Wrestling

This is PROGRESS Champion: Jimmy Havoc (Part 1)

Photography by James Musselwhite

Photography by James Musselwhite

I conducted an interview with one of Britain’s top wrestlers, Jimmy Havoc, a man known for his ability to tell a story. Hear him speak about his favourite band, commitment to character and what Jim Smallman’s wife thinks of him.

Interview conducted on 3/11/14.

Did you get up to much this past weekend?

I wrestled all weekend. Doug Williams on Friday, Kay Lee Ray on Saturday and then last night it was at the PROGRESS wrestling trainee show ENDVR against Pastor William Eaver.

It was really good, went really well.

Did you enjoy beating up a woman as promised?

Loved it.

I checked out the link you put up on Halloween for AFI’s EP. It was really good, never heard that before.

Cheers, they’re my favourite band in the world. From the time I was about sixteen. It’s actually where I got the name Havoc.

Did you debut as Jimmy Havoc?

Yep.

Speaking of your taste in music, what did you choose for your entrance music and why?

It’s by AFI, called ‘I Hope You Suffer’. They’re my favourite band but everyone uses sort of up-beat rock or metal or something like that, but that song is really gothy and very emo, and the lyrics speak to my character. Really atmospheric as well.

It definitely gives an aura when I come out. So Jim Smallman, who runs PROGRESS, his wife comes to the shows as well. She says she knows I’m a nice person, she really likes me but when my music hits and I come out she gets goosebumps. And she genuinely wants to punch me.

You’ve said your favourite match of all time is Cactus Jack v. Triple H at Royal Rumble 2000, what were your thoughts on what followed with the Hell In A Cell at No Way Out and the Fatal 4 Way at WrestleMania?

I’ve always been a huge Foley fan anyway, a big fan of ECW and that style of wrestling. It’s a surprise, but that style of wrestling is my favourite. I love the hardcore stuff. There’s a little bit more that you can do with it, I can be more creative in that environment.

So with that match and the build-up to it, it was so good. Him getting fired and having the whole roster come out and basically say they’ll quit if you don’t bring him back, and then he returns as Cactus Jack. It was all absolutely perfect.

Then the retirement was so good. I think it was a shame they brought him back for WrestleMania, considering that was the shortest retirement in history. He retired and then came back like the next day or something ridiculous.

It was good that he got his WrestleMania match and the main event, that was really good for Foley, but I think storyline wise he should’ve probably stayed out.

Especially with the emotion surrounding that, you felt broken inside when he had to retire.

Yeah, I think I was 16 at the time and I was absolutely gutted because he was my favourite wrestler at the time. And then it was like “Wow, he’s gone.”

You’ve also said you’re a big Jeff Hardy fan, what are some of the moments that really stand out to you?

As a kid, I always used to like jumping off of swings in playgrounds, anything I could, climb up trees and jump off it. So watching him, especially the WrestleMania 2000 doing The Swanton off the ladder through the tables, those sorts of things. I like stunts. I really like stunts.

In past interviews, you’ve talked about how you can really take a beating. What were your thoughts on the Undertaker v. Jeff Hardy ladder match?

So good. So good. Because with that, there was a really good story there. No one thought Jeff Hardy was actually going to win, but ‘Taker put him over so well, beating him up but he kept getting up, kept getting up, so there was the respect thing. That’s one of the reasons I like Jeff Hardy as well.

People identified with him, because he was never the biggest guy but if you’re into rock music and that culture, you could identify with him. He looked cool, he looked like one of us, wearing a pair of jeans to wrestle in, with a tight Goth t-shirt. I love that match, really good match that is.

Weren’t you at WrestleMania 30 this year, perhaps very drunk, how was that and seeing the End of the Streak live?

I think other than one cup of tea a day, I was drunk the entire week, it was really good. WrestleMania 30 was amazing, to actually go to one was so much fun. To be there when ‘Taker lost, everyone just went “What!?” – “That’s not the fini- oh it is.”

There were people near me that left after that, they didn’t stay for the main event they were so annoyed.

Did you feel that loss in the same way with Mick Foley, were you crestfallen?

It’s not real is it. No, the atmosphere was really odd. I like ‘Taker but with the whole Streak thing, it’s always been good because the matches are going to be good. I think I was more disappointed that it was Brock than anything else. But then, I think maybe it was a good thing because with Daniel Bryan winning, everyone went absolutely bat-shit crazy for it.

So doing that helped Daniel Bryan without a doubt.

Sabu was on Chris Jericho’s podcast recently, and when asked where were his favourite places to wrestle – he said Japan and Scotland. How was it taking on one of the people you looked up to?

It was really good, I loved it, absolutely loved it. I was bricking it, because he was one of the guys I grew up watching and was always one of my favourites back then when I was younger. To get the chance to actually wrestle him was fucking amazing. Nice guy, really enjoyed the match, really easy, tables, chairs, that sort of shit.

He wrestled with ICW a couple of times and really likes it up there. The crowds in Scotland, honestly they are really good. Really really good.

How was it turning on Jack Jester in front of the ICW crowd compared to turning on Jim in front of the PROGRESS crowd, who are also known for being very vocal and fun to work in front of?

I’d always wanted to be heel, for a long time, and the storyline with Jim, we planned for a couple of years. The whole storyline we had planned the start, we knew exactly what we wanted to do for the whole three years.

With Jester, I just prefer being a heel now. I wanted to turn. You get much more impact by beating up a friend. It’s the Shawn Michaels-Marty Jennetty thing, thrown through the barbershop window. If you turn on your friend and the fans, people can relate to that. Everyone’s been stabbed in the back by a friend before. It’s that sort of feeling. I like getting that reaction from the crowd. I just like being a cunt.

And they like to let you know about it.

Yeah, I love it. Absolutely love it. I think it’s because, I’m not trying to big myself up here, but a lot of my friends say I’m a really nice person and I think because I’m so nice normally, it’s nice to just go out there and be an absolute prick for half an hour. It’s a lot of fun.

Do you think that’s something more British wrestlers need to do, commit to being a committed heel, committing to their character and their role?

No, because then I won’t stand out, so everyone out there carry on with what you’re doing, I’ll stick with this. No, at the end of the day, especially for independent wrestling, wrestlers need to sell merchandise to make money. I think they need to have a connection with the fans then to make money. For me, I don’t want to sell merch because I don’t care. I earn enough from the bookings I get that I don’t need to. I’d rather commit to the character. I don’t want people wearing my t-shirt.

It would be nice if more heels done that, but it’s down to them. I won’t tell any other performers, that’s not my job. I do what I do because I enjoy it, and I like fully committing to be an absolute prick. I get a better reaction for it then.

There’s still a couple of people in the crowd who cheer for me and it really, really annoys me. But you’re always going to get that, some dickhead out there: “Ooh, I’m going to cheer for the heel because I’m cool.” No, you’re a fucking arsehole.

So no one can buy that amazing Die Havoc Die t-shirt, from One Hour Tees or anywhere else?

No, there’s only one and that’s mine.

Photography by James Maitland

Photography by James Maitland

End of Part 1. In Part 2, Jimmy talks about his pink chair, the art of telling a story inside the squared circle, promos and swearing at children.

Article originally published with Pyro & Ballyhoo HERE.

 

Follow Jimmy on Twitter @JimmyHavoc and check out his blog HERE which is an incredible read.

For more from me, follow me on Twitter @HotChocHari and visit http://www.hariramakrishnan.com

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