By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Leon on achieving the success that he’s had at 17 years old: You know, the crazy thing about it is like you said, it has been moving real fast. Since about March time, it’s just been up and up and up and leveling up constantly and the only time it’s really hit me so far was after my match with ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey in York Hall at RevPro’s 10th Anniversary weekend and I got a standing ovation after the match. One of the best matches of my life if not the best match of my life and there’s a video out there somewhere, it’s not on the video-on-demand unfortunately but on social media, you’ll be able to find it for sure. I’m on my knees after that match and everyone’s chanting, ‘Leon Slater!’ And I put my head in my hands and I just start sobbing because that’s the only time that it’s really hit me. I’ve been training my whole life for this sh*t. I’ve been training since I was 10 years old for this and here I am, one of the biggest promotions in the U.K. against one of the best in the world, getting a standing ovation. So yeah, that’s the only time it’s really hit me of what I’m doing but I definitely realize the fortunate position that I am in for sure.
On his matches against ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey and Konosuke Takeshita: “That month of August in itself was a crazy little one so before that, I wrestled Konosuke Takeshita for Progress. That was another crazy one, especially him coming straight off wrestling [Jon] Moxley and Cesaro [Claudio Castagnoli] and all them at AEW. That was a crazy little two week run for me and like I was saying earlier, it was extremely surreal to look across from the ring and see the likes of Takeshita and ‘Speedball’ standing across from you. It is a nerve-racking feeling but once we get going, they’re just another wrestler wearing spandex just like me. So, I felt confident in both of those matches so, both of ‘em was very surreal.
“One thousand percent [he looks fondly on the match with Takeshita] and that was kind of my first big ‘import match’ I guess we’ll call it. That was before ‘Speedball’, before a big six-man tag that we had with Big Damo, who obviously has done a lot of stuff with New Japan, WWE, all this stuff so that was kind of my first big test as far as wrestling goes and the feedback I got from it was real good and I’m glad people have enjoyed it online and the GIFS I’ve got out there and stuff. But, I was very nervous going into that but I’m happy with how I performed, I looked confident in there. I was because like I was saying, once that bell rings, he’s just another guy in trunks so yeah, that’s another very crazy one for me. It’s another one on the bucket list, isn’t it? People say, ‘Oh, you’re a wrestler? What do you do?’ I’ve wrestled Takeshita, I’ve wrestled ‘Speedball’ in York Hall and the list is gonna go on and on eventually but, he was definitely like my first big test in wrestling.”
On how he came up with the ‘Swanton 450’ maneuver and knowing when and when not to use it: “So, it all started from training [Slater said about the origins of the Swanton 450] and I’ve always — give myself a little pat on the back for this [Slater chuckled]. I’ve always been athletic, even from a young age and this is the thing, I’ve been doing 450s since about 13 years old so I’m not a stranger to doing the motion of the 450 and obviously it’s my body becoming more athletic, more explosive and stuff. I’ve been getting more and more height, more and more airtime and stuff like this and eventually in training, I was just like, let me try to stick my head out a little bit. Let me give a little peak to the people at training that I can do this. It started with the head, then I was like, okay, okay, that felt nice. Let me get a little arms going, get a little arms. Got the arms and the head out at the same time and then the last thing was the feet and then the Swanton 450 was born and it’s only recently that I’ve busted it out on shows. For a while, it was a training move but then, I can’t even remember the first time I busted it out I’m sure but one time, I was like, ‘F— it’ and I just flipped. Stuck the head out, stuck the arms out, fingers crossed, took my knees and it blew up, 180k views on Twitter. It was crazy, it really was.”
“So at the moment, I’m at a stage where I’m hungry and even though I’ve had all this success, there’s still a long way to go for me so at the moment, I’m just repping this thing out [Swanton 450] as much as I can. I’m trying to get as many views on Twitter, get as many GIFS as possible. Anytime I’m debuting in a place or on a big show, I’m gonna whip it out for sure. Of course there’s times to save it, and there’s not an opportunity to hit it and you don’t need to hit it sometimes. But when it’s a big stage or a big game, I’m for sure popping out. I need them Twitter views brother. I need them Twitter views [Slater smiled].”
On not being scheduled for GCW In Liverpool and having Tony Deppen suggest he be booked: That was real cool man [being part of the GCW Liverpool show] … I’m a big believer in speaking things into existence and I really do believe in this and GCW is something I’ve been speaking into existence since I’ve started. I’ve spoke PROGRESS into existence, I’ve spoke RevPro into existence and I’ve done that. The next goal on my list was GCW and originally, I wasn’t even meant to be on the show. That’s a little exclusive. I wasn’t meant to be on that show but unfortunately, Robbie X, I think he had an injury or was double booked or something and he had to pull out of the GCW show and I was at the TNT show the day before to watch DeReiss and Matt Cardona to support my boys obviously and Dan Moloney, another one of my big brothers in this.
“He was wrestling Nick Wayne so I came down to support the boys and obviously I met Brett [Lauderdale], I met the other GCW guys and Tony Deppen was actually the one that put the good word in for me because he’d seen me and ‘Speedball’ at RevPro so he was like, ‘Brett, man, we’ve got to get this guy on tomorrow. We’ve got to get him on’ and very fortunately for me, the powers that be allowed it and I managed to get on the GCW show on a Friday and I feel like I did a good job. I feel like I did an okay job. And those guys are so friendly so it’s not even hard to make good connections with those guys. But yeah, they’re a real good bunch of people and I appreciate, especially Deppen for getting me on that show and hopefully it leads to more stuff. Maybe flying out to the U.S. in the future and that.