Adam Maxted has an obsession with wrestling. When Sitting Front Row spoke with him recently it was evident to see it was a healthy, focused obsession that drives him on each and every day towards his ultimate goal of someday competing in WWE. He lives and breaths professional wrestling and will stop at nothing until he reaches this goal. He may play the cocky heel in front of fans on occasion as a “Body Bros” but Maxted remains gracious for the opportunities he has received since his stint on ITV reality show Love Island catapulted him to stardom this year. The current All Ulster Champion hopes to build on his growing success in 2017. In a frank and honest interview we discuss how he became a wrestling fan when he was in foster care at a very young age, how his mums recovery motivates him to this day and all things wrestling related. Alex’s story is a fascinating read and you get the feeling with this guy that its only just the beginning of long and fruitful journey ahead.
Thanks Adam for taking the time to do this interview with Sitting Front Row. I think its fair to say you shot to fame after appearing on the ITV reality show Love Island. How did you find your experience on the show? Was this your first taste of reality TV as a contestant and do you think appearing in front of the cameras helped to progress your wrestling career on the promo side of things? For me I didn’t go into the show with a game plan, I knew going in that I would just be my humble self and if I had enough time I knew my personality and unique sense of humour would start to come out and luckily enough it did and the public got behind me because I think they could see I was in there for the right reasons and not for fame or to be the next reality star. Yes it was my first time doing any sort of reality TV and it did involve lots of on camera interviews as we would be called into a room each day in front of a camera to answer questions about what had gone on that day. With regards to helping to progress my promo side of things with wrestling there’s nothing quite like having to walk out in front of a live audience and deliver a promo in the ring with all eyes on me. Currently I’ve only had a couple of opportunities to do this but it is something that I am working hard daily to improve on as I know how important the promo side of things is in wrestling.
Of course you had already stepped inside the squared circle before Love Island making appearances for both Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Ulster (PWU). In terms of before and after appearing on the show, just how much of a boost was it to your wrestling career? Its been a massive boost and I feel like I’ve been thrown in at the deep end now with all of the bookings I am lucky to have. I guess its sink or swim for me now as before I went on the show I was lucky to be wrestling 2/3 times a month in Ireland but going into the show I knew it was a huge opportunity to use it as a platform for my wrestling career. I knew that if I was myself and portrayed myself the right way, speaking about my wrestling etc that it could open doors for me after the show. When I got home I had messages and emails from different promotions wanting to book me for shows and now at the moment I am lucky enough to be wrestling most weekends all over England and I know for a fact that I would not be getting these opportunities so early on in my wrestling career so it was a gamble going on the show but it paid off.
You have stated before on social media that you were always a fan of wrestling growing up. Who were your favourite performers to watch when you were a young kid?
What eventually led you to chase your dream of becoming a pro wrestler? Was there a particular moment that inspired you or was it always something you intended to do? When I was about 4/5 years old I was in foster care for about 3 years and the couple that looked after me always took me to visit the elderly mother of the man that looked after me, all I can remember is wrestling being of the TV during these visits, probably to keep me occupied while he visited his mother but I was hooked every time to the TV screen. As I grew older in my early teens I was still a huge wrestling fan, my favourites were the Hardy Boys, Eddie Guerrero & Rey mysterio. As I got a bit older I guess like most teenagers I grew out of wrestling a bit, I was still a fan but wasn’t as obsessed with it as I used to be, my attention had switched to playing football and skateboarding and interacting with girls of course (smirking). During my high school years at school (aged 13-17) I got bullied a lot and my mum actually took me out of my school and moved me to another. Of course this didn’t solve the problem and even at that age I learnt a valuable life lesson that you can’t just run away from your problems, sometimes you have to face them straight on. The bullying continued at this school, I guess because I was a ‘mummy’s boy’ and a bit of a push over but as I look back I’m actually glad it happened as it pushed me to walking through the gym door for the first time. In my mind I had the attitude that if I got muscly etc people would think twice about picking on me. Fast forward 6 years of consistent gym and training and I now have a physique that I am proud of as it takes a lot of dedication and self motivation to stay consistent with your training week after week for years but as I started changing my body shape through weight training and proper nutrition I decided that I was going to go after my dream to becoming a professional wrestler with my sights set on the WWE. To this day my mum is my main motivation in life and has had the biggest impact on me and who I am as a person today with my morals and drive towards my goals. When she was sick when I was younger she used to tell me that getting well and getting me out of foster care was her motivation every day to get better and eventually she did. She is now a successful personal trainer with her own fitness class studio in Belfast which again was a dream of hers and I’ve grown up watching her not settling for the hand of cards she’d been dealt in her early life and giving up, but choosing to work and go after the things that would make a better life for her and me and my younger sister.
You are also a fitness instructor. Which came first, fitness instructor or wrestler? And just how much of an advantage do you feel you have being in top shape? I spent a couple of years working as a personal trainer from the age of 20-23 and I loved it as I was earning money doing something I was passionate about and also helping people make positive changes to their lives which was the most rewarding part of the job for me. As much as I enjoy being a personal trainer wrestling was still what I knew I wanted to do with my life and what I want to do full time. I can no longer commit to training people and I don’t think it’s fair of me to take them on as a paying client when wrestling is now my 100% focus. I am lucky enough to be wrestling most weekends at the moment and my week from Monday–Friday is literally spent in the gym working on my physique,3 nights at my wrestling training school (uprising pro wrestling school) and the rest of my free time is spent watching wrestling at home and eating. Wresting for me is not a hobby it’s now my obsession and what I want to do with my life. I do feel that I do have an advantage with how I look and my physique impresses people but wrestling has evolved and I can’t get by in the business today by just being a ‘body guy’. I am hungry and focused on learning and honing my skills every time I am at training and in the ring and as I’ve said before I feel very privileged to have the support of my coaches and some of the top independent wrestlers in the U.K. offering me their advice and support which means a lot.
You first started wrestling training with Main Stage Wrestling (MSW) in Dublin. How did this come about? What made you travel down from Belfast to Dublin to train and how did you find your experience there? I remember I was working in Marbella in the summer and I saw online that WWE had signed Irish wrestler Joe Cabray which I thought was awesome as it was only Finlay and Sheamus that had made it to the WWE in recent years. Time went on and I heard that Joe was back in Ireland and training people down at MSW and I was currently working on the Northern Ireland train service from Belfast – Dublin where I worked pushing a trolley through the carriages serving people tea and coffee. I remember one day looking out the window and thinking to myself “what am I doing with my life, I hate this job and it brings me no motivation or challenge to make something of my life”. I got in touch with MSW and started making the 4 hour journey to and from Dublin to start my wrestling training with Joe who was very patient and welcoming and so were the rest of the guys down as MSW. Joe taught me how to take my first bump and how to run the ropes but due to financial issues I had to start my training up in Belfast with Pro Wrestling Ulster. A funny fact about that train job, during my interview I was 22 and they asked me ‘where did I see myself in 5 years?’ I replied with “I’ll be a professional wrestler in the WWE”. I feel that in life if you truly believe in yourself and are willing to put in the work and do whatever it takes then the only person that can stand in your way is yourself from making it happen.
You now train with Uprising Wrestling School in Belfast. Between both MSW and Uprising, which trainers have helped you the most? At the start Joe Cabray welcomed me into his school at Main Stage and I like to think that he saw that I had potential, I am now privileged to be a part of what Joe has going on at OTT (Over the Top Wrestling) and he is still someone I turn to when I need advice or the opinion of someone I look up to. He’s always quick to give me honest feed back and nothing is ever too much trouble. Recently the past 6-8 months I have made good progress and improvements due to the structure and training at Uprising Pro Wrestling School which is run by Bonesaw and Damien Corvin who are the top heel tag team in Ireland, The Kings of the North. Their training stresses heavily on the importance of perfecting the basics of professional wrestling like rolls, ring conditioning, positioning and drills which we complete at every session. Again Bonesaw and Damien are never far away when I need or ask for advice and feedback.
