Six months after stepping foot in the ring for the first time at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory, Paul Marquez found himself squaring off against Mikey Whipwreck with Paul Heyman watching.
The ECW visionary ended up bringing the upstart to train and compete for his company. That was almost 20 years ago.
“I started very early,” Marquez said. “You see footage of me wrestling in ECW, and I probably shouldn’t have been there. It was a world I didn’t know. I don’t regret it, but I look at old matches and see how I was. It was a privilege when you think about the opportunities nowadays.
“Reckless Youth was also offered a deal to start wrestling for ECW, but he turned it down because he thought he wasn’t ready. In my mind, I was ready. I was ready for a million dollar contract. Things we all think when we are young. When I walked into that locker room, guys there had been there for 10 years or more. Guys like Sabu who was around and never got a break. Taz, Perry Saturn, Rob Van Dam, those guys. I should have never been there, but it was a hell of an experience for me. That opened doors for other things for me.”
The veteran grappler parlayed his time in ECW into getting booked with the major promotions around the world from the World Wrestling Council to WWE. With such longevity in the business, Marquez presently enjoys training the superstars of tomorrow at the new Main Event Training Center in Fort Lauderdale. Previously at Bodyslam University in South Florida, he is happy with the updated facility.
“I’ve had big dreams of running student shows, hold seminars with famous wrestlers like Adam Pearce, Tom Prichard and Fit Finlay and provide great training that I’ve acquired over the years,” Marquez said. “I’ve wrestled in Japan. I’ve wrestled in Germany. I’ve wrestled in Spain, Puerto Rico and Mexico. I’ve wrestled all around the world, so I wanted to incorporate everything that I’ve learned over the years into a positive atmosphere.
“Most of the schools are in warehouses, but this school is inside an actual commercial building with plenty of parking. My students train with the air conditioning. I never had that breaking into the wrestling business. We share the place with a boxing school, so there are plenty of punching bags and plenty of space. We really have a good thing going right now. I’m positive things are going to get even better, as more and more people find out about it.”
The school maintains a working relationship with local independent group Coastal Championship Wrestling. Whether they are personal trainers or actors, students come from all walks of life and experience levels. Marquez says he keeps the environmental family friendly. However, he isn’t above showing his pupils some tough love.
“I do show discipline. After every workout, I have them pick up a broom, a mop, a vacuum. We work out in a clean environment. There are rules on how you conduct yourself. Every student works on breaking the ring down and putting it up. I teach them to conduct themselves well. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in this business who are very good wrestlers but wouldn’t last a day or two in WWE’s locker room.
“There are many who I’ve met who are talented, but their attitude sucks. I wouldn’t want to help somebody like that. I would rather help somebody who may not be as confident but has a good attitude where people would want to help them.”
Marquez is proud of his pupils, as he says they are in shape and work hard. Fans can see their progression in person with the facility’s third student show 8 p.m., Saturday Oct. 6. Someone on the card may end up following in Marquez’s success or more.
“I trained a lot of guys through the years,” Marquez said. “Andy Leavine from ‘WWE Tough Enough’ took his first bumps with me. He had never been in a wrestling ring with me before he came to my school. So I taught him to lock up and to take a bump, but I’m not taking for his actual training. However, the first few bumps were done at my school, and he ended up winning ‘Tough Enough.’
“Same as Alberto Del Rio’s little brother. I had him for six months before he got signed, Memo Montenegro. When Alberto had his groin surgery, he would come to my school and workout with my students. The students saw this was a star and a WWE champion. It doesn’t get any better than that. It made me look good.”
Montenegro is currently with FCW WWE NXT, the developmental group for WWE based in Tampa.
The Main Event Training Academy is hosting its next student show 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at its facility, 312 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Cost is $7 for tickets. A boxing event will occur at 6 p.m., and fans can attend both for $15. For show and training information, visit www.ccwevents.com, call 954-548-5779 or email Pablo Marquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.