Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them how you got involved in the wrestling industry?
I’m not sure if I consider myself in the wrestling industry per-se. I tend to say I’m on the fringe. And, honestly, it was kind of by accident. In 2012 I’d been blogging for a few years on various wrestling websites, but I always had an affinity to wrestling mags. Aside from being a collector of physical merchandise, reading a friend’s copy of WWF magazine is what got me into wrestling in the 90s, so I had a love of printed wrestling magazines. But the only wrestling mags still in print in the UK at the time were FSM and PowerSlam. I wanted to make something new and fresh, with a DIY feel. So I self -published that for a few years, which led me to build up a network of contacts around the wrestling world from conducting interviews and writing reviews and suchlike.
What exactly do you guys offer?
Wrestle Crate is the original monthly mystery box of wrestling goodies.
We work with wrestlers and promotions around the world to create exclusive merchandise you can’t get anywhere else, which we send to our subscribers every month. It’s a mystery box – which means we announce an item or two, but the rest is a surprise. So this year already we’ve worked with Becky Lynch, Finn Balor, Psycho Sid, PROGRESS Wrestling, Jordan Devlin, Eddie Kingston, Cultaholic, GCW, Cara Noir and loads of others, all to create exclusive items for our subscribers.
What motivated you guys to start Wrestle Crate?
We have two key ethos that we’ve had since day one: create cool wrestling merchandise for wrestling fans here in the UK, and around Europe, and to support indy wrestling financially, particularly in the UK. That was our motive and it still motivates us to this day. We actually just raised more then £1,000 last week or help support wrestlers while shows aren’t running.
Where do you think wrestling is going in the next 10 years? How are you planning to keep up?
I know it’s an easy answer but, given what happened at WrestleMania 36, and what Matt Hardy has been doing for years, I think we’ll see the on-screen product start to evolve to include more cinematic pro wrestling. Just look at the excellent RIPTIDE Wrestling here in the UK. Their cinematography, even with a live crowd, puts some b-movies to shame.
Off-screen, I think the wrestling world outside of WWE is getting closer to one another. It feels like there’s a huge collaboration due soon that’ll shake things up. The obvious guess would be AEW and New Japan, but then again perhaps that’ll never happen. The fact so many wrestlers want to do their own thing outside of WWE is interesting.
In terms of keeping up – we’re really lucky. Our business is based around licencing merchandise. As long as wrestling is strong, healthy and being enjoyed, we can work with wrestlers and promoters around the world to license merchandise to bring to our subscribers.
How important is it for wrestlers to get into making merch?
Crucial. It’s not just a huge possible revenue stream for them as small businesses, but there’s an appetite for it. Wrestling fans want their favourite wrestlers’ merch. It helps bring wrestlers and fans close together. Every fan has a cool story about meeting their favourite wrestlers, and nine times out of ten that happens at the merch table.
What tips do you have for wrestlers looking to produce merch for the first time?
Ask yourself – would you want this? If you wouldn’t use or wear the merch, exactly who are you hoping will? There’s so much good wrestling merch now that the days of slapping a generic logo on a shirt are gone. Pay a good artist to create art, and people will appreciate it. Try and think outside the box too. If you’re the only person selling something that people want, you’ll sell it.
Have you faced any hardships since you guys started?
Ha. Yes. Lots. But the good things outweigh the negative things.
From a hall of famer holding us up for thousands of pounds extra to customs losings tens-of-thousands of pounds worth of merchandise, we’ve had a few bumps in the road. You learn from each hardship though – it makes you more resilient as a business. Take what’s going on around the world right now. We know it’s a tough time for everyone. We’re lucky that we can still operate safely under current Government guidelines, but not everyone can. That’s why we’re giving back to wrestlers more than ever currently, but we have also spent this last month planning for every eventuality, in case the guidelines change again, to make sure we can keep sending mystery boxes of wrestling goodies to our subscribers for years to come.
What makes UK wrestling stand out from other countries?
It’s a cliché, but the fans. I’ve been to the biggest and the smallest shows around the world in the last five-or-so years and there’s one thing that stands out, no matter how big the crowd is in the UK, it’s always a notch above anywhere else.
What trends are you seeing in wrestling that you are excited about?
A push for wrestlers to have a union. A confidence that wrestlers can thrive outside of WWE. Women wrestling on almost every show and not being treated like a special attraction or a “gimmick”. A Scottish world champion. Unity amongst wrestling fans during uncertain times. A new UK TV partner for WWE and the hope that a proper UK PPV could happen sooner than later. There’s lots to be excited about, I think.
What kinds of goodies can people expect to find in your crates?
All sorts. Our most common items are exclusive t-shirts, autographs, DVDs and pins, which you can expect to see almost every month. But other items include figures – which we’ve got our own range of – magazines, collectables, all sorts of stuff.
What is your favourite item you have created
Our range of figures, for sure. We’ve created BritWres’ first range of vinyl figures, which includes Moustache Mountain, CCK, Session Moth Martina and more. I’m really proud of those.
Some of my other favourite items, because of the type of items themselves, are a Marty Scurll umbrella, a wrestling bum bag and a “suck it” eco-friendly reusable straw.
But I think my absolute favourite items are some of the autographed items we’ve featured. We create exclusive artwork that is then hand-signed by the wrestlers at private signings. Over the years we’ve been able to bring our subscribers limited edition signed artwork from Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Edge, Bret Hart, Becky Lynch, Finn Balor, AJ Styles, RVD, Terry Funk, Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll, Eric Bischoff, Christian, Jeff Jarrett and so many other legends. It’s really humbling to be able to work with so many amazingly talented people.
How can our readers get in touch with you?
We’re very active on social media. We love talking to our subscribers, and trying to convince none-subscribers to join the club. If you search WrestleCrateUK on any major social platform, you’ll find us. And we keep WrestleCrate.co.uk updated with all the latest info.