Photo Credit – @TonyKnox
Over the last few months, one man that’s been making a serious name for himself in DEFIANT Wrestling and across the North East scene is Teesside’s own, Benji. This lovable underdog has won over the hearts of fans thanks to his plucky spirit, which has lead him to much success in a short amount of time. Recently, I got to chat with DEFIANT’s newest sweetheart about what this experience has been like.
At the back end of 2018, you appeared for the first time in DEFIANT Wrestling as, for lack of a better term, a ‘jobber’, and instantly became the most popular man in the building. You’ve been gathering more and more popularity ever since, how has this whole experience been for you?
[Laughing] I don’t think I’m the most popular man in the building, but the reaction has been far better than I thought it would be. I honestly have no idea why the DEFIANT audience has taken to me the way they have when you look at the roster, I’m nothing special. The DEFIANT fans have been so welcoming to me, I absolutely love walking through that curtain and getting that reaction. I like talking to them after the events or during the interval, they have all been so nice to me. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum and turn this into something special.
You’ve just won DEFIANT Wrestling’s Magnificent Seven briefcase, where you pinned AEW’s Maxwell Jacob Friedman in the match. Did you expect things to move so quickly and gain so much success in DEFIANT already?
Originally, I was brought into DEFIANT to do the Loaded tapings, and get to wrestle some of the best in Europe, so to get on 2 iPPV’s in such a short time is phenomenal. I didn’t expect it. It’s purely down to the fans giving me a good reaction so I have them to thank for this. As cliche as it sounds, if it wasn’t for the DEFIANT live crowd I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.
You wrestle in front of some really different crowds on a regular basis. I’ve watched you in 3CW with my nephew playing to a family crowd, then I’ve seen you in Defiant with more of a mixed, then I’ve seen you in RISE and NORTH where it’s pretty much anything goes. What’s your favourite type of crowd to wrestle in front of?
I don’t think I have a favorite type of crowd. I admire any fan that pays their hard earned money to come to wrestling events and support the wrestlers and crew in living their dream. The promotions you’ve mentioned all have entirely different crowds and it’s given me the opportunity to work a different character and style in front of them to get different reactions.
As you get your name out there more, what other promotions would you love to work for?
I mean I’d love to work for the likes of PROGRESS or ICW. I feel like The Landed Gentry (Zeo Knox, Conor Renshaw and I) could do something for them. I’d also love to work for some promotions in different regions of the UK like Discovery, Reckless Intent, BWR, Southside and PCW to name a few.
Who would you most like to have a match with in the next year or so? You can pick someone from the UK scene and then a wildcard dream opponent too.
I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve got to work with some of who I believe to be the best wrestlers in Europe, like Rampage, Martin Kirby, Grado, Rory Coyle, and Bad Bones John Klinger to name a few.
There’s still loads of people I’d love to wrestle, it’s pretty hard to just pick one so I’m going to cheat. Singles wise I’d love to have another match with Rory Coyle as that last one didn’t end well (me in a burlap sack being smacked with a mannequin arm). I haven’t got to wrestle Gabriel Kid yet, I’m a big fan of his style and his work, I think our styles would work well together. One of my favorite wrestlers to watch in the UK is Sam Bailey, I’d love to get in the ring with him. On the tag team front, I’d love the Landed Gentry to wrestle Crashboat, Lion Kings, The SCC or The Fun Police.
My Wildcard would definitely have to be Jushin Liger or Chris Jericho.
What’s the best thing about being from the mighty Teesside?
Oh, it’s probably how much people think it sucks and don’t move here so we can have it all. Teesside is so underrated though, we have some lovely places and we are in the middle of pretty much everything: if you want to go to a beach, you have 3 to pick from in around half an hour’s distance, or you can go up to the hills or out to the countryside. There’s a reason why I make sure the ring announcer says I’m from Stockton-on-Tees and that’s because I’m proud of being from there.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a wrestling match?
I wrestled in the middle of a field at a festival once. In fact, it was my debut at RISE and it was at a random festival in Northallerton just in a farmer’s field.
Final question: What do you love most about pro wrestling?
I love the people. Everyone involved in wrestling has passion. The wrestlers don’t get paid the most, the days are long and they put their bodies through so much pain and damage because they love wrestling and want the paying audience to enjoy themselves. The wrestling audience is one of the most passionate fan bases around, they travel from all over the country to support promotions and wrestlers, they react for their favourites and support them.
Follow Benji on Twitter – @WrestlerBenji
Follow me on Twitter – @HairyWrestling
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