Thirteen Years Of Chasing A Dream

Added by Nathan Cruz

April 2nd 2001, I was ten years old, off school due to the fact I was suffering with diarrhoea and sickness (interesting way to start). The night before had been Wrestle Mania 17. I was fortunate enough to have the event taped for me a neighbour whoposted the tape through my door that Monday morning. So with the day off school I sat in my bed watching; in my opinion, the best Wrestle Mania to date. The card was stacked with amazing matches that blew me away. However there was one match that dictated what I would do for the rest of my life. Undertaker vs Triple H. That match tore the house down. It was just incredible from start to finish. Two of the very best to ever step in the ring, stealing the show, at THE biggest show and having the 67,925 people who; had jam packed the Houston Astrodome, on the edge of their seats. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to have the same impact on so many people’s lives. I wanted to become immortal in one night. So at ten years old I began my journey which has lead me to where I am today. Am I headlining Wrestle Mania? Of course not, I’m twenty three years old, but I can proudly say that I’m fighting with all I’v got to make that a reality. Being in the current position I am and in my 8th year in wrestling; it made me look back and reflect on how I had began chasing this dream so many years ago and where chasing that dream has taken me. So, as I mentioned, I was ten years old…

Ten is a very young age to decide what career you want to follow for the rest of your life. Subsequently my school teachers, parents and most my friends believed that it was nothing more than a phase. And why wouldn’t they? Pro wrestling had hit a boom period, everyone was a fan and everyone was going to be the next Steve Austin. But for me it was not a phase. I was on a journey, one that I was going to put all I had into achieving. I looked at my 250lb wrestling hero’s and then looked at my 67lb 10 year old self and realised… ‘I need to do something here.’ Yes, I know, weight lifting at ten is possibly one of the worst ideas you can think of, and has most likely contributed to my smaller frame in my teen years. But I didn’t care then, all I knew was that I wanted traps like Bill Goldberg and arms like Triple H. I started reading bodybuilding magazines and was simply blown away by the massive guys in each issue, which at the time they was all plugging super mega mass 2000. So my thought process was ‘Now if I drank that, I can get that big!!’ So for my eleventh birthday I got my 1kg tub of super mega mass 2000. I attempted to stick to a certain diet (which was horrendous) and lifting weights that I had been given by my Uncle. It must of lasted 3-4 months, then I got a PS2. Give me a break, I was eleven!

Throughout high school, I’d dip in and out of going back to my weight set, but it was nothing more than just an embarrassing attempt at trying to look good. My mind was drifting off to other things, however I was still a huge wrestling fan and still wanted to one day become a pro wrestler. I knew wrestlers had characters that they portrayed on screen. That in mind I realised that drama class might be something I should really focus on at school. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a flamboyant, charismatic and farley egotistical person. I’d say this is because I’m a natural entertainer. I love to entertain people, if I can make people laugh, cry or grip them into a story; then I am enjoying myself. This made me shine brightly in Drama. I was recognised as one of the best in my year and looked upon as one of the gifted kids in our school (when it came to acting. I sucked at maths and science) At the back end of my school years I

had began wrestling training at a school that had come to Hull. I was so excited because it meant I was taking my first BIG step towards my dream.

On March 22nd (almost five years exactly since I decided I wanted to be a wrestler) I had my first training session. I loved it; despite the fact I was getting taught by an absolute nobody who didn’t know a wrist-lock from an arm-bar, to me it was the best thing ever. I had no clue on the business, I just had natural charisma and a wheelbarrow full of enthusiasm. This soon lead to me been put on my first show at just fifteen. I was as white as a milk bottle, had long black hair, stood at about 5’8 and must of weighed 120lbs at best. But despite that my trainer thought I was ready for shows. No I wasn’t ready, but I’m happy that I made my early mistakes whilst I looked like shit, was in no place of importance and under a different name.August 26th 2006, at the Lonsdale Community centre in Hull, ‘Superstar’ Nathan Irwin made his in ring debut…there’s a name to remember, dreadful. Either way I WAS A FUCKING WRESTLER!!! The feeling of been on a show at that age was amazing, and although I was beyond awful, I wasn’t the worst on the show. In the year that followed that day, I realised that I was in the wrong place. I had attended various other training seminars around the country that I had caught wind of via friends and contacts with in wrestling. These seminars opened my eyes to just how bad Ron Wilkinson (known to a few people as The Urban Warrior) actually was. I needed to get out of there. And so I did. Leaving there was the best decision of my life. I began wrestling on small shows across Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, this lead to me getting noticed by a wrestler known as El Ligero. Ligero was/is an amazing performer, one of the best this country as ever had in my opinion and I’ll gladly argue my case against anyone on that. Before I had got into the wrestling business and was still a fan, Ligero was someone I used to enjoy watching at some of the events in the UK. I was pleased to just be on the same shows as him, but one day I was sat at home on MySpace (remember that?) and received a message from El Ligero. The message stated that he had seen my work and was impressed. My natural ability had shone through but I needed a lot of guidance and if I was interested, add him on MSN (another fossil of social networking). Of course I did and took the next BIG step in my journey. Ligs, taught me an incredible amount about storytelling, match structure, character, psychology and crowd interaction. To this day he still does offer his criticism on my matches and guides me in the right direction (can never accept team effort though. I rolled into that victory roll in 2011 Ligsy!) This lead me to picking up work in many places across the UK, one been MCW. Ligs and I had decided that my character needed tweaking. I became ‘Prima Donna’ Nathan Cruz. A self loving, celebrity that had achieved fame at just eighteen years old. In other words it was me but just extending on the truth of my life. I just needed somewhere to practise the character, in front of an audience that had a regular attendance and would get what the character was. MCW was the place that I did just that.Throughout the autumn and winter of 2008/2009 I wrestled there twice a month. In that time period I nailed my character down, I knew what he was doing, why he was there, how he reacted to situations. When the opening riff to ‘Mr. Vain recall’ opened I became Nathan Cruz. Shortly after I moved on from MCW after a fall out with the then booker, but would later return in 2010/2011.

