In Part 2 of my interview with Jimmy Havoc, the PROGRESS Champion talks about blood in professional wrestling, stare downs, promos and #BOOKHAVOC, but first…
What’s the story behind the pink chair?
It’s funny innit. I’m a massive Goth, wearing all black, blackened nail varnish but coming out with a pink chair. There’s been four or five different ones now, they break a lot. I started it at PROGRESS Chapter 8? So last summer. I’ve not come out with it for a while now actually. It’s different. Because of what I do with it, it’s horrible and then pink is obviously quite a girly colour – it’s got that contrast. I quite like that.
Since you’ve started your blog and appeared on WrestleTalk to discuss blood in wrestling, what’s the worst argument you’ve heard about it and what’s the most convincing argument that’s made you think differently about it?
It’s not for everyone. A lot of people do say “Oh it’s disgusting, it’s barbaric, blah blah blah”. Well, boxing is barbaric. MMA is barbaric. Those people are trying to kill each other. They’re trying to physically damage each other to the point where they cannot get up. That’s not what we’re doing.
For me, the blood it adds something to a match. Okay, maybe the death matches are a bit much sometimes, and it’s not for everyone and isn’t necessary. But in a story, if there’s a reason for two guys to be there and absolutely hate each other, the blood will add a lot of drama to that.
Even though you may not think that, and you know wrestling’s fake or whatever, subconsciously if someone’s bleeding, it does make you worry for them. Especially if you bleed well. Obviously Nigel’s argument is you get diseases or whatever from it, but you get diseases from having sex with girls. Should we all stop doing that as well? I’d rather not, I quite enjoy that.
Do you know what I mean? You can get diseases from a dirty canvas. What, should we just never wrestle again? Do you know what, I might get by a bus if I walk down the street, does that mean I’m never going to walk down the street again? It happens. As long as the guys get regularly tested, which I do, everyone is careful, what does it matter? It’s my decision what I do with my body, no one else’s. If you don’t like it, don’t fucking watch it. Don’t try and tell me what to do with my life just because you maybe don’t agree with it.
I don’t particularly like smoking, but I don’t go to someone smoking and say “Don’t smoke. You’re killing yourself. You’re a fucking idiot.” It’s their decision to do what they want.
I’ll admit even I was ignorant to your style before having seen it. My notion of hardcore and death matches was a lot of flips, spot fests and trade-offs with weapons, finishing with a schoolboy. But after watching what you do, you really tell a story with everything you do in those matches. Arguably telling a story better than most non-hardcore matches you see.
For me, it doesn’t matter what the environment is, death match or normal, I like to make sure I’m telling a story when I’m getting in there. When I use weapons, they add to that story. It’s a bit more of a stunt show, in a way, but there’s that underlying story of good guy-bad guy. I’m trying to get the crowd invested in what I do.
If I just went out there with a chair and hit someone, and then he hit me, then he and me blahblahblahblahblah, you’re not going to care. It’s like watching Jackass for three hours in a row, eventually you’ll get desensitised to it, it’s the same shit over and over again. But if you have a story there, you get that crowd investment, you get that emotion.
You swing a chair better than anyone else I’ve seen in British Wrestling too, whilst being safe I’m sure.
Well no one’s died yet.
We’ve talked about things that people have criticised you for, what are some of Jimmy Havoc’s pet peeves or what annoys you in wrestling?
I don’t really have many. Stupid little things, like Irish Whips. If you start running before the guy’s pulled your arm straight, that looks stupid. There’s not much. If someone is out there performing… I do stuff and when I look back I think that was fucking shit. It’s a learning curve, I learn with every single match I do so there’s nothing I watch that annoys me.
There’s some people that annoy me, but I guess that’s their character, their gimmick. I’m meant to be annoyed by them. I still get emotionally invested in wrestling, if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be doing it. I still enjoy it.
Lack of psychology, that annoys me. The storyline is the most important thing in wrestling in my opinion. Everything should build up to the finish, so the finish in terms of the whole storyline makes sense. But, you know, and I’m guilty of what, going “I really want to do this move tonight.”
Why? I just wanna do it, throw it in somewhere. It happens because we’re meant to enjoy what we’re doing. We’re not making the most money in the world, I’m not going to buy a house off this, but we’ve got to enjoy ourselves.
