Despite being one of the most despised on-air personalities at All Elite Wrestling, QT Marshall is one of the few unsung heroes of the promotion for everything he’s helped with behind the scenes since the start.
It’s no secret that Marshall has been training aspiring pro wrestlers at The Nightmare Factory for some time now, but what may not be as well known is that he was one of the leading forces behind the in-ring development of two notable NBA stars: Shaquille O’Neal and, just recently, Satnam Singh.
Singh made history in 2015 when he became the first-ever Indian-born basketball player to be drafted by the NBA. He went on to pursue professional wrestling and even worked out at WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center in January 2017.
That led him to AEW, officially putting pen to paper and signing his deal with the company this past September. His training is already underway at The Nightmare Factory courtesy of Marshall, Cody Rhodes, and the rest of the trainers on hand.
Marshall caught up with Daily DDT to discuss how Singh is progressing inside the squared circle, ensuring Shaq’s in-ring debut at AEW was a success, enjoying his recent run on television, and more.
QT Marshall on how Satnam Singh’s in-ring ability is progressing so far
As someone who follows every facet of pro wrestling, Marshall was already familiar with Singh from his visit to the WWE Performance Center a few years ago. He was also aware of his incredible journey to the NBA, which was documented in a critically-acclaimed documentary on Netflix called One in a Billion.
Upon meeting him in Jacksonville, he wanted to see if Singh was someone who could be trained and was coachable. Following his successful dealings with Shaq earlier in the year, he determined he was worth the time and effort and believes he brings a lot to the table.
“It’s going very good,” Marshall said about his training so far. “He started maybe four weeks ago and we’re in our fourth week of our 12-week camp that we do. He kind of integrated in with some our brand-new students and we also have some advanced guys and girls that come in. We try to accept everybody and that’s because everyone has different goals. There are some people like I said that are more advanced and we try to get him in there with some of those guys as well as myself and our assistant coaches. But he’s a pleasure to be around. He’s also getting paid to train and he’s the one rooting everyone on.”
Along with Shaq, Singh has been a rare case of a “celebrity” who has come in and wanted to see others succeed. He’s learning from two men who have been around the business for a very long time in Marshall and Cody Rhodes, who is primarily overseeing the promo part of his development.
“Cody is there, and when Cody’s there, he does a lot of the promo aspect of it,” he said. “That’s going to be the key. In pro wrestling, if you can’t speak or if you can’t connect with an audience, it’s very difficult. He’s been working with him a lot on that. When it comes to the physical stuff, I’m more of the in-ring guy, and Cody has definitely tried to take him under his wing on the promo aspect.”
Although there is no formal working agreement between AEW and The Nightmare Factory, Marshall revealed that there is an understanding in place that he’ll help train some of their potential prospects to see if they’re someone who could be of value to the company eventually. He aims to make Singh and the rest of his students as well-rounded as possible.
QT Marshall wants to team with Shaquille O’Neal
As noted, Marshall played a pivotal role in getting Shaq in-ring ready for his debut match alongside Jade Cargill against Cody and Brandi Rhodes on Dynamite earlier this year. The NBA All-Star panning out as well as he did gave Marshall the confidence to know that he could effectively train Singh as well.
He’s of the mindset that anyone can become a pro wrestler and do well at it provided they put the hard work in and have a passion for it.
“When I met Satnam, we spoke and I could see how hard of a worker he was,” Marshall said. “Again, at the end of the day, as long as you put in the hard work, wrestling is one of those things that the more you do it, the better you get. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s definitely not easy, but at the same time, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
“That’s what Shaq did,” he continued. “He was there as many nights as he could be with his busy schedule to make sure he was ready for that primetime TV wrestling match that nobody thought he’d be able to pull off and he did. It gave me more confidence as a coach that I was able to take a guy like Shaquille O’Neal and… it also helps that he’s a huge wrestling fan and so is Satnam.”
Marshall noted that big things are what sell, and being a longtime wrestling fan, Singh is aware of that. Now, all that’s needed is to teach him the little things and the fundamentals.
From Goldberg to Roman Reigns, several NFL players have successfully made the transition over the years from the gridiron to the squared circle. Marshall wants to show that the same can happen for basketball players or really any athletes from any sport, with some being more cut out for wrestling than others.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” he said. “Some athletes you have to pull it out of them because they’re so used to being uninformed and following a coach’s orders, whereas with wrestling it’s a completely different animal. In football, you’ll get in trouble for showing personality. In wrestling, you get in trouble for not showing it. Same with basketball. The guy that’s the most outgoing on the court might get a little bit of a bad rep like Dennis Rodman, but at the same time, Dennis Rodman in pro wrestling, he fit right in.”
He applied that same process to Shaq because he’s always admired what wrestlers do. He’s made a few appearances in WWE over the last decade, but an actual match never materialized until AEW came around.
One of the first questions Marshall consistently asks his students is if they’re a wrestling fan and what their motivations are behind becoming a wrestler. If money is the main motivator, then taking those bumps is going to hurt that much more.
