Big Fun with Big Trouble Ben Bishop
Ben Crenca used to suit for the men's basketball team at the University of Vermont (UVM). These days, he's wearing an entirely different uniform. Often, he's shirtless and in tights. Ben, who dabbled in Australian Rules Football post-college, is now a professional wrestler, and his ring name is Big Trouble Ben Bishop. BTBB took a time out to discuss his unique journey.
STADIUM JOURNEY:So what comes first, basketball or wrestling? As a kid growing up in Rhode Island, who were your influences? BTBB: As a kid, pro wrestling was my number one love, but I realized early on that basketball could get me a bit further. So I chose that route, and it got me to prep school at Worcester Academy and then to UVM. I didn't have any Rhode Island-inspired influences, but I was a huge Kevin Nash fan. For basketball, like most back to the basket big men, I tried to model my game after Shaq, without the freak athleticism. So I guess I was more like a Vlade Divac. STADIUM JOURNEY: What's it like to compete in March Madness? What goes down that the television viewer doesn't see? BTBB: For a small school like UVM, competing in the Tourney was a dream. We got the first class treatment that we were not privy to during the regular season, like police escorts and all that jazz. A private plane too. The TVs are everywhere during the tourney, but it's cool to see other teams in the hotels and to interact with each other. We passed by Duke after losing to UNC and right before they got upset by C.J. McCollum and Lehigh. STADIUM JOURNEY: What's more dangerous - pro wrestling or Australian rules rugby? And are you still playing the latter? BTBB: They both have their own elements of danger, but pro wrestling can go wrong in an instant and be drastic. Aussie is mostly just very hard on the joints. I am not built to run long distances. I did have a shoulder separation in Aussie rules. No major injuries in wrestling, fingers crossed.. I no longer play Aussie rules. STADIUM JOURNEY: What prompted you to finally take the plunge and go for it as a pro wrestler? BTBB: I was approached by former WWE wrestler, James Ellsworth, at an indie show, and he asked me if I wanted to start training. The next day I was taking my first bump. I almost didn't go to the show. I nearly stayed home and continued playing Madden. At the eleventh hour, I decided to go. It was fate.
STADIUM JOURNEY: How long and rigorous was the training process? What was the toughest thing to pick up? BTBB: Training is tough as the cardio is much different, and pro wrestling has unnatural movements like falling down voluntarily and getting back up quick. But the physical was not as hard as the mental. Wrestling is unlike other sports because we have to also be actors while being athletes. We have to tell a story with our body language. So it can be more mentally draining than physically draining. STADIUM JOURNEY: How is Big Trouble Ben Bishop born? Where does that come from? BTBB: It all comes from the movie Big Trouble In Little China. I love John Carpenter movies, so I decided to mold my character after Jack Burton. For example, he drives the Porkchop Express. That's where I got the moniker "Meatpop Express." STADIUM JOURNEY: And how do you go about getting matches, and what is a typical busy weekend like on the indie wrestling circuit? And have you worked for OVW? BTBB: You just have to network and sell yourself to promoters. You would think it would be easy for a guy like me, but it's difficult. This may be a surprise, but there is not much money in indie wrestling if you are not a TV name. So you have to pay out of pocket to get to some of these shows when you're starting off and handle all your logistics. Legit Planes, Trains and Automobiles. One weekend, I wrestled in Maryland, New Jersey, and then Memphis. Very long weekend. I have wrestled a few times for OVW. I worked Dimes, Cash Flo, and Tony Gunn. It’s not much different than other indies besides that it's televised, so you have to stick to the times. I was asked to be on Netflix's Wrestlers but I couldn’t make it work. Hoping to get back there in 2024. STADIUM JOURNEY: Mick Foley followed Stonybrook hoops somewhat religiously. As far as you know, did he ever see you play? BTBB: He did not, unfortunately. He stopped going to games when his father passed. I have been on shows with him, and we talked UVM hoops though. He was a fan of Taylor Coppenrath and TJ Sorrentine
STADIUM JOURNEY: You somewhat recently returned to Burlington to wrestle. What was that homecoming like? BTBB: All I can say is that it was amazing. And it was basketball alumni weekend too. To see my former teammates and fans show up for me was surreal. We had a great time. STADIUM JOURNEY: When you're in Burlington, what are your must spots? BTBB: Burlington seems to have changed a bunch, but when I am there I enjoy going to Akes' Place and Mr Mikes. STADIUM JOURNEY: How often do your basketball and wrestling worlds collide? Do you know of any other former college basketball players who are now wrestlers? BTBB: I don't know many to be honest. I know Kevin Nash and Kane were college basketball players. Currently, I know a wrestler out of Pennsylvania named Pretty Boy Smooth - played a bit at Hofstra. STADIUM JOURNEY: Coolest venue that you ever played hoops in? BTBB: Greensboro Coliseum vs. UNC in the Tournament for obvious reasons. STADIUM JOURNEY: Favorite venue to wrestle in? Why? BTBB: The Mecca - Ridgefield Park, New Jersey - Knights of Columbus. Look it up.