Monster Factory on AppleTV+ isn't just a show about what it takes to become a pro wrestler. It's more about facing fears, dealing with setbacks, and finding ways to overcome obstacles... and coincidentally, it's set at the renowned Monster Factory wrestling school in Paulsboro, New Jersey, a small borough near Philadelphia.
“It's not a reality show; it's not fake,” assures Danny Cage, owner and operator of the Monster Factory. Larry Sharpe founded the brand in 1983 and Cage, a former wrestler turned trainer, acquired it in late 2010 or early 2011.
Cage had prior experience with the Monster Factory before taking the reins. He trained there in the 1990s and had his first tryout in 1994. He performed in the ring from 1998 to 2004 before taking a hiatus from the industry.
The series follows a group of aspiring professionals as they portray the ups and downs of life as indie wrestling performers. From social anxiety and stage fright to career and financial problems, everything is exposed. For Cage, this meant no change in routine.
“We are an open book at the school,” he says. “We discuss anything and everything; These kids know all my financial problems. You know what's going on with my wife, my kids, and my mental health issues. i am coach I am a teacher. I don't want to lose a student... but if I have to lose a student to make them a better person and I end up being the bad guy, that's fine."
Cage's transparency extends its in-ring performance philosophy
"If I knew everything there was to know about pro wrestling [when I started], I would have taken theater and creative writing,” he explains. "Because we're all just theater kids, man. But we're also super crazy athletic.”
In addition to teaching the skills needed to perform and entertain confidently with a partner, Cage also emphasizes other aspects of business for his students, such as branding, marketing, social media, production, and communication.
“You will always hear me say two things if you ever train with me: Communication is key. And repetition creates habit. And the habit of the repeat race can go either way. The more you do something, the more you absorb it and it becomes second nature. The same goes for bad habits.”
Cage hopes his graduates will find success at WWE, AEW, or Ring of Honor
"I tell our kids, 'If you can come to WWE or AEW, go. But I don't hold back on my feelings about certain things,'" he explains. "I think WWE and AEW are like Home Depot and Lowe's. I want to go to the corner shop – I want to put up with that.”
Cage is unsure why his relationship with WWE, the world's largest pro wrestling platform, went wrong.
"[WWE] screwed me up in 2018 right after I got fired from Ring of Honor. Within a minute you answered my email and invited me,” he says. “And then I haven't been down since. I do not have a problem. Do they."
As for the series, Cage was not involved in the editing but felt the final product was accurate.
"Absolutely. There were only maybe two minor small changes I would have made, but they were tiny. It's almost like a microphone in a scene or a Starbucks cup in a Game of Thrones scene. Other than that, they captured everything. "
Watch the series on AppleTV+ and listen to Cage's M&F Rep podcast interview here!