When you think of WWE wrestlers your mind probably jumps to muscle-bound Hulk Hogans with their veins the size of most people's arms.

At first sight of Cardiff High alumnus Mark Andrews and Brynmawr lad Gavin Watkins you would not think straight away, “there go two wrestlers”.

For one thing the jeans are so tight that the Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man would struggle to even get their arms in them.

Despite this, they are part of vanguard of a different kind of wrestler coming out of Wales and the UK.

Gone are beef cakes and in have come a slimmer, quicker performer.

Mark Andrews (right) and Flash Morgan Webster

If wrestling was rugby they would have swapped the props for the wingers.

Now performing in front of millions in WWE, the biggest wrestling company in the world, it all started in the Cathays area of Cardiff.

“When I started wrestling when I was 13 years old there were few shows,” said 27-year-old Mark.

“You might have one or two in England but you’d be lucky to have a crowd of 50 people in Wales. Now it seems every show is a sell-out. Training schools have more trainees than ever before. I wish we’d had the resources then that they have now.

“I started training in Cathays community centre. Originally there were no rings. It was a privilege to have a ring in a training school, there was just mats on the floor. There wasn’t really a generation of Welsh wrestlers above us. They hadn’t been on TV or in WWE so it was hard to get the training from the right people.

“The UK scene has really boomed over the last 5 years with the Welsh scene very hot at the moment. It’s maybe even the hottest in the UK.”

 

Unlike Mark, who wrestles under his own name, Gavin wrestles under the name Flash Morgan Webster - but why?

“I was born flash!” he adds in a thick, lovely Blaenau Gwent accent.

“Not really. When I was getting into wrestling I was looking to find a name and I started wrestling for a Welsh company and they wanted something Welsh.

“I was Flash in the way I wrestled because I’m a high flyer and Morgan is a Welsh surname so I became a Flash Morgan.

“As I became more of a mod character [smart stylish 1960s look] I wanted a name which was typically British. I saw Webster’s dictionary and thought it was good, so I had a Welsh first name and a British second name.”

Flash Morgan Webster entering the ring

Wrestling is not fake. The action is staged and the results are predetermined but it's hard to fall seven feet onto you back and it not to hurt.

This comment of it being fake is something all performers come across.

Mark said: “I got it a lot more earlier in my career but I think it has become a lot more appreciated by the mainstream media in the UK.

“In my opinion we are the closest thing to a Hollywood Marvel film in the sense that it is superheroes but in real life. They are action-packed fights.

“To the people that would label it as fake, I would say come and see it for yourself in the flesh and you will know it is far from fake even though we are keeping each other safe in the ring. I describe it as a real life superhero film.”

Gavin, 30, added, laughing: “One of the arguments I always say is, you know the film Homeward Bound? You know at the end that dog didn’t really struggle to get home! People would say ‘obviously I know that’ and I would say that ‘you still feel upset and worry about the dog and it’s because you’ve been taken on a journey’.

“That’s what we do as characters. We take you on a journey and you want us to achieve or in some cases you want us to lose.”

Despite the result being predetermined, the in ring action is often called on the fly.

WWE wrestler Mark Andrews went to Cardiff High School

Mark said: “I think what will surprise you is that it is not a choreographed thing like a dance routine. It is really a minefield.

“It’s hard to say whether it’s pre-planned because it can sometimes be ad-libbed in the ring and sometimes we plan. Often it’s a mixture of the two.

“In terms of production, you’ve got to think about things like where are the cameras going to be and how do I need to enter. People are surprised on how much planning goes into an entrance.

“I can only imagine how hard it is to be the camera guys. That takes a hell of a lot of planning.”

The pair are now part of WWE’s NXT UK and will be performing at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, August 31.

As part of this, they are managed by their former wrestling heroes - Triple H and Shawn Michaels.

 

Mark said: “Working with Shawn Michaels and Triple H is pretty awesome. Saying that DX [Michaels and Triple H’s tag team] are basically our bosses is incredible.”

So what would the pair say to young aspiring Welsh wrestlers who want to follow in their footsteps?

“The first thing you have to do is find a good training school,” said Gavin.

“We run Dragon Pro in Cardiff and that has three WWE affiliated wrestlers running it as well as someone who’s done a tour of Japan.

“You wouldn’t go to a university that didn’t have good lecturers or a track record of turning out people that can get jobs.

“Always look for a school that has the best track record.”

Mark agreed, adding: “There are age restrictions and I think you need to be 16 or over. But someone younger than that I would say just stay passionate about it. Stay healthy and it helps if you have a background of judo or doing gymnastics.

"The thing that helped me continue from when I was 13 was just loving wrestling. It helps you give your all to it.”