Alex Shelley On The ‘Invaluable’ Training Staff Available To Japanese Wrestlers, Wanting To Help His Own Friends With Injuries

Photo Credit: RING OF HONOR/Bruno Silveira

Alex Shelley says he pursued a new career outside of the ring because he’s looking to help those still working inside of one.

Wrestlezone’s Kevin Kellam recently interviewed Alex Shelley and the two spoke about the Motor City Machine Gun’s second career in physical therapy. He cited his history in Japan as one of the reasons he wanted to look into helping others. Shelley says the trainers available to the athletes in Japan are “invaluable” and hasn’t seen anything that compares to it in the US companies he’s worked for, calling it a “turning point” for wanting to help his friends.

“I was like ‘wow, these guys’—I was living in the dojo at the time—these guys are working around the clock and they’re upstairs stretching out Tiger Mask right now, and they’re giving functional massage, and another one is in the ring and he’s doing core engagement, spinal stabilization exercises with all of the junior heavyweights, and I thought that this was just so cool. I would like to do that too. I love wrestling and I love being a wrestler, but i always thought that science of healing and the art of healing was very, very impressive. Really, they’re the unsung heroes of New Japan, those guys keep people moving, especially during times like the G1. I can assure you—ask any foreigner over there—to attach what the value is of the personal trainers and athletic trainers, and they would say [the trainers] are invaluable. They are absolutely worth whatever they are getting paid and then some.”

Shelley says a lot of his work is on people with every day injuries, but he’d definitely be interested in working more with wrestlers. He says he’s not looking to stop wrestling to move to therapy full-time, adding that he’s still pretty young, but says he really wants to be able to help his friends work through their own injuries.

“I would love to. I work with athletes now quite a bit and that’s rewarding, but I also work with your mom who had a stroke, your dad that had a total knee replacement, your girlfriend that tore her ACL riding a horse, things like that. The rules really, truly aren’t that different in you really treat everybody the same way. The strengthening exercises are [the same] and the rules apply across the board.

As far as treating wrestlers exclusively and not performing myself, that’s not something I’m interested in. If that was the case, I would have never come back to wrestling. I’m 36, which is relatively young, especially for a guy that’s still in pretty good shape and—I’ll toot my own horn—I still look pretty young too. Believe me, I have plenty of dating apps on my phone to back that up. [laughs]

But it’s something that I would like to do, but maybe give me 15-20 years and maybe then, but I got into this field so I could help my friends. So, if somebody’s like ‘oh man, my back’s really bad, this will be a rough match tonight’ [I’ll go] ‘hey man, why don’t you lay down and I’ll see if I can do some mobilizations on your lumbar or spine. Let me give you some traction, I can stretch you this way’ and things like that, I would be happy to do that for anybody that came up and asked. A handful of guys in Ring Of Honor already have.”

Related: Alex Shelley On His On His Pro Wrestling Leave Being Premeditated, What Inspired Him To Be A Physical Therapist