‘The Prestige’ Ashton Smith is one of the up-and-coming favourites of the British independent scene, loved by fans and putting on citically acclaimed performances. Often called a prodigy, he is natural in the ring and has an innate charisma which enables him to get over well with any audience. Originally wanting to be a professional football player, Ashton lost his passion for the game and was increasingly drawn to professional wrestling. He has stated previously that he never watched WCW and was instead drawn to the rich character pool of WWF.
What are your earliest memories of being a fan of pro wrestling, and what made you want to become a wrestler?
My earliest memory is being a huge Razor Ramon and Big Boss Man fan, and then one day they had a match against each other and my brother told me I had to choose. I was a die hard Razor Ramon fan after that.
How did you find a training school?
I was walking down a hill by my house after school one day and strangely enough we were talking about how much we’d like to find a wrestling school, then my friend pulled a leaflet off a car windscreen for a school that was literally 2 minutes away.
Smith trained with a company called Sovereign Championship wrestling under Richard Caulfield and Jon Carnage, before travelling further afield to hone his skills further under the tutelage of Charming Don Charles.
What is the hardest part about training to become a professional wrestler?
I think in-ring psychology is, and it remains so to this day. It’s the difference between the top guys and the guys struggling to find their feet. I believe every wrestler really struggles with this until someone comes a long and opens their eyes to it. As soon as this happens you can literally see people improve 10 fold. I couldn’t care less about learning to do a moonsault.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into the business?
Find a good school – no matter how far. PCW have an excellent school and set up. I have taken a few classes there myself and they have a great bunch of trainees. I always explain to them how important it is to become close friends with your fellow trainees. These are the people that will remain friends with you and are most likely to look out for you in the future in the wrestling business. There are a bunch of excellent training schools in England but PCW is just one I have had recent experiences with. Secondly I would say find an elder and stick tight to them. You will need someone looking out for you and to tell you when you’re doing wrong. It is the most important thing in wrestling. You never do and you should never want to stop learning. If you stop learning you stop evolving and become stale. I am lucky to have two guys who I believe are the best face and heel in British wrestling – Rockstar Spud and Dave Mastiff – as my elders. As well as the man that trained all of us at SAS wrestling [Don Charles], who is by far the most intelligent man I have ever met in terms of psychology and a real father figure. Also T-Bone; many would say similar, but me and him have a real brotherly relationship – sometimes he is the elder, sometimes I am – but most importantly we would both fight and die for each other.
How can an aspiring student tell what will be a good school and what would be a waste of their time and money?
A good head trainer definitely. This doesn’t mean they have to be an amazing pro wrestler. My most important and best training came from a man who hadn’t been in the ring. I guess the calibre of their other trainees is probably the biggest clue to the quality of the school.
How hard is it for new wrestlers to get bookings and build their name when they first start out? How important is the internet and social media these days in building a name and reputation, and for drawing crowds etc?
It is difficult, but it should be. You should really earn your stripes before you step anywhere near a ring. If you can’t get over in your home promotion, you’re not ready to step foot in another promotion and try do the same. Internet and social media is massive in the field of marketing however I don’t think it is the most important tool to a wrestling promotion. Promoters can get lazy and just rely on the internet to promote their shows. However I think the internet and social media should be used as more of a tool for retention. If people don’t know about your promotion (a lot of people in general day-to-day life don’t even know British wrestling exists – I didn’t) then they wont see your social media posts or be searching for your company on Google. I still think the best way to raise your brand awareness and get casual fans through your doors is posters and newspaper adverts. Dave Rayne at Futureshock constantly draws large crowds without imports because he promotes both digitally and out and about physically, an excellent example for all promoters.
Smith made his debut in 2005 for SCW, where he started his training, reportedly under the name Black Death. He would later pick up bookings for LPW, SAS Wrestling (under the guise of a Jamaican Bobsledder named Derice Coffie) and Triple X Wrestling, amongst others.
How did it feel to walk out in front of a crowd for the first time, and how long before your confidence grew to a point of feeling comfortable in front of an audience?
