Ashe Samuels on mentoring new talent with Jack Evans, growing up on the indy circuit, more

Oct 16, 2022 - by Steve Gerweck

Phil Johnson shared:

In a recent interview with, owner and founder of Catalyst Wrestling, Ashe Samuels, who now goes by his real name, Lee Mandon, discussed a wide range of topics. Samuels has a long-storied career, competing in promotions such as Ring of Honor and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. During the conversation, he opened up about mentoring young talent with Jack Evans, the differences in today’s wrestling, growing up on the Indy circuit, and more. Here are some highlights:

Starting a wrestling company and growing up in the Indy circuit:

“I basically quit wrestling when I was 30. I had been involved in it since I was 14. From age 16-23, I was in the ring and then I started forgetting things after so many head injuries. I didn’t get a chance to be a kid the way most people did because I was on the road every weekend. In my early 30s, I decided to get my life together. My worldview was shaped by pro wrestling and I grew up in the wild west of pro wrestling in the early 2000s. It was still the waning days of the 80s and 90s. I have some great memories, but sometimes it was sad because people were dying, like Trent and Candido. I think I buried more of my friends and colleagues than my dad did and he’s 75.

“Anyways, in the midst of getting my life together, I ended up moving in with Cory Kastle and we started doing stand up comedy and I got invited to a Capitol Wrestling show by Marcus and decided to go. And I was shocked that people remembered me from wrestling. People in the locker room were like, “You were Lit from Special K.” And I was like, “You remember that?” And they were like, “Yeah you guys were the best!” And then from that point on, I got involved with the company and started getting more responsibilities until they made me the third owner of the company.

“What changed my mind about starting a wrestling company was Lucha Underground. They pushed the boundaries of reality and made it more of a television show, and that’s what Capitol wanted to do; to not just be a wrestling company.

“It also made me realize that things are different now. We have a lot of knowledge that we didn’t have back then. For instance, you may still see death matches, but you don’t see too many unprotected chair shots to the head. And the party scene has died down from when I was coming up. Or maybe I just don’t see it because I don’t partake in it.”

The differences in wrestling compared to when he came up:

“There’s so much wrestling available nowadays and because of that, I think there’s a lot of sameness among guys. There’s like 75 Johnny Garganos or Sami Zayns, and no knock on those guys, but there just seems to be sameness. Plus, I feel like some guys are impatient when it comes to “making it” in pro wrestling. There’ll be guys that are like, “I’ve been doing this three years and I haven’t gotten a contract yet.” Unless you’re 275 and muscled up, you can’t expect a contract for maybe 10 years.

“But on the flip side, so many kids get so good so quick in less than 4 years. Anthony Bowens, for example, has been wrestling for six years, but when he was with us, he got good in 2-3 years.”

Mentoring new talent with Jack Evans:

“Something that Jack Evans and I try to do is be the mentor for these young guys that we needed when we grew up. When I was coming up, the locker room was 70% ECW guys and I was able to pick their brains. It’s not that way anymore, so it’s important to give these young talents a space to grow and to learn.”

Samuels also opened up on some of the lessons he’s learned in the business, the structure of Catalyst Wrestling shows changing during the pandemic, and more. You can read the complete interview at this link.

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