by Craig Hermit.
TJ Rage remains to be one of the most destructive men within the ring in UK Wrestling, graduating from the illustrious PBW Academy he has made his mark through the years dismantling wrestling stars from all across the world. Behind the scenes, he is part of an elite team of trainers within PBW Academy, helping to develop and prepare the new stars to recognize their potential for their future in wrestling.
I caught up with him to ask him about how he got into the industry, his experiences in the wrestling world, his future, his thoughts on the wrestlers to look out for and alot more.
People who have become wrestlers have often become inspired by a match or event the saw on screen, was this the same for yourself? If so, what was it that got you into the industry?
“For as long as I can remember I have been a wrestling fan and I have always loved pro wrestling. One of the earliest events I remember having was Wrestlemania X on VHS; one of my aunts bought me it for my Christmas one year. I watched that event so many times over the years as I built my collection. I have always been a huge Bret Hart fan and watching him wrestle twice in one and the ladder match with HBK and Razor Ramon. I was always a big Macho Man fan as well and watching him vs Crush in the falls count anywhere match – I just love that event.”
You are a graduate from the PBW training school, how did you find the classes when you first started, your development thoughout your time there and was there trainers who had helped you specifically?
“When I started it was under the BCW banner and it seemed to be a different member of the BCW roster every week. One day Kid Fite and his partner at the time, Jimmy James, took training and he was very complementary of my ability and it took off from there. Not long after that Kid Fite was there every week. I was very lucky in the early days I got to train with established talent like Lionheart, Liam Thompson, Fight Club and Drew Galloway just before he went to America. During my time as a student I had the pleasure of attending a large number of seminars but I will never forget the one I done with Paul London the first time he was in the country with BCW. He was not long finished his run with the WWE and the knowledge he passed on was priceless. We recently had Drew in the PBW academy for a seminar as well last September which was also very good for myself as well as the current students of the PBW Academy.”
At PBW Training School you head up one of three style of training classes, Peak Fitness For You, that runs every Sunday from 11am till 3pm in Airdrie, the alternative two headed by Kid Fite and Scott Maverick. The School has been amazingly successful with the talents that have come from it, your thoughts on this?
“The talent that has come out of the school in the past speaks for itself; Noam Dar, Davie Blaze, Kay Lee Ray, Stevie Xavier to name a few. And the talent that is currently coming out of the schools at the moment like Kenny Williams and Lou King Sharp are doing some great things. Just watch this space because there is so much more talent coming through in the near future.”
How hard was it or what difficulties do you have when, being a trainer to hundreds of trainees who want to become a wrestler, you find they lack that certain something it takes to become a professional wrestler and you have to inform them that wrestler might not be the right choice for them?
“I don’t think a lot of people realise how hard it is to step into the wrestling ring and perform; some people think it will be an easy ride. People don’t realise how hard the training is for a start, never mind how hard they need to work outside of training. Whether it be in the gym, helping out with promoting shows or helping out on show days this is all part of being a pro-wrestler. I always make sure people understand what it takes to make their dream come true. I don’t think I have the right to tell someone not to chase their dream. I want to give something back to wrestling and to people wanting to learn and I will always try to help people get to that next level whether it be help with character development or help with their fitness outside of the training school. I find it easy to give people feedback on how to improve because I was trained by some of the best.”
On the flip side to that question, who would you say at the moment are the stars of the future to look out for from the Academy and wrestlers who you are proud to have trained so far?
“Two current PBW academy students Kenny Williams and Lou King Sharp are doing great things just now. Look at Kenny – current BCW Open Weight Champion, current PBW King of Cruisers and just lost the ICW Zero G Championship and some of the talent he has had the opportunity to step in the ring with recently like Paul London and Davie Richards. Lou King Sharp has also had the opportunity to step in the ring with some great talent like British Boot Camp star Dave Masstif and the Young Bucks and he steps in the ring next week with another British Boot Camp star Grado at PBW Airdrie on the 25th April. Other young talent to look out for are Aron Echo – I have been really impressed with him. He is very innovative, he does a lot of things you don’t see often in Scotland. Kriger, Taylor Bellando and Tony Martins are 3 very talented individuals and are very young. Kriger is only 19, Taylor 17 and Tony 16. Watch out for these 3 talents as they will also all be appearing on PBW Airdrie on the 25th. Saqib Ali is another great talent who has been around a bit longer than the other guys. Saqib does not get enough credit; he is very talented in the ring.”
