The UK wrestling scene is currently going through a renaissance. Promotions up and down the country are regularly putting on great shows in front of ever growing crowds. Whether it is ICW selling out the 4,000 capacity SECC for Fear and Loathing VIII (the largest UK show in 34 years) or PROGRESS Wrestling selling 200 of their 2016 season tickets in just 20 minutes, it’s fair to say that things are looking up.
To me, what’s even more impressive than the numbers at these shows is that the majority of performers on the shows are lads and lasses from the UK rather than talent that has been imported. A look at ICW’s recent Fear and Loathing card for example, shows that of the 27 men and women that took part in the matches (30 if you include the managers) only one, Rhyno, would be classed as “foreign talent”. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that over recent years the world’s largest wrestling, sorry my mistake, sports entertainment company have looked at the UK and thought “I’m having some of that”. WWE regularly hold try-outs in the UK so that grapplers from our shores are able to showcase their talent with the hope of one day joining a roster that already contains British and Irish talent such as King (Wade) Barrett, (Adrian) Neville, Sheamus, Finn Balor, Becky Lynch and Paige.
One person that recently attended one of the WWE’s try-outs is the Northeast’s own and relative newcomer to the wrestling scene, Jason ‘The Primate’ Prime. The Primate stands 5’8″ and weighs in at 215lbs and I would wager he has been described as a proverbial brick shithouse on more than one occasion. After watching him wrestle a handful of times and witnessing him hit some of the most devastating spears ever seen, I was lucky enough to catch up with the man for an impromptu chat at MEW’s 10 year anniversary show on 2nd October at Northumbria University.
Calling Spots: So how long have you been training for and when did you first get into wrestling?
Prime: I’ve actually only been working about 13 months. I started September 2014. I’ve been really fortunate to get some good tuition. Rampage Brown is the guy that trains me along with AJ Anderson at the NJW training academy up in Birtley. We get a lot of good guys coming in doing seminars and things but all in all about 13 months.
CS: I think I first met you at a Tidal show in November last year. The show with Rampage, Wolfgang, BT Gunn in the main event. You weren’t on the show but a friend of mine, Alex Kavero, introduced us. Then I first saw you perform at the MEW show at a show in a local Social Club…
P: In the threeway with Ameen and Lazarus.
CS: Yeah, where you got the £5,000 payoff to let Ameen win. I’m guessing you spent that on beard products, cos that’s looking impressive now.
P: Obviously *laughs*.Yeah it’s a strong one. I like to keep it maintained. What is it someone said last week? I look like a miniature Rampage Brown that’s swallowed Tommy End. That’s quite the compliment, I think.
CS: It is, definitely. That’s a good description.
P: *laughing* Yeah
CS: You look a lot broader. You must spend a lot of time in the gym…
P: Yeah. I’ve always trained for as long as I can remember; I was always really short in school. I was the short skinny kid then when I left I thought “I’m not having this anymore” so I started going to the gym and it became part of my life for the last 15 years.
CS: How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?
CS: Other then MEW, how many different wrestling promotions have you worked for in your career so far?
P: So, Target, that’s where I started in Carlisle; they promote mainly in Carlisle and in Scotland. In Newcastle I’ve done MEW, I’ve done Full Tilt Wrestling, I’ve done Maximum Pro, EPW, FCW, MPW, NPW, FTW, New Generation, UKWE
CS: So what sort of area do you travel?
P: Mainly Northern England, Southern Scotland. As far down as Leeds. I was asked to do an IPW show in Tunbridge in Kent but I dislocated my shoulder the weekend before so I wasn’t too keen on doing that in case anything bad happened.
CS: That’s understandable. Was that injury in the ring or was that separate?
P: In the ring, yeah.
CS: What happened?
P: I was in a six man. There was me, my tag partner, a guy by the name of Alexander Henry, then Rampage against the NAK for Target.
CS: The NAK, was that Renfrew, Gunn and Richards?
P: This time it was BT Gunn, Stevie Boy Xavier and Wolfgang. I took a Hellevator from Wolfgang and landed awkwardly and my right shoulder sort of popped out then went back in again. The next day and the day after it was just too much [pain]. I went to bed about three days before and it popped out and then in again. If I was going to a do a first show for a new promotion I wanted to be at 100% to showcase what I can do rather than worry about anything.
CS: Your in-ring style and especially your offence looks legitimately powerful and you can tell that you’re a bit of a…I don’t want to say Brock Lesnar, but that style of powerhouse. You’re a strong muscular guy and I don’t think I’ve seen you up against anyone larger that you or with a similar physique to you. Do you think this style helps you to stand out?
P: I think it is in my arsenal. Using suplexes is a big part of my gimmick, dare I say. But I know there is going to come a time where I’ll be in a match with Rampage where that won’t work, since he’s bigger and stronger. I can wrestle a match that is a lot more technical. I was in a match last weekend for Tidal in Leeds, in a tag match again The Proven. Caz Crash, [with the] the black streak across his face, is the same build as I am but a lot larger, so I controlled his arm. I can work different matches to suit my opposition if I need to, but my comfort zone is the big power moves and suplexes.
CS: So you can mix and match depending on what you need to do and who you are put up against. Where are you wrestling next?
P: Next it’s for MPW.Oh yeah, I forgot to mention earlier on that over the Summer I was able to get a week in for All Star.
CS: Was that in the camps?
