I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if William Regal rates you, then you know you’ve got talent.
So watch out for the UK’s very own Lionheart, then – a regular on the indy circuit, he came to international attention when he faced Jeff Jarrett during TNA’s last tour over here, and last month he made his WWE debut against Justin Gabriel on the Smackdown tour.
“The match itself came about fairly last minute, to be honest,” he explains. “I was selected to go to Liverpool as part of a group European talent for a try-out. I was put forward by one or two different people and I myself had of course made an application some time ago.
“Long story short: during the day the try-out consisted of both ring work and backstage promo work. William Regal, who was in charge of the try-outs, was impressed enough with what he saw to request I be put in a dark match to allow me the chance to give them a proper look at my work. My understanding is that a couple of other people there that day seconded that.”
Exciting stuff, particularly in front of a packed Echo Arena crowd. “I get nervous before pretty much all of my matches,” he admits. “Not to the extent that I’m shaky and can’t perform, but I still get that ‘feeling’ in my stomach before I go out. The match itself was fine and those that mattered seemed happy with it. I received some very positive feedback and it was a fantastic experience for me.”
The match against Jarrett was a slightly different event, having been built over a couple of months. “It had generated quite the media buzz around it, which was of course the idea from a business standpoint,” he says. “The match itself again was fine and I received positive feedback from key people. The experience was again fantastic and a huge learning experience in general.”
So while we wait for him to make the permanent leap to the big time, he’s still a regular on the indy circuit, having come to wrestling as a young fan who fancied a go in the ring. Like many of the younger generation of British wrestlers, he’s also a habitual Twitter user. “I think this is the way the world in general is going, not just in wrestling!” he explains. “How many people would you be in touch with from school or college if it weren’t for Facebook? How many people from your old job years ago would you keep in touch with? The world of social networking has grown rapidly and will continue to do so in all circles.
“99 times out 100, a promoter will message me on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll never get an email or a phone call. It’s the way we live now, and obviously it’s great to keep in touch and up to speed with friends and colleagues who you don’t see as often as you’d like.”
And he’s very optimistic that several of his peers will also get the opportunity to perform on the biggest stages.
“There are so many talented guys in the UK it’s unreal, far too many for me to mention, but if I had to pick a few – El Ligero should have an opportunity to shine in the States or Japan. I’ve never worked with someone who has been as consistently good as he has for so long. Kris Travis is another one who never fails to deliver and is deserving of opportunities further afield, as are Joey Hayes, CJ Banks, Martin Kirby…the list is really endless. And younger guys like Noam Dar and Andy Wild be signed in some way, shape or form easily in the next five years.”