PBW Wrestling has gained enormous success though the years, more so recently with the collective talents of everyone involved, what are your targets for the future there and targets for the company itself?
“Ross Watson AKA Kid Fite has done a tremendous job in building PBW into one of the best promotions in the UK. He is one of only a few promoters that make a full time leaving out of pro wrestling. I think that has to be admired and I don’t think people realise how hard that is to do. I work for a lot of great companies and great promoters however I think of PBW as home. I think I have missed one or two of the main shows in the last 5 years. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best talent in the UK as well as some big international stars for PBW. PBW have so much great talent I would love to work with more. Two great talents I would love to work with more are Stevie Xavier and Liam Thompson. I would also love to have the opportunity to step in the ring with Drew Galloway. I would love to hold some gold in PBW in the near future. PBW are running the Belladrum Festival again this year and I am scheduled to appear on that which is such a big event and will be a pleasure to perform on such a big stage. I have also had the privilege of wrestling in the prestigious Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow.”
With a career that is began since 2007, what highlights would you say you’ve had in the business for so far or moments that your fond of? I’ll say my favorite was watching you in a PBW event seeing you face recent WWE NXT wrestler, Uhaa Nation.
“Thank you. I have had the pleasure of stepping in the ring with Uhaa Nation twice – once in a singles match with PBW and once in a 4 way match for SSW. Those matches were big highlights to step in the ring with such a great talent and go toe to toe with him especially the singles match. Other highlights include working with former WWE star Vader which BCW owner Graham McKay gave me the opportunity to do. Working with Doug Williams when he was with TNA too. When ICW starting getting really big I was part of a group called Ofcom stepping in front of that Glasgow crowd who hated us so much and we got booed out the building every time we stepped through the curtain; another goal is to be able to get back on the ICW shows on a regular basis.”
In Pro Wrestling Elite, your tag team, ‘Blaze and Rage’, with Davey Blaze, has gained enormous success recently defeating the monstrous Coffey Brothers, your target has to be Tag Team Champion, Lou King Sharp, your thoughts?
“The Coffey Brothers are a fantastic team and it was a huge victory for myself and Blaze. We are going to do some big things in PWE. We already hold a victory over LKS, the current tag champ, and after beating the Coffeys we must be in line for a tag tittle shot in the near future.”
Recently this year, your new Promotion, Pro Wrestling Scotland had it’s sell out debut show featuring stars like Kenny Williams, Liam Thomson to only name a few, your thoughts on the event itself and would there be anything you would do differently in the preparation?
“The show itself was a great success and I was very happy with it. There was a lot of young talent on that show that got a chance to showcase what they can do against some of the best in Scotland. The show was sold out so I wouldn’t do anything different. I am currently working on the next one which I hope to announce soon.”
Continuing with Pro Wrestling Scotland, when will fans be able to see the next event and what you have planned for it?
“I hope to have at least one more date finalised soon. Look out for the talent of the PBW Academy getting to mix it up with some of the best in Scotland.”
The UK scene has many different wrestling companies at the moment, whats your thoughts on what Pro Wrestling Scotland has, and the unique qualities that will bring fans to the shows?
“There is so much talent in Scotland and it is very hard for the young talent to make it onto the top shows that promotions like PBW, PWE, BCW etc. are running. Fans will get to see a lot of new talent they may not have seen before. People always like to see new talent coming through and I think this will bring a lot of people out to see PWS.”
Fans have seen you with Charles Boddington and more recently Davey Blaze, how important has it been to have them at ringside as backup but also there unique outlook at wrestling and what have you learned from that?
“Working with Boddington was really good for me. I learned a lot from him and my game really improved working with him. He sees everything from a different level than a performer and I got his insight as a promoter as well which was great for me. I learned so much. Working with Blaze is great fun we have spent so much time training and learning together and traveling up and down the road; it’s always fun working with Blaze.”
The last few years, fans have seen you battle across Scotland in many different promotions, will fans in England see you more of you as well?
“I work for a lot of great promotions in Scotland PBW, PWE, BCW, ICW, SSW and W3L. I have done some work down south with PCW Kamikaze Pro and some other promotions. I was scheduled to make my debut for Great Bear Promotions earlier this year, however, illness ruled that out unfortunately. I hope to be able to perform down south some more later this year.”
And finally how can fans keep up to date with you on social media?
@TJRageuk on Twitter.
*Our thanks to TJ Rage for his time in conducting the interview and to Craig Hermit for contributing the interview to the Wrestle Ropes website.