Interview: Mad Man Manson on business, sports entertainment, money and maths

mmmI hate to break kayfabe, but I don’t think Mad Man Manson’s actually that mad after all.

That’ll come as no surprise to anyone who saw him in the pre-PCW Festive Fury Q&A alongside John Morrison, Chris Masters and Eugene, when he held forth on the state of the UK wrestling scene and what he perceived as unprofessional, unbusinesslike conduct.

And that’s what we’re discussing now.

“It is a business. It is a job. You charge your price,” he says. “I’ve got my price; if you can’t afford it, fair enough, good luck with your show, and if you need me again, give me a call. But other people, who love wrestling so much, they’ll go down in their price. They’ll say they charge fifty quid, and the guy will hum and hah and say, ‘Oh, well, I can’t really afford that, can you do forty?’ and they’ll say OK.

“That doesn’t work in Tesco if you go in to buy a loaf of bread and it’s priced at 50p and you say, ‘Well, I’ll give you 40p.’ It doesn’t work, because Tesco doesn’t love you. But these guys love wrestling so much that they’re screwing themselves.”

And they’re screwing the other wrestlers on the scene, of course. Manson’s recently been complaining on Facebook about people listing their job as ‘professional wrestler’ when they’re part-timers; on his own ‘Mad Man Manson’ page, he describes himself as ‘entertainer’. At Southside last weekend, I described him as the Buttons to T-Bone’s Wicked Stepmother in a pantomime-style match with huge amounts of crowd involvement, and he thinks that’d be a fair description.

“It is pantomime for me. Other people might like to claim it as a sport, but I’ll always fall on the side of pure pantomime – bad guy, good guy, couldn’t get easier than that for me.

“To me, the dividing line is wrestling stops at the Olympics. That wrestling is 100 per cent real. Pro wrestling is 100 per cent fake. You won’t find many other people in wrestling saying that. It is just acting. It’s on the same lines as Coronation Street, as Dream Team – which was my favourite show – it’s acting. It’s part stand-up comedy, part acting on a stage. People always bring up the fact that people get injured – well, people get injured acting, or walking in the street. Just because there’s a high level of athleticism to it, that doesn’t make it a sport.

“I remember once I was arguing back and forth with Dave Moralez [Dave Mastiff] who was saying, ‘It is a sport,’ and I was saying, ‘It’s not a sport,’ and Doug Williams came up behind me and said, ‘It’s not a sport the way you f***ing do it, Manson!’ Hard to argue with Doug!” he laughs.

Even so, he’s someone who’s worked all over the place, for all the top promotions.

“The joke I like to make is I’ve pretty much worked for everyone just once. You can look at it as ‘wow, fantastic, everyone wants to book me!’ – or ‘everyone books me once and then it’s never f***ing again!’

Unusually for someone as high profile and successful as he is on the UK scene, he has no interest in turning his wrestling hobby into his job. Indeed, he used to wrestle full-time – and he’s much happier now, wrestling in his spare time and picking up the extra cash for that.

“At no point in my life did I want wrestling to be my full-time job,” he says. “It did end up being my job for three and a half years, but no, it was not what I wanted to do. It was just at the time my other job was driving trucks, and at the time it was getting lower and lower – a three-day week, and then a two-day week, and I was being offered three shows, four shows, five shows, so you go where the money is. It was definitely not a choice that I wanted to be a wrestler full-time. Two years ago I decided that I didn’t want to be a wrestler any more, so I got myself another job, which I really enjoy.”

He enjoyed the lifestyle that came with being a professional wrestler – he’s just never been that keen on what happens in the ring.

“When you’re on the summer camps, we were all very good friends, and the wrestling is like one per cent of the day. You wrestle for an hour…” he pauses. “My maths is ridiculously bad. A quarter of the day? One-24th of the day! There we go! It was only one-24th of the day. The other 23 hours were spent travelling, playing football, generally having a laugh with your mates, living by the seaside – all those bits were fantastic, and the wrestling was just in the back of your mind. So if you got a job doing something you hated, but it was only for one hour a day, and you got to live somewhere in paradise, you’d probably take the job, so that was what it felt like to me.

“This is my tenth year going into the business. I do it purely for money. I’m not a horrible money-driven person; I do enjoy some things about wrestling; but the reason I haven’t had a day off this week or last week or the week to come is because I get money for doing that. That’s it. When my other job gives me enough money that I don’t have to wrestle any more, I’ll be gone, I’ll be finished.”

And when he chooses to step back from professional wrestling, he’s already got a bit of a plan – to go into acting.

“I love theatre. To be honest, one of the only reasons I’ve stuck with wrestling for this long is that I think of myself as an actor who just doesn’t quite have the balls or the time to get into proper acting.

“It’s the form of entertainment that gets me the most.”

He enthuses about a recent production of Macbeth he’s seen, updated to a World War Two setting and performed in an atmospheric church; and mentions seeing the touring musical Blood Brothers as well as improv nights.

He’s taking the first steps into mainstream performance later this month with a stand-up comedy show, alongside the touring Nigel McGuinness; and he’s clearly excited to have the opportunity to try out this new stage for his performance. Obviously, though, the theme of the evening will still be wrestling.

“It’ll be all wrestling fans, it’s on after a wrestling event, so the material is going to have to be wrestling-related,” he says.

“My act over the last three years has become a stand-up comedy show. I’m employed to do a sideshow, I’m employed to do vaudeville; I’m not employed to wrestle a match. It just so happens that the medium I use to tell my funny jokes is wrestling.”

Mad Man Manson supports Nigel McGuinness at the Frog and Bucket, Preston, on Friday May 31st from 11pm.

Image by Tony Knox.


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