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Impact Wrestling Media Q&A with LAX – Konnan, Santana and Ortiz

On this week’s newly rebranded IMPACT Q&A media conference call, we were joined by three members of the Latin-American Xchange: Konnan, Santana and Ortiz. During the discussion, the group discuss their beginnings, the future of IMPACT and their thoughts on Bound for Glory heading to Canada.

Looking Back

Konnan, you spent a lot of time around Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan in WCW. What are your thoughts on his passing?

Konnan: Yeah, Bobby, bro. I was already a Bobby Heenan fan. Growing up, I always liked the guys that could talk, even if they couldn’t wrestle so I was always big into Bobby Heenan because I always thought that anybody he was with, he enhanced. Even when he had a great talker, and I dunno how many people remember Nick Bockwinkle but he was a great talker, so him and Heenan together were just incredible magic. His wit was incredible. I used to remember, I was watching some old tapes of him and Gorilla Monsoon – if you haven’t seen it, you should – back in the 80s and they had a show on WWE [television] where they would cut to matches; during the show Bobby would be on the phone talking and Gorilla was always trying to get him to quit talking [on the phone] on the air. Half the time, he was trying to get him fired and it was really funny, the chemistry they had. They were just so ahead of their time, bro. 

Santana, how did you get to where you are today given your humble beginnings?

Santana: It’s not easy for anybody but you’re dead set on something – and wrestling has always been something that’s a part of my life since I was very young – it’s just about beating adversity. My thing was always refusing to be one of those statistics, you feel me? We all go though life and we all experience different things but for the most part it’s just staying strong and keeping to your goals. 

Santana and Ortiz, what does it mean to you having Konnan as your mentor?

Santana: It’s been an amazing experience so far. We’re having Konnan coach us through things and teach us his vision, how he sees things. Being able to learn from him, he’s one of the greatest minds in wrestling so what else can you say? To be able to sit with him and, on a personal level, speak with him and learn so many different things, it’s definitiely really special. A guy like Konnan, I mean he is who he is, wouldn’t just put his name on anyone so that’s something true and special to us.
Ortiz: 100%. We couldn’t be in a better situation. We’re super fortunate. We were guys that were fairly unknown and coming into TV it was sink or swim and luckily we swam. Kudos to Konnan and Homicide guiding us and giving us the pieces to the puzzle to put it together the right way. It’s been awesome.

What do you consider your worst experience as a professional wrestler?

Ortiz: The long car rides, those are the worst. I think that takes toll on your body more than the actual wrestling. If you think about it, you’re wrestling 10-15-20 minutes, if that and then you have to get in a car for 12 hours. Like driving back from Ottawa, Canada, it’s a little rough. Santana always goes to sleep.
Santana: Honestly, we haven’t come across anything too crazy. We like to consider ourselves two chill dudes that keep to ourselves and we’re cool to everyone. We haven’t really experienced anything too crazy that would set us off in any way.
Ortiz: He would say the car rides, but he’s sleeping.
Konnan: I’ve had so many but my last time at TNA wasn’t a lot of fun. My last time in AAA wasn’t a lot of fun either. I am not an easy person to work with, I understand that but at the end of the day I’ll only play the game so long. That’s why I started my own promotion because then I don’t have to work for somebody that’s inept or micro-managing me, which has happened. I’m willing to listen if you know what you’re talking about or you know more than me but if you don’t, move out of the way ‘cos I got shit to do. With my own company, I have somewhere to go. In this business, when you have no options is when you’re the most vulnerable. People are only going to be loyal to you as long as it’s convenient so you gotta have a backup plan in case something happens, and I do. Right now, I’m happy so everything’s chill.

Is there a chance we see Rey Mysterio in IMPACT Wrestling?

Konnan: I was heavily involved in [the previous talks] because I represent him. We were talking, talks broke down and we’re trying to repair those talks. Hopefully in the future, Rey may come to IMPACT but that was definitely something that was in the works.

There were rumours you and Rey got heat over the Max Moon character. What’s the story with that?

Konnan: The Max Moon character, very easy. When I met Vince McMahon, I told him about this idea I saw in Japan for this animated robot and so he was like, ‘Alright, we’ll do it,’ and we did. I lived in Mexico at the time and the guy that was making the robot outfit lived in L.A. so I would have to fly from Mexico to L.A., pick up all these boxes and bring them all the way to, like, sometimes I’d be in Cape Cod. They’d have to put it in a taxi… it was just a pain in the ass, really. What happened was that I started to blow up, in Mexico. I had done this soap opera and this rap record and it was doing good. I had crossed over into the mainstream and I was a big draw as a wrestler. I was getting paid, bro. So when I went to TV, I was like, ‘I’m the man in Mexico, why am I coming to WWE,’ and so I just stopped going. Basically, Paul Diamond told Vince that he could fit into the outfit and so they gave him the persona. From then, suposedly, I had this incredible heat but since then when I’ve seen Vince backstage, he’s like ‘Hey, what’s up, Konnan?’ Stephanie, everybody… When they don’t want you there, bro, they let you know. I know they’ve stopped people from even being in the dressing room and they’ve never done that to me. I’m not sure if that heat is still there or what the deal is, but that’s the story.

Konnan, why do you think some people don’t speak their mind the in wrestling business in the same way you do?

Konnan: Well I can’t believe that, in the wrestling community, you don’t know that you get heat if you speak your mind; that even happens on some Major League Baseball and football teams also. In wrestling, they have all these instruments – fear, intimidation, not getting a push – they send you messages not to speak what you think. That’s always got me in a lot of hot water and that’s the reason, ‘cos you’re gonna get heat.

Did Low-Ki discuss his frustrations with you during his most recent IMPACT run?

Konnan: Low-Ki is a lot like me in that he’s very difficult to work with too. Very opinionated. He thinks that the last few times he was there, they didn’t use him to his maximum potential. I would concur with that. At the end of the day, Ki was hot about a lot of stuff. One of them, which I would concur again, was why did you bring him to New York, in his hometown, to lose against Drago. No shade on Drago, I got no problem with the AAA wrestlers; I’m not hating, I’m just stating. Why would you bring him to job in his hometown to Drago, who is not under contract and wasn’t at the next TV tapings. That type of stuff will get you hot. I think they dropped the ball there and creatively they said they didn’t have anything for him, which I found very hard to believe. Like I said, he’s a very strong headed person and hopefully we can work with him again one day.

Looking Forward

What brought you back to IMPACT this time around?

Konnan: Well, Jeff Jarrett got in touch with me and they wanted me to do some other gimmick. They wanted me to be the mouthpiece for another wrestler. First, I didn’t think he needed a mouthpiece and, two, in the back of my mind I didn’t like how my tenure ended with LAX. They were sticking people in there I never would have stuck in there, and I left. They changed my whole entrance song, it was all whack. So I wanted to come back and then leave on a better note. This is probably, for all intents and purposes, my last run in the United States. This is probably it. So I wanted to go out on a higher note than I did last time where I just quit, and left. We brought in Ortiz, Santana, Diamante, Homicide, and we’re like family; you gotta have a certain chemistry for this to work. You can’t just be two guys that come to work. Ortiz and Santana, they were friends so they already had a chemistry. Now all of us will hang out after a show and there’s a bonding there that translates into the ring and into the promos. We’re just trying to make a name for these guys and keep the LAX thing going. Let’s see what happens. 

What sets this incarnation of LAX apart from the previous one?

Konnan: Obviously that it’s got different members in it. The rhetoric is the same and the message is the same and I think the attitude is the same. Plus, you know we now have a female in the group so it’s two whole different personalities but centered on the same concept.
Ortiz: Yeah, 100%, we try to keep to where LAX was before but we have a new spice to it. We’re keeping up with the times and we wrestle the style of today’s age but we’re still violent and we still go in. We have that Lucha Strong Style thing going on. 
Santana: We’re gonna continue the level of physicality and everything that we’re doing. We’re staying true to the tradtion of what Konnan had coming before and our plan is just to keep up with the times and revolutionise. Make it 1000 times better.
Ortiz: We just wanna up the ante, be innovative and do it in such a way that we’re staying true to ourselves.

Bound for Glory was announced for November 5th in Ottawa, Canada. What are your thoughts on IMPACT’s biggest show of the year going to Canada?

