey, everyone knew about this crazy place that Bam Bam Bigelow was taught at. What kind of place could this badass be trained at, tattoos on the head, biker... everyone who loved wrestling at RHS wanted to be him. Fast forward to December 2001, I am helping the United Wrestling Coalition with it's annual Toys for Tots drive. As we're setting up the ring, Dave Thomas, the owner, keeps talking about all these wild stories about Tanaka, and Snuka, and Mike Sharpe... and a dream is born.
Every person who has a wrestling podcast secretly wants to be part of the business. I realized, about two months ago, that the only way forward with the show and to continue to grow is to do something that I have wanted to do since I heard Tony Schivone on the Superstation as a kid... interview wrestlers and commentate. I made the decision, after talking to Sam Lanterna of Wrestle Tea, that 1 - I need to find places to work and 2 -I needed to be trained if I wanted to do this. That is, I do not want to be the guy who quarterbacks from his couch and think that he get's the intricacies of the business.
Because of my show, finding places to work was a little easier. I could obviously do the interview part, I'm not usually that guy - but I am good and I know what I am doing. WrestleCore reached out to me, 1CW ProWrestling and CCW was happy to let me at least try it out. So I had that covered. The next thing that I did was reach out to five wrestling schools. Dear reader, I live in Philly, there are world class training facilities in such an abundance that you have the pick. I am not going to name them all, because I would forget a few. Of the five I reached out to, three got back and said to visit them. Of the three... ONLY The Monster Factory felt like the right place. There's a single solitary reason for that, Coach Danny Cage.
The Monster Factory has had legendary trainers: Larry and Mike Sharpe, QT Marshall, and I believe Coach Cage will go down as one of the best. The Monster Factory situated at the Paulsboro Wrestling Club. It looks, smells, and feels like a community center gym. Even the area where the ring is in, except for the set up and tributes to the wrestlers that have graced the PWC.
Coach Danny Cage is the realest person that you can meet. He's direct, to the point, and to his detriment wears his heart on his sleeve. If you're an asshole, you're going to hear it. But he's even faster to tell you what you are doing right. Oh, and he loves professional wrestling. You MIGHT think that you love pro wrestling. Danny, I am pretty sure, if pro wrestling went away tomorrow, would wither up like a slug covered in salt. Not only does Coach love professional wrestling, he wants you to love it as much as he does.
I teach teenagers for a living. Coach Danny coaches young adults for a living. I will wager, Coach has more headaches. He's open about his health problems , he can eat only certain things. Within 15 minutes of arriving, I saw two people screw up his dinner order - ham and cheese with mayo on white bread. How do you mess that up? You order a club that's toasted and has bacon. Or, you order it on a kaiser roll with all the fixing's because it's (and I quote) "a free salad with it". About 30 minutes later, there was a smell from a bathroom - as there sometimes is - and he asked someone else to get air freshener. And they came back with orange scented bathroom cleaner - because it still smells nice. He went from Coach Danny to Saint Danny in that moment.
Why is this what I am telling you about my time at The Monster Factory? Out of everything else? There were TV Cameras. There were people there who were on TV that week. There were a few wrestlers I have been dying to interview. So why is THIS what I am telling you about?
One last story about why I appreciate what he's doing there. I can't tell you what was happening with the TV cameras. Not because Coach asked me not to, but I legitimately don't remember because I was taking everything in. Obviously, it was a long day. A wrestler came in: sweaty, breathing hard, and fed up. I'm not sure what did or didn't happen but he was pissed about something and said "I'm not doing X" and was just complaining. Over and over.
Here's a quick summary of the conversation:
Coach said, "Sometimes you have to push through when you feel like that."
"But this isn't one of those times."
Coach, "No but it will be one day."
"But not today."
Coach, "Listen to me because I'm your coach because it will be." (I get the implication, do you?)
Coach (a bit red faced now) "I'm your coach I am trying to be a coach, and if you do feel that way - you talk to me first, not in front of everyone, and being loud, so I can take the heat."
You hear that stories and hopefully, laugh. You probably shook your head, or like me, thought "The Hell?" We read that, I saw it, and I chuckle in frustration. I see someone and think "this guy." Coach Danny sees those SAME people and, which I am sure he thinks (and shouts) all those things - and he sees potential. Those same people who screwed up his order - after losing a crazy amount of weight recently because of health problems - who don't know freshener from cleaner, and he sees that there is a path to greatness before them. All of them. He wants everyone to be great. And I think he BELIEVES that he can teach them to be great.
I said that I visited no less that three wrestling schools. In reality, I have been to around a dozen. Never have I walked in and felt supported. In the 10 minutes of talking to Coach, there was one impression that I was left with. And I have talked to some 'Who's Who' of trainers. In AEW and the WWE there are no less than two dozen people working that were trained by him... including Matt Riddle and Damian Priest.
I am a teacher and I have worked with hundreds of teachers, trainers, and coaches. I have worked with award winning teachers who have recieved thousands in prize money for how great they are. Coach Danny has the one single quality - the ONE quality - that makes a great teacher, and he's the first in the dozen or so trainers I have talked to:
Coach made me believe that if I think I can be great - and I am willing to WORK - so does he.