Photo credit: James Musselwhite
I’ve recently moved to Wales myself and I’m surprised to find that there’s a big wrestling scene, why do you think the Welsh make talented grapplers?
Firstly, I’m not Welsh, I lived in Wales for two years during university and billed myself from there whilst I was still living there, just want to clear that up as still a lot of people think I’m Welsh. I don’t really think that the Welsh themselves make talented grapplers it’s just been coincidence that a good handful have really come into their own. Wild Boar is probably the most unique wrestler to come out of not just Wales, but the UK in my opinion, however, others like Flash Morgan Webster in particular has seriously come into his own with his promos and gimmick and has really risen to the top with what he’s done. Eddie Dennis is another, he’s a brilliant technical wrestler but he never has to work the mat, because he’s so charismatic and for someone of his stature, he can really go and is incredibly creative with his matches. They’re all so different and unique and have all been very smart when wanting to break out of being another generic high flyer, brawler or big guy wrestler.
Coming out of Dragon Pro and moving out to Japan to train at the world famous Gatoh Move academy must have been a massive moment in your career. Could you tell us about it?
That was a pretty big thing to me, I spoke with Emi Sakura and told her I wanted to improve, I didn’t need matches, I needed training and discipline, which is what she gave me and gave me huge opportunities in working with her, Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kaori Yoneyama to name a few. I went during the summer of 2013, and spent a lot of it starting from the beginning with bumping drills, rolls along with helping me with my strength, flexibility, body control and selling. Being in training nearly every day was great, but it was draining, I was never sure how long training would go on for, one day it went on for 8 hours and when I first arrived I trained for 10 days straight and when I was told I could go have my free time after we had finished a show, I went back to where I was staying, bought a bar of chocolate, turned on the air conditioning and fell asleep on the sofa. I had never been so happy to rest in my life!
The Japanese are known for a hard hitting style, what kind of affect did that have on what you’d been taught previously?
I’d spoken with Nikki Storm about her experience in Japan and she had told me about the hard hitting style and that I would have to give it back as much as I could, almost as a sign of respect, which was very much the case. Emi was always telling me to hit harder and then getting the crap beating into you by teenage girls did catch me off guard a bit, but it did make me realise no matter what your size, you can still be a vicious little shit. It was great because I had always been encouraged at Dragon Pro to hit hard, but in Japan it wasn’t encouraged, it was expected. I learnt from that and the way the girls would scream all day long that it was all about heart and the will to not give up, no matter how hard you get hit, you always get up and keep going, which I loved and respected so much and am always doing that to this day.
Have you seen what happened in Stardom between Yoshiko and Act Yasukawa? What’s your take on it?
I have seen, I would say the same in regard to something like that if it happened here, it was taking advantage and bullying. I don’t know all the reasons to why Yoshiko did what she did but it does make you question to why someone didn’t step in sooner, it could have been a moment of confusion, but that seems irresponsible, and I hope Yoshiko’s punishment extends to her being charged. Act is still in hospital not being able to see, what reason could you give to someone that makes you think doing that to someone is ok?
Would going out to America to compete for either Shimmer, Shine or WSU be something you’d consider? Is there anyone there you’d like to wrestle?
Of course! I would love to go to America to wrestle there! However I do think there is a lot of competition currently with how good the women’s wrestling scene is getting here, so I think if I want to go there, I still have a lot more work to do. Before she retired I would have loved to have wrestled Daizee Haze, but currently now, I do think it would be Madison Eagles, Athena or Evie, they’re great.
Women’s wrestling is sometimes seen as a sideshow to the men, what would you do think could be done to change this?
Be better than the men? We’re always going to be looked down on because we’re girls, it’s the way it is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change people’s minds. I have it in my head that when I step through the curtains the casual fan is expecting to see a cat fight and won’t expect much as we’re girls, so that means I have to work harder than any guy backstage, whether with the story or the execution, if I do something in my match with my opponent, I make sure no one on the show can do it better than us. One of my favourite moments was wrestling Addy Starr at Dragon Pro wrestling and I got caught across the metal barriers, she delivers these brutal double knees to the sternum which knocked the wind out of me when I first took them in the ring, so taking them off the metal barriers to the wooden floor took a lot out of me but it was insanely appreciated by the audience who chanted: “That was awesome,” and another was getting the first “This is Progress” chant for a women’s match when I hit my double stomp on Jinny at Endvr 8. It has clicked with me since then that every match I do, I will try to have a moment like that, I don’t like to play it safe anymore with my matches, I want to push myself and push all of my opponents and I want to strive to have the best match on the card every time, it might sound funny to some, but I know if I aim for that then my matches will always be good, and I’ll go home happy.
Wrestling across the UK seems to be enjoying a new wave of popularity, do you think it could benefit further from being on national TV?
Oh totally, I think a lot of wrestlers could do with being given more coverage to show what they can do. Not everyone can travel up and down the country to see their favourite wrestler, so being on TV would just mean you would get to see more of what they can do.
What match in your career to date, would you say has been your favourite and what made it special?
Still I’d say my match with Addy Starr at Dragon Pro, I guess because Dragon Pro I saw as my home promotion and this was the first time I was going to wrestle a woman there. I wanted it to be good and Addy is probably one of the most fearless women I’ve ever worked with, the reaction to us getting “that was awesome” for the double knees, albeit I was hurting made me so happy and the reaction I got from the crowd when I managed to win did have me nearly in tears. I was buzzing after that and had issues sleeping because I was still on such a wrestling high, I don’t think I’ll have another match like that which will make me feel as good as I did after I walked backstage.
TNA Boot Camp has highlighted that there is a lot of talent in the UK, in your opinion, was it a good advert for the scene?
I really think it was, I think it showcased quite a few people who deserved to get a bit more of a look in, and I will mention the girls here. Viper is one example, who is as lovely as she was shown on television and is a brilliant wrestler and I’m really happy that it’s given her more work across the country as she deserves it. Melanie Price is another, she’s a fantastic valet and excellent at cutting promos and I’m sorry, any girl who can jump off a ring apron in near four inch heels and not break an ankle is a skill in itself! It really showcased so many brilliant men and women that we’ve all watched on the scene, along with showing a few lesser known people, one of my favourites being Priscilla, who is quite phenomenal.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for this interview and if you want to read me tweet about being smacked in the face by a bag of salad by my mum follow me on twitter @gothiclolly. Or if you want clips and photos of matches follow me on Instagram under the same username.