by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “The Showstealer” Nathan Cruz holds the distinction of being a veteran of the United Kingdom’s independent scene and at the same time being remarkably young at just 24 years-old. Cruz has wrestled for a slew of companies in the UK including All Star Wrestling (ASW), PROGRESS Wrestling and New Generation Wrestling (NGW). In March 2012 Cruz made history by being the first man ever to hold the PROGRESS Wrestling Championship. A little more than a year earlier for NGW, Cruz captured the NGW Championship. Before any of that though Cruz had been a member of the full-time team at ASW, a promotion he still wrestles for to this day. Cruz’s exit stage right punt kick finisher has put away a wide range of opponents as Cruz continues to impress heading into 2015. Cruz has a Facebook page that can be found here. This interview was completed on November 25, 2014. In this interview Cruz and I focus on his work for ASW.
Daniel Johnson: How did you first get involved with ASW?
Nathan Cruz: I was put forward by a few people. Mal Mason and [El] Ligero had both put me in for jobs. But it wasn’t until Brian [Dixon] saw me at his Croydon show; where I was a replacement for Martin Kirby, that I truly got my foot in the door.
Daniel Johnson: For fans who have yet to check out ASW what is one thing you would like to tell them to get them to watch a match or show?
Nathan Cruz: You’re honestly going to see some of the most top quality wrestling. They’re family friendly, but Brian is always about drawing more attention to his product and noticed guys with potential and those who have garnished attention in and around the UK as well as talent from abroad. Many of the now NXT roster came to the UK to work for Brian.
Daniel Johnson: ASW has been around since 1970. Were you a fan of ASW growing up at all? How did you first hear of ASW and if you were a fan who were some wrestlers that stuck out to you from when you first began watching ASW?
Nathan Cruz: Sure was a fan. I went to watch twice at Hull City Hall as a kid. My favorite British wrestler when I was young was Robbie Dynamite. So many reasons as to why, but he just stood out above everyone else. It was a full circle moment when we got to compete at Hull for NGW.
Daniel Johnson: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you debuted for ASW in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2013 that you began working much more often for them. I’m curious what are your thoughts about your debut year in ASW?
Nathan Cruz: Not true. I debuted in 2010 and was out on the full-time team that summer. I was heavily featured for them teaming with Rockstar Spud throughout 2011. My debut was very daunting. My goal as far as the UK went was to work for All Star. That first match was a sink or swim situation. I’m very grateful to Tony Spitfire for the match we had in Croydon. He helped me secure my job.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into your more recent career 2013 was your busiest year not only in ASW, but in total with how many matches you worked. What made you increase your schedule so much in 2013?
Nathan Cruz: Also not true haha. My busiest year in terms of match quantity was 2011; in which I wrestled a total of 278 matches that year.
However, 2013 was a more widespread year with more regular work in France and more promotions in the UK contacted me for their super shows.
Daniel Johnson: In 2013 you were often positioned as the opening match on the card for ASW. What was the significance of being the opener and how successful do you think you tend to be in getting a crowd excited in opening a show?
Nathan Cruz: This was usually only the case on the camp shows. Most of the towns I would be positioned either as the first half main or the main event itself. Working first is a flattering spot. It shows Brian had the faith in me that I could get the audience into the show, no matter my opponent or if I was blue eye or villain.
Daniel Johnson: In the summer of 2013 you had a series of matches with Steven Walters. How do you think that series of matches went and what do you think of Steven Walters as an opponent?
Nathan Cruz: Honestly; I love the guy. You get very few close friends in this job and I consider him one of my closest friends that I have come by.
The matches were a testament to his ability and my ability to always strive to improve. The man is so fine tuned; it came as no surprise when he got signed last winter.
Daniel Johnson: You also had the chance to work with international talent that year wrestling with Japanese stars Hiromu Takahashi and Kenbai. Did anything stick out about working with either of these two men?
Nathan Cruz: Takahashi in particular. NJPW has been a goal of mine for quite some time. Getting to go in there with someone who knows how to wrestle that hard hitting style and do it so well was a real treat for me.
Daniel Johnson: You are of course no stranger to working with international talent. I was curious if you had any good stories about working with international stars?
Nathan Cruz: Paul London. Arguably the nicest guy on the planet. I’ve seriously never enjoyed being in someone else’s presence backstage. He loves what we do. He loves meeting new people. He loves his life! He’s a top quality professional. I can’t say enough good things about him.
Daniel Johnson: You also worked with former WWE developmental talent Oliver Grey for three days in a row. How was Grey as an opponent to work with and how do you think these matches turned out?
Nathan Cruz: He’s great. He was a star. Before NXT. But since coming back I honestly can see a new love for the job in him. He wants to have fun and enjoy what he’s good at. Unfortunately at the time I had a real bad ankle and quad injury so our matches were limited. But again credit to him, he kept me safe and we still had the crowd in our hands every day. Top wrestler. Top lad.
