By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Chris Brookes on having to pull out of PWG BOLA in 2018 due to injury, still hopes to make his debut one day: “I guess I think that was what? 2018 [was when I was supposed to debut for PWG]. So in ‘19, around the same time that PWG’s B.O.L.A. would have been happening because it’s always like September-time. I think around that time, I was getting ready to go to DDT again for the whole latter half of 2019 and that was when I did the first D-Oh Grand Prix for DDT and then every September following that has been Corona world so it’s not been possible so I mean, it’s still a bucket list thing, I’d like to do it one day. I think, like you said, there’s — not a ‘notch’. There’s that mark on your — you have your board of achievements for your entire career and there’s B.O.L.A. on there still with a question mark next to it because it never got to happen so, of course I’d like to do it. I mean, PWG now is a completely different kettle of fish to what it was years ago, especially when I started watching it because PWG was one of the first indie companies I watched back in like 2005, ‘06 and I mean, that was when they were still running — it was like a sports hall, before they had even gone to Reseda. So yeah, it’s very different but still obviously something I’d like to do at some point.”
Brookes tells funny story of when he teamed with Maki Itoh, and had to learn a dance for her entrance and she grew frustrated with him for not picking it up in a timely manner: “I remember the first time we [Brookes & Maki Itoh] ever teamed was — well not the first time but the first big match we had together was DDT’s Ultimate Party in 2019. It was almost like a very unfortunately, frequently used GIF of me doing Maki Itoh’s entrance dance that still three years later refuses to go away. But I remember I was trying to learn that dance before the show and it’s like my first time at Ryōgoku Sumo Hall so I’m like so nervous about that but then, before, I find myself not nervous about the match whatsoever. I’m just nervous about nailing this dance routine and trying to get it right and she keeps going through it and through it and through it and I’m like, I’m not a dancer so I’m struggling to pick it up and I remember at one point, she gets really angry with me. She’s like, ‘You’re not trying hard.’ I’m like, ‘I am trying hard. I’m not a dancer’ and she gets like — she was hot and it took Yuki Iino, DDT wrestler to come in and calm the situation down. I was like, ‘Enough of this. I’m doing my best. [Chris laughed]. I don’t need this stress today.’ She was like, ‘You need to try harder.’ I was like, ‘Why are you so mean?’”
Chris was offered a spot on the NXT UK roster when it first launched, explains why he turned it down: “For me, WWE was never my goal in wrestling. I think I watched WWE when I was a kid obviously and then when I was like 10 or 11 years old, I kind of had that period where I fell out of interest with wrestling for a little bit and then what got me back into it was there was a TV station called The Wrestling Channel for a short while in the U.K. and they would show a bunch of indie wrestling. It was the first time I saw Ring of Honor and CZW and they would show Pro Wrestling NOAH and stuff on there which kind of led me down the rabbit hole into discovering all the indie companies in Japan and me becoming a fan of Big Japan and DDT and stuff like that so, I don’t know if it’s necessarily — I think I just — I guess I just have a different perspective to a lot of people but I think sometimes people’s judgment gets stuck in one place in terms of goals maybe?
“Obviously, there’s a lot of my generation that came up watching WWF, WCW or in the Attitude, Monday Night Raw era or whatever and I think for a lot of people, they have the same story as me in like they found other things and they watched other things and that took their interest but, for whatever reason, their goal stays fixated on that one thing being WWE because it’s like, ‘Oh, I watched it when I was kid. That’s my dream, I wanna go there’ or whatever but I think you have to realistically look at it in a sense of even if that was what you loved growing up, it’s so different these days to what it was when you were a fan of it, when you were a kid or whatever and for me especially, I just look at WWE now and then a few years ago, it was just never a goal for me.
“My goal was always to go to Japan and do stuff over there and I never really had any interest in not even just going but like, I remember around the same time, there was a lot of people who like, they wanted a tryout so they could try and get an opportunity. It just never — even that didn’t appeal to me. I got offered the tryout I think in 2017… so I got offered the tryout thing first and I remember when they called me, I was like — I think I spoke to maybe Pete Dunne about it at the time and I was like, ‘They’ve offered me a tryout thing but I don’t think I’m gonna go.’ He was like, ‘What do you mean you’re not gonna go?’ I was like, ‘…
“There’s nothing that I wanna get out of it. It doesn’t feel worthwhile going’ and I think he convinced me. He was like, ‘Even if you don’t wanna get anything from it, you should still go just to get the experience’ which he’s right. I’m glad I got to do it and have that tryout [at] The O2 [Arena] and stuff. It was a cool two days and whatever and then when they decided they wanted to start the U.K. brand, I guess maybe a year or so after, they offered me a position in it, but they offered so many people contracts and whatever but like, they really cast a wide net at the time and they offered me one of the deals, same as the other guys and I thought about it.
“I think the initial one was like a year or two years thing and I guess if that’s 2018, I was 27-ish around that time and my mentality towards it was like, of course it’s only two years or whatever but no one knew how it was gonna pan out, no one knew what the exclusivity to it would be and I didn’t feel done by any means with doing indie wrestling and stuff that I wanted to do and my goal was always Japan and I was like, if it’s two years, I’m 27, 28 now. By the time it ends, I’ll already be 29, 30, which is not old or near the end of your career but, I looked at those two years and I thought those two years, that period from 28 to 30, whatever it is, I think it’s important.
“Those are gonna be critical years to your development as a wrestler and you know, what you wanna do and I was like, I don’t wanna spend those years potentially in a situation that I don’t wanna be in or not enjoying it and my goal was Japan and I said no to the thing, which a lot of people at the time told me I was crazy, that I had like — at the time too, I had no in to Japan in any way. It was still a very unattainable thing. It was kind of like one of those quiet goals that you don’t wanna — I didn’t say to people at the time. I said no because I wanna go to Japan because it seemed like going to Japan — I couldn’t imagine it being a thing that would happen. It was just in the back of my mind. It was like, I’d love to do that one day and I don’t wanna potentially not be able to do it because of doing something that I really don’t wanna be doing and then everyone was like, ‘Oh, you’re an idiot, you’re stupid. Why did you say no?’ Blah, blah, blah… all that kind of jazz and I was like, ‘Eh, it’s fine, whatever.’”
Brookes details how he got started with DDT Pro Wrestling: Maybe five or six months after [I turned down the NXT UK opportunity], everything was starting to move with that and then there was like a Fight Club: [PRO] show one time before, we arrived there and Trent Seven was like, ‘Big news.’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He was like, ‘Next January, Fight Club: PRO show at Korakuen Hall’ and I was like, ‘F— off. You’re not doing a Fight Club: PRO show at Korakuen’ [Brookes laughed]. Well Trent Seven would always have these ideas of these grand things that were gonna happen. I was like, ‘Yeah, bullshit. I’ll believe it when I’m on the plane’ and then January 2019, I was on the plane going to Tokyo, we did the show at Korakuen and it kind of worked out to be kind of like a festival show in itself where there was people from every company on the show. Because of that, a lot of prominent people in the Japanese indie scene and whatever came along to watch and it turned out Sanshiro Takagi came and watched, I met him backstage. I think Konosuke Takeshita went and watched it and he liked me and [Kid] Lykos and then we did that show in January. In maybe February or March, pretty soon after, [out] the blue one day, get an email that, ‘DDT wants to bring you over for a tour.’ So, it all worked out in the end, fortunately.”