Welcome to a special edition of Blogs Count Anywhere, the pro wrestling companion blog to the ODPH podcast & 607 TWS: The Wrestling Show Podcast on Nerd initiative.
For this entry, we are reviewing a brand new documentary series debuting on Apple TV+ on March 17th showcasing one of the premier pro wrestling schools in the world.
If you have a deeper knowledge of the pro wrestling business (other than watching your favorite promotions on cable TV or streaming), you know the importance of wrestling schools. This is where those with aspirations of learning the ins and outs of professional wrestling go to hone their craft.
Often during televised/streaming shows, fans will hear commentators mention such places as the WWE Performance Center, New Japan Wrestling Dojo, and Nightmare Factory where tomorrow’s superstars improve their skills today. One of the best wrestling schools you will hear in those types of conversations is the MONSTER FACTORY, based out of Paulsboro, New Jersey.
The school is featured in a 6 episode series giving viewers an all access view inside the lives of trainees (Amelia Herr aka Notorious Mimi, Hurley A. Jones Jr. aka Bobby Buffet, Lucas DiSangro aka Twitch, David Goldschmidt aka Goldy and Gabriella Belpre aka Gabby Ortiz) along with their head trainer & Monster Factory owner Danny Cage en route to a showcase show at the legendary 2300 arena in Philadelphia.
Rich from 3FN and I had the chance to catch up with the cast before the show hits streaming on a special 607 TWS, but lets take a closer look at how this series fared overall now that its’ debuted.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Monster Factory, it was founded in 1983 by Larry Sharpe. One of its’ first students to go on and have superstar success was “Bam Bam” Bigelow. From there, the school had grown with successful students moving on to the WWE, WCW and ECW respectfully. In 2010, Danny Cage purchased the school and rebranded as “The World Famous Monster Factory”. The school hasn’t stopped turning out success story after success story over those years (12 signees in 11 years as mentioned on the show). Currently, QT Marshall (AEW), Damien Priest (WWE) and Steve Maclin (WWE, now Impact Wrestling) are a few notable students and all featured wrestlers in major promotions. Success is never guaranteed but looking at the track record of alumni over the years, it can’t be denied the Monster Factory can give an aspiring wrestler the tools to begin that journey to the big stage.
The six episode series doesn’t disguise the grind in training and how dangerous the business can be from a physical aspect. From the initial episode, viewers see a prime example of how serious training needs to be to avoid someone being devastatingly hurt or worse. During training on how to perform a suplex, two students experience a slip-up and nearly drop someone right on their head. Immediately Danny Cage jumps in and coaches these two (along with the rest of the class) about what they did wrong, what to do next time and why it’s important to take it seriously.
Cage bluntly puts “When you screw up in wrestling, I know it’s natural to laugh…Don’t do that…..You don’t know what that means, you could have just crippled someone.” Another moment is later in the series when a chair spot (where one person hits someone with a steel chair) goes wrong and the wrestler suffered an elbow injury. These types of events do happen. It’s one element of the business that is known and hopefully never seen due to great coaching & training.
If viewers are not familiar to all the aspects of pro-wrestling’s business side, Danny Cage does an exceptional job showing the true side of the ring. Cage is very open, blunt and honest with what is involved in learning the ropes. Cage may rub some people the wrong way, but at the end of the day, his job isn’t to make everyone happy, but make them the best pro wrestler they can be. Viewers will see his personal journey & see his passion pour out for pro wrestling. His career might not have taken off but his legacy is what his students take with them as they move on and in some cases, skyrocketing upward. The prime example of this is Herr aka Notorious Mimi. Early in the show, Herr is given an opportunity that not many get: a tryout from a big promotion. There is no bigger accomplishment that a coach can have than seeing a student work extremely hard to get chances and take full advantage of them. Even while brief on the series, Herr shines with how much she’s put int her craft and where she is going from here. Herr’s story shows why students sacrifice so much to chase their dreams. With hard work, they just might get it.
Even with the success story with Herr, this show’s strength is not what the students do in the ring, but how vulnerable they were with their lives outside. Each featured student deeply open up about their personal lives and their struggles on top of chasing their dreams. The series captures the raw emotions involving the students and readers can’t help but to cheer them on to win.
That said, the episode that most viewers will arguably be talking about the most is episode 3: “Thank You CM Punk” featuring Lucas DiSangro aka Twitch. Seeing what he has overcome to get to this level simply can’t be ignored. That said, nobody has a story that is forgettable by any means. Viewers will be blown away by the honesty and emotional testimonials from other cast members like Ortiz, Buffet and Goldy as well, which each getting time to have their moment to talk of their experiences that mold them into who they are.
The students are not the only ones showing the world their daily challenges. This especially rings true for Danny Cage himself. The exposure he gives to the audience about the business and all that it encompasses is one thing, but his personal life outside the ring with his family is a whole captivating story as well. Cage balances both with strength and poise during some of the most difficult times anyone unfortunately has to endure, moving forward concerning the showcase without missing a beat. Knowing Cage is dealing with this on top of setting up one of, if not their biggest show ever, is something the audience watching at home has to respect and will empathize with.
Overall, Monster Factory for Apple Tv+ is a must-watch show for not only pro wrestling fans, but viewers who have ever had a dream worth chasing. It pays homage to the legendary school but shows that its success is not based solely on the art of wrestling but rather what makes the wrestler. Watching ringside (or streamside) and seeing these individuals will give you new perspective and admiration for those willing to take a chance and leaving it all in the ring after the 1, 2 and 3 counts.
Make sure to check this series out when it drops on March 17th on Apple TV+
Hit me up on ODPH social media and let me know what you thought of Monster Factory. Thanks again to Apple TV and Nerd Initiative to allow us to interview and early screen the series. Till next time, thanks for reading.