Photo Credit: WCPW/Ringside Perspective
We got the chance to sit down and speak with ‘The Beast from Belfast’, Big Damo at WCPW in Newcastle.
You have been involved with ICW, how has it been for you being part of the growth?
I came into ICW quite late in 2013, so I wasn’t really there for the lads initial run when they were in Maryhill. I did one or two shows for them, in 2009, maybe 2010, that sort of thing but not part of the roster. So when I arrived in 2013 they had just done Edinburgh, where they put one thousand people into the Picture-house. My timing was excellent. I have been there for all the great shows, so from my level it’s been fantastic. It’s been great loyal crowds who just seem to be getting bigger and bigger. I’m sure there is guys who have been there from the start when it was hard for them to get a draw or at least a decent amount of people. But I’ve been delighted with it. They went from one thousand people to four thousand people and now onto ten thousand people which is absolutely insane, if you pardon the pun. It’s been an amazing experience being part of the crew and seeing it’s growth. For the people running it – it’s their full time jobs – it went from a hobby to a full time company which is amazing for a British company to do. Alongside companies such as PROGRESS, Rev-Pro and all these companies have been leading the way and it’s been one hell of a time to be a wrestler in Britain.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with fantastic wrestlers such as [Drew] Galloway, [Jack] Jester and [Shinsuke] Nakamura. How has working with these people helped improve you as a wrestler?
Drew Galloway, off all people, has been a huge influence on me. Drew actually requested to work with me a couple of times when he first got released, which was a huge honour at the time because my stock was only really beginning to rise at that point. He helped me to become a main eventer. I wrestled him a couple times in Scotland and it went from there and I ended up feuding with him in ICW. So I have been very lucky. Drew is somebody who is an incredible wrestler and person, he became a locker room leader for ICW without demanding it. It was a very natural thing. He was the guy a lot of us would go to if we had questions or advice and he was more than happy to help with whatever it was. I would say I have been very lucky, I’ve wrestled [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, [Shinsuke] Nakamura, [Tomohiro] Ishii. Unbelievable Japanese talent. I’ve got the opportunity to wrestle Samoa Joe for Pro-Wrestling Elite as well. These last few years have helped me massively. There was a period where I was wrestling the same guys for a good while and there is no growth when stuck in that bubble. The last few years have been ridiculous; I’ve wrestled former WWE talent, American Indie talent, Japanese Talent and the best of Britain. So when I look at my own resume I’m very lucky. Especially for my size; it’s easy to look at my size, my weight and stick me in squash matches but thankfully promoters are willing to go ahead with this new generation of wrestling. I’m able to prove just because I’m a heavier guy does not mean I can’t go twenty minutes in the ring. It’s great that people can see a market in heavyweight wrestling now where it otherwise hasn’t been previously.
Out off all your opponents you’ve faced over the years who is your favourite to be in the ring with?
My favourite opponents to be in the ring with? Hmm, that would be Rampage Brown and Joe Coffey. I’ve wrestled them both quite a few times to say the least. There has been times where we have not seen each other before the match and there has been times where we are sitting bored for hours waiting for our match; no matter what we just click and have great matches together. And when those two wrestle each other they have great matches. I really love the style of matches I have with them. But I also would say my match with Nakamura was unbelievable. I have been a fan of his since 2009, I just love his style. The way he moves; it gives such legitimacy to him, like the way he warms up. People think the way he dances is for show but a lot of it for him is to get in the mindset. It speeds him and his matches up and gets him ready. It was incredible to wrestle him, a real defining moment in my career especially when at the time there was bigger names that mine. So thanks to Rev-Pro for putting me in that situation.
You’re now a much bigger star than you were even three years ago, back home in Ireland do you get noticed or recognised?
I actually get noticed most in Glasgow. The ICW fans are so loyal and so they are all over the place and always come up and say hello which is fantastic. If I’m in Belfast – It’s a small city – I’m much more likely to meet a person I went to school with as opposed to a wrestling fan. Normally people are really good and only attack me at wrestling shows. I live north of Belfast, right by the coast. So when I’m there everyone knows everyone and just go “Oh, It’s that wrestling guy”. Friends and Family members message me when they see me in things like newspapers and TV like the ICW stuff, so it’s being taken more seriously than before. It’s getting legitimised by mainstream media when it gets covered. When at home with my family they are good natured and ribbing me in every way you can imagine even if I wasn’t a wrestler.
Do you get many people telling you that you’re the reason they are a wrestling fan?
Sometimes. I get more people telling me they are surprised I can talk eloquently because of my character being different. I get more heavier chaps saying that because of me they have been inspired to go to the gym and that’s incredible to hear and very humbling. If someone sees me do something like a coast to coast it might give them motivation. Don’t get me wrong I get people saying that because of my work they have become a better fan of wrestling which is always nice to hear. More people are surprised I can actually go in the ring and I’m not like Big Daddy V, but he was like 500 lbs; a huge difference to what I am. I think Grado’s rise has helped open up new fans the most, everyone understands the common man gimmick and can relate to it, as is having Drew [Galloway] on a card it makes people want to go because he is a big name; so this opens it up to more people who can become fans.
Credit: WCPW/Ringside Perspective
NXT and Damo, it’s been all over the internet. Is this your goal and next destination?
I think any wrestler who said that it wasn’t an ambition is lying. Me personally there is two things I would love to do, WWE and NJPW. There is no lie. But there is still things I want to do here; titles I want to win, people I want to wrestle so I still have goals here and now. The way wrestling is going right now anything can happen, with Noam Dar and Jack Gallagher in the CWC and WWE now – who don’t look out of place – British wrestlers can compare to anybody. Alongside the Japanese wrestling scene its one of the best in the world. Don’t get me wrong the British scene here is just rising and rising. Damien Sandow (TNA’s Aron Rex) was saying to us all last night, the American independents don’t have anything on us. I was there myself, great wrestlers and great companies but the draws we have here and the talent we have here, it’s becoming a place to really be proud of. Ten years ago we were wrestling once every two month and if we were lucky we would get on the camps, if we were unlucky we would get maybe – and I mean maybe – wrestle twenty times a year. The day I started to turn down bookings because I was too busy is the day I realised this is working and can work. The goal right now is to go after the PROGRESS championship, Rev-Pro championship, defend my ICW and WCPW championships.
I’m really excited to see where British Wrestling will be in five years, ten years etc. TV is something we have wanted for so long but now people don’t really watch TV. It’s all streaming, Netflix, Amazon and of course WWE Network. The way TV has changed maybe British wrestling doesn’t need TV to become a bigger brand? I’m starting to believe it can happen without it with their own OnDemand services. ICW is aiming to sell out the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, that’s ten thousand people. If they do that it will be the biggest independent sell out; all without a TV deal in the UK during their most popular time, if they succeed any network would be and idiot to not pick them up for TV.
Thank you to Big Damo for sitting down and speaking with us and thank you to WCPW for letting us conduct this interview.