The first time I walked out in front of a crowd there were probably 15 people in the audience and 4 of those were Spud, Jack Storm, Dave Mastiff and Saul Adams. Even still, I loved it and couldn’t wait for the next show. I grew confident when it all finally clicked, and this was when I had a squash match against Saul Adams at SAS. I always tell trainees and other wrestlers, the less you have to do in a match or the fewer “spots” you have to remember, the more you can concentrate on the other things like working a crowd and selling.
Who have been some of your favourite opponents and partners to work with?
Favourite opponents have been Rockstar Spud, Dave Mastiff, Jack Storm, Mad Man Manson, Bubblegum, El Ligero and Kris Travis. I love teaming with T-Bone, however me and Sam Bailey are going to be doing some exciting things in the future, so stay posted.
How hard is it to balance wrestling, university and any other part time jobs and hobbies?
The most difficult thing was getting time off work from Ted Baker on weekend, but my manager was amazing and it got to a point where she would just give me the time off when I needed it and work around me which was important. I didn’t really find it difficult to be fair. I’m not a person that likes to stand still, I like to have something to do every day, so I enjoyed the challenge of fitting it all in.
You have recently started working for Preston City Wrestling and are a regular for promotions such as HXC, Futureshock & GPW. Which have been your favourite companies to work for so far and are there any that you particularly look forward to working for?
I will be debuting for a promotion soon, I don’t want to say which one until I have been announced but I am excited for that. I love working for all of the shows I work for currently that’s why I have a very select few. Working a bunch of low end shows really killed my passion for wrestling before I stopped a few years ago and was the main reason I took time off. However I think my bread and butter is family crowds; to me, that is the purest form of wrestling. This is why I am very excited to be working for Futureshock at the moment as they constantly have large family crowds that just want to sit enjoy and cheer, not wait for you to almost kill yourself with a crazy move just for a round of applause.
What are your ultimate goals in the business and where do you see yourself in the future?
I see myself having a regular job and lots of money hopefully! Haha. The main goal would obviously be WWE, but I’m a bit older now and that dream starts to fade, especially as I’ve been a bit lazy and maybe not put myself out there as much as I should have.
Which British wrestlers do you feel have made the biggest impact on the sport (either from World Of Sport, or those who have gained international fame)?
I guess I’d have to say William Regal. I think he continues to be an ambassador for British wrestling at the biggest stage. I think he is a constant reminder to the big leagues that we do have serious talent in England. It’s excellent that Robbie Brookside has gone over there now too, as he may have slightly more knowledge of the guys around today. I know Regal still watches a lot of British wrestling stuff, so again, an inspiration for everyone to work hard.
What has British wrestling contributed to the wider wrestling world?
I don’t think it has really had a star that has made a huge impact in terms of leading the worlds largest company, but I genuinely don’t think we are too far off. Give it 5 or so years and I think we will have a product of British wrestling at the head of WWE leading the company, Finn Balor looks most likely at the moment.
Who from the current crop of British workers that you’ve seen or worked with do you feel have potential to become big stars in the business?
Dave Mastiff and Rampage Brown are probably my favourite guys. There are a lot though, far too many to mention. T-Bone is getting better and better every time I see him, and it’s exciting to see Kris Travis back, but by far for me the most entertaining thing in British wrestling at the moment is Joey Hayes and Martin Kirby at PCW.
Do you think that British wrestling could ever be a strong territory in it’s own right again (like how Japan and Mexico operate), and get back to the level of the old World Of Sport Days?
Sadly no I don’t think it will. It is in a boom at the moment, but I think it is lost in our culture now. It is still massive in Japan and Mexico’s culture, which is why it’s on national TV and doing very well, however I can’t see it doing much better than it is now in the UK, sadly. I know that won’t be a popular opinion, but hey…
The last thing I would like to say is, what British wrestling needs more than anything is the return of Triple M: Mad Man Manson. NO-ONE can do what that man does or offers a show the same qualities as he does. Anyone can be funny in a wrestling ring, it’s quite easy, but the intelligence and wrestling understanding he has sets him miles apart from any other comedy wrestlers in my opinion.
To find out more about Ashton Smith and to kee up to date on news, appearances etc, please like his facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ashtonsmithprowrestler – or follow him on twitter @Trent99