The lifeblood of the wrestling industry is the young talent rising through the ranks in order to become the next big thing. After a massive renaissance in British wrestling, we’re currently in a rebuilding phase as the new crop of talent works its way to the front of the crowd. One wrestler to keep your eye on from this crop is a great worker from South Wales named Martyn Grant. He has the look of a full time professional and an impressive skill set between the ropes – there are some matches of his below to check out. I spoke to Martyn Grant during the current lockdown that we all unfortunately find ourselves in. We spoke about his training, inspirations, and aspirations. Enjoy.
What was it that sparked your initial interest in pro wrestling?
In all honesty, I’ve loved it ever since I can remember. My oldest memory is sitting watching SummerSlam ’92 with my brother at a family friend’s house. That was Christmas 1992 when I was four-years-old, so it’s fair to say I’ve been a lifelong wrestling fan. From there, I discovered WCW Worldwide on ITV. A lot of people shit on early ‘90s WCW but, to me, that stuff was solid gold. That became appointment TV each week and I’ve been hooked ever since!
At what point did your fandom reach the point that Martyn Grant decided to become a wrestler?
As far as breaking in goes, I’d always had that itch that needed to be scratched. But it wasn’t until around 2004/2005 when I was 16 that I started considering it as a realistic option. Wrestling was pretty much my first love and I’d been a die-hard fan for over ten years at that point.
Unfortunately, it was still a relatively closed industry within the UK. Wrestling schools weren’t as prevalent as they are today, so breaking into the business wasn’t as straightforward as you’d think. In the end, I wound up getting involved by pure serendipity.
My brother was in university at the time and sharing a house with his friend and a mystery third man (sadly it didn’t turn out to be Hulk Hogan).
One day, that housemate had a friend over who just so happened to run the Welsh contingent of NWA UK Hammerlock. He and my brother got talking and, next you thing you know, my phone is lighting up like a Christmas tree. If I ever needed proof that fate is real then that was it! A week later, my brother and I showed up at the NWA Wales training class and the rest is history.
Do you consider your ‘home’ promotion to be Royal Imperial Wrestling, and what do they offer you as a performer?
I’ve been working for RIW on and off since about 2012 and, while the promotion has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, they’ve been good to me as a worker. Regular monthly shows are a rarity in South Wales and the backstage politics at RIW is virtually non-existent.
It hasn’t always been rainbows and champagne. I’ve worked RIW shows in front of packed houses with big names on the card and I’ve also worked in front of empty seats bumping for an audience of vacant chairs – and that was before the coronavirus! Luckily, the promotion seems to have really turned a corner, particularly over the last year, and the show-quality has really picked up. The introduction of a few more solid workers has notably improved the overall work-rate and the shows have been a lot better as a result.
Best of all, the crew is a decent bunch of guys from top to bottom and they all do it for the love of the game. It’s a fun working atmosphere and a good mix of old guard and newbies all working towards the common goal of producing a quality show.
How do you find the scene down in South Wales? I’m up in North Wales and it’s fairly sparse in terms of regular shows being put on.
I’ve worked in North Wales a few times over the years and you’re right, it’s definitely a bit of a gap in the market. Having said that, I know Fusion Pro and Britannia run fairly regularly up there these days and are both worth checking out.
In South Wales, there’s a fairly active calendar of shows covering all the bases in terms of style. You’ve got family-friendly shows, as you’d see on the holiday camp circuit and the more indie-orientated style that would appeal more to smart fans. There’s also a pretty good spread in terms of regional coverage, with Attack in Cardiff, Dragon Pro in Newport, Exist in Swansea, Slammasters in Pontypridd and, of course, RIW in Neath Port Talbot area. There’s definitely plenty of wrestling out there for wrestling fans in South Wales.
Where does the nickname ‘Whiskey Chaser’ come from?
There’s an old saying in the wrestling business that the best gimmicks are those that are an extension of the person behind them with the volume turned up. Look at Eddie Guerrero or Steve Austin for proof of that.
Growing up in South Wales as a teenager in the 2000s, there was definitely a “live for the weekend” culture. Work hard, play hard, rinse, repeat. If you look at the history of wrestling, that mindset definitely translates to the ring. I put in the time in the gym and watch my diet but I also like to balance it out with a few drinks here and there to keep me sane.
I guess it’s a throwback to the old school wrestlers of yesteryear when I think about it. You work a town, hit the bar and live it up while it lasts – chasing whiskey! There’s definitely a classic rock influence in there too. When you grow up idolizing bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue, that rock-star swagger is bound to rub off on you somewhere. Tie it all together and you’ve got yourself Martyn Grant, ‘The Whiskey Chaser’!
From the matches I’ve seen Martyn Grant in, I’d class you as a mat-based/technical wrestler. Would you say that’s accurate?
Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. I like to describe my style as Chris Benoit meets Rick Rude – a technically sound base with a healthy sprinkling of “body heel” arrogance for good measure.
