Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Joey Ryan of PWG

Joey Ryan is one of the most respected independent wrestlers in the business. He is one of the co-owners of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, one of the best independent wrestling promotions going, and has competed for the promotion since they debuted. Ryan has also competed for Ring of Honor, Wrestling Society X, and was a booker/wrestler for NWA Hollywood. He is set to challenge for the PWG World Tag Titles at the next show, The Perils of Rock 'n' Roll Decadence, with his tag partner, Scorpio Sky. That show will take place on September 10th in Reseda, California.

You can purchase tickets for that show here: http://www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com/tickets/

TJ Hawke: On September 10th, you will have a chance to become a 4-time PWG World Tag Team champion when you and Scorpio Sky take on The Young Bucks. You and Sky have looked really sharp since reforming the Dynasty at All-Star Weekend 8. How do you feel about this matchup?

Joey Ryan: Would it be four times? Were the other three all with Scott? I'm sorry, I don't really keep track of championships or titles or anything but I don't remember having them three times. I think it's kind of silly for people to keep track of or be "congratulated" on title wins in wrestling. That would be like me congratulating the turkey over the roast beef I chose to put in my sandwich for lunch today. Congratulate me when I sign a contract or make a million dollars or something. As far as the match goes, I'm super excited to wrestle The Young Bucks. Especially with Scorpio Sky as my partner this time. The four of us have such good chemistry. We just did a 7 or 8 minute match in front of WWE officials and the locker room on SummerSlam weekend and the boys gave us a standing ovation afterwards. I've never actually seen that happen during one of those. Matt Jackson calls it the "greatest WWE tryout match of all time." haha

TJ: Your character has evolved a lot over the course of your career. Just in the last 2 years, I have seen you wrestle as the 'guy bringing sleaze back', the Hollywood Submission machine, and now you're a tag team specialist again. What has been your process for developing your character over time? Who and what have been your biggest influences on your character development?

JR: Comic books, television series and movie franchises are the biggest influences on my character development. Anything with a story arc where the character has to change or risk being stale. Being a theater major, I try to incorporate the things I've learned for acting into my wrestling. As far as specific developments, I just try to figure out the motives of the character within the storyline I am in. Like for instance, The Hollywood Submission Machine was an adaption for the feud with Claudio Castagnoli where I was trying to prove that I can wrestle just as well as he can. Plus it keeps my creative juices flowing. I don't want to be lazy and just rely on what I know works and gets over. Then it becomes punching a clock. I try to take more of an artistic angle to it. That's stuff is always hit and miss though. I feel like I'm more of a casual fans type of wrestler because my focus on character is sometimes at the expense of my actual wrestling. I don't think I'll ever be a five star match kind of guy but I bet I sell more t-shirts than a lot of those guys.

TJ: While you have never been signed to a contract ( as far as I know) by either of the two big wrestling companies, you have had a lot of television exposure in Ring of Honor, NWA Hollywood, and Wrestling Society X. I assume those experiences were different in a lot of ways. How did each of those experiences go?

JR: At the end of the day, it's all wrestling. It's up to the individual to adapt to their surroundings. Wrestling Society X was a short shoot with long days. I think we did 10 days in a row of nearly 12 hours a day so the biggest task to overcome there was entertaining yourself during all the down time. Ring Of Honor was probably the most like a regular wrestling show that was just being filmed for television. I think I was most comfortable there because Ring of Honor obviously has the strongest locker room. I knew that no matter who I was paired up with that I had a good chance to do something special and Pearce was really good about giving us enough time to do it in. NWA Hollywood was a lot like a family because most people there are still working to just make a name for themselves in wrestling. It became a little stressful when I took over booking it because then I had to make sure everybody was on the same page. That, and dealing with a very small budget made it difficult to go the direction I really would have liked. Everybody there worked so hard for me though so I couldn't complain at all about the heart of the locker room.

TJ: On August 5th, you released a statement about how you were relieved of your duties as Senior Producer of NWA Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. Were you informed of what conflicts caused the company to no longer wish to retain your services? A couple of days later, you tweeted, "Anybody that tells you not to wrestle to your best is worried about their spot & should step up their game instead of worrying about yours." Was that tweet related to you being let go from NWA Hollywood?

JR: Those two comments were complete'y unrelated. NWA Hollywood simply asked something of me that I wasn't in the position to do and decided it best to go on without me. The quote on twitter was after I had received some disheartening news about "advice" people were being given in a local locker room. I don't think wrestling on an indie level should be about protecting somebodies spot on the card. That just makes me people lazy. It always bothers me when people say not to do things or wrestle under your ability because you're the opening match or early on in the card. It's somebody telling you not to work hard so they don't have to work hard. When I first went to RevPro, I went with the UPW mentality like that and was in the semi-main event and asked Super Dragon who was in the main event if there was anything I shouldn't do to save it for the main. His response has stuck with me ever since then. He said it's his job to out wrestle me or anybody else on the card no matter what they do because he is the main event. If somebody can out wrestle him then they should be the main event. I can see if it is WWE and protecting Undertaker's top spot is going to draw more fans and make everybody on the card more money as a whole but it isn't like that on the indie level. Wrestlers are their own investments here. ROH, PWG & DGUSA are the top indies in the country because everybody on every show competes to have match of the night. It keeps wrestlers motivated. I don't see why every indie wouldn't want to pattern themselves after that. And I'm not saying that every wrestler should go do every move in every match. I can't wrestle like El Generico but I can still main event a card that he's on because I get over or connect with the audience through character and drama. It's all in how you sell it.

