Here comes Trouble
Former UVM Hoopcat Ben Crenca has embarked on a career as pro wrestler Big Trouble Ben Bishop.
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Ben Crenca played basketball for four seasons at the University of Vermont from 2009 to 2013. He was a captain his senior season and was part of two teams that went to the NCAA Tournament, but while he had a successful career as a basketball player, it was never his first love.
“I loved my time in Vermont, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing, but honestly, my passion was always for professional wrestling,” said Crenca. Two years ago, Crenca turned that love as a fan into an actual pro wrestling career, and Big Trouble Ben Bishop was born.
“Just about two years ago I was at a show,’, said Crenca. “A gentleman by the name of James Ellsworth, who was in WWE for about three years, approached me and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Are you just a fan?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’m just a fan. I came here to enjoy the show.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a change that.’ And the next day, what do you know, I’m training, I’m in the ring, I’m taking my first bumps, running the ropes a little bit.”
Crenca recently earned the biggest opportunity of his young career. This past week Ben was featured in a match versus Bear Bronson on AEW Dark, a program that airs weekly on YouTube under the umbrella of All Elite Wrestling.
“I’ve been at a ton of wrestling matches, I should know what to do.”, said Crenca. “As soon as I get the ring (for his match on Dark) I’m like ‘oh, damn!’ The bright lights, just thinking like ‘oh boy,’ seeing the AEW symbol on the turnbuckles.
AEW is a new company backed by the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, that has positioned itself as a major alternative to World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE.
“I thought we told a little bit of a good story in the about four and a half to five minutes that we had our match, and I hope I impressed some people back there.”
Ben’s match on AEW Dark gave him the chance to meet some of the wrestlers he grew up watching as a fan. “Arn Anderson, one of the original members of the Four Horseman with Ric Flair in the old NWA days, WCW days, I went up to him, I introduced myself, I said ‘Hi Arn, I’m Ben’, and he looked at me and said, ‘Whoa, you are impressive.’ And I was like ‘Well thank you Arn, I appreciate it.’ Coming from a guy like that, a wrestling legend, it was really cool to hear.”
Ben says his background as a basketball player and an athlete, his footwork and balance, has helped him hit the ground running in learning the skills of being a pro wrestler, but being a pro wrestler is about so much more than just the moves in the ring.
“You need to do all these athletic things and, at the same time, you’ve got to tell the story of the ring. You have to know what you and your opponent are doing, you have to trust your opponent. It’s a lot about trust because sometimes you’re getting picked up over someone’s head and you’re just hoping ‘I hope this guy is good enough to drop me,’ because I’m not a small guy, you know that. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Like the fights in a Rocky movie, the outcome of a pro wrestling match is determined ahead of time, but if you say ‘pro wrestling is fake’, Ben has a ready response. “It’s scripted, but it ain’t fake. This hurts. And I implore anybody that wants to ever try, to go into a ring and take a bump and learn how it feels.”
Ben’s height and athletic background gives him a unique look, but an independent wrestler must constantly work to remain relevant. Ben is his own promoter, marketer, merchandiser and even during the pandemic, maintained a constant presence on social media, tweaking and developing his character. He also tries to spend at least 90 minutes a day at the gym.
It’s a full-time job, and that comes on top of the 40-hour-a-week job he still holds, working from his home in Maryland to pay the bills while he pays his dues in the wrestling business. And then there’s the travel.
“Friday, sometimes I’ll get in the car and drive 6, 7, 8 hours maybe, to wherever it (his match that weekend) may be. I’ve been to Tennessee, Kentucky, I’ve been to West Virginia, I’ve been to a ton of places over the last two years and you just have to go where the work is. In wrestling, it’s called doing the drive, you’ve got to do the drives.”
Still, it’s all worth it for Ben as he tries to live out a childhood dream. Crenca has had a tryout with WWE and hopes to have another one soon. He says he received very positive feedback from AEW and hopes to work with them again. One thing Ben knows for sure, he’s not slowing down. As Big Trouble Ben Bishop would say, here comes Trouble.
“A lot of people have been telling me that some of the people that were on Dark with me, on AEW dark, they’ve been doing it for 7,8,9 years and this is their first opportunity there.”, said Crenca. “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of opportunities that a lot of people haven’t had yet, but at the same time, I’m really really thrilled and I just want to continue build off of it.”
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.