Santana: I mean, it should be amazing. Ortiz and I have wrestled in Ottawa plenty of times and it’s an amazing city and the people there are great. I’m sure having Bound for Glory there is definitely going to be something pretty cool. Ottawa has been one of our favourite places to work and the fans there are so appreciative of everything that you do. It’s definitely a good time and everyone likes to have fun. One thing that’s great is the fans in Ottawa are very vocal so look forward to that. 
Ortiz: Oh yeah and especially in the capacity that we’re doing it, it’s gonna be a big, big show. We’re excited and we’re excited to have the opportunity to show the Canadian fans what it’s all about. 
Konnan: Since you guys have been to Ottawa, you’re gonna have to show me what the nightlife is all about ‘cos I certainly showed you what Tijuana nightlife’s all about… boom! But let me tell you about Ottawa; that thing kinda freaked me out ‘cos I was like, ‘Canada, really?’ I liked it. I like that it came out of nowhere. This Canadian company wants to do it in Canada. Much love to the Canadian fans, they’re always some of the most hardcore fans. I’m really looking forward to it, man, that we’re getting out of the IMPACT Zone and travelling and other people can see us. I thought that was a great decision. 

Obviously your opponents at Bound for Glory, Ohio vs. Everything, are out of luck facing you guys but what potential do you see in them for the future?

Konnan: You guys have wrestled them a lot before, no?
Santana: We’ve wrestled them in multi-man matches, never straight up in tag but they have a good history of bringing it. I saw them when they were the Irish Airbourne for a while; they’ve had insane matches. Long run, definitely see them doing well but when it comes to versus us… not so much. Outside of that, they have a lot of potential to flourish in the company.
Konnan: What I like about them is when you’re putting together a match, sometimes, there are guys you can’t do nothing with ‘cos they don’t want to take a bump or they’re limited or that’s not their style… these guys, they’re gonna take any bump you want so we know our matches with them are always going to be good.
Ortiz: 100%.

Are any new members on the cards to join the Latin-American Xchange?

Konnan: We’re always looking for new members and especially now we just lost Low-Ki who’s such a unique and incredible character. We’re definitely on the lookout for somebody. 

Since LAX’s return, the language and the storylines you’ve been involved in are quite provocative. Is that something that you’ve pushed for and is that something that wrestling needs today?

Konnan: Yeah, bro, I’m a provocateer so I’m there to engage you. I’m there to get you mad. I’m there to make you think. I don’t like to do normal wrestling promos: “I’m gonna retire you…” “I’m gonna do this…” and all that BS. It’s kinda hokey and it’s corny so I’m just trying to get a reaction. I’m just trying to get heat; that’s what I do it for. 

With the partnerships between AAA and NOAH in place, do you think a partnership between IMPACT and The Crash is possible?

Konnan: 100%. That’s already been put into motion. Our last TV taping, [IMPACT] taped about three matches; one of them oVe and two teams from Tijuana and it’s already been shown on Pop TV. There’s definitely a cross-pollination between us and IMPACT and we’ll continue to do so in the future.

With you having Diamante in LAX, what are your thoughts on the current state of women’s wrestling?

Konnan: I grew up on the Japanese wrestling, I dunno if you remember Manami Toyota, Hokuto, Aja Kong and all those incredibly physicial, talented Japanese women. Then, in Mexico, you had a lot of great, great workers, starting with Lola Gonzales. Then you’d come to the United States and they were so brutal, y’know, and now finally there is a Women’s Revolution where they’re going out there and having some great matches. You can even have intergender matches and people get into it. They’ve done a great job and they’re just gonna get better and better. The one thing I haven’t seen from women’s wrestling yet is high flyers. Imagine when the women start flying high ‘cos they’re gonna break out some real cool s**t, they’re a lot lighter and they’re a lot shorter. I can’t wait ’til that part comes.

With Alberto El Patron returning at Bound for Glory, do you see your fued with him resuming?

Konnan: They’ve spoken to me about a couple of things with Alberto but I don’t think they’re even sure what they wanna do. Alberto is, straight up, a one of a kind entertainer and he goes out there and leaves it all in the ring. I would love for us to do something with him but that’s up to creative.

With all the turmoil in IMPACT right now, how do you deal with that?

Konnan: That’s always gonna happen, bro. Sports teams change general managers and coaches all the time, that happens in wrestling, too. Booker gets fired, leaves or gets a better offer or whatever the situation is. I’m kinda excited to see what the new regime has in store for us because even though they worked with Jeff [Jarrett], they had their own ideas. Let’s see what they got. I’m happy to see some new people get a crack at it and see what they get going. They got some smart people in there; my boy, Jeremy Borash, Abyss, Sonjay, so I wanna see what they come up with. It’s gonna be cool.

Why is Homicide not in the ring on a regular basis?

Konnan: That’s a mystery to me, too. At the beginning they had him there as like a cheerleader type thing and I was like, ‘Bro, this guy can bring so much more.’ So, I dunno, it’s not a question I can really answer. I know it’s frustrated him. It’s very frustrating to just be there and not be able to go. I couldn’t even tell you on that one.

The members of LAX covered a lot of ground in this interview; how do you feel about what they said? Let us know in the comment section below or chat with me directly on Twitter @thejezshow.

Originally published by RealSport
Article appears in original form with updated social media links and new closer.
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Johnny Impact talks wrestling, film and television in this week’s GFW media Q&A

On this week’s edition of the GFW conference call, we were joined by the hottest new signing in GFW, a triple champion in AAA and recent guest star of Netflix’s Original Series, GLOW, Johnny Impact.

Worldwide Wrestler

What has been your experience in GFW so far?
Really happy with my experience so far at Impact. I’ve been blown away by the level of professionalism in the locker room and I’m really happy to work with some of my old friends like Bobby Lashley, Chris Masters and EC3 and also some of the newer talent; I guess Low-Ki and Eddie Edwards aren’t new talent but they’re new friends of mine. It’s just so positive. Everyone in the locker room feels like they know what they’re there for and they feel like they have something to offer. I didn’t feel any negativity when I walked into the Impact Zone. I felt like I was coming to a high school reunion party and hanging out with a bunch of my old friends. Everyone is excited at the idea of what we’re about to create.

Is there anyone on the GFW roster at the moment that you really want to face?
One of the most exciting things for me about going to a new promotion like GFW is exactly what this question is about. There’s a ton of people on the roster that I’ve never had the chance to wrestle. You’ve got X-Division guys like Trevor Lee and Desmond Xavier; both of whom I think are super talented but with whom I’ve never had the opportunity to work as Johnny Impact. Then there’s a guy like Bobby Lashley. He and I were real close when he came to OVW back in 2004 and we even rode together when I first started on the road but we haven’t worked for the same company in over ten years now and he’s grown as a performer and developed his own specific style and I feel the same about myself. It’d be really interesting to me to see how we match up now. Clearly, the current champion Eli Drake. I think he’s been underrated for a long time, certainly not in his mind… he thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread but in the eyes of the wrestling community I think he’s been underrated. I would love the chance to have a true one-on-one matchup to put my skills to the test against him in the ring. 

What do you think about GFW’s partnerships with other companies around the world?
I think one of the most exciting things happening right now, in wrestling, is this partnership between GFW, AAA and NOAH. There’s gonna be a lot of talent exchanges because of this partnership. Eddie Edwards, for example, just won the NOAH title. We’ve got a bunch of AAA talent in GFW, Garza and LAX from Konnan’s promotion, The Crash and all these major companies are working together. To me, it’s really interesting. It’s like the sum of all these parts is greater than any one of these promotions by itself.

What does your signing with GFW mean for Lucha Underground?
Lucha Underground is planning on doing a season four and I’m planning on continuing my relationship with Lucha Underground. The specific dates for the tapings have not yet been released and I’m hoping it’s ASAP because I can’t wait to get back to the Temple. In the meantime, that’s what’s so cool about GFW: the opportunity to have all these new matchups and potentially, now, have some crossover with Lucha Underground, fingers crossed for that in the future.

When will be see you across the pond in the UK and Ireland again?
I’ve got a couple things that I’ve been talking about. A buddy of mine recently took over IPW and he’s making me come out in December to do a tag match. I’m still the champion of 5 Star Wrestling and I know they’ve announced a bunch of dates in 2018. Specifically, though, what dates and for what promotions, I don’t know but I love working in the UK and I’m planning to get back there before the end of this year.