Shaq, on the other hand, went through it, having wanted to emulate Andre the Giant for so long. Ultimately, he and Cargill knocked it out of the park with their performance despite so many people waiting to see him fail because of the track record celebrities have in wrestling.
Shaq never missed a training session, much like Singh hasn’t, and when asked about whether he wants to see Shaq vs. Paul Wight at some point in an AEW ring, Marshall mentioned the possibility of teaming up with Shaq against Wight and a partner of his choosing.
“If it were up to me, I would’ve had Shaq in my corner at All Out,” he said. “I didn’t think about it until afterward. ‘Man, I had The Factory with me, but what if I had Shaq? Maybe I would’ve beat Paul.’ You never know. In a perfect world, I would team with Shaq and maybe against someone like Paul, but of course, these are all the things that go through my head. We’re pretty far away from those things, but you never know. I don’t know how busy he is at the moment, I don’t know how busy Paul is and how he feels, but anything can happen. I’ll put it out there. Paul, find a partner. Maybe we can make this thing happen.”
QT Marshall discusses his recent run in AEW and working with The Factory
For the better part of 2019 and 2020, Marshall was largely utilized as an enhancement talent on AEW programming. Granted, he still is to an extent, but he has much more of a presence on Dynamite now as a heel than he ever did as a babyface.
His 2021 has consisted of him forming The Factory, feuding with his friend, Cody Rhodes, having Paul Wight’s debut match in AEW, and more. He’s enjoyed every second of it and feels he’s proven that he’s indeed “all elite.”
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “Cody and I were obviously very close and I think everyone saw that on Rhodes to the Top. There’s business that has to be done and I do feel I need to prove myself. The narrative we always told everyone is that I was there because I was Cody Rhodes’ friend.
“Of course, when the company first started, that is how I got my foot in the door and that’s the nepotism of wrestling and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he continued. “At the same time, you do have to prove your worth and prove yourself and my way of doing it was turning on them and starting my own little faction. I was very proud of the match we did at Blood and Guts.”
He feels he did his best work without an audience, and during that period, he wondered how fans would reacted when they eventually returned to the road. Sure enough, he gets more heat than most whenever he has a chance to cut a promo on Dynamite.
From taking part in AEW’s first-ever Bunkhouse and Strap matches to being Brodie Lee’s first-ever opponent, he’s fortunate to be in all of these different positions, both in front of the camera and behind it. At this point in his career, he’s taking it opportunity by opportunity and wants to elevate everyone in The Factory to the best of his ability.
“I’m not out there to be the big star, but I will portray it and do my best to make it the most entertaining segment we can possibly have,” he said. “At the same time, I know what my goal is and I also know where my value lies. I think my value lies behind the scenes but also helping younger talent. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to turn heel so bad: so I could wrestle all these younger babyfaces and really give them quality matches. They can do that on their own anyway, but it’s where I feel I’m most valuable and that’s helping elevate the younger talent.”
Anthony Ogogo was introduced as a wrestler on AEW TV by Marshall through The Factory early on in 2021. The duo were embroiled in an intense rivalry with Cody through the summer, culminating in Cody beating them both on separate occasions.
Ogogo has been conspicuous by his absence on AEW programming in recent months, as he reportedly underwent another eye surgery in July. Marshall revealed that he recently returned to the United States from his native England and is waiting for the right time to be brought back to TV.
“He just came back,” Marshall said. “He was overseas getting everything taken care of, so we’ll see. I think it’s about right place, right time and trying to figure out the right story as well. Just to throw someone out there is… my biggest thing for me personally, after 17 years, the last thing I want to do is go in there and take random bumps for no reason.
“I try to explain that to Anthony and everyone’s itching to get back,” he added. “Right now, we have a huge roster of huge stars, so it’s just one of those things of going back to the drawing board and figuring it out. But in the meantime, he’s been training and working out and doing what he does. He’ll be ready when that call comes.”
Until Ogogo finds his way back to Dynamite, Marshall will continue to have his hands full with Singh at The Nightmare Factory training facility. Being a baseball fan, when asked about what sports star he thinks would also make for a competent wrestler, he namedropped Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees and even mentioned the possibility of him squaring off with Sting in a battle of the baseball bats.
“I love baseball,” he said. “I’m not big on many other sports, but I’m big on baseball and I’m a huge Yankees fan. When I watch the Yankees, everyone’s going to go right to Aaron Judge obviously because of his size and all this other stuff, but I look at Aaron Judge and he’s such a nice guy on TV. I don’t know if he’d be able to handle pro wrestling. I look at other guys’ stuff and say: What about Giancarlo Stanton?
“I’d love to train Giancarlo Stanton, that would be great,” he continued. “He’s already got the look. He’s got the swag, he’s got the attitude. You can see him holding back on the Yankees because he doesn’t want to want to get in trouble because the Yankees have such a high standard of who plays for them, but he’s definitely someone I think can be a major force in wrestling.
“Plus, he hits the ball so hard, it’s very entertaining to watch. That could be his whole thing; he can come out with the bat and him and Sting can go at it or something.”