TJ: Finally, you recently had several tryouts with the WWE. How did those matches go compared to previous tryouts with the company? Did you get any feedback about what they are looking for? Do you have any amusing anecdotes from these tryouts(like the JBL story you once shared on Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast)?

JR: It's really all the same to me anymore. I am so comfortable being an extra at WWE that I don't even get nervous or "walk on eggshells" or whatever the cliches are. I just try to relax and have fun with it. I have ton of friends there and honestly a lot of the newer talent came into wrestling watching PWG or ROH DVDs and know me from the indies and they come up to me and tell me what big fans they are of mine. As far as anecdotes go, CM Punk came up to me at the Raw after SummerSlam and told me the boys popped huge for my "Home Alone sell" during the barricade crash. He said he told them that he figured I just don't give a fuck anymore. That's entirely untrue though. I love being a WWE extra and getting to see friends and work with new people and the money I make over three days there isn't bad either. And yeah, maybe I did oversell the spot just to pop the boys but I don't think I was being disrespectful. I don't think anybody even noticed it unless you knew it was me already. I was just trying to have fun with it. Wrestling is so much better when you're having fun.

TJ: For this section of the interview, I was hoping you could share your thoughts on some recent prominent matches from your career:

Smackdown 10/14/08: Joey Ryan vs. The Big Show (Knockout Match)

JR: I did this twice, so I'm not sure which one you're referring to. Either way, it was fine. The "Knockout" punches weren't bad. It's pretty funny though because Big Show told me it would be kind of stiff so I was expecting more. If that's stiff then obviously he's never taken a Super Dragon or Kevin Steen forearm before!

PWG Threemendous 2009: Joey Ryan vs. Chris Hero(c) (Guerrilla Warfare match for PWG World Title)

JR: I love wrestling Chris Hero. Nobody brings out my best like Hero does. I would wrestle him every show if I could. He is such an amazing and talented wrestler and a really good friend. That guy is well traveled and deserves every bit of it.

PWG Speed of Sound 2009: Joey Ryan & Karl Anderson vs. Young Bucks(c) (PWG Tag Titles)

JR: These matches are always special to me because it's like me wrestling with three of my best friends in the world, so it's not work at all. It's just so fun. Karl Anderson and I became a team as strangers by chance from a Dave Marquez brainchild but really clicked and really became such close friends. It's something that you can't predict but just works out so well. A lot of the local guys that made it to PWG are because I pushed so hard for them and The Bucks are my absolute favorite find to get added to PWG. I'm really happy they made the most of it.

PWG BOLA 2010: The whole Tournament for you

JR: This was tough. I injured my shoulder pretty bad catching Chuck Taylor's dive on night one and I almost pulled out of night two altogether. I could barely lift my arm but was convinced I could pull it out and needed to for the sake of the tournament. I'm not sure I could have worked around it so well if my opponents weren't Aries, Claudio & Hero. I mean, we were somewhat limited in exactly what we could do but they really carried more than their halves of the load to get me there. I'm really kind of thankful for the response I got afterwards. I'm so much more comfortable dealing with the crowd jeering me than cheering me. I kind of feel like I was only getting the babyface reactions as Joey Ryan because I was still acting like a piece of shit heel and people liked it. Once I started actually acting like a babyface the whole thing felt forced. I could not be more happy that it was rejected. Some things in wrestling, you just can't script.

PWG Kurt RusselReunion 2011: Joey Ryan vs. Shane Helms

JR: Sometimes things just don't click and I'm not referring to the match. The match itself isn't bad but the dynamic of it didn't work. Neither of us really foresaw the reaction he would get. In hindsight, I should have probably had the Insane Clown Posse accompany me to the ring. They are friends of mine from the JCW stuff I've done and I later found out that they were itching to do stuff on the show. It would have made me the babyface for the night with all the Juggalos in the audience which would have made for a better dynamic in the match. Then of course, the PWG fans would have hated me even more for having them come out with me and would have let me hear it at the next Reseda show.

Questions from the #PWGKliq on Twitter:

@ToeFukUrFace: Besides going to WWE/TNA, what else would you like to accomplish in wrestling?

JR: I make a living off wrestling and have for about 4 years now. I can't really ask for much more. Not very many wrestlers on the indies can say they made a career out of wrestling but at least for a little while, I can. When I quit I can actually say I "retire" and it actually mean that. Most "retirements" in wrestling are just a weekend warrior finding a new hobby.

@MFMad: Are you currently reading any comic series and what are your favorites?

JR: I'm a Marvel guy. Give me my Spider-Man and my X-Men and I'm a happy camper.

TJ: Thanks for doing the interview Joey. Is there anything you want to promote (Twitter, Facebook, upcoming appearances, booking information, etc)?

JR: Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JoeyRyanOnline or Like me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JoeyRyanOnline and promoters interested in booking me can contact me at joeyryan@hotmail.com

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