You worked with Sexy Star in Lucha Underground. What are your honest feelings about what happened between Rosemary and Sexy Star at AAA TripleMania?
During the match, I feel like there was friction between Sexy Star and the other girls – not necessarily Rosemary, it was her first time in Mexico – but the other women in the match. It looked like they had some issues that they decided to work out during the match, which is unprofessional in my opinion. The match suffered because of it. Tensions ran high and, in my opinion, because she was in a heightened state of aggravation or whatever she took that out on Rosemary for no reason. 

Was now the better time to join GFW, as opposed to six years ago when you left WWE?
Couldn’t be happier with the way that it worked out. The reason I didn’t come right away is that when I left WWE, I was planning on just taking a year off. I left ‘cos I wanted to do movies and to make that movie that ended up taking a lot longer than I thought. I talked to Lagana, Tazz, Dixie and Big John several times back then but it just never really happened because I didn’t want to take myself out of Los Angeles. Then all that stuff happened and I ended up in a situation where I was working for Lucha Underground & AAA and there’s an opportunity to start having all these promitions work together; I could represent all 3 of these companies at the same time and still have enough control of my time to write movies, to audition, to do fun shorts and things, which is ultimately all I wanted when I left WWE – a little more creative autonomy. For me personally, this is the perfect time and secondary to that, professionally, physically (in the ring) and psychologically I’m the best I’ve ever been.

What are your thoughts on Eddie Edwards winning the GHC Heavyweight Championship in NOAH?
I don’t know Eddie really well, I met him a couple times and then I got to work with him at GFW… always liked him and was super impressed with his ability and knowledge. Talk about someone who’s really earned it, man. He’s been around forever and wrestled all over the world. I know winning that NOAH Championship meant a ton to him and it was one of those things I saw that put a huge smile on my face. Eddie’s a really good dude but also a really deserving, talented guy. Really happy for him, really happy to see that.

What would be your advice to young wrestlers breaking into the business?
I used to hate when people said this when I was a young talent coming up but young talent is the future of the business. It’s not gonna be on my shoulders forever. At some point, it’s gonna be on the Desmond Xaviers, the Ricochets, the Shane Stricklands…it’s gonna be on their shoulders and they’ll be passing down knowledge to the generation that’s after them. To young talent, the best advice from me is that wrestling is a crazy business and it drives a lot of people nuts because there’s such a lack of control. Learning to not worry about things you can’t control and only worry about things that are within your ability to control is one of the most important first lessons to learn. There’s a lot you can control, though: your in-ring ability, your physique, your promos, how you look, how you are, how you talk. That’s your job. You need to get as good at all of those things as possible. The things you can’t control depend on who’s running creative – somebody’s uncle, or a famous wrestler, do they know somebody? – you can’t worry about that. Ultimately, like Macho Man used to say, the cream of the crop rises to the top. In this business, people want to put their name on the most talented talent so being the best at every aspect of being a pro wrestler will result in you going the furthest in the business.

Do you have any interest in getting involved creatively in the wrestling business?
I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about that several times. At some point, conceivably, yes. A lot of the stuff I think of when I’m not wrestling is, for some reason, comedy and instead of trying to fight that instinct, usually I just write what I’m thinking of because I enjoy it. I think if you don’t enjoy writing, it comes out when you’re reading someone’s stuff back. Also, anybody in the wrestling industry is involved, somewhat, in creative. I’m not involved in the creative department of any of the shows that I’m wrestling for currently but if I have ideas I can talk to Scott D’Amore, Sanjay, Big or Jeremy Borash. I can present ideas to them and we can discuss. Same thing with Lucha Underground, same thing with AAA and, ultimately, not everyone is in the same situation that I’m in where they can pick up the phone, make a call and have the creative department pick up. But even if you can’t call Sanjay at home at midnight, all those people that I just mentioned are looking for new ideas and looking for good ideas. Anybody that’s on the roster that has anything good will be heard. Wrestlers are usually in the creative department, whether they know it or not. 

If you were competing for the GFW Global Title at Bound for Glory, would you consider defending some of your AAA Championships too?
Oh yeah. I’d put anything on the line. When we get there, if I’m still tricampione of AAA, I’ll put all those things on the line. I’m that confident that I would leave Bound for Glory with Eli’s title, if he still has it by then. If we have a match. If I have my titles. I’m excited for Bound for Glory though, man. It’s one of the pay-per-views that’s the tentpoles of Impact. I remember watching it for the past 10 years and it’s gonna be a really cool thing to be a part of.

What’s it like going through the airports with three championship belts?
It’s a pain in the ass. I’ll be honest, it sucks. I’m old school, I always bring two bags. Fear bag, that you never check: that’s got the titles and your in case of emergency stuff but they always pull all three titles out. Sometimes if you have one you can sneak through but with three all the TSA people come over and they want pictures; it turns into a fiasco.

Is there a dream match you’d want to take part in?
Any wrestler? Any where? It’d be awesome to wrestle Okada, I’ve been a big fan of the stuff that’s been going on with New Japan. Daniel Bryan would be another dream match. A lot of WWE guys. Right now, I’d put Bobby Lashley up as a dream match because it’s been fascinating to see how well he’s done in both MMA and pro wrestling. A true two sport athlete, that’s very rare. He’s also a good friend of mine. Macho Man was always my dream match growing up or a singles match against HBK but some of these, I think, are never gonna happen. The ones with potential are the first ones I mentioned.

Your former tag team partner, The Miz, has really reinvented himself in recent years. What are your thoughts on his resurgence?
We text back and forth all the time. Every time my IMDB meter is higher than his, I snap it and send it over ti him, tell him that Boone: the Bounty Hunter is better than The Marine. He’s been killing it and I think it really comes down to the fact The Miz is always emphatically himself. He never changed who he was. Whether in the ring or in real life, he’s this loud, abrasive, confident guy. He’s a really good and loyal friend and, in smaller groups, really fun to hang out with. Because of those qualities, he’s remained consistent. He knows who he is, in the ring and out of the ring. I think that confident part of Mike Mizanin is what’s propelled him to the next level of success with wrestling. It’s been really cool to see. I’d put him on the dream match list, also. It might be more fun to tag with him than kick his ass but each one would be interesting.

Do you still keep in contact with Matt Cappotelli and how’s he doing these days, if you do?
I saw him a few months back. I did a show in Louisville, at OVW, and he and I hung out and caught up for a couple of days. It was awesome, actually. We talked about Tough Enough and how crazy it was that we both moved to Louisville together, back then. That was before he relapsed and they noticed anything. They found some more cancerous cells in his brain and he’s gonna have to go back to treatment, which sucks. The thing is about Matt Cappotelli, he is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. His run of injuries and cancer and bad luck has been harder than just about anyone I know and he’s always been positive. He’s actually someone I think about when I think I’m having a hard time or s**t day. I think about things that he’s dealt with how positive he’s remained throughout everything. I talk to him at least once a month, sometimes more.

How are things with your other half, Taya Valkyrie, working in GFW at the moment?
She is so excited to be working with GFW. I have loved the entrance and her music. You guys need to tune in Thursday, I believe, to see her debut. She’s been loving it and has been really happy. You know what they say: when your girl is happy, you’re happy. That’s just part of why I’ve been loving GFW so much.

Could we see you back in WWE one day?
It’s hard to say. I believe so but it’s ultimately not completely up to me. I will say that I’m really happy right now with my life and my career with GFW, Lucha, AAA and everyone. I don’t even have enough time to wrestle all their shows on the dates those companies have. I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to pursue my own projects; to make Boone: the Bounty Hunter, basically. There are a ton of people on the WWE roster that I haven’t had a chance to work with. I’d love to work circles around Rollins and Reigns, I’d love matches with Finn Balor, Lesnar, Samoa Joe… all those are exiciting matchups and would be great for me. There’s nothing to say though that those matches couldn’t happen in GFW, or Lucha Underground, ‘cos the business changes so quickly. So as far as WWE goes, sure it’s possible but I’m really happy with where I’m at right now.

Where can we buy the sunglasses that you wear?
Probably, your best bet is to get them on Pro Wrestling Tees. I’ve got a couple of t-shirts up on that site for sale but you can also get the Mundo glasses there.