P: Yeah, that was for Brian Dixon. I think it’s the longest running UK promotion. He’s a good guy. He gives a lot of advice. If you can get on there you’re doing well. I got to work that Summer with Mason Ryan, CJ Parker from NXT, Joel Redman who was in NXT as well so I got to learn a hell of a lot. It’s not just wrestling, it’s more about crowd interaction, you’re wrestling in front of 2,000 non-wrestling fans.
CS: Yeah, Liam Lazarus, who I think is in the ring as we speak, has done an article for us about his time there, what it’s like working the camps and what a great experience it is. How many shows were you on? Did you do any two-a-day shots?
P: No, I was quite lucky. Well I say lucky; I was on the Butlins run where you start off at Bognor Regis in the very south coast then you drive four hours up to Minehead which is, I suppose, you get to Bristol then head left, it’s in the middle of nowhere *laughs*. Then from Minehead you’ve gotta go up to Skegness which is another six hour drive. You do one a day in each one but the travelling just destroys you, you know. ‘Cos you get there, put the ring up, do the show, take the ring down, then you travel. It was only three shows over three days but the size of the crowd can’t be compared to the UK scene, like I say, in Skegness there was about 2,000 people.
CS: That sounds absolutely fantastic. You’ve mentioned the problem you had with your shoulder. Is there anything else you’ve had a problem with? And also, what do you do to try to prevent injuries? Is it just stretches and warm-up and downs?
P: Because I’ve got an active background going back years and years, I spent six years in the army, so I’ve got lots of experience of working through pain, so to speak. I’m not Superman obviously, so if something serious did happen I wouldn’t be able to do this. I’m a big advocate of warming up properly, stretching properly, training well, training hard, eating well, [because] I’ve done all of that for the last 15 years anyway. For me this is no real big change other than me landing on my back a lot more times. For me wrestling is like another cardio session but with falling down in between. I don’t focus on injuries I just eat well, sleep well, stretch and do things like I wrap my thumb so it doesn’t dislocate [and] I wear knee braces just in case my knees go. But there is always that scare of what if, and I’m sure for those guys like Rampage and Ligero who do this full time it’s probably a lot more worrying for them, there’s more pressure on them which could probably take it’s toll. So in the ring I try not to worry about injuries but what I do in the ring is make sure that everything is as safe as I can and I don’t do anything stupid.
CS: Like your suplexes, they look stiff but you look like you have the other person in complete control which I imagine is a good thing. You are lifting them and controlling them to the mat, you’re not just throwing them and letting them land however they want because that’s their problem.
P: Yeah, you’ve gotta take care of them. When you wrestle you can only wrestle with someone the way you would like to be wrestled. Tonight, when I gave Prince Ameen two big German suplexes, I made sure he wasn’t too high when I released him so he wouldn’t land on his head or his neck. And I think the crowd enjoyed it.
CS: It looked great. So ideally what is next for The Primate? Do you want this to be your full time job? Would you like to do in the future in wrestling? Is the future in the UK or are you looking at WWE?
P: Yes in the next 12 to 18 months time I’d like to. I’ve already been in contact to be on a PCW show [and] I want to work for PROGRESS. I have contacted the WWE and a few emails have gone backwards and forwards. I don’t want to say too much but they are aware of me and they have photos of me. They know what I do and how I go on and stuff. So touch wood something might come of that. Inevitably though, I think if you are in wrestling and don’t want to be doing it full time you probably want to look at why you are doing it because this does hurt and it is painful. So I think if you are gonna go through all that then you want to make a fulltime job of it.
CS: So the stars align, you make it in the WWE, who would your ideal opponent be?
P: He’s not alive.
CS: Who would it have been?
P: Chris Benoit.
CS: Chris Benoit? You’re not the first person to say him. I asked Grado that question and he said Benoit as well.
P: I think the thing with Chris Benoit was he didn’t do anything flashy, he didn’t do anything which would have mesmerised you but from the moment he walked through the curtain until he went behind the curtain again, you were just in awe of him. His presence, his work, his intensity more than anything else. That’s what I try to do whenever I’m out there I try to be intense and I try to tell a story without actually doing anything. My favourite match ever was Chris Benoit against Kurt Angle where for the first five minutes all it was shoot wrestling and it was amazing. So yeah, Chris Benoit would be my pick.
CS: What about the guys that are around at the moment? Say this happened in the next five years, who would you want to go against?
P: God, let’s have a think… Seth Rollins. He got a lot of grief didn’t he? Not all the WWE fans bought into him being this big bad heel. But I think he showed in the series with John Cena how good a wrestler he is. I mean he is what he is, he’s a great wrestler and he can really work.
CS: He’s another that can wrestle a lot of different styles. I watched a DVD of his recently with a lot of his Ring Of Honor stuff on and some of those matches are incredible. He goes from the really technical bouts to the brutal, bloody hardcore matches.
P: That’s it. I think it’s the same with a lot of WWE guys, you haven’t really seen what they can do. Adrian Neville is another one, Pac, I mean Ben; I’ve seen footage of him back years ago in the northeast doing crazy things that haven’t even been seen by them at the WWE yet. I know these guys have limitations because they wrestle six times a week so they can’t be risking everything doing all these high flying things every night.
CS: And quite often in the WWE once you’ve done a move once it becomes part of your repertoire and has to happen every match which just isn’t feasible with some moves,
P: Yeah of course. I remember Ben as a young lad and I remember thinking he was just a born gymnast.
CS: Ok Jason, thank you so much for taking the tie out to chat. I really appreciate it.