Last month, in a matter of seven days, JONAH buried his former character of “Bronson Reed” the way only a tsunami could. At NJPW Battle in the Valley, he confronted Moose after his match against Juice Robinson and then assaulted Juice and his tag-team partner David Finlay. At Impact Wrestling’s Turning Point, attacked Josh Alexander from behind and left it bleeding in the ring.
The “Top Dog” is now free to be the bad guy he wants to be, in the companies he chose, surrounded by wrestlers and Creative teams who support him. As he is about to compete against Josh Alexander at Hard to Kill, JONAH has already made things clear, he wants the IMPACT World Championship. Against The Walking Weapon, he is ready to turn into a Weapon of Mass Destruction, with Moose on the radar.
SteelChair Mag had the absolute pleasure to talk to JONAH this Monday. He told us about his epic debut at Turning Point, his upcoming match against Josh Alexander at Hard To Kill, being at NJPW and Impact Wrestling, his Tsunami Splash, the Australian wrestling scene in the USA and on Impact Wrestling, and what the future may hold for him.
What happened in your life between August and November, from your release to your “Tsunami” arrival to NJPW and Impact Wrestling? Did you have some doubts about your future, what came through your mind during that four-five months?
“I had no doubts that I’d be wrestling again and for some major companies. I think the biggest thing for me was getting immigration sorted, that was the hardest part. When you are released from WWE, they sort of cut all sorts of ties with you straight away, that was it. Then it’s up to you to source those things, so I was ready and willing to wrestle as soon as my non-compete clause was up, but I had to get my immigration started, and that’s what took longer. Then, it took until that space where you eventually did get to see me everywhere, Impact, New Japan in the same week, and it was very exciting for me to be able to do those things.”
What an impact you did because at “Turning Point,” you attacked Josh Alexander. Here came the tsunami, and what a debut it was, one of the best of the year probably because we didn’t see it coming. Was is the debut you were expecting, something that striking?
“Everything I do, I want it to be memorable, and so I wanted to make sure that my debut was something that people will remember. I think it was fitting and perfect that it was on an event called Turning Point because I felt like my debut is a ‘Turning Point’ for Impact Wrestling now that JONAH is there. I think that the whole game has changed and I wanted something so impactful. The debut with Josh Alexander being such a notable professional wrestler in the game at the moment, he’s one of the best in IMPACT, arguably one of the best in the world, that’s someone that I wanted to target so that people see me in that same vein.”
I read somewhere your feud with Josh Alexander could be compared to the Kurt Angle-Samoa Joe one in TNA, which is quite a compliment. What does it represent to you as a wrestler now on Impact Wrestling?
“I was always a big fan, especially of that era. I was a big fan of Samoa Joe. Getting into the business, when I was young in the business and seeing those matches that he had with Kurt Angle, it did sort of inspire the style that I do today, and I think Josh Alexander is much the same, so to have that comparison is great. I hope that we can live up to that hype come Turning Point. And it means a lot to me to be part of Impact Wrestling, there’s such a rich history with Impact Wrestling, you look at all the people that have been there, and I just want to keep that growing.”
What did TNA represent to you as a wrestling fan or when you were training?
“It was big for me. The original TNA pay-per-views were on cable for us in Australia, so I was able to see guys like AJ Styles, Low-Ki, the S.A.T. (Wil and Joel Maximo). A lot of the Amazing Red, a lot of the X-Division really sort of caught my eye. When I first started training, I wasn’t 345 pounds like I am today, I was still a big kid, but I was maybe around the 250-260 mark, so I think the X-Division sort of shaped my style in the first couple of years, and then, as I got bigger, I sort of changed my style to fit the person I am but, definitely I was inspired by TNA and Impact Wrestling when I first started wrestling.”
The Australian scene of talents on Impact, on New Japan, in the business as a whole, is huge. On Impact Wrestling, they have Tenille Dashwood, Cassie and Jessica (The IInspiration); on NJPW, Robbie Eagles, Buddy Matthews. Do you think there’s something attractive in Australia that makes the US wrestling companies sign their talents?