Daniel Johnson: One wrestler you have worked with across several years and promotions is El Ligero. What do you think makes you guys click in the ring? Also, how would your first match with Ligero compare to your most recent with him? Do you feel your chemistry has only improved the more you have worked with him?
Nathan Cruz: I’ve sadly not competed against him in a singles match in about two years. Which is weird because throughout 2011 to 2012 he was practically my only opponent in All Star. Obviously due to that we have a great chemistry. He helped train me and took me far in the job. He’s an excellent story teller; one of the best I know, which compliments what I do fantastically. From our first confrontation in 2009 to our last. The difference is staggering.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anyone who has wrestled for ASW that you have yet to wrestle that you would like to? If so then who?
Nathan Cruz: I’d love to do a singles match with Gangrel. He again has such a great mind for wrestling. He’s a master of getting an audience right where he wants them.
Daniel Johnson: I also wanted to ask a few questions about you career outside of your ASW career, but before I do I was wondering if there was anything else you wanted to say about ASW?
Nathan Cruz: It’s the only place you can go in the UK if you want to make this full-time.
Daniel Johnson: You were the first ever PROGRESS Wrestling Champion in 2012 following winning a four way elimination match also involving Marty Scurll, El Ligero and Mike Mason. What are your thoughts on that match and of being the first champ for PROGRESS Wrestling?
Nathan Cruz: It was a privilege. Honestly it was. Such a star studded line up of quality talent. Being the champion and having to deliver against some of those matches was a ton of pressure let me tell you! But it brought out the best in me. I’m still immensely proud of my two out of three falls match with Marty back in June of 2012.
Daniel Johnson: What are your thoughts on how PROGRESS has grown since 2012 and what keeps you coming back to work for them?
Nathan Cruz: I’m not. I’ve been kept off shows since May of this year after a fall out due to my WWE tryout. Despite that, I still love what PROGRESS do. They deliver outstanding match quality primarily with British talent. And I think that’s a true credit to this country and their booking. They are the only promotion I know that have a waiting list for tickets. They have made some mistakes in the way which I’m sure they will admit to, but they have learned from them and, pun fully intended, have, ‘progressed.’
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned you had a WWE tryout recently. When was the tryout exactly and who did you get the chance to work out with? Also, what feedback did you get and how do you think the tryout went overall?
Nathan Cruz: The first one was in May at The O2. I was featured as a Rosebud. Then the latest was this November. I was a Rosebud on live events and Raw then wrestled a dark match on SD against The Usos teaming with Justin Hammer.
Daniel Johnson: Another promotion you’ve worked for is NGW in Hull, you were even the NGW Heavyweight Champion for 302 days. How did you get involved in this promotion and is there anything you would like readers to know about this promotion?
Nathan Cruz: NGW Champion. I wasn’t a heavyweight and they don’t have a heavyweight title. I was involved right from day one in 2008 as it was a close friend who originally started it. I remained very involved with it when Rich Dunn took over and still am to this day. They are a fast growing promotion. Do things right. Incredible production values and are, in my opinion, the top promotion in the country, simply because they deliver on every level.
Daniel Johnson: Where would you rank 2014 among your years in wrestling?
Nathan Cruz: I mean it’s sucked in one way: That I’ve had to get a day job after being full-time for four years. I had to so that myself and my fiance could afford our home. But given the opportunities I have had with WWE, the return to NGW and some of the matches I have had this year. It’s right in at number one.
Daniel Johnson: To wind down interviews I like to ask five non-wrestling questions followed by a few more short wrestling questions. What has been your favorite movie to come out in the last year?
Nathan Cruz: Godzilla! I’m a massive punter for Godzilla and had been waiting for that film for like four years.
Daniel Johnson: What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Nathan Cruz: Batman Knightfall. Graphic novels have to count as that’s pretty much all I read. Part two was exceptionally good.
Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods for the first time this year and if so what has been your favorite?
Nathan Cruz: Courgettes. I thought they were awful!
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to wrestling who is one wrestler 25 or younger other than yourself you think readers should know about?
Nathan Cruz: Flash Morgan Webster! He improves every time I watch him.
Daniel Johnson: Ribs and road stories are always fun. Do you have any that you could share?
Nathan Cruz: What goes on tour, stays on tour!
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part of being a pro wrestler?
Nathan Cruz: Grapple gays requesting discrete meet ups…
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Nathan Cruz: Rampage Brown. Any chance I get to put him over I will! That man has helped me so much. He saw something in me and I grabbed hold of his knowledge because to me, he’s the best Europe had to offer. I can’t thank him enough!
Check out Nathan Cruz in action! In this match from PROGRESS Chapter Five: For Those About To Fight, We Salute You, Cruz wrestles rival Rampage Brown in a highly physical and enthralling encounter:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews