Joe Hendry signed with Ring of Honor this summer. “The ultra-confident Hendry, a standout on the UK pro wrestling scene for the past six years,” like ROH stated, made it clear that he intends on changing the landscape. Hendry has worked for ICW, WCPW, Defiant Wrestling, World Of Sports Wrestling, and many other companies in the UK.
In the video below, the wrestler is clear, “Joe Hendry is going to change wrestling. He’s going to change Ring of Honor. Joe Hendry’s going to change the world.” Known as “The Prestigious One,” Hendry has competed in several matches in ROH on the company’s UK tours in recent years, including challenging for the ROH World Television Title against then-champion Silas Young last year.
In addition to his considerable skills inside the ring, Hendry has a background in music and has a master’s degree in business and marketing. In describing himself, Hendry said: “Wrestler. Businessperson. Entrepreneur. Musician. Entertainer. … And one hell of a funny guy.” To quote ROH again, “Hendry is certain to put smiles on the faces of ROH fans, but it’s unlikely that his opponents will have much to laugh about.”
SteelChair Mag had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Joe Hendry about his signing with Ring Of Honor, his debut matches, the wrestlers he wants to compete against, being able to continue to wrestle in the UK, and the upcoming ROH UK shows taking place this weekend.
It came as a surprise this summer when the announcement came out that you had signed with ROH. Tell me, how did it happen?
Well, I was in a really fortunate position where it was a big step in my career. I knew that it was time for me to sign a contract with a major organisation, and I was fortunate enough to have some options. I’ve been working towards Ring of Honor since I went to their tryout in 2016, and three years later, we were able to make it a reality. So I was very fortunate in that I got to go where my gut told me I should go.
Were you feeling like it was a moment for you to change, leaving the UK but not in the way of never wrestling there but to try something different in the US?
Well, the awesome thing is with ROH is that I still get to live here in the United Kingdom. That’s been really cool, and at the same time, I’ve been able to experience all these different American cultures. America is amazing. Every state is like its own different country, with different cultures and traditions. I’ve wanted to wrestle in the States for as long as I can remember, and you know it’s difficult for British wrestlers to do that because you need a visa to do that, and that’s never really been an option for me. So, to finally be able to get a visa and wrestle in the States and to explore this amazing part of the world is a huge privilege. It’s something I’m grateful to ROH for allowing me to do it.
You also probably know there is someone else from the UK joining you in ROH, that’s Session Moth Martina. Another former ICW champion, like you.
Yes, that’s a massive signing for ROH. Martina has been working super hard all over the world. She’s an extremely hard worker and she’s going to bring that work ethic in the ring but also a huge personality to ROH as well so it’s very cool to see more people from the British scene, people like myself, Martina, Mark Haskins as well, join the company and follow the rich tradition of the wrestlers that were there before us.
Was working in the States something you’ve wanted to do for a very long time, or were you just trying to find a good company? You previously worked for Impact Wrestling.
Well, with Impact, I wasn’t actually signed to Impact. So I was just working on a freelance basis, so I didn’t have a visa. I worked there in Canada and Mexico, but I never did any of the American tapings. So, it really is a new experience for me, getting to wrestle in America, and it’s a dream come true.
ROH really wanted you to be there. They did all the necessary things to get you in the company.
Yes, ROH have been great to work with. They really have allowed me to be who I am, my creative process, with my entrances and videos, is still the same, and yeah, it’s just a great time in my career.
Does this mean you can also bring your songs, this musical element? Do you think you can do that live, mix wrestling and music the way you’ve always done it, in the ring and in ROH?
The awesome thing is ROH have not changed my creative process when it comes to the songs. They want the creative process to be exactly as it was, so they’re just accepting me for who I am. They’re allowing me to be me as a talent, so I’m getting to push myself athletically in the ring, but also I’m getting to push myself creatively as a musician, and I guess, as a comedian as well. It’s my own unique style of comedy, so it’s been really fun to do that. They’ve been 100% supportive of that. I’m having a lot of fun right now, working very hard. There’s a lot of time that goes into preparing the videos, thinking of the ideas to filming them, editing them, to recording the music in the studio. It’s a lot of work that goes into it, but it’s all worth it to get that laugh from the crowd.
When you started wrestling, 5 or 6 years ago, what did ROH mean to you?
I remember seeing ROH on the Wrestling Channel, way back in 2003 or 2004, so that’s how long I’ve been watching ROH. As I said earlier, they carry a rich tradition, and they’ve got a rich history as well. They always have. ROH has always had an emphasis on the quality of the wrestling, and it’s a great opportunity and equally a big challenge for a talent like myself to prove my worth. So ROH has always been a huge company. If you look at the quality of talent in the wrestling process right now, about 90% of the top talents made their name in ROH. So, it’s a company with a rich history, a rich tradition, and it’s a privilege to be there right now. Especially as they are about to embark on the UK tour.
Who from the ROH roster are you really looking forward to working with?
I think the answer that I’ve been saying is, it’s a tough question. I would like to work with Bully Ray. He’s still active, and if I could work with anyone, obviously, you want to say RUSH who’s the world champion but as the other answer, because you always want to be going for the World Championship. But, titles aside, the big one person is Bully Ray.
How were you welcomed by the Ring of Honor crew and roster? How is the atmosphere in the locker room?
