411 Interviews: Ben Muth of Wrestling Revolution Project
Jeff Katz, the creator of Wrestling Revolution Project, wrote this about one of his most surprising casting announcements: “A former starting left tackle for Stanford – where he majored in political science – Ben Muth brings a host of unique talents to the WRP table. Appearing in 26 games for the Cardinal, including two seasons under current San Francisco 49’ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Muth would ultimately earn first team All Pac-10 honors in 2008. He would go on to sign with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers as an undrafted rookie before an injury ended his nascent professional football career. Seeking a change of scenery and a new start, Muth traveled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he began his professional wrestling training under the expert tutelage of the highly respected Lance Storm. Now setting out to begin his wrestling journey in full, Ben Muth has arrived – a man of both brawn and brains – in WRP.”
Muth joins an impressive roster, which includes MVP, Amazing Red, Colt Cabana, Luke Gallows, Kenny Omega, Prince Devitt, Adam Pearce, Joey Ryan, Sami Callihan, Karl Anderson, and more. Lance Storm and Tommy Dreamers are going to be producers on the show.
TJ Hawke: You were recently announced as one of the roster members of Jeff Katz’s Wrestling Revolution Project. Needless to say, this took many fans by surprise. How did you get hooked up with Jeff for this project? What do you think you bring to the table?
Ben Muth: I actually heard an interview Jeff Katz did, and then I went to the Kickstarter page and just loved the idea. So, I emailed him out of the blue and asked if I could be a part of it. He talked to Lance [Storm] about me and eventually called me and offered me a spot. It was just me being excited about his idea and chasing after it. And I think it’s my excitement over the idea that really got me the job. Well the excitement, my size, Lance, and the fact that I was willing to work cheap all got me the job, but I want to talk about my enthusiasm for the project.
The presentation of wrestling hasn’t really changed since the Monday night wars. Think about how crazy that is? Go watch an episode of ER or NYPD Blue, and then watch and episode of The Wire or Breaking Bad and see how much television storytelling and presentation have changed in that time. But if you watch an episode of Raw from 1998 and then watch next week’s episode it won’t be radically different. Now, I’m not saying WWE should change, because they are hugely successful, and on top of that offer an incredible product. But as a young guy that’s just starting out I thought WRP would be a great opportunity to be a part of something different. I’m not sure it will be better, and I gurantee it won’t be bigger, but it will be different and that’s incredibly exciting.
TJ: You were a starting left tackle at Stanford and earned First Team All Pac 10. Jeff Katz wrote that you signed with the San Diego Chargers as un-drafted free agent, but an injury ended your career. What was that injury? Did the doctors refuse to clear you to play football ever again?
BM: Well, it wasn’t one serious injury; it was a couple of minor ones. I broke my hand and then like three days after I came back, I broke my foot. I was a pretty borderline pro player as it was, so once it seemed like I wasn’t very durable, it didn’t make sense to carry a backup that was always hurt. Which is funny, because I only missed one game in college, but I got hurt twice in my first NFL stint. It was more the timing of the injuries than the severity.
TJ: As a recent college graduate myself, I cannot imagine what my parents’ reactions would be if I told them I was going to start training as a professional wrestler. What made you decide to train as a professional wrestler? Did your family support your decision? Did they have any reservations about your decision?
BM: I have been a lifelong fan, and had some money left over from my NFL days. So, I decided to go for it. My Mom wasn’t thrilled, but since I was paying she couldn’t exactly threaten to cut me off. So, she accepted it.
TJ: When you were announced as one of the roster members, it was revealed that you got your pro-wrestling training with Lance Storm at the Storm Wrestling Academy. How did you come to the decision to train with Lance? What was a typical week of training with Lance like? Do you still keep in touch with Lance?
BM: When I decided to try pro wrestling I wanted to make sure to go for it. I didn’t want to toe dip. So, I researched all the schools out there and Lance’s really stood out for a couple of reasons. First was that he was a name. As is mandatory of any wrestling fan born in the mid 80s I was a big ECW fan growing up and so I was familiar with his work. The other thing that I liked was that it was five days a week. A lot of schools are just 1 or 2 days and I wanted to be in the ring as much as possible. The last big selling point was that I knew he worked in WWE developmental, so he had worked with bigger guys before. That was certainly a positive for me. I knew going in I probably wasn’t going be able to throw Ricky Steamboat-esque arm drags or AJ Styles dropkicks, and if I tried to, I’d look like a jerkoff. So, I wanted to go somewhere that I could learn to work safe, and learn to work a style that would work for me.
I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. Lance really does a great job of building fundamentals from the ground up. Early on, it’s all cardio, bumps, and chain wrestling. Eventually you start working drills where you throw in some basic spots, and finally you get to matches. By the end it’s usually about three days a week of matches and two days of tape review and more complicated drills. It really is a great way to learn. And even since I’ve left Calgary, I’ve been able to keep in touch with Lance and ask for advice. Another positive of WRP is that I get to work with Lance again and see him. Plus, I owe him a cup of coffee.
TJ: Since training with Lance, have you continued your professional training anywhere else? Did you start wrestling for any promotions? After WRP, would you like to pursue your professional wrestling career further?
BM: When you’re as new to wrestling as I am, every match is a big learning experience. I was working out in the Southwest (Phoenix, New Mexico, Texas) but recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve got one steady in Tennessee gig already but I’m hoping some exposure will give me an opportunity to work in new places. I’m willing to wrestle anywhere with a ring.
TJ: Also, since your football career ended, you started to work for an ESPN.com affiliate, Football Oustiders: a premier source for football statistical analysis. What are your responsibilities with that site? Did you know that another FO employee, Vincent Verhei, is a part of the Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Weekly empire?
BM: Yeah, I write a column for them called Word of Muth that I really enjoy. Just a warning it’s for hardcore football fans so it’s not for everyone. And yeah, I knew Vinny was working at Figure 4 before I started working at FO, but didn’t mention I was wrestler until the announcement the other day.
Ben Muth writes for Football Outsiders
He can also be followed on Twitter
For more information on Wrestling Revolution Project, check out their Website
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