You now feature regularly for both OTT and PWU in Ireland. Have you any favourite matches or angles of your own with both promotions? For me any opportunity to be a part of OTT is a huge privilege. Joe has top talent from around the world contacting him to be a part of the OTT card but he still gives myself and the ‘Body Bros’ Brian Corr and Carl O’Reilly the opportunity to be a part of the show which is stacked with top talent. At the moment I love what we have with the “Body Bros” and we are growing with confidence every time we step in the ring together. We haven’t had a real chance to show what we can do yet but I am looking forward to what 2017 will bring for us. With PWU I haven’t been a part of their shows recently as I’ve been booked quite a lot in the U.K. on the same dates but I am still their current All Ulster Champion and I plan on keeping that belt safely around my chiselled mid section.
OTT Wrestling make their debut in Belfast on December 18th for a show billed as Invasion Belfast. Is this a card you hope to be featured on and if so what are you most looking forward to on the night? I’m excited for this show not just because I hope to be a part of the first OTT show in my home town of Belfast, but I’m also excited for all of the wrestling fans in Northern Ireland, many of whom haven’t had the opportunity to witness the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with being present at an OTT event (as it would mean traveling 2 hours) so I think it will be a great night not just for the fans in attendance but for wrestling in Northern Ireland and Ireland as a whole.
You mentioned that over in England things are going from strength to strength for you as well. You have made appearances for Southside Wrestling, XWA and others. How has this gone for you so far? Like I’ve said before being on Love Island opened doors for me with wrestling bookings which I knew it would and I am now privileged to be booked consistently with Southside, XWA, Kamikaze Pro and IPW in the U.K. I take this as a good sign that I’m on the right track as these promotions could have just booked me for a one off show advertising me as ‘The Love Island Guy’ and then never booked me again but they have all put their trust in me and again I feel they see the potential in me which motivates me to work even harder and improve every time I’m in the ring.
Are there any particular independent wrestlers you would like the chance to work with in the next 12 months if given the chance? I don’t even know where to start.. pretty much everyone that I’ve met in each locker room so far as I know I’d learn something different from being in the ring with each of them. In no order.
John Morrison (Mundo)
Pip Bubble Gum
It seems fairly straight forward that WWE is the ultimate goal for you. Have you considered what path(s) you may take along the way? Would you look at taking bookings in Europe, Japan, Mexico and independent US bookings for instance, if it meant building up your skill set for the eventually pay off of WWE? I believe that the only way I am going to improve and develop in all aspects as a wrestler is being in the ring as much as possible with guys with years of experience, I don’t mind where that will be in the world because life as part of the WWE means you’re on the road pretty much all of the year. At the moment I spend most of my weekends traveling and wrestling around the UK but next year if the opportunities were there to travel and wrestle in Europe, Japan, Mexico or the US I would be there in a heart beat as the more I am seen to be wrestling in different places and promotions the better exposure it will be for me. Next year I hope to work on the Brian Dixon camps for 6 weeks during the summer as I feel it would be great for me to make good progress as I’ve heard some of the guys on that team get to wrestle 2/3 times a day.
If and when the day comes that you get signed to WWE who would be on your list of wrestlers you would like to lock up with in the ring?
2016 has been a great year for you. What have been the main lessons you have taken from it and what do you hope to achieve in 2017? The main lessons I’ve taken from 2016 is just to remain humble, hungry and healthy and to listen and ask for as much feedback and use it to improve the next time I’m in the ring. I want to see out the rest of 2016 and learn and improve as much as I can from the rest of the bookings I have this year. At the moment I am grateful to have regular bookings with Southside, XWA Wrestling, Kamikaze Pro, IPW:UK & Over The Top Wrestling in Ireland and I am extremely grateful to the promoters of these companies for giving me these regular opportunities to improve and be a part of their shows. In 2017 I aim to make a bigger name for myself in the wrestling world but not as a reality TV star or ‘that guy from love Island’ but a guy that remains humble and hungry to keep progressing and improving every time I step in the ring. I know that WWE hold try outs when they are over in the UK on tour and I feel if I can work regularly throughout 2017 that towards the end of it I may get the opportunity to try out for WWE