“For far too long, the Australian wrestling scene was sort of unseen and unheard of. We do have a big wrestling history in Australia, we had a weekly television show in the 60s-70s (IWA Australia), and then it got cancelled in the 80s. Then, I think local wrestling in Australia sort of plummeted a little bit and when I started wrestling in the mid-2000s, it never was something that you would see, any representation of Australians in TNA, WWE, or NJPW, there just wasn’t anyone to represent us. Now, in these last five to six years, we’ve had so much representation all around the world because it’s a lot of us putting in the hard work, trying to get our names out there, and now it’s being recognized. I hope that people like myself, Cassie and Jessica, Tenille, Robbie Eagles in New Japan can inspire that next generation of Australian wrestlers that you can get out there and be successful all around the world.”
About your signing with Impact Wrestling, how did things happen?
“Obviously, when I was released, there were multiple places that I could have gone to, or I could have worked with. The first people to get on board and sort of contact me about a working relationship were New Japan Pro Wrestling, so I was talking to them first. Then, right after that, it was Impact Wrestling, so it just was, I guess circumstantial, that I ended up doing both, which is great that you can now do that in today’s wrestling world, and there are no issues there. I was contacted by D’Lo Brown. I think he was the one that sort of scouted me, he’s part of the talent relations team. I think he’s the one that sort of sent all of my information and put me over to Scott, and then that’s how it all came to be.”
Something that has been quite controversial recently, the fact that there was no more place for big men or superheavyweights in the business now. What are your thoughts on that?
“The big man in professional wrestling has sort of been lost in the last 10 years or so, and it’s by no one’s fault. I just think that it’s almost like the big men that are in the business need to evolve, they need to be current, and they need to be able to connect to today’s crowd. I think we can still do that, it’s just about how you do it. The big man in professional wrestling, if you look all the way through history, has always been successful. One of the biggest of men, André the Giant, was such a phenomenon. Some of my personal favourites like Bam Bam Bigelow and Vader, those guys always stand out. At one point maybe, there were too many big men in the industry and people wanted something different, and then that caused for a different shape of person to do what they do or high-flyers became more popular and stuff like that. Now, I think we’re seeing a bit more of this landscape of that, and people like me and other big men can sort of capture the audience by being different.”
How are you welcomed by the Impact Wrestling roster, the Creative, the Management? Everybody says that it’s a big family, did they welcome you as a member of the family?
“Definitely, straight away. NXT was such great backstage when I was there with Hunter and Shawn, and that culture was really good. I never really got to see much of SmackDown and RAW, but I knew that was a bit different, it wasn’t so much of a family, it was a bit more everyone doing their own thing. When I had heard, I’d spoken to Cassie and Jessica, and they had told me Impact is really nice, everyone gets along, everyone’s just trying to put on a great show, and that intrigued me to want to work with them even more. Then, when I got there, it very much was like that, Creative have treated me really well, Management have treated me really well, and all of the backstage people get along as well, that’s what you want to try and make the best wrestling show possible.”
What are your expectations for “Hard to Kill,” what kind of “impact” do you want to make?
“I want this match with Josh Alexander to be the most memorable match on the pay-per-view, which is very hard because the pay-per-view is stacked. There’s a lot of great matches on this pay-per-view, there’s a lot of competition for match of the night if you will. I think it’s going to be, and it could go to anyone on that night, but I want to make something that’s memorable, that’s always what I’m trying to do. I look at the line-up, I look at what I think those performers will do, and I try to do something different, so I’m hoping that myself and Josh will put on something, because that’s Hard to Kill, something that’s going to be pretty violent. I think it’s going to be something that you’ll remember and set the tone for 2022.”
Step One to the World Championship?
“I have that world championship in my eyes. Moose is a fantastic Champion, a lot of people say he does dastardly things to retain that Championship, but you have to when you’re the Champion. I think that I’m the one to beat him. I think my Tsunami Splash can beat anyone in the wrestling business.”
Follow JONAH on @JONAHISHERE
“Hard To Kill” will air live on January 8, 2022, at 8 PM EST (1 AM GMT) on PPV and on Fite TV.
IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Thursday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA and around the world on IMPACT Wrestling’s new YouTube membership Impact Insiders.
All pics, videos and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, Fight Network, Dan the JOBR, and AXS TV