Ring Rust Radio with Jack Gallagher
Hosts: Donald Wood, Mike Chiari, and Brandon Galvin
Audio available at Blogtalkradio.com/ringrustradio
On the November 5 at the Fab Café in Manchester, Figure Four Films debuting An Extraordinary Gentleman a documentary focusing on his life and rise in the wrestling business: I was first approached in the lead up to the Cruiserweight Classic by Adam Gill. He had previously made a film called Two Out of Three Falls that I had seen. It was a documentary about the British scene and how it evolved from the old World of Sport of Johnny Saint and Steve Grey era to the early 2000’s independent scene that we had. I was approached by him and the pitch was that I was a modern example of British style wrestling and it was almost in a way a spiritual sequel to his first documentary. The WWE link had a certain amount of interest in me there. It was actual fortuitous that by the end of the documentary I had signed a contract, so the film accidentally became about me getting to WWE.
On the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, how he found out he as a part of the tournament and how fans took to him and his character: I was first approached by William Regal who had sent me an email saying that there was something, nothing specific, but something coming up and that my style in particular and the way I carry myself probably best translated in a live environment, compared to sort of seeing me work out in the ring and go through drills and the usual try-out stuff. So, he had been helping me in that manner. I was overwhelmed because wrestling in the Classic was the first time I had ever competed in America at all, so I actually had no idea how Americans would take to me. Typically speaking and historically speaking, the English are put as the villains in your films over here, so I thought a very typical English person would get booed out of the building.
On how British wrestling has changed either for better or worse now that WWE has such a large influence: I think it’s mostly positive because trying to think for worse, how it is negatively affected, I’m not sure about the worst because I’m out of the scene. I think from looking outside of the scene now, it seems like it goes from strength to strength. A lot of people here who have been forced to pursue this part-time can now do this full-time. It has more exposure, more potential for travel which means more potential for earnings, so people can earn a better wage, and also it’s a glass ceiling that has been broken. It’s a path people can travel now. When I was beginning to train, I was thinking there were guys like Doug Williams who were phenomenal performers, but they still weren’t in WWE. Doug is a big stocky guy and whatnot and skinny little five-foot-eight me didn’t even have the dream or thought that I could make it to WWE. I thought at best I can make it to Japan and work there. Now you got guys like me, guys like Noam Dar, obviously Zack Sabre Jr. who competed in the classic, Pete Dunne the UK champion, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, more than a handful of guys that have proven that there is a path from the training school to the top of the business and that’s the main takeaway I think.
On how much creative input he has regarding his character and promos: Not to plug the documentary, but a lot of this is talked in the documentary. A lot of what you see on screen isn’t fictitious, it’s usually just me being me. The lovable side is me on a good day and the side that’s been hated or as my wife affectively refers to is Angry Jack. In terms of creative input, you’ve got to understand that the majority of the writing staff is American and North American. They are very aware that none of them grew up in Britain as a young British lad, so when I say to them this is what I would probably say, I would not use this word, I would use this, or I wouldn’t do this I would do that, they are very open to it because I have a very clear idea as to who I am as a person and a fictional character. The relationship with Vince McMahon, he is surprisingly approachable. Growing up watching WWE or WWF as I did growing up, you think of Vince McMahon as this larger-than-life scary character. He is a larger-than-life character, but he is very welcoming, surprisingly charming, he sits down and if he has time in his busy schedule, which is rare, but if he has time in his schedule, he has time for anyone.
On his drastic character change and the challenges of trying to get over as a heel: I’ve always preferred being a good guy, but I think a lot of that has stemmed from being a smaller competitor. There’s a certain amount of menace that is difficult when you’re being villainous. I think every good and interesting bad guy in fictional history has had a certain amount of menace and danger to him. In terms of overcoming that physically that’s kind of difficult for me since I’m a smaller guy. I tend to default to things like Hannibal Lector and people like that for influences; kind of an intellectual sort of scary people. It was a strange trait and change I thought myself. I was enjoying what I was doing but then again, I thought this was something no one is going to see coming so it’ll probably work when I did a little bit of a switch.
On working with Brian Kendrick and how working with a WWE veteran has helped him: When we first arrived, and I say we as the British group Noam, Zack and myself. When we first arrived in America, the people that we were driving to the classic with because we all carpooled were TJP and Brian Kendrick. Brian was one of the first American wrestlers I had any interaction with in WWE. In fact, after my first match here, Brian got my contact information and complimented me, and we had a little bit of a talking about wrestling now and again and the business of it even before the cruiserweight division was a thought in anyone’s mind. It’s been really wonderful for me because I get to pick his brain and he obviously has the experience on me and in a strange way as well it occurred to me that when Brian first started in WWE his mentor was William Regal and he sort of has a reverse situation now where he’s mentoring a new little William Regal in WWE. I enjoy the sort of mirrored aspect of that.
On how to break away from the cruiserweight championship and into the conversation for the Universal championship and other main event level opportunities: I don’t think it’s about breaking away from the cruiserweight division, I think it’s about elevating it in people’s mindsets. I think the 205 show on the network is currently fourth or third, it’s one of the most watched shows on the network. In fact, it’s probably higher watched than some of the wrestling shows on the network as well. I think it’s just overcoming the perception of people don’t like cruiserweights. I understand that’s the narrative that goes around where actually we get a lot of positive feedback both on social media and in person. During WrestleMania Access with the amount of people that were big fans of the cruiserweight was startling to us. So, for me it’s not escaping the division, it’s about elevating it. NXT went from a developmental system which was considered a step down, to a completely separate brand unto itself where people are stars and they sell out stadiums and they tour by themselves. In my head I think, if we all work hard, then 205Live becomes good, the division becomes good, the division raises, and then there’s more opportunities and then there’s more interesting things for everyone as well.
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