Alongside your in-ring work, you have had some of the incredible promo work too. It’s been called “spine chilling, villainous mic work”. What’s your mentality going in for speaking on the stick?
I quite like doing promos. I don’t like them being sprung on me, “oh, go ahead and just to do a promo” – “What?” I like to prepare, have an idea of what I’m going to say. Usually if I do, I have a key three or four points I’ve got to hit during it, and the rest is ad-libbing a bit and working with the crowd to see how they respond to what I’m saying.
I think I swear too much, if I’m honest, in promos. But then that’s what I’m like as a person, I swear quite a lot anyway. I think a lot of wrestling fans, even though most of the shows I do are 18+, they’re not expecting someone to call them a cunt. Then I come out and call them all cunts, it does get a shock. Even so, once again it’s part of the storyline. We build them up, it was over a year until I turned heel.
Because we built up that trust with the audience and they loved me. When I turned, it didn’t really matter what I said, unless I shit the bed with it and it was a really awful promo, no matter what I said it would’ve worked. Purely because there’s that emotional investment there.
It was lucky too. With the heel turn promo, it all made sense. Even though everything I said was true, you need to have conviction in what you’re saying. It doesn’t matter how stupid it might be, if you believe it, that’s what makes it good.
Look at Darth Vader, he believed that what he was doing was right. Whereas everyone else, we knew it was wrong but he believed he was right and that’s what’s scary about it. Me as a character, I believe I’m right, I believe I’ve been shit on by the company, I believe I’ve been shit on by all the promoters, so I’m doing this for myself.
I believe the fans hated me, they never loved me, all they ever wanted to do was see me bleed. Which obviously wasn’t true, I used to get the biggest cheers when I came out. But because I had that conviction of I believe what I’m saying is right, that’s where they didn’t like it, because they loved me, but now they hate me. Does that make sense?
Before these events, with #BOOKHAVOC and your social media campaign, what was the furthest out of their way promoters went to vouch for you, even though it was a work?
The thing that was nice for me is that some people didn’t know it was a work. I think a lot of people didn’t know, no one actually knew I had been booked. Jim and John, who run PROGRESS, told me that a couple of promoters had actually emailed them going “No, you should use him, he’s actually really good.” And they said, no we are going to.
For me, it’s really nice, that other promoters are saying you should use him. It was cool. It was nice that everyone was getting behind it, it was a lot more successful than I ever thought it was going to be. I think that definitely helped bring me in as such a big babyface. But making that video was so much fun.
You predominantly work 18+ shows, but you also do family-friendly shows. How do you vary your style?
I don’t say cunt. I try not to, I did actually at a Southside show a couple of months ago. I didn’t even think about it, the guy was in the corner and he weren’t feeding up quick enough and I said “come on cunt” and was like “aaah, what am I saying”.
I think on the family shows, you don’t quite need to do as much ‘wrestling’ – you can get kids into it easier by just being mean at them and shout at them, ripping up their signs, that sort of stuff. Family shows are a bit easier on my body anyway compared to the 18+ ones. But I try not to swear.
One of the best parts building up the drama to your matches is the stare down, which you’ve mastered. What’s going on in your mind during those powerful moments?
What I do when I go out, I just stand there. I don’t move. All I do is look directly in that person’s eyes. For me, I took it from horror movies, if you look at Jason Voorhees or Mike Myers from Halloween, there’s just a total lack of emotion in their face. And when I come out with the mask on and all you can see is my eyes, the fact that I’m not moving, I’m hardly blinking, I never avert my gaze, I’m just looking at them.
And because people are expecting something to happen and they want something to happen, it just builds up that tension of “okay, I feel a bit uncomfortable now” because he’s not moved for about a minute, he’s not said nothing, he’s not looked away, he’s not blinked, he’s not made any sort of gestures or emotion whatsoever, he’s just staring at the guy.
For me it just works. There’s other little things I’ve tried now and again but for me that is the most effective thing I’ve ever done. Just stand there doing nothing, just looking. ‘Cause I don’t need to do nothing else, just stand there looking like a mean cunt. It works.
Article originally published with Pyro & Ballyhoo HERE.
End of interview with Jimmy Havoc. Follow Jimmy on Twitter @JimmyHavoc
For more from me, follow me on Twitter @HotChocHari or visit www.hariramakrishnan.com