Worldwide Entertainer

How do you balance work in the wrestling, film and television industry to make sure you’re always working at your best?
Well, I’m sitting in my car right now in rush hour traffic on my way to an audition. It’s not easy. It’s about a lot of time management and prioritisation. Entertainment in general, to me, boils down to making people feel something and whether it’s TV or film or pro wrestling, people watch to feel and emotion. In any of those forms, the stories that we’re telling in the ring or on the TV show, or in a movie, is written and designed to convey that emotion. If it’s done well and people like it they can relate and they want more. Honing into that really is the core of entertainment; it was one of the first epiphanies that I had about entertainment in general and it’s was something that Vince McMahon always talked about. The point of wrestling is entertainment and he’d always say “Entertain my ass! I need to be entertained when you’re in the ring.” That’s the constant between any form of entertainment and making the transition back and forth because once you realise that the point of it is storytelling, the tools are different after that. In film and TV, your performances are more nuanced. You almost have to have your body and mind filled up with emotions but contain them so the camera can zoom in close to your face and pull what you’re thinking and feeling. Wrestling is different, there’s an arena full of people and what makes makes pro wrestling a performance art is the crowd. You’re feelings and actions need to be bigger so they can fire the crowd up, get rowdy, heckle and cheer. In short, I take everything one day at a time and know what the point of entertainment is; that’s how I balance it.

Can you talk to us about Boone: the Bounty Hunter?
I was a film major at UC Davis before I got into wrestling and I knew that I wanted to action movies pretty much my whole life. When I left WWE in 2011, I knew I wanted to do a movie and I didn’t know it was going to be Boone: the Bounty Hunter at the time. I wrote a movie that was like a sci-fi/action thing that I just ended up throwing away because it wasn’t that good and then I started working on Boone with a buddy of mine. The idea of the movie first, conceptually, was that I wanted to do a movie where the action was combo of parkour, pro wrestling and MMA – all the stuff that I’m best at. The character is this goofy, reluctant hero… kinda the everyman type of guy with a bullish arrogance. That’s fun because you get to say stupid things but also in an endearing way so to not alienate people. That was what we set out to write when we started Boone but then it evolved and it became about Boone and the reality show, Bounty Hunter. The jist of the plot of the movie that when the show was going to be cancelled because of ratings, he decided to go to Mexico after a real criminal to save his show. Making movies is hard, let’s put it that way. From the time I started writing to the time we shot it was two and a half years, then it took another two years of post production and getting the distribution deal, then we get to now and it’s out on DVD everywhere and it’s on VOD,iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and places like that. It took a really long time but Boone is the movie that I’ve done that I’m by far the most proud of and people that have seen it have responded really well to it. There’s a lot of people that really liked it and call me up with Boone quotes: Boone-voyage, A-Boone-a-matata… stuff like that. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

How was it working on GLOW and what were the girls like?
The girls in GLOW were amazing. They are all very hard working and beautiful, obviously, but I think what really made that show work was the camaraderie between the girls on the cast. They had a really fun and tight relationship between themselves and, because they were so sure of themselves and their abilities, they were very welcoming to outsiders like me. I was a guest star on the first episode; I played Salty ‘The Sack’ Johnson, which is one of my favourite wrestling names ever. I really felt welcomed by all of the cast members – the girls – and also by Marc Maron (who’s one of the funniest dudes ever), Carly, Liz and all the writers and executive producers on the show; they really made it a positive environment. I think that’s the secret to a show’s success – positivity.

What was it like working with Jason David Frank, and others, on Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe?
I’m really excited for Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe. The trailer, I believe, is going to be released this week. Jason David Frank, Derek Theler, Kevin Porter, Mike Rowe from Arrow, Ciera Foster – the cast of this digital series is, in my mind, 10/10. Everybody is uniquely them and perfect fits for their own specific characters. Outside of that, I feel like I’ve become legitimate bros with Jason David Frank, Derek and Mike which is one of my favourite things about working in a creative industry. When you’re working together with someone creatively, you really cut a lot of the superficial s**t quickly. You have to relate as your characters quickly and, sometimes, in highly emotional circumstances. Basically, it’s been great. I’m a big fan of Jason David Frank, he’s super talented and the rest of the cast is too. That goes also for Josh and Dinesh, the guys that run Valiant, as well as Aaron and Sean, the director and sound editor for Bat in the Sun. I think that when that trailer drops, people’s minds are going to be blown.

Does JDF have any interest in getting involved with pro wrestling in any capacity?
Yep, he and I have talked about it. We’re looking at doing a tag match. He’s tight with Booker T, they both live in Houston, and they were thinking about doing something like me and him vs. two other guys; we haven’t gone too far down that path yet. It might even be something we could do on Impact, that’s GFW’s call. He’s a lifelong martial artist and I know how hard we works at karate and karate schools and training. He’s a fan of pro wrestling, he loves the business and he’d like to be a part of it. I don’t think he wants to be a full time pro wrestler by any means but he’s an entertainer and thinks it would be fun to do a match.

Do you think Hollywood’s attitudes to pro wrestling has changed over the years?
Wrestling right now is hot. Pro wrestling is a hot industry worldwide right now. That’s partly due to The Rock; he’s on the cover of GQ, one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood but not only that, one of the most prolific actor/producers alive today. That dude is everywhere, he busts his ass and because of that he’s got the respect of the entertainment community as well as the professional wrestling community. It’s because he’s hot that you’ve got guys like Dave Bautista who’s become a famous actor with the stuff that he’s done in Guardians of the Galaxy, which for me was really cool to watch. Dave’s a big teddy bear, he’s a super nice guy and I think that came out in his performance when he was doing Drax. John Cena stepped up his game, also. He carried it so well in Trainwreck that he’s getting more and more stuff. Stone Cold Steve Austin is another one; he’s part of pop culture. He’s hosting and EP of three different TV shows now, I think. All of that really does endorse guys like me. All I need is a little hole for me to kick the door open wide because I’m hungry right now to get further into that world.

Are you excited to have Johnny Impact in GFW? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comment section below or tweet me directly @thejezshow.

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GFW will address Jeff Jarrett’s departure on next week’s media conference call

Despite the excitement for the Q&A with Johnny Impact, this week’s GFW media conference call had a large cloud cast over it. Members of the media went into the call looking for answers about the departure of GFW’s Chief Creative Officer, Jeff Jarrett but those hopes were quashed quickly as GFW Head of Media Relations, Ross Forman, issued a statement that stated no questions referring to Jarrett or the GFW company would be permitted. Forman did announce, though, that our questions would be answered and the creative future of the company addressed during next week’s call with Big John Gaburick, Scott D’Amore and Sonjay Dutt.

Leave of Absence

Global Force Wrestling announced that Jeff Jarrett would be taking a leave of absence from GFW in a short statement on the Impact Wrestling website. It read:

“Effective immediately, Jeff Jarrett is taking an indefinite leave of absence from his position as Chief Creative Officer to focus on personal matters. Jeff will be available on a consultative basis as needed.”

In the time since the release of this statement, speculation has run rampant about the reasons for this situation. The fact that Jeff Jarrett was tweeting optimistically about GFW related matters the morning before the release of the statement suggests that the decision was not wholly Jarrett’s. According to PWInsider, Ed Nordholm (Executive Vice President of Anthem Sports, GFW’s parent company) made the decision to remove Jarrett on Tuesday morning and had met with him in Nashville, Tennessee by that same afternoon. Sources among the internet wrestling community have speculated that Nordholm had been becoming increasingly unhappy with Jeff Jarrett, citing his behaviour as erratic and criticising him for appearing out of shape and lethargic at the AAA TripleMania show at the end of August.

The most interesting issue, however, is that should Jeff Jarrett leave the company, Anthem could find themselves without the GFW name going forward. With the acquisition of Global Force Wrestling LLC not completed and the legal rights to the name still retained by Jeff Jarrett, Anthem Sports could be forced to revert to the Impact Wrestling name, undoing all of the hard work that has gone into unifying the championships and rebranding their television show all around the world. 

These are indeed troubling times for the GFW fan and, as usual, the responses that the company have provided us with leave more questions than answers.

What does the departure of Jeff Jarrett mean for the future of GFW? Let us know your thoughts on the situation in the comment section.

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GFW Media Q&A with ‘Walking Armageddon’ Bobby Lashley & American Top Team’s Dan Lambert

On this week’s edition of the GFW conference call, we were joined by 4-time GFW World Champion, Bobby Lashley as well as his MMA manager, the head of American Top Team, Dan Lambert. The pair discussed many topics, from wrestling to MMA and beyond, and delved deeper into the controversy surrounding Lashley sharing his time between two sports. 

Wrestling in GFW

What led to your departure from Impact Wrestling the first time around and what influenced your decision to come back to GFW?

Lashley: I never really wanted to leave in the first place. In my first stint with GFW, we tried what we’re doing now. Before, no-one really knew the commitment needed to be able to do pro wrestling and MMA – no-one knew – and then when we found out it started becoming a little complicated. At point I had to leave because I was pursuing MMA. Now, it’s different. There’s more communication and that’s the only way that I would be able to fight and do professional wrestling at the same, if there’s communication and cooperation with each side. It’s been really easy lately because everybody understands and everybody sees the big picture. The fighting has been beneficial to my wrestling and the wrestling has been beneficial to my fighting so everybody is on board to make it come easily. I’m gonna continue to do it as long as I can. I know we’re dealing with something right now with whether or not I can devote enough time to be as successful as I possibly can in fighting… but we’ll figure that out. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to do it. 

What are your thoughts on the position GFW took with Alberto El Patron – suspending him and then stripping him of the title?

Lashley: I don’t think it says anything about the company. We’re all individuals. If we go out there and do something we have to hold ourselves accountable for the things that we do. The company has to do what they have to do. It’s an unfortunate situation; I don’t know all of the details because I try to stay out of that. My business and my contract says for me to be a performer and do that part – not to do any of the backstage or office stuff. The one things I do know is, who needs the title? That’s me. Give me my title back. I could care less what’s going on with him. I’m just here to compete and now there’s an open title. That’s what I’m focussed on. 

Do you feel that GFW is best place to go and succeed as a wrestler at the moment?

Lashley: I wouldn’t say that it’s the best place but it’s a good place. We’ve had our ups and downs with things over the last couple of years but now we’re becoming stable and a lot of good guys are coming over; I think a lot of good guys are going to continue coming over because we have a good product. Everything’s running pretty smoothly right now and everybody is looking for a place – there are so many wrestlers out there – so GFW is another place for people to get on TV, be seen and have an opportunity to wrestle. I think a lot of people will be coming over and we’ll continue to do a lot better in the near, near future. 

We’re ten years removed from your last WWE appearance. With so much time passed, do you have any reflection on your time in WWE and how it all ended?

Lashley: Wow, ten years. Damn, it seems like a long time. It’s been a blur, man. My time since leaving WWE has been packed. I don’t really want to speak on leaving or anything like that; it was just one of those situations where I stepped away and I had another opportunity with fighting; I’ve put in 17 pro fights which I think is a really big accomplishment for myself. Those opportunities went really well and getting back into wrestling with Impact has gone really well. It’s one of those things where great things have been happening to me and I think I’m really blessed for the things that have happened to me in my life. As I look back, I wouldn’t change anything. WWE was an amazing experience for me and I accomplished some really huge things so I always look back at that time and smile. I have great friends from there and some of them I’m still working with now. Wrestling has been really, really good to me, so I’m happy with it.

Have you spoken to President Trump since WrestleMania 23?

Lashley: No. It was a long time ago, over 10 years ago, and the time that I spent with Trump was really cool. The pay-per-view was phenomenal and just working with him was great. I have nothing bad to say about him. 

Upon hearing about Ric Flair’s current illness, what does Ric mean to you and the business in general?

Lashley: I’ve been travelling so I don’t really know what’s going on with Ric but as far as what he’s done in this sport – he’s a pioneer of this sport. You can’t say professional wrestling and not have name like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan and Rock, some of those names. It’s sad to hear that he’s going through this right now but it’s the Nature Boy… the guy survived a plane crash! He’s one of the toughest guys both inside and outside of the ring and he’s a person everybody looks up to. We’re all pulling for him and I hope everything goes well.

How did you find the live crowd in India?

Lashley: India was great. India is always a great crowd. There are so many people in India and when we went over there you couldn’t get anywhere. They’ve been waiting for pro wrestling for a long time and they have their stars from India that are now wrestling in the United States so I think the fanbase has even grown. Our shows were incredible; it was an incredible experience across the board.

What did it mean to you to wrestle Kurt Angle’s last match in Impact Wrestling?

Lashley: I’ve done a lot of things in wrestling – big pay-per-views all across the world, from WrestleMania to everything else – but I put that match all the way at the top. Not at the top of everything but I think it’s my top two or three. Reason being, I’ve always looked up to Kurt. I was watching him when I was in high school wrestling and Kurt was winning nationals in college. When I went to college and was winning national championships, Kurt was winning the world and Olympic championships. I just kinda followed him all the way up. Afterwards when I was at the training centre, Kurt came to the Olympic training centre to do a vignette and Kurt is the one that found me. He said, ‘You ever think about professional wrestling?’ We talked for a little bit and I passed my number on. The rest is history. He’s the one that got me into professional wrestling. For 12 years I was in pro wrestling, Kurt and I never crossed paths… when I went to WWE, he went to TNA, when I went to TNA, he stepped out and was fighting, he came back and I was out and then I finally came back. This whole time he mentored me along the way, we would always talk to me on the phone and we’d talk about different matches and what to do and he’d just help me out with the politics of wrestling. Actually having an opportunity to wrestle him, towards the end, that was the one thing that I was pulling for so hard. I was telling them ‘if Kurt is getting ready to retire, you gotta get me in the ring with him.’ It was incredible. We had two big matches in each time it was like you were in the ring with your teacher. I like Kurt’s style, I mimic Kurt’s style to a certain extent so to me it was amazing. 

What has been your favourite match in Impact Wrestling to date?

Lashley: Oh man, I can’t do it. There have been so many guys who I’ve had amazing matches with but my series with Bobby Roode – incredible. I think Bobby Roode is arguably one of the best wrestlers in the business today. He’s the total package. I wanna say really great things about him because I enjoyed wrestling with him. It was a very intense deal. Another one… Drew Galloway; when I had matches with Drew he gave me what I needed from professional wrestling. When I go out there and get into a match with somebody, I look in their eyes and I try to punk ‘em. I try to steal their soul and Drew had that look back where it was like ‘this guy might actually be crazy enough to throw down with me’ and that’s what it looked like in our matches. Our matches were trainwrecks. We were out there killing each other. He’s a big guy, he has a great look, I think he’s a superstar but then I’m not gonna take anything away from all the other guys that I’ve been in the ring with. EY – I think EY is amazing. Moose – amazing. Eli Drake… there’s just so many people that I can’t just pick one.  Austin Aries, Jeff Hardy – that was the first time I had the opportunity to wrestle Jeff, never did before and that was just crazy because it’s a whole different style of match. You talk about a guy that’s trying to kill himself to beat you… There are a lot of great guys and a lot of great wrestlers in Impact. I didn’t realise that before getting there. Another name – Eddie Edwards, being a smaller guy, bridged that gap on the size and made that match believable. People really believed that he was gonna beat me. I gave him a title once but then I took it back from him but people actually believed it. There’s just so many guys, I can’t just pick one. 

How has training in MMA influenced your wrestling style?

Lashley: It just kinda gives me a different level. Everybody is out there learning the same thing, doing the same thing and with having an MMA background I throw some of that into my matches. I’ve going for a lot more submissions, I’m doing more striking, as opposed to just professional wrestling stuff. That gives the crowd something different to see and it gives me the edge. I enjoy fighting but if I don’t use my fighting in my wrestling then I’m doing myself a disservice. Wrestling has changed over the years. Before it was the big guy / bodybuilder look, now it’s completely changed. A lot of the wrestlers across the board are more athletic. That style is very similar to my MMA style so I don’t necessarily train for professional wrestling anymore. With MMA, you have your strength & conditioning and with wrestling you’re gonna use your various strikes and grappling, everything like that. My wrestling and MMA training is basically the same but, of course, when I have a fight coming up I’m gonna ramp it up a little bit and work a little bit more in depth on striking or something that will suit my fight but I don’t try to switch back and forth any more.

Big Fight Bobby

What does training look like for you today? 

Lashley: This morning, we just did some boxing work… boxing and agility work. We might have Ju-Jitsu this evening. We’re supposed to be having a few guys get together and we’ll just do a couple rolls this evening and work on some positioning. 

