1. Growing up, what wrestling did you watch?
The WWF. My first memory is being sat on my mums knee and seeing Giant Gonzales. Random I know, but I was pretty much glued from there-on-in.
2. Before getting into the business, were you a fan of the indy scene, if so, who did you watch?
Not at all. It was only once I got into Wrestling that I picked up that there was other wrestling out there other than the WWE, and that there was actually a UK scene aside from the usual tribute shows that I used to go and watch from time to time.
3. What made you make the jump from being a fan to actually getting into the business?
When I was going through school I was always wrestling with people on the playground or the field or my mates at home, as most kids who are fans of Wrestling do,then it was after I’d read the Hardy Boyz book on a holiday that I really thought, You know what, I’ll give this a go. Next thing I did was go online and search for wrestling schools, and that’s when I found the closest one to me was the GPW school in Wigan.
4. What year did you begin your training and where & who was this with?
I was 15 when I started training so that would have been 2003/2004 as I said previous at the GPW school under Lee Butler and luckily Mikey Whiplash from time to time.
5. Anyone around today that was in your class?
Yeah, the main 2 I have to mention that work pretty much all over the place and people will be most familiar with are Danny Hope and Joey Hayes. When it came to the point where we weren’t really picking up anything new at training there was the 3 of us as well as Damon Leigh, TJ Cain (aka Jervis Cottonbelly), Jiggy Walker and Matt Taylor who really grouped together and tried to progress each other.
6. Any notable stories from your training days?
I’m sure there are plenty to be honest but there’s not really any that jump out at me right now.
7. Do you recall your first match, if so, tell us about it, who with, who for etc?
My debut was just in a rumble match but my first “actual” match was as one half of a tag team called WKD with Matt “D-Lyrium” Taylor, we were basically a ‘Special K’ rip off. It was against a team called Sudden Impact, two guys called Paddy-D and Chris Diablo and it was at the British Legion in Hindley. I remember doing a tornado kick and taking a slingshot wheelbarrow suplex, other than that I can’t recall much else, but I bet it was rotten.
8. So over your career you’ve had some stellar matches and have often been called the best ‘pound for pound’ wrestler in the UK a match I want to ask you about is one you had with one of the best in the world, the match you had with Davey Richards for Britannia Wrestling Promotions, how was it working with Davey and what are your overall memories of the match?
Other than a few small miscommunications I was happy with it. It was the first time anyone had given me the chance to work with an ‘import’ and also a chance to test myself against a guy who has wrestled all over the World and in Japan, so I thanked the guys at BWP for giving me that opportunity. My memories are that going into the match I thought Davey might have been wanting to plan a LOAD of stuff, because all you ever see on the US indies is guys doing absolutely everything in their matches, which is something I hate. I’m very much from the school of thought that “less is more” and it’s about making the match look as realistic as possible and not like a choreographed dance routine. So I loved it when I spoke with Davey and we just planned a few bits here and there and felt the rest of it out there.
9. You’ve wrestled for a number of promotions up in the North West of England but I think the furthest you’ve come down south is Kamikaze Pro and House of Pain:Evolution, thoughts on working for these promotions?
In terms of the ‘indies’ I think Kamikaze Pro and HOP:E are the furthest I’ve traveled down south. I had a good match with Ryan Smile at Kamikaze and at HOP:E I got the chance to work with Joe Connors for the first time. I’d always liked watching Joe because I could tell he was of a similar mindset to myself as to how he believes wrestling should be done, so to work with him was something I was looking forward to and something I enjoyed.
10. Up in the North West, you were basically on all the PCW shows but then all of a sudden you were a noticeable absentee off the shows, any reason why you no longer work for PCW?
I wouldn’t say I was a noticeable absentee from the roster because I wouldn’t consider myself a notable member of the roster, I was just a slot filler at PCW. The reason I’m not there any more is because I tweeted Fludder saying I thought he was a top promotor but a shit booker, which I still believe. He’s great at selling tickets and getting people through the door but as far as the shows progressing from one to the other, there’s no real rhyme or reason for a lot of it. He took exception to what I said and told me he couldn’t use me any more. Then Sam Bailey retweeted my tweet and Fludder dropped him as well. Then the next thing I hear from the boys is that Fludder sent a message to the whole roster saying to be careful what they do online etc. because he can’t be having people taking shots at him on a public forum, which is fair enough. It seems like there’s a lot of people out there who would give their right arm to work for PCW and those people will probably think I’m mad for doing what I did, but I don’t regret it all. I was at a point where I was basically just picking up my wage and going home and not enjoying what I was doing. I was seeing my mates getting all these marquee matches with each other or with the imports and I was getting stuck in multi-man matches (and I HATE multi-man matches). For 2 years in a row I was booked to get eliminated by a woman in the PCW rumble then work a singles match with them the show after. Don’t get me wrong, Kay Lee Ray and April Davids are great to work with and I didn’t mind doing it, but I just felt I wasn’t getting the same opportunities as a lot of the other guys and that there was just no progression for me there. Fair enough I managed to work a tag match with Goldust, but that was only as a last minute replacement because somebody else dropped out. I should have got out of there a lot sooner to be honest because even a good while before I left Fludder said to me he wouldn’t “push” me or put me in marquee matches because I was getting pushed everywhere else in the North West and he wanted to be different, to which my reply to him was, surely there’s a reason I get pushed everywhere else in the North West?
11. You always play a major part on the Infinite Promotions shows up there in Merseyside, tell the readers a little about the promotion and why it has such a great buzz which of course was helped with a very large crowd for not only UK levels but indy levels as a whole at the last show?
I think it has such a good buzz because it’s smack bang in the centre of Liverpool and it’s promoted properly and booked logically. They’ve got a great home-grown roster and know how to use them. They know the most important fans to appeal to are the ‘casual’ fans and will bring in 1 import here and there to satisfy to the ‘smart’ fans and sell a few more tickets. They know they don’t need to load the roster with imports because they know the talent they have in the likes of The Models, Bubblegum, Ligero, Sam Bailey etc. connect with their audience and are on par work-wise with nearly anyone they could bring over from the US.
12. So moving forward where does CJ Banks hope to work in 2014 and is there anyone on the UK circuit you hope to work against you haven’t yet in your career?
Well, the only places I WANT to work are either WWE or somewhere in Japan where I can make money. Other than that I’m happy doing what I’m doing right now and will take any new bookings that come in along the way. As far as guys I want to work, I’ve never had a singles match with Zack Sabre Jr before but that’s happening at Great Bear on the 15th February. I’d like to have a match with Mark Andrews at some stage because I’ve always liked what I’ve seen of him, and the same applies for Wild Boar too.
Thanks for your time CJ, the floor is now yours for any closing comments and plugs you wish to
Thanks for reading and you can contact me on Twitter @CJBanks1988 or at CJB13@live.co.uk