I reported from FPW this weekend that I was very taken with ‘The Warden’, whom I likened to “Mr McKay in Porridge, except younger, with more hair and with sunglasses”. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a big shouty slightly crazed heel.
So I decided to have a chat with wrestler Phil Ward to find out about his character and his career…
First of all, congrats on a great show at FPW on Saturday – we really enjoyed it! Is the story I’ve heard about your gimmick’s genesis true?
Haha, yes, it’s all true. I was literally given the idea with the explanation that my name was Ward (Ward…Warden…get it?) and that everyone hates prison. Full credit to Steve (HD) Evans, though, because if he hadn’t pushed me to do it, then the Warden never would’ve seen the light of day.
I actually laughed out loud when I saw a quote describing your previous character as intended to be either sexy, gay or mentally deficient – I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Who came up with that particular idea?
The Party Boy was born from a pair of trousers. It was my first show and my boots hadn’t arrived, making my first idea of a reasonably straight-laced babyface a no-go. We had a training session on a Friday night just before the show, and Blokbusta (I won’t reveal his secret alter-ego!) had a pair of shiny silver trousers. So I had something to wear and from then, JD, who wrestled on FPW as Da Big J Dizzle, thought it should be based on the Party Boy from Jackass – so lots of groin thrust dancing. And of course a bow-tie with no shirt. Don’t believe the rumours, though, there was absolutely NO crotch-stuffing.
Do you have any ideas for characters you might like to play in the future?
For now, I’ll probably be doing less gimmicks and focusing a bit more on the Warden – it’s done so well in FPW that I’m going to try and give it a run somewhere else and see how that goes.
That said, ever since Alex Shane’s article about Triple H using tarot symbols [in Fighting Spirit magazine], I’ve been looking at a lot of symbology myself. I really loved the Dan Brown books The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons (I have an illustrated version of Angels and Demons) and part of that interest was in the symbology within.
I’m currently having some gear made by Cherry’s Delight based on the Judgement (XX) tarot card, and I’m gradually trying to add things to make it a workable gimmick – the St George’s cross features heavily, and I’m thinking of making it a religious zealot-type gimmick – not so much like Reverend D-Von, but someone driven by a higher power, “doing God’s work” so to speak. All in the very early idea stage, but as I think more and more on it, and as I make drawings and write down words and phrases here and there, more and more of it will come.
I’ve been enjoying your blog – you’re clearly a huge wrestling fan. Which wrestling event would you have loved to have been at, time-machine permitting?
I’ve actually quite enjoyed writing the blog, it’s been cool because I’ve tried to base it off videos so everyone can see what I’m talking about, which means I get to rewatch a lot of my favourite moments.
There’s several shows I would’ve loved to be at – first of all Wrestlemania 3, for Hogan – Andre, then Summerslam ’92 because I still feel that it’s a really important reminder of just how popular wrestling in this country was at one stage. I’d also love to have seen any Big Daddy v Giant Haystacks match live – it’s wrestling at its finest – two massive guys run into each other and the place goes mental.
Finally, I would have loved to see the British Wrestling Revival show live, since it’s been such a launching point for much of the current wrestling scene in the UK.
You’ve said in previous interviews that your dad always thought wrestling was a bit daft – has he come to see you perform? And you mentioned on your blog that you and your brother went to WM25 – has he been supportive of your wrestling career?
My dad hasn’t seen me perform live, although funnily enough I spoke with him just this morning and he mentioned he watched the video of me v Bagheera from FPW:Reloaded. He asks about it fairly regularly, especially if he knows I’ve just had a show. I know that it’s not his cup of tea, but I do appreciate that he shows an interest.
I actually do all of my gym work with my brother, he’s in the 1st XV for Hove RFC – our local rugby club, which I’ve also played for, and my dad and grandad (Mum’s side) are both involved in – so we spend a lot of mornings and a few evenings in the gym. He’s also seen a few shows, and listens to me chatting about it for ages. He’s also an accountant, so he’s been giving me tax advice for wrestling as well! To be honest, all of my family are really great about the whole thing, even if it’s only by pretending to listen to me when I start talking about it!
Does your wrestling career ever conflict with your “real job”?
I work in web development for a company that’s online-based so I’ve actually found that this job has helped me in terms of learning about marketing and the like, especially online marketing. The guys who do all the online stuff have a tiny budget, so they basically have to focus on creating as much free content as they can and getting people legitimately interested in the product. I’ve started learning off them recently, trying to get an idea of what they’re doing and why, so I can replicate it for wrestling – most of the stuff that I do on Facebook, Twitter, my blog etc, is all a direct result of that.
I think that creating an online presence is really important in modern business – and I believe that it will be the internet, rather than television, that directly causes growth in the UK wrestling industry in the next few years. Working full-time does mean that I do miss out on the camp tours though – by all accounts they sound like an amazing laugh, so it would be good if I had more time for that.
Who on the UK scene would you love to wrestle – and again, time-machine permitting, who would be your ultimate dream opponent?
In the UK, the people I’d most like to wrestle are Zack Sabre Jr and RJ Singh. They’re two guys who have had a hand in my development, and people who I consider friends, but who I haven’t already wrestled against.
As for dream opponents, first wouldn’t even be a wrestling match, I’d just love to be in the ring for the Undertaker’s entrance – just to see it up close and personal. After that, I’d love to wrestle against The Rock, just because he’s got so much charisma or Shawn Michaels because he’s one of the greatest talents the world has ever seen.
Follow The Warden Phil Ward on Twitter @fwordphilward, and check out his blog (in the sidebar to the right).