While the mat work is undoubtedly important, I think that personality is equally vital too and crowd work is a huge part of who I am as a performer. The best moves in the world mean nothing if you can’t connect with the audience. I pride myself on being a solid technician in the ring but I always try to go the extra mile when it comes to interacting with the crowd too – whether that’s making them laugh, making them cheer or making them want to jump the guard rail!
You’re part of the tag team High & Mighty but you wrestle singles also. Do you have a preference for either?
I do love working singles and the drama of one-on-one competition is hard to beat. However, with that being said, I broke in as a tag-team wrestler so tag wrestling is always going to be near and dear to my heart too.
At the moment, we’ve got a good thing going with High & Mighty. I’ve known my tag partner, Mark Daniels, for years and our chemistry is hard to fabricate. The audience can tell we’re a real team having a good time when we’re out there and that adds to the performance. We’re not just two guys randomly thrown together. I think the fact that we can work as both singles and a tag also makes us more of an asset to the promotions we work for. If there’s an injury or someone doesn’t show up, either one of us can step up and fill that slot, whether it’s singles or tags.
How has it been seeing the rise of British Wrestling from a performer’s standpoint?
When I started back in 2006, British wrestling was still in a bit of a state of flux. While companies like the FWA had helped drag British wrestling out of the dark ages of tribute shows into the indie style we know today, the scene was still relying heavily on imports as its primary draw.
Since then, the wrestling industry has completely exploded in the UK. Not only are there literally hundreds of promotions in operation all around the country but there’s also plenty of home-grown talent. A show no longer needs to be centered around an ex-WWE star to draw. Seeing companies like Progress, ICW, and Rev Pro gain an international following and global acclaim really is great to see and proves that British wrestling isn’t dead – even though it may have been on life support for a decade or two.
What is your goal as far as your wrestling career goes?
As far as personal goals go, the dream will always be to do this for a living. With a family to support, I still have to work a nine-to-five job five days a week to get by and pay the bills – I can’t see that changing any time soon. The frustrating thing with the wrestling business is that your destiny isn’t always in your own hands. Even the very best needed someone to throw them a bone along the way for that performer to get to the next level. Being good isn’t good enough on its own.
Being proactive about it keeps me sane. As a tag, we’re always trying to network and branch out to new promotions to get as much work as we can. Most promoters already have a set roster of guys but persistence does pay off over time. We subscribe to the theory that if you keep putting on good matches, word gets around and you can’t be denied. It’s like Randy Savage said, “The cream will rise to the top” and I think that’s proving to be true – even if it has taken a while for that cream to surface!
How can fans support your wrestling career whilst we’re in lockdown?
Anyone looking to help a brother out can head over to our Facebook page – High And Mighty – and give us a like on there. We’re pretty active on social media and are always looking to keep our fans entertained so we’re worth a follow. All likes and shares are greatly appreciated – don’t be shy, tell your friends!
What’s your favorite entrance theme?
I think the Evolution theme from back in the day – “Line in the Sand” by Motorhead – is always going to be top of the list on sheer cool-factor alone. Although I’m a massive Myles Kennedy fan so Edge’s music – “Metallingus” by Alter Bridge – is high on the list too.
What’s your favorite gimmick?
I’ve always gravitated more towards the bell-to-bell “wrestler’s wrestlers” – be it Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar – so the more outlandish gimmicks never really grabbed me. Saying that the original Mankind character used to freak me out as a kid. Foley went all-in with the rocking, screeching and pulling his own hair out!
What’s your favorite gimmick match?
Before it got over-exposed with its own PPV event, there was something really special about the Hell in a Cell match. The legend behind it made it a real spectacle and the perfect culmination of a feud.
What’s your favorite match?
I don’t even need to think about this one: it’s Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin from WrestleMania 13. That match had EVERYTHING, from storytelling and drama to bloody realism and the iconic double-turn. It’s a real masterpiece – I think I must watch that match at least once a year. There’s another great match from a month before between Owen Hart and British Bulldog which is an underrated classic. It’s the finals to crown the inaugural European Champion and those two put on an absolute clinic – that’s a close second.
What’s your favorite film?
It’s a three-way tie between Scarface, Goodfellas, and Wolf of Wall Street. Don’t make me choose!
If Martyn Grant could be any animal what would he be?
As a proud Welshman, I think any answer other than a dragon would be wrong. Breathing fire and the ability to fly – what’s not to love?!
There we have it, an interesting chat that we hope shines a light on a corner of the wrestling world that doesn’t always get enough attention in South Wales. If you can head over to the Martyn Grant Facebook page and give a like and share please do so. He’s someone who could and should be a bigger name on the scene so help spread the word and get his name out there. That’s about all we have for this interview folks; there are plenty more available on the site for your reading pleasure, so be sure to check them out. Take care of yourselves.