I had the opportunity to sit down with one of Europe’s top wrestlers, and Britain’s own Dave ‘Bastard’ Mastiff, to talk about the world of professional wrestling and his experiences within it. Let’s get talking!
HARI: First off, whatever happened to Dave Morales?
DAVE: Dave Morales had a stake driven through his heart by Rip Rogers.
HARI: Was your previous gimmick based on Puerto Rican wrestling legend Pedro Morales?
DAVE: It was originally based off of the Mexican boxer Eric Morales. I’d used the name for a few years, but never thought anything about it. I probably too timid to ask for it to be changed.
When I was in OVW, Rip saw it and said “what the fuck, you’re not fucking Mexican.”
(HARI’S EDITING NOTE: the kip up in the match below may prove otherwise!)
HARI: So you started in 2002, and went to America in 2009, and in those seven years no one ever pointed out that it probably didn’t fit to be Mexican?
DAVE: No one else gave me any input and I was green as grass. Plus, in terms of the wrestling business, Mexican culture isn’t in the direct eye over here in Britain.
Being in America though, with Mexico as their neighbour, particularly in the Southern states, people pick up on that. I was never happy with that name but I was stuck with it. You’ve got to make it your own, make it distinctive. You never rip off one person’s entire act, and the way you display it should be your own. So instead I named myself after a dog.
HARI: Yeah, but as dogs go you chose a pretty decent one.
DAVE: I guess so.
HARI: You’ve gone on record to say that you grew up as a kid watching wrestling, but only thought about it doing it seriously at the age of 16. Was there a moment that inspired you to say ‘I want to do that’ or a moment that made you say ‘I can do that’?
DAVE: It started with a couple of my friends during the attitude era, when it wrestling was ‘cool’. I was watching RAW one might during the broadcast, I looked at the guys on the broadcast, and it clicked that they’re actually making a living do this. These adults were being paid to this as a profession. So why can’t I do that job?
I found my first training school, and then watched a few shows on the British scene. While I was watching them, some of what I was watching was absolutely atrocious. I thought “Fuck, I can at least do better then those guys.” If this is the standard of British wrestling, I can do better than that.
In terms of my life, even at that age, if I put my mind to something I had always been successful. In sports, I was always the best in the bracket I competed in, I was able to compete with other people and I’ve always had a natural aptitude for it. It was always something I enjoyed.
HARI: Shawn Michaels was one of your favourites growing up, but then of course your build is very different. Do you think idolising him gave you a better understanding when working different styles, say with smaller guys like Zach Sabre Jr or Rockstar Spud, who you enjoyed working?
DAVE: By the time I started wrestling, I’d always been slightly bigger built. I had to accentuate that more, get even bigger, get even broader, get even stronger. I just physically couldn’t go the other way. To make myself even smaller that is.
To be a professional wrestler, you have to be someone that makes people take notice. No matter where you go, if you walk into a shopping mall or a bar, people have got to look at you. People have to want to look at you. If you go unnoticed then you’ll probably find it harder to make people notice you and I don’t blend in anywhere.
HARI: You’re working another big, brute of a man Damian O’Connor in October. In the build up, are you growing your hair out to try and see who’s the hairiest?
DAVE: God no. I’ve not shaved my chest for years. That’s 6 to 7 years where I’ve accentuated that.
HARI: Damo said in an interview he was fed up of looking around at people who look like swimmers. So he decided to grow his hair out, bulk up and just look like a man. Rather than the trend going around now about styled moustaches and beards
DAVE: A few people have started doing it now. I’ve had my beard for the past year though, I’m a rough around the edges kind of man. I sent out a tweet the other day:
“Congratulations to everyone starting to grow beards. Way to stay ahead of the curve! #waittillthenextbandwagon”
It’s also about how much of it makes you stand out. I’ll out last those who are doing it because it’s trendy. Also for wrestling, it should work and enhance your gimmick. People look at you for the overall package. If it suits you, it can really add to you and you can make it unique even if other people are doing the same thing, because it is suited to you.
HARI: Your Team SPLX mate and now NXT star Fergal Devitt is on to some great things. During his last run, was there a favourite entrance of his you enjoyed?
DAVE: I was there for a few of them. The one I wasn’t at was the Joker inspired one at Progress, that seemed to get an amazing reaction. Then again, when he came as Bane to York hall, that got an amazing reaction.
HARI: It was great to see for wrestling, because Devitt was so well-established, due to his time in Japan and with his style, that he didn’t really have to prove himself in a wrestling sense anymore. Which then left him free to bring in influences outside of wrestling.
DAVE: Some guys might have that thought, but they’ve not quite got the footing in the business yet. He’s got a ton of respect and a ton of talent. Some people without that credibility might do something like that and just look naff.
End of part 1.
In the next and final installment, Dave delves into the right mental state you need to be in as a professional wrestler in Britain, believability in wrestling, storytelling and his parents’ reaction when he worked with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.
For more from Britain’s philosophising Bastard, follow him on Twitter @DaveMastiff
For more from Hari, follow me on Twitter @HotChocHari and visit http://www.hariramakrishnan.com