Is it true that your MMA manager is nervous about the amount of ring time you have been putting in wrestling?

Lashley: I don’t think anybody feels nervous but I think everybody just wants me to make some kind of decision. There’s a huge opportunity in Bellator right now, especially in the heavyweight division, and I’d feel really confident going against any of those guys but in order to do that I probably have to pay a little more attention into my MMA training. Maybe I’ll need to get down there and stay into camp a little bit more, focus a little bit more on that if I want to be the champion, which I have the opportunity to do. I think they’re just trying to say ‘Hey, you have a lot of opportunity here’ and, like we talked about before, there are big money fights out there for me also. You’ve got Fedor out there, and talking about cross promotion, I’d love to fight Brock if I got the opportunity and anything else out there.
Dan: I’m trying to think of a diplomatic way of putting it because I’m a wrestling fan myself, I’m friends with Jeff Jarrett and I’ve got a lot of respect for the company so I don’t want to be the guy disrespecting pro wrestling and telling Bobby what’s better for him. I’ll wait for him to make his own decisions but I’ve been biting Bobby’s ear a little bit because I think his window of opportunity, as it relates to MMA, is not gonna stay open quite as long as his window of opportunity in wrestling. I think he needs to focus on which one he can make the most money on and which one he can make the bigger splash in right now. In my opinion, that’s MMA. 

Do you think there will be more crossover matches between stars of different combat sports like we’re seeing with Mayweather/McGregor and, potentially, Brock Lesnar/Jon Jones?

Dan: I think people are going to go where the money is. Obviously Mayweather and MacGregor is huge and it’ll be one of the biggest pay-per-views of all time. I know there’s lots of guys at our gym, including Junior Dos Santos, have already started calling out professional heavyweight boxers. People wanna go where the buzz is and wanna see the matchups that are gonna pay the most amount of money. I would not be surprised at all, based on the success of the show coming up, if we don’t at least see more guys calling each other out. Whether those fights come to fruition, I guess that’s up to the promoters and how hard the fans want to see it. 
Lashley: There isn’t a matchup that I can think of off-hand but that’s what everybody has been saying. Everybody wants a big money fight so that’s what we’re all doing. 

How has it been to work in the Mayweather gym? Have you had a chance to talk with Mayweather and his camp? Any predictions for the fight?

Lashley: In all the time that I went down there and trained, I didn’t speak to Mayweather personally but his coaches and all of the guys down there feel really confident. I mean, it’s boxing. He’s going into boxing so he’s going to have a hard time regardless. It’s a hype match. I’m not saying Conor is going to do bad but he’s stepping into an area that he doesn’t really know too much about and I think Mayweather may expose him in a lot of areas. Even though people say that Mayweather doesn’t have finishing power, I still think this may be a finish for him. I think Mayweather may finish Conor in the fourth or fifth round. 

You are among a short list of wrestlers who have been successful in both Pro Wrestling and MMA. Do you think it is more difficult to go from wrestling into MMA or vice versa?

Lashley: I think it’s from professional wrestling over to the fight world. If you’re gonna go from pro wrestling into the fight world you have to have some kind of background. There’s some people that do, don’t get me wrong. Of course you have Brock with the [amateur] wrestling background, Shelton Benjamin, some of the other guys that are training right now have a little bit of the wrestling background. You can’t just be a professional wrestler and have nothing before that to be successful in fighting. It just takes too many years of training, learning and everything else like that to catch up. I think there’s the opportunity for some of the fighters to switch over because some of them have name value and they have a fanbase. Some of them have that wrestling background and when they come over they can learn the fireman’s carries and some of the throws that we do in professional wrestling the same way we do in amateur wrestling. If they find the right places where they can get the training, then I think there are some fighters that can switch over.

You previously expressed an interest in fighting Brock Lesnar. How do you think you would fare in a MMA fight against him?

Lashley: There are two reasons that I expressed interest… one is that it would be a big money fight like everybody is talking about but two is because I thought I could win. I think I can win. I don’t know any other way to answer that question. I think it would be a good fight and I think a lot of people want to see it. I could post any picture today, even with my kids, and I’d have 10, 15, 20 people come on there and say ‘hey, we want you to come back to WWE’ or ‘hey, we want you to come back here but we all want you to fight Brock’. I think it’s a fight that needs to be made, eventually. Somehow, someway.

What are your thoughts on current MMA fighters calling out wrestlers?

Lashley: It’s brilliant. I mean, it’s combat sports across the board. We’re both sports entertainment and there are only two major companies that are in the fight promotion, that’s Bellator and UFC – there are some other ones round there but those are the two major ones – so when people are leaving there or looking for another place to go, professional wrestling is a natural course. But like I said before, it takes a great deal of training. You can’t just be ‘I’ve fought before so I wanna be a professional wrestler’ and some of the people that have moved over have realised how tough it is to become a professional wrestler. That’s where the money is, though and everybody is going for those big money fights. That’s why Jon Jones is calling Brock out because he has a huge fanbase, and Ronda Rousey wants to keep her name value up so she’s gonna come over to professional wrestling. They’ll welcome them with open arms, everybody loves Ronda still and everybody wants to see the Jon Jones/Brock fight. It’s very intelligent for them to do that.

When can we expect to see you over in the UK for an MMA fight?

Lashley: That’s on the table right now but it’s been really busy for me and I haven’t had the time to sit down and plan things out. After this call, that’s when I’m gonna sit down with Dan and that’s when we’re gonna talk about when the next fight date is. I’m ramping up my training right now because there’s a lot of things going on with Bellator and I know that they’re doing a couple more fights in the UK, I think they’re gonna have one in December. Who knows? If all the stars aligned I might be able to get on that card. I don’t know. We’re gonna look to get a fight pretty soon.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start out in either MMA or Pro Wrestling?

Dan: Pick one. It’s really difficult to succeed in either one of those endeavours and if you want to try to be good at both, you’re splitting your time in half. These are not the old days, at least not of MMA. This sport has evolved. Everybody is training, everybody is well-rounded and if you’re not putting 100% of your time into it and you’re locking yourself in a cage with someone that wants to take your head off, you’re not giving yourself a very good chance of winning if you’re not focussing on what you need to do to be successful. 
Lashley: I’m gonna agree with Dan but on the same token I’m gonna say that if someone has the desire to do both then it may be good to start with and look at both just to keep your options open. You may put all the training into MMA and still not become successful and then you might need somewhere else to go. You may try both of them and like professional wrestling over MMA so to not start either one of them, I wouldn’t say that. If you can start both of them and decide which one you want later, then do it.

What was it like working with the female MMA fighters at American Top Team?

Dan: I gotta tell you, I was not the biggest fan of female Mixed Martial Arts dating back ten years ago when I was promoting shows and putting a couple of those fights on there. I likened the women’s MMA to the men’s back in the early 90s when it was a relatively new sport and people didn’t really know what they were doing, it was more of a brawl than it was a technical match but, in the years since UFC brought the women in, there’s been a huge increase in the quality of the fights. We made the decision a few years ago to build up our women’s division because it’s something that is growing in popularity and it’s what fans want to see, promoters had a strong demand for women fighters. We now have about 15-20 women training full time in our gym. It’s going through the roof and it’s great for us. Two of the eleven champions in the UFC are female fighters at our gym and those two are great examples for our guys and girls alike. They go in there and they set a standard. They train hard, they prepare hard, they’re disciplined and their focused. It’s great to see it.

Walking Armageddon’s Armageddon?

How do you feel the growing understanding of concussions and CTE has an impact on combat sports like pro wrestling and MMA?

Lashley: I’ve had no documented concussions. I try to take care of myself as much as possible. One thing you gotta take into consideration is that it’s professional wrestling and you know it going in. There’s dangers to every profession and our particular profession concussions is one thing. I can go and fight, take one punch and have a concussion and start having issues with it or I can wrestle my entire career and never have a concussion. It’s just a hazard of the business. I don’t think it’s gonna slow down because it’s too big right now. If anything I think they may think of way to safeguard it a little more but professional wrestling has been around forever and it’s just what we do. If you start taking that way then you’re gonna start going across the board. My ex girlfriend was a cheerleader and they say cheerleading is the most dangerous sport out there. If you do your research, it’ll say there’s more cheerleading accidents than any other sport. Are we gonna stop cheerleading because there’s concussions in there? Then you gotta look at rugby, and even soccer. Soccer guys are running into each other, you take one good fall on the ground and he’s concussed so would you have soccer players wear helmets? These are some of the things that we can find out that there are these problems in different areas and we can do whatever we can to prevent those problems but some problems are just inevitable. It’s combat sports, it’s gonna happen. There’s always gonna be fighting, there’s always gonna be wrestling, always gonna be football, always gonna rugby, cheerleading… there’s always gonna be all these different things. The best things we can do is look at prevention and find some ways to detect it a little bit sooner. That’s the only thing we can do to lessen the big problems. 

