Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Interview with TJP (a.k.a. T.J. Perkins, a.k.a. Puma)
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's September 10th event is called The Perils Of Rock N' Roll Decadence. Tickets for the event are available here: http://www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com/tickets/
T.J. Hawke: So, you are returning to PWG on September 10th to take on former ROH World Champion, Eddie Edwards. How do you feel about returning to PWG for the first time in 2 years, and how do you feel about this matchup specifically?
TJP: I am excited to come back mostly due to the change in landscape. So many new faces are there and also the niche audience has become even more accented since I left and it's always fun to wrestle in an established atmosphere like say Oberhausen for wXw in Germany or Korakuen Hall for NJPW. This match specifically piqued my interest because I have never wrestled Eddie and he is on my short list of target opponents because I think he is very good. Also if I beat him I will have defeated two ROH champions this year with the first being Davey Richards in Japan. Thats a big statement for me. Also the LA audience has always known me to be a hometown boy which isn't really a good thing. People knew I was good but never how good, and until I turned heel before I left I was known to be boring. To the rest of the world I have a name value and presence that for some reason has never been seen here at home. Whether it's extensive character work like Sydistiko or El Bomber, or just interesting matches that I have had abroad or in ROH and DGUSA/EVOLVE. I am excited to finally try and show LA what they have been missing and why I have been sought after in other regions.
TJ: You wrestled for PWG very consistently from 2003 till you stopped in 2009. Why did you stop working for the company?
TJP: After I did several dark matches and tryout matches for WWE in 2008(something like 6-7 in just a few months) I was advised to go to Florida and try going through FCW. So I packed up and hit the road. I think it just was a matter of PWG not needing me and my having other goals in mind. I lived in Tampa Bay for 2 years or so; then after signing with MTV Lucha Libre USA, I moved back to LA.
TJ: You recently participated in the 2011 NJPW Best of Super Juniors, which was the first time you wrestled in that tournament if I am not mistaken. How did it feel to return to NJPW and participate in such a prestigious tournament?
TJP: It was a dream come true. There are some things in life that can never be taken away from you. If you never live another day those things will remain with you: accolades, experiences, etc. Not many people have been blessed with entry in that tournament and if I never wrestle another day it is something that I had a chance to do and am grateful to have done it.
TJ: You also recently had 5 matches for Ring of Honor. How did it feel to compete for ROH again? Are there plans for you to go back there soon? (I think all the fans would want to see that after your recent performances there)
TJP: It was a blast. ROH treated me well; they gave me such great things to do and didn't waste my appearances at all. They really put me in spots to succeed and although I think I could have done better in every outing I had, I think I made good on their investment in me. I have been in constant contact with ROH and am absolutely part of their plans going forward. I will leave it to ROH to handle the rest as well as field any questions about it. As far as I'm concerned, my time belongs to them if they still view me as part of their future.
TJ: Shortly after the New Year, you and El Generico had tryouts with TNA. How did that go? Did it seem like you were going to get signed after that? Do you think you could still end up there?
TJ: Yes, definitely. I thought both of us had great showings. I have been in that situation so many times though with WWE, TNA, even ROH and other places that I rarely think about "what ifs." I just live in the moment and let the future shape itself accordingly. I still talk to TNA. They even contacted me recently during the X-Division reboot. I seem to always be in on-again-off-again plan with them.
TJ: In 2010, you had a number of matches for the Gabe Sapolsky booked promotions, Dragon Gate USA and Evolve. You had a number of strong matches; your match with Sawa in Evolve was voted the Breakout Match of the Year by the fans. If you don't mind me asking, why did you stop working for those companies? Did you have good experiences when you were there?
TJP: In the ring, I had great experiences, except for the red mat ruining everyones gear. Out of the ring, it was a headache. I had just been out of FCW and basically starting over in Florida. I was quite literally penniless and homeless at times and just trying to regain my bearings for another round. I had been in contact with ROH but [Adam] Pearce had nothing for me to do although we talked often. Gabe gave me a chance after I had a strong year in FIP and after the Jeff Peterson Cup. Long story short, I rode in the equipment truck from Florida to Chicago, Jersey, Philly, or wherever DGUSA/EVOLVE had their shows. 33 hours one way. I would go straight to the venue and wrestle, and get right back in the equipment van, unshowered, tired, sometimes hurt, and make the 33 hour drive back to Florida. The 2-figure income I was making was losing me money ever single trip. With each match I was given more responsibility and always seemed to do a good job for Gabe; he would always rave about me coming back through the curtain. He used to ask me to make lists of opponents I felt were good enough for me, and told me I would be taking Davey's place as the cornerstone for his companies, go on the japan tours, yadda yadda ludicrous stuff. But the money never went up; in fact his business dropped off so bad that my money went down and sometimes i didn't get paid at all. I stuck it out for awhile because i gave Gabe my word; I would give him my best and he gave me his word he would do right by me. He never did. Anyhow, there are much more negative things that came into play with my departure but in the end I was offered a contract with MTV, enough for me to move home, so I did. I told Gabe I'm sorry but if you want to keep me on your cards you have to compensate me like every other place does, ROH, MTV, internationally, indys, etc... He said he wouldn't do that so I left. He wasn't even mad until people found out he didn't want to pay me. Then he got upset I guess because he doesn't want to look like the bad guy. So I loved my peers...hated my boss.