In May 2008 NGW of Hull opened it’s doors. This again was another promotion that I could practise my character and adapt with a regular audience. By the time 2009 rolled in, I had been a regular baby-face there for nearly a year. I hated it. As a baby-face I was still unsure of who or what I was. Just a blue eyed, blonde haired guy in rockers tights who could clap. I needed to change. NGW was changing, it was getting more publicity and I knew I could capitalize on it. I’ve always believed in NGW since day one. The idea of a promotion that would base solely on young talent was a concept that I was a big fan of (a concept they’ve sadly moved away from). In the early part of 2009 I had turned heel, adopting (he’s a big child you see) an agent named Rich West. However Rich Dunn was also now one of the bookers of NGW. I forwarded an idea to both him and Luke Ingamells (the co-booker and founder of NGW) of a storyline between my self and my best friend Matt Myers. Matty had been my best friend since before I began my wrestling journey and he had been with me every step of the way. This meant we had plenty of pictures of us together at wrestling events, dressed up as our favourite wrestlers etc. The storyline would be a great heart touching story of two best friends who was achieving there dream. Of course one of them would be the jealous prick, destined for greater things. I was the prick. To this day that storyline is one of my proudest accomplishments. It was my next BIG step and I did it with my oldest and closest friend. The storyline lead to a last man standing match between the both of us. It was my first real main event. It was the bookend to a gripping story. The match had such a hype and everyone wanted to see it. There for it would be a shoe in for the last match of the card right? Wrong. despite the fact the title was not on the line in the tag match hyped up between Alex Shane & Dave Rayne v Alex Cyanide and Jack Toxic, the higher ups at NGW decided that would go on last. I was furious. I argued the toss with Luke and came close to having my last appearance for NGW in the last man standing match. My argument and attitude caught ear of Alex Shane. He rang me one day to discuss it. Alex normally speaks to me in a pleasant tone and always reminds me of how much he is a fan of what I do. This time his tone was very different. I could tell I’d pissed him off. And so what, he’d pissed me off. This match with Matty was huge for me. It was huge for NGW and I wasn’t letting it get pushed aside without a fight. I told Alex exactly how I felt. In the end, I couldn’t get the card changed, we went on one before them. In which I turned to Luke and said ‘fine, but they wont be able to follow us’. Yeah it was an arrogant statement, but I stand by it. Best part about it was that I was right; they couldn’t follow us. Alex admitted this to me shortly after the show which I took as a big compliment. It’s hard to admit that two guys; who had not been in the business half the time he had, just out staged you, but on top of that to admit you was wrong to this person. That takes a guy with his heart in the right place to do that in my opinion. I know people have their differences with Alex for whatever reason and I’ll be the first to say that the guy isn’t always the best person to be at the fore front of British wrestling. But the reasons that make Alex come across as a prick are the same things that make me come across that way. He’s passionate and very opinionated. I’ve always felt I can say what I like to Alex and he has always said whatever he wants to me. Subsequently Alex has done a lot for me and it all began that night Matt Myers and myself changed the appearance of NGW and how the product was getting looked

at. It was a team effort from EVERYONE involved in that angle and even Alex offered his advice which made the match even more memorable and a bigger emotional roller-coaster. That match will always be one of my all time favourites, however the match we had two years later for the NGW title; will be the most emotionally rewarding performances of my career. Check it out for yourself (NGW Eternal Glory 2011). With my storyline closing the year of 2009, I headed into 2010 with a lot of momentum. However I never knew just how far 2010 would take me; it would be the biggest year of my life and would see me take my next BIG step towards achieve my dream.