Now you are 41 and could be considered in the twilight of your career, do you see an end in sight?

Lashley: Easy. We can easy on this 41 thing. 41 doesn’t mean anything to me right now, man. I can understand if you’re talking about my neighbour ‘cos all he does it cut his drive out back. I’m completely different. I’m a completely different animal. 41 to me is like 26 to another person so it’s not twilight for me, I have a lot of time left. I don’t think I’m gonna cut back anything, not now, not any time soon.

Bobby Lashley wrestles Matt Sydal this Thursday at GFW Destination X. We caught up with Lashley and got his thoughts on Sydal yesterday, you can read it here. Who do you think will come out of the event victorious? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet me directly @thejezshow.

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GFW X-Division Q&A with Low-Ki, Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee

On this week’s edition of the GFW conference call, we hear from three pioneers of the X-Division in Low-Ki, Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee. For those not aware, Dutt and Lee are set to compete for the X-Division Championship at Destination X on August 17th and discuss both their upcoming contest and the history of the division in this X-travaganza!

Looking Back

Looking back at X-Division, what was the most monumental, biggest turning point for the X-Division in the 15 year history of the company?

Trevor: I think I can go ahead and start by saying Trevor Lee vs. William Weeks was the turning point for what’s going to elevate us back to the top.
Low-Ki: I’ve been in the X-Division since the beginning, since day one. I was in the very first X-Division match. I’ve been in numerous extensions of the X-Division, which ultimately turned into Ultimate X. There have been several [turning points] but I think the most recent one was our two out of three falls at Slammiversary XV. Reason being that this match was an accumulation of experience in the X-Division and we went out and did it in the way that we know how. Just go out and compete as hard as we can and leave it all out in the ring. That’s exactly what we did. This is a rebuilding stage and we rebuild off of incredibly high quality. There have been several instances throughout the years from other champions but the focus right now is us moving forward so I would put my foot down with Slamm XV.
Sonjay: I’ll second that one.

What is your favourite X-Division match that you were not involved in?

Sonjay: I remember a Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe match, a long long time ago and it blew me away. I thought that was incredible. I don’t even remember if it was part of the X-Division. It was when Joe had first come to us, about 2006 or along those lines, that was an awesome one that stood out to me. There was an, I think, Sabin, Petey and AJ, Ultimate X that really stood out to me. There’s got to be others but I can’t remember yesterday let alone what happened two years ago. 
Trevor: I was a big fan of a lot of the earlier X-Division stuff. Unfortunately some of those matches had to do with some of the people in this conversation, but any of the earlier Ultimate X matches with AJ, Sabin and Ki, were all amazing matches for me. 
Low-Ki: I would concur with that, the one that stands out with me would be Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels; not from an observer standpoint but from a performer’s standpoint. I’m smaller than all those men, I had to earn my way just like they did and to see the level of performance that came out from all of them, the competitiveness, and that type of competitiveness raises or elevates the game of your competitors. You see this in fighting all the time; you match up with a good fighter, he brings the best out of you. Matches such as that stick out to me. 

Trevor, what was your experience and your memories working on Total Nonstop Deletion?

Trevor: It was definitely something I have never done before. I have never been shot with fireworks. I have never been buried underground. It was definitely something awkward, weird, more different than anything I’ve done before but it was something cool. It’s something that will live in history of Global Force Wrestling.

What do you think of so many of your former colleagues holding top spots in WWE?

Sonjay: I think it’s great. It’s great to see guys get that kind of opportunity to showcase their talents on that kind of stage. I think it’s amazing.
Low-Ki: I second that but I’d like to add that it’s deserving because I know how hard each of those men work. I’ve been in the ring and experienced their competitive levels first hand and can attest to the work ethic that they had to achieve those positions and maintain those positions. These are world class performers. For them to have the spots that they have now, it’s because of their hard work. It’s not because of a fluke, it’s not because of some weird happening, they’ve earned their position as they did when they were with us. 

Which match is tougher, Ultimate X or the traditional Ladder Match?

Low-Ki: That’s a good question because they present different problems for traditional wrestlers. One is that we don’t begin our careers participating in these activities; it’s not what we train for. However, these are new elements introduced to use as we expand and go further into our careers. So, they do create obstacles in us accomplishing what we need to do, which is win. With that being said, I’ve been involved in many interesting scenarios such as ladder matches and Ultimate X and from personal experience I would say the most difficult match to perform in would be the Ultimate X.
Trevor: Ultimate X matches are absolutely terrible. You have to climb even higher than in a ladder match. Now, any match with Sonjay Dutt is gonna be a cakewalk for me but I think the Ultimate X match is going to be a little more difficult.
Sonjay: 100% Ultimate X

Looking Forward

Who would you like to see added to the Global Force roster to breathe new life into the X-Division?

Low-Ki: I have a few people I would consider. Especially for the difference in styles, I would say Will Ospreay, although he may be bound to other companies, his in-ring style is unique and then the contrast to him would be somebody who he elevated against, Ricochet. Those two unique performers have pretty unique styles that are difficult to copy. On the flip side of that, somebody like Keith Lee: a giant, but the man can move. Uniqueness is what will set everybody apart. Going into different places around the world, Pentagon Jr, Fénix… their style is what elevates them and they are just as passionate as many other members of the X-Division. We have more stars coming in that are well accomplished before arriving here. 

How do you feel the house shows in New York went, and how important are they to the development of GFW?

Sonjay: The live events were excellent. It’s no secret that the company is going through a rebuilding stage and part of that is being super confident and getting out there in front of the people, being live and showing them, ‘look, this is what is going on in the company, not sure what you thought was going on before, but it’s completely different tonight’. It’s a completely different cast of characters behind the scenes and in front of the camera and what we are trying to do is build this thing again from the ground up and let the people know that hey this is a different day. What better way to do it than to get out on the road and shake hands and kiss babies, you know, the whole cliche thing. Working out there and showing the whole product first hand in front of the fans. Long Island and Staten Island were awesome events. We had great matches and everyone worked really hard. It really was a good night across the board I don’t think anyone went home disappointed.
Low-Ki: I second that. The events are very important because it’s an establishing ground for developing our reputation moving forward. We’re shedding an old reputation and rebuilding a new one and at this stage, with the live events and new environments such as these stadiums, these are a little more intimate than you would find in other realms, such as larger venues. The intimacy comes from the performers and everyone from top to bottom, male and female, came to work on these events. By earning the respect of all the customers they’re earning the respect of our viewers. It seems like we keep everything positive, we keep everything constructive and there’s nothing but positivity on the horizon for GFW.

What are your thoughts on ‘Option C’ not being involved in Destination X this year?

Sonjay: That’s right, this year in Destination X that option is not in effect. Doesn’t mean that it can’t be put into play later on, at a later date, in a different time or a different place. I think that myself, Trevor, Caleb Konley, Laredo Kid, we’re really focused right now on elevating the X-Division and I think that Low-Ki is the perfect example of elevating your style and performance in the X-Division and then catapulting yourself up and at Destination X, Low-Ki is getting his Global Championship shot so that’s a great representation of what can happen through your hard work in the X-Division.
Low-Ki: The understanding of the X-Division is that this is the identity of our company and it has been for quite some time. From the beginning, this is what has set us apart from everyone else. However, this is a growing stage because for the most part this is where you see young unknown competitors cut their teeth in the pros and elevate themselves on worldwide scale. Not just me, not just Sonjay, but there have been many other professionals who have come through the X-Division who have gone on to do extremely powerful and extremely successful things. It’s a very important time to be in the X-Division because it’s now a new era of Global Force, moving into a new era of professional wrestling. It’s an exciting time.

Who is your favourite to win the Super X Cup tournament?

