Photo Credit: (c) Tony Knox
El Ligero, when you mention his name among wrestling fans, they will identify him as one of the UK’s technically proficient and entertaining wrestlers today.
Since 2001, he has wrestled for over 130 different wrestling companies across the world and continues to wrestle to a standard that only a few individuals in the profession can reach.
What inspired you to begin a career in wrestling, witnessing a match, an event, a wrestling hero?
I’ve been a fan of wrestling ever since I was 8 years old. My dad borrowed a tape of WrestleMania 8 from my cousin, and the first thing I saw was Hulk Hogan vs Sid Justice. I was immediately encapsulated by the sheer size of it all, the colour, the crowds, the larger than life characters. I was hooked instantly.
You started your wrestling training under Johnny Moss and primarily Alan Johnson in 2001, how did find the experience and your development? and any advice for fans hoping to get into the business?
At the time when I started training, I was going through a phase where I’d just discovered ECW and was a big fan of its style, alongside the more OTT aspects of WWE, the ladder matches, the table matches etc. So I was a big hardcore fan and initially I wanted to be that sort of wrestler. In all honesty, I wish I’d have been more appreciative of the technician wrestling that we were shown, as that’s what Johnson specialised in, and it wasn’t until far later when I learnt to appreciate that. My training was a solid start though, I tried to listen as much as possible, but it was very formulaic and cookie cutter in many ways. Nothing was ever taught about character or psychology or telling a story, I learned that a long time later, after I’d been around for a few years.
Your name, El Ligero is Spanish for lightweight, was the name something you came up with yourself, or buildup over time?
It was found through looking through a Spanish dictionary, whilst looking for a cool name. The whole mask thing was only meant to be a temporary measure to help overcome a lack of confidence, but I started to stand out on shows, and 13 years later, here we are.
With many UK events consistently selling out or recording high numbers at shows, what is your thoughts of UK wrestling at the moment?
I think it’s fantastic at the moment. I was saying to someone the other week that it used to be a case of wrestling on small shows in WMCs every weekend and, every now and then, a large show would come around. Now, it’s the total opposite of that! I had some great memories of those smaller shows, don’t get me wrong, but now every show feels like a big deal! Even the smaller companies are packing their venues!
In 1PW, you started off as a wrestler then a became head booker, how did that occur and your thoughts on those events?
Originally, before he sold it, Steven Gauntley had asked me to start help book the shows, as I’d previously been involved in contributing to the Damned Nation angle, as well as a couple of other stories. Then, he decided to sell up and a couple of my close friends at the time bought it and asked if I’d like to be one of the promoters. To be blunt, I hated it. I love writing, and I still really enjoy booking, seeing stories come together and pay off, but I don’t like being a promoter. Some people are great at it, but it’s not for me, so the 1PW thing didn’t last very long at all.
You’ve helped train many wrestlers in your career, Martin Kirby, The Blossom Twins, Nathan Cruz and Sam Wilder are only a few to mention, how does it feel to have a hand training the next generation of wrestlers?
It’s fantastic to see how well the majority of people you’ve mentioned there have done and how far they’ve come! There’s some amazing talent around, and to even have had a small helping hand in that is great, really rewarding.
There is some amazing new talents progressing through the UK Industry at the moment, who do you see as being stars?
The first guy I think of is Liam Lazarus. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on! I think it’s great to see people like Morgan Webster and Chris Ridgeway starting to break out more and more. Nixon has a ton of potential to be the next big women’s name in the UK. Kenny Williams up in Scotland should be more of a big deal down here, and people like Jo Connors and CJ Banks should have been getting the props they are nowadays years ago.
For fans who haven’t watched your matches, what matches would you recommend they see?
I think one of the matches that most people mention is the Akira Tozawa match from PCW in 2012. That won a few Match Of The Year awards, and I’m still really proud of it. I’d recommend people pick up the two 3-disc Southside DVDs of the feud that Kirby and I had, as that’s one of the best stories I’ve ever been part of. But there’s so many matches and so many opponents that I’ve worked with that I have fond memories, so it’s really hard to narrow it down.
You have been part of over 130 different wrestling companies in your career, are the any fun moments behind the scenes or even rivalries in the ring that you could tell the fans about?
Honestly, over 13 years? Wouldn’t even know where to begin!
You have been part of many hardcore matches in your career, how do you get into the psyche to prepare for these often brutal battles?
It’s just one of those things. I don’t do those kind of matches for the sake of it, I’ll do them when I think they’re necessary. And if I think there’s necessary, then you just get on with it and just prepare yourself for the fact that you’re gonna be sore the next morning. Luckily, the reactions at the time tend to cancel out the pain.
You have wrestled across the world and against multiple different styles of wrestlers, is there certain style you prefer to wrestle?
The one where I say ‘Ariba’ on my entrance.
There are now a variety of different wrestling schools with in the UK, when you were starting out this wasn’t the case, your thoughts on the progression and the popularity of wrestling now?
It’s a double edged sword. The popularity of wrestling schools helps fuel certain promotions. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are a few too many schools around at the moment. I think the main thing to look at in a trainer is, how often do they/did they wrestle themselves? If they only ever worked 15 matches a year, do they really know what to teach or do they really have enough experience that you should part with your money to put your physical wellbeing in their hands? I do think that’s something that really needs to be questioned.
You are regularly were involved in a barrage of events within one weekend to the other for example early February you wrestled in Megaslam then HOPE then NGW and on to Tidal Wrestling how does someome balance and get into the mindset of competing in events within a short time?
Haha again, you just get on with it. I’m not one for complaining, I love working and if I can make a double, then I’ll do a double! Do one match, get out of the ring, jump in the car still in your gear and get to the next place!
One of the best matches I saw you perform in was the Hardcore Jack Jester in PBW, a great storytelling match of small guy versus big guy, and the fans loved it, how important is creating a story in the ring in wrestling today?
Thank you, first of all. To me, stories are the lifeblood of wrestling. Deep down, we all want to be told a story. Fireworks and Highspots are great, and I really enjoy those sort of matches for a while. But after a while, you need something substantial to get emotionally hooked in. There’s only so long you can watch a fireworks display before becoming numb to it and wanting something engrossing.
Last year you participated in TNA’s British Boot Camp, how did you find the experience?, the support you received from fans and wrestlers? and Mark Andrews winning?
I have no complaints at all! I knew full well going into it that a non-speaking character probably wouldn’t fare all that well in a reality TV show, but I was really happy with my experience. I was looked after, my character was protected, I really enjoyed my match and I bought a car after it. The whole crew was fantastic and encouraging, nothing bad to say about any of them.
Mark is a great kid and a terrific talent. I’m really pleased for him, and I hope it goes really well for him.
And finally where can fans get updates on where they can see you wrestle amd on social media?
Yep, I have a fan page on facebook and you can follow me on Twitter @Ligero1