January 17th I did my first town show for Brian Dixon’s All-Star Wrestling. All-Star is the UK’s longest running promotion, with an incredible history of over forty years promotional experience dating back to the glory days of ITV’s Saturday afternoon wrestling. Since I was 14 and had watched an All-Star show at Hull City Hall, I wanted to wrestle there. It was a goal of mine to join the full time team, as I knew it would give me the opportunity to experience life on the road and to be wrestling 4-6 days out of the week.To walk into my first town hall show for All-Star was a daunting experience, especially because it was in one of their most historic venues; Fairfield Halls, Croydon. I don’t think that I will ever forget how intimidated I was that day. We met up with the beast (a seven seater car that I now spend more time in that my home) at knutsford services; also known as The Windmill. I remember my first encounter with Tony Spitfire that day. I got in the car and he made it apparent straight away that I was pee-on, strawb number one. At the time I was thinking ‘Why is this guy been such a prick? He isn’t exactly making us humble here’. After spending four years with the team now, I fully understand. Guys would always be trying out for Brian, some good, some bad, but basically there’s always an unknown there and they’ll stick out like a sore thumb amongst the full time team, who was basically a family. On January 17th, I was the sore thumb…well me and Ligero was the sore thumbs. As it was I was working Spitty that day, he also seemed quite pleased with the match (a far cry from the epics we have now) but I was pleased with the match, especially seeing as though Brian came up to me after and offered me a job for the following weekend. It felt great to have him ask for me to work for him again. I had a foot in the door all I had to do was follow up on the opportunity. As it was I did. It became the biggest turning point in my life. In the months that followed I was used on more and more of Brian’s shows, including Hull City Hall. Wrestling in the very venue that I had been sat in the crowd just five years prior was an amazing feeling. It was one of my life goals and I had achieved it, whilst my friends sat and cheered for there friend living his dream. I was now working for All-Star most weekends, but despite the fact I would see the team every weekend, I still had not exactly made friends. I was still the new guy. The only friend I had there was my good friend Ewan Kennedy(also known as Colossus, Cyclops, bollocks or Oscar) who had joined the team a little over a month after I did. I had first met Ewan the summer before, we instantly hit it off and was close friends, we spent countless hours together on the road and I’d say that during 2010/2011/2012, I saw Ewan more than I did my own family. So of course now we hate each other.Ewan and myself may occasionally argue and call each other all the pricks under the sun, but regardless we are friends and when we both started All-Star we only had each other. Ligero was not on the shows as regular as us as he had various other independent bookings across the country that he still wanted to honour. Ewan and myself took a fare bit of strawbing off in the first month we were there; Ewan more so than me (‘fucking greenhorn piece of shit’) but we was both determined to stick it out as we both wasn’t strangers to this, plus if we stuck it out the reward would definitely be worth it, we just needed someone to throw us a bone. Ewan got that in a wrestler named Frankie Sloan. Frankie was a senior member of the team and Ewan bonded with him farley quickly. It was good for Ewan to have someone with a good level of respect on the team. However Frankie and I at the time didn’t really click. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, he just didn’t have anything in common with me. My flamboyant nature had put me across as a bit of a prima donna (excuse the pun) and I understood why I would come across that way to some people. But they was one guy who did let me in and it was because of him I made friends at All-Star, he not only became a guy I could go to for advice, but he became one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. I’m talking of course about Rampage Brown.

Rampage and I started talking because he was often put in our car as he lived in Leeds at the time. We grew close over many things; wrestling been the obvious, Simpsons, weight training and diet, films but the main thing was that we both rated each others work. Rampage was one of the first guys at All-Star to tell me that he was impressed by what I did and always offered me advice if I asked for it, and I always did. In my opinion; he’s the best wrestler in Europe. Everything he does is incredible. I remember watching him thinking “that’s the type of performer I want to be. He’ll be signed in no time” (good call, aye?) We first really grew close over an eight day tour we did for All-Star. We began in Croydon in which my self and Rampage sat together and watched the two main events. I could see in those thirty fives minutes how much he respected this business and was destined to succeed in it. Over the rest of that week we became really good friends and Olly really helped me fit in with everyone else. Of course the gay jokes soon surfaced, but I just worked up to them, as did Rampers (we shared a shower together). As the months went by and the time we spent over the summer, laughing at simpsons quotes, me falling on my arse, horse head, and many other things, he became a role model to me. He helped me so much when it came to my physique, small details in the ring and making steps towards achieving my dream. I can’t thank him enough, as well he knows, but Rampage is truly an exceptional person. He’s one of the three people I have met in my life that have made me believe that I can actually achieve anything I want in life. In 2013 at progress in London, I got the opportunity to thank him for all he’s done in what I’d say is my best match. It’s online so check it out; we battered each other but truly put on a classic. I can’t say how proud I am of that match.