Quite honestly, it’s probably the happiest locker room I’ve ever been in. Everyone loves their job but, at the same time, there’s a competition there, but healthy competition. We’re all striving forward to make ROH the best wrestling company we possibly can but also all looking to up our game every single night. It’s a competitive environment but in the best way possible and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s an absolute blast, and it’s what I imagined the dream of being a travelling, touring pro wrestler to be like.
With the current wrestling landscape changing in both Europe and the United States, what are your thoughts on all this? For example, in the United Kingdom, some small companies have closed, and NXT UK is now a part of the scene. Things are moving also in the United States. How do you appreciate that, and what don’t you appreciate?
Well, as I just said with the mentality of the roster, I feel like it’s a great time to be a professional wrestler. There’s a healthy competition not just in our locker room, but in the industry as a whole. But I am supremely confident in not only our individual ability but as a company. I’m really proud to be a roster member of ROH, and I am confident in our ability as a company to compete at the highest level. It’s a great time to be a pro-wrestler, it’s a great time to be a pro-wrestling fan and, hopefully, the state of the industry right now is going to produce some of the best programmings that you’ve ever seen. We fully intend on competing at the highest level.
I’m not sure if this has already happened, but ROH in Scotland, is that possible? Can we expect to see ROH in your hometown within Scotland?
Well, I’ve actually wrestled for ROH twice, when I wasn’t even a part of ROH in Edinburgh, and the atmosphere was amazing. It was just electric. Especially when I faced with Silas Young. When I faced him for the World Television Championship in Edinburgh. I am going to be continuously pestering ROH management to bring ROH back to Scotland. I would absolutely love that. It would be a dream for me to come back to Scotland as a signed member of the ROH roster.
Do you see any differences between how you work in the UK and how you work in the United States? What are the major differences for you?
One piece of advice that Stone Cold Steve Austin talks a lot about and something that Finn Balor told me personally is, when you go somewhere new, you shouldn’t try to adapt your style, you should, in fact, use your own style. You’ve been brought into a company because of what you do, so you should do what you do. That’s what I’m trying to do here at ROH. I’m having fun with my entrances, but I’m also showcasing my British wrestling style and my amateur wrestling background. So my style, whilst I’m fortunate enough where I get to face top-level competition where I have to adapt, my style is still going to be focused.
Did you know Mark Haskins from your time on the UK scene? Could we expect you to team up or feud with him?
I did know Mark Haskins before. Actually, Mark Haskins took one of the first-ever wrestling seminars I ever went to back in 2013, so it’s pretty cool how it all works out. Here I was learning professional wrestling, and he was helping me out for the first few months I was doing it. Now here we are colleagues, and we’re actually roommates on the road as well. Mark’s a great person, a really great person. He’s a phenomenal wrestler, and he’s just a class human being. He’s what a true professional should be, in the way that he works in the ring and the way that he carries himself. So I’m really glad to see how well Mark is doing in his career right now and he’s an awesome person to be around. He’s busy with Lifeblood, so I don’t think he needs anymore tag team partners right now, but I’m hoping we get to mix it up in the ring sometime soon.
ROH is back in the UK this time but with you as a signed roster member. How do you feel about this weekend’s shows?
It’s a big opportunity for me to step up. These are massive shows. The production level at ROH is phenomenal. Like I said, we’re going to be in London, Newport, and Bolton. The matches that I have, the opponents I’ve been given, this is top-level competition. In London, World Television Title match against Shane Taylor. In Newport, it’s myself vs. Matt Taven. In Bolton, it’s myself vs. Silas Young. So again, if I am who I say I am and my confidence in my abilities pays off, I can capture the World Television title, then I’ll defend it against Matt Taven and Silas Young as well. They will be huge challenges in their own right as well.
So this is a huge opportunity for me, but this is also a great showcase for ROH as well. The cards that they’ve announced are absolutely stacked, head to toe and these wrestling cards could compete with any company in any place in the world. These are top-quality wrestling cards, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it, and I understand and gladly accept the responsibility.
Matt Taven is a former World Champion, what does this match mean to you? What makes this match special?
It’s a huge opportunity. Matt Taven is a top talent in ROH. He was just the World Champion. He’s been main-eventing every night, so when you get a singles opportunity against someone like Matt Taven, that proves the company is putting a lot of faith in you to perform at the highest level. That’s exactly what I expect to do. If I’m successful in defeating Shane Taylor the night before, I’ll be carrying the World Television championship walking into that match. So regardless of what happens, that’s going to be a huge matchup for myself because that’s an opportunity to prove that I belong on the front of the poster and at the top of the card.
Where does your nickname come from, the Prestigious One?
The Prestigious One, it comes from the Christopher Nolan movie, The Prestige, with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. When I watched that, I felt there were so many parallels between that world and the world of professional wrestling. I think that sometimes the curtain is drawn back just a little too much, and I’ve really started to learn a lot about the old school wrestling principles and became very interested in that. There came a time where I wasn’t doing the entrances for a while, and I was just focusing on this old school style of wrestling.
It made sense, we had this faction called the Prestige, which was about upholding the old school beliefs about pro wrestling, and because I was the leader of that faction, it made sense to call myself the Prestigious One. That was a really great time in my career. I would love to bring the Prestige back as a faction with new members, especially in a company like ROH, that would be a dream situation for me. So yes, the inspiration comes from the movie The Prestige, and if you are a wrestler or a fan of wrestling and you’ve seen the movie, it’ll be easy to draw the comparisons.
Very Nygma thanks to John Dinsdale. All pics courtesy of RING OF HONOR/Ian Storck.