Danny Cage had his first try-out with the Monster Factory back in 1994. 17 years later, in 2011, he would end up becoming a co-owner before eventually taking over sole ownership of the famous wrestling school.
Now known as The World Famous Monster, Cage has continued and improved upon the legacy that Larry Sharpe started with superstars such as Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy, The Big Show and Sheamus along with so many others.
Cage has added his own impressive list of students that have gone on to make a name for themselves in the industry. Among them are Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Ian Riccaboni and Preston Vance, just to name a few.
Danny and I recently exchanged text messages and covered a wide variety of topics, touching on everything from The Archer of Infamy’s main roster call-up to unionizing in the pro wrestling business. Read ahead to see what the veteran trainer had to say.
Jon: Damian Priest recently made his main roster debut and was instantly put into a big story with pop star Bad Bunny. What has been your initial reaction to his “call up”?
Danny: He’s doing what we all knew he could do. He just needed the opportunity. He had a try-out at WWE years ago. They passed. He went out and made a name for himself. A couple years later, WWE signed him. I don’t think they really knew what they had. That is, until they saw him perform in person. Saw him training. Leading. He was my right hand man here at Monster Factory for a reason. He’s a pro. Top to bottom. Every time he is on that tv he is maximizing his time. Every interview. Match. Promo. Segment. He’s smart. He knows these opportunities won’t & don’t last forever. So he’s making the most of it. I’m excited to see what’s next!
J: Is there anybody that he reminds you of in that sense? As far as work ethic, attitude, etc? Or even just overall?
D: He will be the first one to tell that he wasn’t always like that. He used to tell the students, “Don’t be me.” Meaning, don’t wait to get serious. Do it now! But things happen for a reason. He’s where he should be.
J: Sheamus is another Monster Factory alumni that’s doing big things right now, as he’s involved in a title program with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. Although he didn’t train there when you were in charge, do you still get that same sense of pride in seeing him back in the main event scene?
D: I was training alongside Sheamus together as a student. It was a different time & place at the Monster Factory then. It was in a tiny strip mall. 10 x 10 rings. Actually, I was embarrassed for him then—coming all the way from Ireland, and this was it. Things are way different now & I look forward to one day him coming back & seeing the new place & how we do things. He was struggling while he was here. Not in the ring. But he had an efficiency apartment. A bike. I gave him knee pads. He was only here for a few months but he got a good base to work with. We were a small part of his story but it’s still cool nonetheless. Very proud of him.
J: In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference or improvement that you’ve made since taking over at the Monster Factory?
D: Structure. Accountability. Stability. Opportunities.
J: Is there anybody that you’ve trained that you feel like is just waiting to explode onto the big scene once they get the right opportunity?
D: Royal Money. He is real. Like the realest of the real. I believe everything he does in the ring. Everything he says. I fear for his opponents when he is in the ring. Not in that he’s careless. But as in, he looks like he is legit destroying people. That’s rare today.
J: That is a rare trait these days. Switching up a little bit, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the pro wrestling industry in so many ways over the past year or so. How has it changed the way that you do things?
D: It’s changed everything. But it also opened the eyes of students about how much there really is to learn about professional wrestling. Not just about sweating, working out, taking bumps. It’s about production. Promos. Marketing. Covid-19 is no joke. I wanted to lead by example. How can you preach safety for things like inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment, bullying etc but then go ahead & not do everything to protect your students from a deadly disease? And by proxy protect their family etc. Now I know it’s not 100% safe. But Pro Wrestling isn’t 100% safe. We require testing weekly. Masks on at all times except during training matches. We’ve had some cases be discovered because we require testing. Thus those infected stayed home. Quarantined. Kept others from getting sick & spreading it. As a coach I take my responsibility seriously. These students are all my kids & I will not waiver on my responsibility to look out for them. Whether they like it or not. Whether they realize it or not.
J: Big picture, how do you envision the industry 5-10 years from now?
D: I am hoping that we take the steps needed that pro wrestling is looked at like the movie industry & television etc. It’d be great for those in the ring & beyond.
J: Interesting. Do you think that a wrestler’s union would be a helpful step in that direction?
D: Union would be beneficial to all. The most frustrating thing is to hear & see all the idiots thinking that the union would apply for small indie feds etc. That’s like saying, “Man, we can’t have a union in football! How are flag football leagues going to survive!?!” But seriously. Unionization would be ideal. The first step would be to actually declare the wrestlers employees first. Then go from there.
J: I totally agree with that. Do you see that realistically happening in the near future?
D: No. Not a shot. Nobody has the balls or stroke to attempt it. Everyone is out for themselves. Funny, too. Since they call wrestling a “brotherhood”.
J: What do you think is the greatest thing plaguing the industry at the moment?
D: Two things. Trying to over produce segments & booking short term.
J: Why do you think long-term booking has seemingly gone away? Is it simply lazy creative or is it deeper than that?
D: The biggest company in the world is publicly traded. So quarterly comes with the area.
J: Fair enough. I know you’re busy so before we wrap up, I just have one last question. What are your thoughts on the AEW/Impact/NJPW partnership and what it means, if anything, for the business as a whole?
D: I think the timing is good. It gives you more exposure. But it can be a double edge sword. It can make AEW seem not so special if they’ll seemingly do business with just anybody.
J: That’s a good point. Almost the whole “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” theory.
D: Disney World doesn’t work if there is one in every state.
J: Good point. I’ll let you go, man. I appreciate your time. Thanks for being open and honest with me.
D: Word. Appreciate it.
Once again, I want to thank Danny Cage for taking the time to speak to me. You can follow him on Twitter by following THEDannyCage. If you’d like more information about the World Famous Monster Factory, you can check out their website here.