After Olly had helped me settle in at All-Star, I headed into my first big run in wrestling. All-Star are the wrestling team that perform at the Butlins holiday camp sites and have done for years. This would be my first run on them (I’d do them for the next three years in which they have become busier and busier) it would mean I would be away wrestling five to six days a week for seven weeks. It was incredible. Everyone tells you that you will improve, that you will learn an incredible amount, but you can’t prepare yourself for just how much a good seven weeks, back to back, living on the road and performing with the best talent in the country and the world (Nathan Cruz v Japan’s Shadow Phoenix, was what I did practically every day) can actually do for you.

 

Firstly you learn how to live on the road. The first week I showed up with two bags. One bag for my clothes, the other full of food and a tub of protein. Brian’s reaction was just amazing. “Two fucking bags! Well you can stop that game as soon as you like you daft twat”. I never knew that one bag was all you was allowed. Brian explained to me that had it been thirty years prior I would have been made to leave my bag in Ewan’s car whilst we travelled in Brian’s. So there was lesson one: Only one bag.Lesson two: service stations are a terrible source of food. With me bringing just the one bag; I’d cram as much porridge, peanut butter, protein powder and cans of tuna as I could, this meant id have to snack with stuff at the service station…£0.89 for a single banana. £2.40 for a bottle of water. It just got worse. Then you would look over at the chocolate, ‘Buy one get one free’. I can’t understand that a country that is so obsessed by how fat it has become, will charge daft prices on healthy foods and charge low prices on junk. As well as having a world of variety in the junk food section and then only a small corner of healthy foods. Ricockulas(copyright Chris Jerichoooooooo). As it was most days I would have to resort to KFC or a bar of chocolate. However it didn’t matter that much, I was in the gym 3-4 days and wrestling every night, so the fat dropped off me. In fact, I needed the calories to keep my size. The lessons I learned in the ring are a never ending list that I simply can not remember them all.

Following the summer I gained some new confidence. Some would say that’s a bad thing as I do come across as an overly confident person anyway. But it’s not. It has lead me to have some great matches and create friendships with people that at one point disliked me. Tony Spitfire is one of those people.When I first met Spitty; as I mentioned, he didn’t think much of me and I wasn’t his biggest fan either. We had wrestled a few times, chatted every now and then over the summer but that was it. The past four years I’ve grown really close to Spitty. I can hand on heart say that I love Spitty, he’s one of my favourite opponents and closest friends. I always have a laugh with Spitty and genuinely think he’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, simply because he does not care. It’s most likely why we clashed with each other at first, because I’m of the same mentality. He is himself and does what he wants regardless of the situation. Certain people may have an opinion of him for whatever reason, but its the same as I said about Alex Shane. Some like him, some don’t but Spitty has been nothing but a joy to be around, he’s a true character.

My career has taken me to so many great places (just read my last blog to see about my experiences abroad) and allowed me to meet so many great people. I’ve not got time to thank them all, but there’s two who definitely deserve a mention.

Mark Haskins. I’ve literally never had such a reliable friend. On more than one occasion he has gone above and beyond, Screw Indy was of course something that we launched together based off of true emotions, but he helped me focus my frustration into something that had made us both a nice sum of money. I love him and his entire family. Vicky is just a beautiful and incredible person and Jack is the most adorable baby I’ve ever seen. Any time I get to spend with them is time that I cherish, I love them to bits and can always rely on them to be brutally honest and helpful to me.

The second is Steven Walters. Walters is a wrestler from South Caroliner. He first came over for Dixon in 2012, we became friends in that first year; but it was 2013 when I can say we bonded. We was competing against each other most nights, travelling together, partying together, pulling pranks together, laughing together. Walters is not only incredibly talented, but he’s an outstanding person. Truly lives life to the full. He’s someone again I could just tell would be one day stepping into a WWE ring, later this year he’ll be doing just that. His encouragement and help is guiding me down that same path, that same journey I started following at ten years old. I can’t thank him enough for that.

If just over one decade of chasing a dream has brought me this far and allowed me to experience so much, I truly cannot wait for the following decade. Thank you for sitting through my long winded tail of a boy chasing his dream and thank you to all who have supported me along the way and continue to do so. I love what I do and always will.

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