TJ: I recently looked at your Evolve Profile, and one line really jumped out at me: "Most of my heroes are artists/iconoclasts/figureheads in the history of our culture such as James Dean, Charlie Chaplin, and Bob Dylan." As someone who is a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, I was wondering if you could add more to that comment here? After all, most wrestlers point to past wrestlers as their biggest heroes.
TJP: I have always considered myself an artist primarily. I know I'm an athlete but I have done some extremely different characters like my plain self, Sydistiko, El Bomber, Puma....so I take pride in people who are good performers regardless of the medium. Also my heroes really are people who led interesting lives. People who had a long road, and had to make sacrifices and who were very special people that the world almost missed out on. I am inspired by people who spent years failing before they find a way to reach their goals. People chalk me up to failure all the time, so I am inspired by people who spent years struggling just like me.
TJ: For this section of the interview, I was hoping you could share your thoughts on some prominent matches from your career:
PWG BOLA 2008: T.J. Perkins vs. Bryan Danielson
TJP: It's funny because I don't like this match at all. I know people did, but for me I don't know. It's nice to see people like a match of mine, with such a popular guy, and I had a lot of responsibility in it. Plus at the time, Bryan was a hard guy to wrestle. If people liked this match, they should check out me vs. Bryan from wXw Germany. We wrestled a match at their Broken Rule event in Oberhausen and it was much more fun and lively. As well as a fun shoot style match the next day.
ECW on Sci-Fi 10/20/09: J.T. Quinn vs. Sheamus
TJP: Earlier in the day, Sheamus saw me apply my leg submission finisher in a tryout match and asked me to teach him. I told him $10, and he walked away. It was nice to finally get onto WWE TV. I could care less if it was to get beat up...wrestling is fake; that doesn't matter. You always dream of getting in that specific ring one day in front of all those fans. That weekend I got to wrestle Sheamus and also do an in-ring thing with Miz on RAW. Another one of those things that can't be taken away from you.
DGUSA Ultimate Gate 2010: TJP vs. YAMATO
TJP: Yamato is a strange guy, man. I thought it was nice to wrestle him but in my opinion my match with Brad Allen the next day was much better.
Evolve 1 2010: TJP vs. Munenori Sawa
TJP: This match is a huge personal milestone for me. EVOLVE was brand new and Gabe had me under a microscope. I had the responsibility of wrestling SAWA who is awesome but no one knows him or how capable he is. It was a double main event situation but all the pressure was on me. Davey had Ibushi. Both guys have a strong following amongst indy fans; both are very hot names; Davey especially turns everything to gold. They could have died in the ring and it would have been generously accepted. People could care less about me, and although they are excited for SAWA they know nothing about him and neither do the wrestlers. He speaks no english, and is a shoot style guy. If the match fails...people didn't know him and he goes home the next day anyway, and I am left holding the bag on return shows. As it turned out he was great and so was I that day. Even in the face of such pressure many people felt we stole the show and did good business for Gabe that night. I am proud to have been steady through the pressure of such a moment.
ROH SoCal Showdown 2011: T.J. Perkins vs. Davey Richards
TJP: Not much to say other than it's fun to wrestle a friend. I know many people felt it was a proving point for me but really it was just fun. I have never aimed to hit home runs because I felt my younger years should have been dedicating to learning skills I need in the long run. Last few years, I have been able to really have fun in the ring and swing a little further. This is the result. It's fun to deliver to fans when they are starting to give up on waiting for you. Now that I am older and more well-rounded I can really apply my skills and give people the matches they want out of me. I really enjoyed this one and I hope they did too. And actually like the Bryan match (BOLA 2008), I had a better one with Davey not long after when I was in Japan. I feel this match is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can do.
TJ: Thanks for doing the interview TJ. Is there anything you want to promote (Twitter, Facebook, upcoming appearances, booking information, etc)?
TJP: I just want to say thanks for reading. I'm not special anymore than the next guy. I hope people enjoy who I am and what I do. Without the fans, I don't really have a reason or a medium to express myself. I'm grateful for the place I have in the world. If anyone wants to follow me day today, I guess twitter is the hot thing now right? Haha, so they can follow me at @MegaTJP. Thanks everyone so much!