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By Ciaran James @TheCiaranJames
You cannot miss Big Grizzly, he is one of the most fearsome grapplers in the South West of England and his native Wales. After learning his trade on the Welsh independent scene he went forth and dominated, read about his early days training, his most recent triumph in Pro Wrestling Chaos and his WWE tryout in May 2017.
So why choose wrestling, tell us about your decisions and where you trained? Well, to cut a long story short, I played rugby for 12 years before getting into wrestling. I’ve always been a fan of wrestling, I can’t remember not loving it but living in the Welsh valleys wrestling isn’t something that I thought I could pursue. In 2010 wrestling came to my local town, the promotion was funnily enough Welsh wrestling. (Welsh wrestling is where I pretty much learned how to do what I do today, it’s where the bulk of my work happens. Plenty of shows per year plying my trade with some overly underrated men who I’m really thankful to because of it wasn’t for them I’d still be rubbish) So After watching this I realised there was wrestling in this country, after a year and a bit of toying with the idea…plus copious amounts of alcohol, I emailed Dragon Pro Academy… The following day I turned up there and never looked back! Under Mike Bird, Mark Andrews and Mike Hitchman how could you not learn. My first match was at a carnival in Newport, I wrestled one of the other trainees at the time called Delta Rush. I probably won’t watch it back now but at the time it was ok ha-ha.
In 2016 you captured the ProEvo Heavyweight (Now EVO Wrestling, Gloucester) title when you defeated fellow Welshman Robbie Caine. Tell us about your inaugural reign as champion? And how you feel about ProEvo as a company? Pro Evo have a special place for me in wrestling, they were giving me chances outside of Dragon Pro well before I should have had them. Bad match after bad match they still kept bringing me back and letting me learn. In 2016 when their champion Justin Sysum got injured I had a chance to win the heavyweight title. In a match against my partner in crime and road buddy for a long time Robbie Caine (a guy who really should have gone on to bigger and better things and I hope he comes back from his wrestling break An we get to travel some more) I was proud to help push Pro Evo on as the champion and repay the faith they put in me from day one.
You were defeated for the ProEvo title on October 1/2016; you lost to T-Bone in a TLC match. After representing the company for half the year, did you feel the match was justified? The match was more than justified, I and T-Bone kicked the crap out of each other in front of a packed-out crowd in Gloucester and everyone knows how good T-Bone is, even WWE now! I lost but I took pride in defeat!
After a hiatus of 3 months from Chaos Wrestling, you returned there in May 2016 and defeated the beloved Eddie Dennis, since your return you have run amok through the company. In contrast to your impressive streak do you feel you have not been given enough chances? It’s about taking chances, after I took the 3 months off because I felt my act had become stale there I returned. I went unbeaten for the rest of the year but while I was away everyone else killed it an there’s too many to list off. I had to wait my turn. Now though I’m the heir to the throne after a tremendously tough 7 man ladder match so watch this space, pro wrestling chaos is about to get interesting!
Talk to us about Dragon Pro Wrestling, as a native Welshman it must be great for a home-grown company to be gaining such recognition. The company seems to be moving in the right direction and the graduates of the now infamous Dragon Pro Academy are breaking out in the South West. What are your thoughts? Very proud to be a part of the team and very proud it’s finally getting the recognition. I don’t think there’s any good wrestlers in Wales who haven’t spent time training there. Big up to Mike Bird and now Mike Hitchman for the hard graft. Dragon Pro is without doubt the best training school in the south, I’m biased of course but the facts speak for themselves. The talent produced speaks for itself, the level of matches trainees have with little match experience and the attitude of them all, going and helping at other promotions, always looking to improve and always looking for that next opportunity to break out. I think in the next few years the Welsh will be a big fixture in British wrestling.
I recently spoke with Joe Mezinger; he praised you as being the person that reinvigorated his passion for Dragon Pro, what are your thoughts on him, even after he and Elijah turned on you? Two guys with mega potential. Hopefully they’ll keep progressing at this crazy rate. Sky’s the limit! Glad I could have helping hand in starting these guys out but the early success is down to them. As for turning on me, everyone makes mistakes I’m sure I’ll bump into them sooner or later!
You actually held the All Wales Championship until 4/12/16, where you lost it at “City Never Sleeps” to Danny Jones, a bit of an upset defeat? Not upset at all. I’ve known Danny since the start. He’s going to be something special. He’s going to All Japan for A few months an I’m looking forward to getting in the ring with him upon his return!
What has it been like working with Pro Wrestling Pride and representing them as Heavyweight champion for some time. Have you enjoyed your time there? My year long run as PWP heavyweight champ came to an end in the summer of 2016 so did my time working there (I might be back, never say never in wrestling). I’m overly grateful for every opportunity they gave me. Some insane crowds to work for, biggest I’ve worked in front of. I worked with some of the best overseas talent. From legends like Billy Gunn, Rhyno an the Hurricane to stars of today like Donavan Dijack, Johnny Gargano and Bram. Aside from that though, I feel the UK guys I got to work with was incredible. The roster was stacked, everyone on the card knew their job, and it’s why the crowds kept coming. Working those guys week in week out was a pleasure and only helped me improve.
2016 was a great year for you, you debut for Riot House, IPW, UPW and Fight Nation, do you think 2016 was the year that Big Grizzly arrived? 2016 was by far my best year but 2017 has started off better. We’re 7 months in an I feel like my matches have been better and I’m improving week after week. Big companies like Southside and IPW: Uk Have given me the ball to run with. I’m looking forward to a few more debuts later in the year too.
Moving into 2017 you’ve gained even more traction, during WWE’s UK tour you participated in one of their try-outs. Talk to us about that, what was involved, what happened, what’s the next move? Had a great group of guys in my try-out. We all worked our asses off. The next step is unknown. The balls in WWE’s court. I’ve just got to keep working my socks off every week, getting better and putting on better matches. Of course, the long term goal is to work for the biggest and best companies in the world and make a good living from wrestling but for now I’m enjoying every second of my journey!
Seeing UK talent like Noam Dar, Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and others make it with WWE, does it make you want it more? Seeing the talent Britain is producing kill it all over the world pushes me to work harder…in the ring, in the gym an in general! Whether it’s in the WWE, Japan, ROH or over here on the Indys week in, week out. If it doesn’t push you to work harder then take a look in the mirror an ask yourself “do you really want this”
You recently left Mikey Whiplash laying face-down at Chaos ‘Sweet Dreams’ were you making a statement to the Pro Chaos management? Ha-ha… here’s the story… I could go out there with Mikey Whiplash and put on a nice match for all of you to enjoy, or I can put him down quickly and leave him laying, get back to wales and get back to the bar. Obvious choice for me
I was going to ask what your goals were, but now that WWE have come calling does that change your outlook? Is there more you want to achieve on the UK scene? Was Japan ever a possible destination for you? My goals are the same as they have been since day one. Work as many matches for as many promotions as possible. For the last few years I’ve had around 150 matches a year. I’d like to work for new promotions there’s plenty I’ve not worked for I welcome any new challenges. Then I’d like to get back into places I’ve had a taste for, one being ICW. I did a show for them in Bristol and I loved it so a trip to Scotland would be great. Japan… Funnily enough before I got into the business I wasn’t a big Japanese wrestling fan so getting into Japan wasn’t something I thought I’d be interested in. I’m not actively pursuing Japan but if the opportunity presents its self I’d throw myself in 100%.
A huge thank you to Big Grizzly for his time, you can keep track of the man himself on Twitter @thebig_grizz Facebook @biggrizzlywrestler
Please take a look @kayfabetoday.com for further interview and to keep up to date with all events in the South West UK & Wales. Follow me @TheCiaranJames for all news, previews and reviews.
Many thanks to Jim Maitland @Jim_TurningFace for the images used