Amazing Advice for Young Wrestlers!
Interviewer: Ron Graham (@RonGraham1)
(Editor’s note: N8 Mattson is a professional wrestler from Detroit, MI. With over 20 years in the business, he has held countless championships in promotions like XICW, MEGA, CAPW, PRIME and AAW Pro. Trained by “Irish” Mickey Doyle and “Canadian Destroyer” Doug Chevalier, Mattson has competed with–and against–such talents as Jimmy Jacobs, Johnny Gargano, Truth Martini and Benjamin Boone. Early mentors JT Lightning and Scott D’Amore helped craft N8 into one of the most polished, consistent and entertaining wrestlers that there is in the business today, bar none. Contributor Ron Graham recently spoke with him about the importance of the elder statesmen of wrestling passing on their knowledge and experience to developing talent. –Ted Zep)
About once a week on Facebook accomplished professional wrestler “Amazing” N8 Mattson will post instructions and encouragement (and sometimes criticism) for young talent. These very popular public posts are read by many fans, who also appreciate what N8 has to say because when the wrestlers listen to N8, the result is better matches with better storytelling, which fans love.
Here’s an example:
“I started watching wrestling in the mid-1980s, and by the age of 10, I was hooked. I scoured every library, newsstand and video store to soak up as much knowledge that I could find. My research consisted of watching endless hours of tape and reading everything wrestling related I could get my hands on.
This obsession helped me immensely when I decided to become a wrestler because it showed my trainers that I wasn’t just some casual fan, but committed to learning the finer points of wrestling.
There is no good reason for young wrestlers today to not be familiar with the history of the business. With YouTube and the WWE Network at your fingertips, wrestlers of all ages should go back through time and study wrestling from every era. Learn about its carnival origins, seek out matches from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s etc… so you can appreciate those who paved the way. Again, this should be mandatory homework assigned to young students.”
And here is an interview, where N8 gets into his motivation for sharing these important secrets of wrestling with the public:
Amazing N8 laying the..ahem...SmackDown to AJ Styles & Daniel Bryan
Ron Graham: I can tell from what you post why your encouragement of the young guys is something you think is important. Do you think they are responding? Does the message get through as much as you want?
N8 Mattson: There comes a point with every young talent where a lightbulb turns on over their head, and they suddenly become more aware of the advice they’ve received. Usually, it’s in the middle of a good match with a quality opponent, and they start to remember these valuable tips that have been passed on to them. Most times you can only understand something while you’re experiencing it firsthand, at that moment you realize that you’re finally “getting it”. The message will only get through to those that truly seek to understand what this business is about, and that’s making the fans care enough to believe in what we’re doing. It takes a long time for some guys to put the puzzle pieces together, years even.
I have heard other ring veterans say it’s important for them to pass on their knowledge to the younger talent. And I have heard young guys practically singing the praises of those who do. So. Do enough of the vets share enough of their perspective? I sometimes think there are too many young guys for a limited number of vets to reach. And I sometimes wonder what, if anything, would benefit the young guys more.
It’s absolutely crucial for every veteran to pass down what they’ve learned. Now some guys may have been around for years, but it doesn’t necessarily make them a ‘vet’. Unless a respected worker opens a school or something, the next best thing is having an experienced wrestler take a few young rookies under their wing. Some young guys only surround themselves with their friends, and they can learn from each other, but the education they receive by jumping in the car with seasoned pros, talking about the business on the road is the best schooling a green boy can hope to get.
I’ve done a handful of seminars, and assisted in some as well. They are helpful in the sense that they get to see another person’s perspective or style. Whether it’s old school, European, Mexican, Japanese, etc., they all provide a unique take on the business. The old saying is you never stop learning in this business, so being able to soak it all up like a sponge will be vital for their survival.
N8 Mattson & "Irish" Mickey Doyle
This brings up a couple side observations: (1) you probably recommend that young wrestlers take that ride to a new promotion, and even drive, when the opportunity arises. (2) you also believe that nothing short of the future of this business is at stake. Would you say that is correct?
Offering to drive a veteran to a show is a sign of respect. Not only will the senior wrestler vouch for the rookie when he talks to the promoter, he will be able to explain certain things like psychology while they’re stuck in a vehicle for hours. Rookies who volunteer to drive or pick up talent from the airport, or stick around to clean up after the show are usually the ones who get ahead faster because the older guys see that they want it and are eager to pay dues to get it. We are always taught to leave this business better than we found it, and it’s our responsibility to keep it afloat by making sure young guys treasure it like we did.
What is the point where the young wrestler begins to convert from the sponge to the sensei? I am guessing that some never do. And you have mentioned that sometimes a match with a wise veteran causes the light to really switch on, when the young wrestler really begins to soak up learning. Is there another point where the student becomes the teacher?
It all depends on when that young wrestler steps up his game and moves up another level. I remember being the young guy working with all the vets, then all of a sudden the vets were gone. Some retired, others moved on or passed away. I had to assume that leadership role and hopefully remember everything I was taught. There were many bumps in the road, and it was trial by fire a lot of times. Being able to weather the storms and assume that position depends on if that knowledge was truly applied correctly. True, some guys never get it and continue their bad habits, but I’ve seen a lot of guys grow from greenhorn to good hand. The main objective is to master the basics, become a good storyteller and create moments that will be remembered.
(Ron Graham is a blogger from Barberton, OH. His site, Clarity Strategic, is a means of sharing his experience and knowledge as a former NASA engineer and educator in a way applicable to the Average Joe. A lifelong comic book junkie, Ron knows more about the Suicide Squad than anyone I know.)
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