Sonjay: I don’t know. It’s a toss-up right now, it really is. 
Low-Ki: I think Desmond has the most momentum. He’s is young and hasn’t been injured yet which has a very strong influence on in-ring performance. If you haven’t been injured, you have the utmost confidence in your capabilities and his are through the roof. 
Trevor: I don’t care for Desmond at all so I’m gonna go with Ishimori.

After the success of the Super X Cup, do you think we’ll see the return of the World X Cup?

Sonjay: I think there’s definitely room for something like that to happen in the near future. It is just a matter of timing and logistics. We’ve got the partnerships in place. We’ve got the talent in place. That could definitely be the next progression into a new tournament featuring X-Division style wrestlers. 

Trevor, how much of an influence are Low-Ki and Sonjay Dutt on your career?

Trevor: After Destination X, I’m going to be a three time X-Division Champion. I’ve been a Tag Team Champion. I’m the youngest almost-Grand Slam Champion of the company. I don’t care about Sonjay or Low-Ki, those guys have had their time. They’re great guys I’m sure but now is Trevor Lee’s time and that’s all you need to worry about.

Sonjay’s Say

Was it worth the wait to win the X-Division Championship for the first time in India?

Sonjay: Absolutely. I think that timing in life is everything. Especially here, with this type of situation. All of the stars kind of aligned, everything kind of fell into place and heading into that type of match, title change and whatnot, there was no better opponent than a guy like Low-Ki. The story just told itself – my eye injury and then Low-Ki’s eye getting messed up in India too, so both of us going into the match with these injuries, the whole backstory of me having to win it in front of my people… that type of atmosphere and emotion couldn’t have been conveyed anywhere near appropriately if it was just on a Pay-Per-View five or six years ago. I think we did a great job of making it mean something.

Sonjay, What is it like to work both on-screen and behind the scenes? 

Sonjay: It’s a tough job juggling both of those areas. It’s kinda like time management, separating yourself from your backstage job and duties to your on-screen persona. It really is tough, it’s a lot of work. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it and it’s a juggling act. Part of my decision to come here was due to that and the close relationship I had, not just the Jarrett’s but everyone else backstage. The challenges of rebuilding this thing – fresh ideas and fresh new concepts – it is challenging. It doesn’t leave with me with many hours left in the day, I’ll tell you that.

Sonjay, what factors played into your decision to move to GFW rather than WWE?

Sonjay: A lot of factors played into that. Part of it is that I am 35 and I have a wife and kids. I’ve got a family that I’ve got to put first before my decisions in life. That was a big chunk of the decision making process: what was best for them, my family with two young children. I slept on it for a long time but I had to put my family first; I have a 6 year old and a 8 month old and a wife, and those factors outweigh anything.

Was Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Title a reaction to GFW’s successes in India?

Sonjay: I don’t know about WWE, but our plans were solid from the start. We knew we were going to India and that I was Indian. It was something we had been planning for a while. We had previously worked in India filming episodes of Ring Ka King which was really the first foray for any professional wrestling to go and create content in India. We developed and created 14-15 new Indian stars that we plucked from obscurity, from different villages and that was the first time anyone ever did that. We were building on that connection, to go over and actually shoot content over there proved to them that we were the real deal. India has a large population with a growing expendable income and it is up to us to go over there and promote professional wrestling as an alternative activity that they can do. At the moment, if they were to go out and spend money on going to see something, it would be a Bollywood film or cricket. To provide an alternative way to spend their money rather than only being able to keep up with it on TV, that’s the hard part for all of us as an industry to tackle.

More Low-Ki Down-low

What influenced your decision to return to GFW and what else would you like to accomplish in the company?

Low-Ki: Well, Global Force is something that I’ve represented for going on 20 years. I’ve done it the old fashioned way, with hard work. I’m a five time X-Division Champion; that’s well documented. I’m now a new member of the Latin American X-Change alongside my first instructor, Homicide. He began me on this journey in professional wrestling. Not only do you have the student and the teacher together but you have the same mindset and the only mindset is forward, or moving up. I’ve accomplished everything that I needed to accomplish in any other realm in the company, except the World Championship. The last time that I had a crack at the World Championship was in 2003, I believe, against AJ Styles – and he got away with one. That was the last time that I was involved in a World Championship match and that’s not because of me, that’s because of mismanagement. I’m a world class competitor. As I stated upon my return, I’m one of the few guys who can go anywhere on the planet and be an immediate threat to champions. Why? Because I have the lineage, I have the credibility and I have the ferocity to become a threat. With Global Force, I came in with the intent to go after Lashley; he’s never seen anything like me. I’m not Rey Mysterio. I’m not Matt Sydal. I come at you in a completely different manner and I’m skillful at it. However, Lashley is no longer the champion, it’s Alberto, and to me it doesn’t matter who it is; these are all high class pedigrees of world class champions… I’m the same, I come from the same cut. It doesn’t matter who has the top position. If it isn’t me, they’re going to have to see me one way or the other and I highly doubt they’re going to be prepared for what’s coming.

Low-Ki, why have you decided to wrestle in a suit since your return to GFW?

Low-Ki: The original thought behind it was silent protest and that was against the business practice from New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan, which led to my final performance at the Tokyo Dome. (For the full story, read our full interview with Low-Ki about this disagreement with NJPW, here). However with that being said, I don’t want anyone to see New Japan Pro Wrestling as a negative; that was just my personal experience in dealing with the business practice of the company. It’s still one of the top companies for improving our craft but it was to protest and suggest that people not consider me a hitman, but consider me a professional. I want everyone to understand that it takes a professional to do what we do, to do it well and to do that at an extremely high level. It warrants respect but also excitement and by doing so I was able to perform in the Tokyo Dome in front of 45,000 people against Prince Devitt and Kota Ibushi without even having to utter a word. I’ve had people talking about it since then. It’s a captivating sight, you don’t normally see a competitor able to perform the way that I perform with limited attire. It’s very difficult to perform with that type of ring attire; it’s difficult enough in normal ring attire with professional wrestlers normally have. I’m elevating the game by making it even more difficult and creating a level of difficulty that won’t necessarily be matched. 

How have you enjoyed working in the United Kingdom?

Low-Ki: I’ve recently been to the UK for 4FW and Fight Club and there’s a lot of excitement there because, as I stated years ago, British wrestling is on the rise and it’s because it’s more of a collective effort. It’s not as cutthroat as it used to be here in the United States; it was dog-eat-dog, everybody was competing against each other rather than working with one another. When I think of the UK, I think of people like Zack Sabre, Mark Haskins, Pete Dunne… these people have earned their reputations but it’s a long haul because of the environment that used to exist in the UK. It used to be more sporadic but now you have more opportunities. Now, those men have led the way. Ospreay, Marty Scurll… you have more people getting that platform to excel and I think performers such as these would do well in the X-Division. 

What are your thoughts on the retirement of Davey Richards?

Low-Ki: I thought this was a great opportunity to showcase the humanity of our professionals. I’ve known Davey for over 10 years, I’ve seen him grow up within this industry and for him to come in as a young, excited performer, earn his reputation, earn his stripes by travelling the world, moving about and going to different companies, earning his experience, becoming a high quality performer and then, being able to leave on his own terms to pursue something that will prepare the rest of his life for him and his family; I thought that was an extremely positive thing to do and the way that he did it was well managed. He did it with the blessings of Global Force. It was done in a professional manner. It was done in a respectful manner and I think that this is something that is insight into what you see on television. These are not entertainers, these are human beings, these are people and they need to be able to provide for themselves and their families just like anyone else would. I thought that it was an extremely positive scenario for everyone involved. 

What do you think could be the next innovation that the X-Division produces?

Low-Ki: I think it would be in the quality of the performers. The X-Division has a lineage of high quality performance and in order to maintain that legacy, you have to see it from the members who would be participating in the division. Members like Desmond Xavier, Ishimori, Fantasma, Drago. The quality is coming from the style differences, forcing everybody to step up their game when they’re matched up against people of different styles. This is a new era in our profession. This is a new era in the industry. This is a new era in the company. The quality is what needs to be maintained because that is what gave the company its identity in the first place. 

We’re very excited for Destination X next week. Make sure you tune in! Let us know which match you’re most looking forward to in the comment section or tweet me @thejezshow.

Originally published by RealSport
Article appears in original form with updated social media links