Interview with Joe Hendry @ What Culture Pro Wrestling, 15/06/16

Photo from Rage Falcon Pro Wrestling wiki

Photo from Rage Falcon Pro Wrestling wiki

No drugs at all,
No alcohol,
Pays taxes
and gives to charity,
Black belt is he,
First class degree
In business
Competes for his country
Don’t you ever say
You don’t want Joe Hendry
I will never leave you
I made my entrance in a Hendry Ball

So starts my alltime favourite YouTube video and probably the best 28 seconds that can be found anywhere on the internet and if I were to say I had watched that clip a thousand times it would not be an exaggeration.
When my wife and I left our home in Newcastle to travel via train to Glasgow to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary by taking in ICW’s Fear and Loathing VIII little did I suspect that my life would change so dramatically. We were in amongst the 4000 strong crowd when “The Local Hero” made his entrance and I completely lost my shit.
Since then I had been hoping I would get a chance to sit down and have a chat with Hendry and share it with our readers. Thankfully since the man is almost as accommodating as he is uber talented I was given the opportunity after the first ever WhatCulture Pro Wrestling show.

I plan to upload a full review of the first WCPW show shortly but in the meantime I feel it’s necessary to congratulate the WhatCulture team on on behalf of wrestling fans in the Northeast for them putting on two fantastic nights of top quality wrestling. If they plan to continue running shows in the Newcastle area then I think it’s entirely possible that Newcastle will soon be the place to be in terms of UK Wrestling, if that does happen I for one will be very grateful. On a more personal note I would also like to thank the WhatCulture staff on being so friendly and helpful in allowing me access to Joe Hendry once the show was over. I had arranged the interview with Hendry beforehand but the people from WC were incredibly considerate in letting us chat while they were taking down the ring.
So myself and Internet megastar and YouTube sensation Maffew, from Botchamania, sat with ‘The Local Hero’ and shot the proverbial breeze…

Neil Rogers – So Joe, how long have you been training and wrestling so far?
Joe Hendry – I’ve been pro for two and a half years, I made my debut in SWA on the Saturday then made my ICW debut the next night at Fear and Loathing on the Sunday. So Fear and Loathing is the anniversary of my professional wrestling career. I trained for quite a long time before I debuted Damo, Mikey Whiplash and to a certain extent Robbie Brookside, those were my three main trainers and Marty Jones too as number four but Damo and Mikey wanted it to be an impactful debut, when people saw me that they would think “Oh this guy’s going somewhere”. I trained from January 2013 and didn’t debut till the very end of the year.

NR – You have a legitimate fighting background, is it amateur wrestling and Judo?

JH – Yeah I’m a black belt in Judo. I’m working to going to the Commonwealth Games for amateur wrestling, 97kg to represent Scotland. I think it’s going to happen but it’s somewhat out of my hands a lot of it comes down to the selection process. What I can do and what I can control is there’s some qualifying competitions coming up in November around the time of Fear and Loathing. Getting to that point is going to be intense and that time of the year for me is going to be very busy. It’s going to be an intense year from October/November this year to the year after for qualification so that’s going to be tough going but I really feel this is a great opportunity, I would love to represent my country. I feel I can do this and I don’t say that lightly, I’ve worked very hard to get to this point.

NR – What did you do before you began wrestling? Obviously we touched on your judo and amateur wrestling but did you ever hold down a 9-5? 

JH – I’d always wanted to wrestle but when I was younger I didn’t know how and I didn’t think I was big enough.  I didn’t realise that through eating and the gym you could actually make yourself bigger.  I was in a band, I’m still in that band, been making music for 10 years.  Doing shows helped me develop my gimmick to this point.  The thing about my gimmick is that you can’t fake being a musician for 10 years so I feel that has paid dividends now.
We went for a meeting in New York with Sony about potentially signing with them, it didn’t quite work out so I decided maybe that was a sign and maybe it was time to do what I had always wanted to do which was professional wrestling.  I decided on New Year’s Eve going into 2013 that I would devote everything to wrestling so I started training in 2013 and I’ve never looked back really.


I went to university and got my degree, when I sing about it in the Hendryball gimmick it’s all truth.  I do have a job at the moment I’m a marketing manager in oil and gas, specialising in advertising and digital analytics.  It is difficult to balance both of them but at the moment I do quite like having separate lives if you will.

NR – Kurt Angle is obviously set to appear at Fear and Loathing this year. Will you be asking him for any tips on amateur wrestling given his history in the sport?

JH – I want to wrestle Kurt Angle, Kurt Angle is probably my dream match, The Rock is the reason I got into the business but Kurt Angle is the greatest. Kurt Angle was a total package, he was a 10 in everything, charisma, legitimacy, his wrestling ability in the ring, his intensity level he is the definition of what a true pro should be. And Kurt Angle knows I want to wrestle him.

NR – Maffew and I, were both at Fear and Loathing VIII in November and it was one of my favourite moments when you came out in the Hendry ball, how was it for you to perform? I’ve spoken to Viper, she said they thought it was mental!

JH – Well I’ve a small collection of friends in wrestling (including Viper) but outside that small group everyone wanted it to burst or for me to fall on my face or fall off the ramp. Falling off the ramp was a real concern but they put up safety barriers so it was ok.

NR – Do you mean when you did the roll?

JH – Here’s the problem, when we were backstage and did a run through the ball was full but there was actually a small puncture in it so the only way there was to get it to fit back up the ramp so as soon as the doors opened I couldn’t re-inflate it. I did it in a run through and smashed my head off the ground, tried it again, re-inflated it and I was like “I’m going to smash my head here” but I narrowly missed it. You can see the moment after the ball comes off it just falls to nothing so that was lucky. I wasn’t going to do the roll but I thought nah I HAVE to do the roll and that made it!
It was an amazing reaction, I loved it, to be honest with you it was what I felt the situation required. Fear and Loathing was the biggest independent wrestling show in Britain at that point, I just felt I had to do something wildly different so I was happy with the way it turned out.

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NR – What made you change it? Your “default” entrance always gets such a positive reaction. It definitely did tonight…

JH – Well actually you may notice, I’ve changed the words

NR – We noticed, “you wrestle not just make lists” (Neil tried to sing this but did not do it justice)

JH – Exactly, exactly, I wrestle I don’t just make lists, such as the Top Five Barbie games that I am gonna make Jack do probably next week.

NR – Are there Five Barbie games??????

JH – Oh yeah, there are some weird niche Barbie games out there…

Maffew – Unlike those really mainstream Barbie games…

JH – *laugh* Yeah. But that’s what I think Jack needs, it’s like when you catch your kid smoking and you make them smoke the whole pack that’s what I’m making jack do, he’s been making too many c****y lists. You can take out the word c****y but put in comments that Joe Hendry asked to take out the word crappy. Yeah I added in some lyrics to reference what’s been going on in What Culture and that’s what I do to be interactive.

NR – What’s the favourite of your entrances that you have done? From what I have seen mine is the one for Jack Jester to ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ by the Vengaboys.

JH – That seems to be the favourite, honestly I knocked that one out in a few hours and I didn’t even think it was that good. I took it to the venue and you know when the wrestlers react, if the wrestlers are losing their minds about it you know it’s going to be good. You get some that the guys and girls backstage find amusing and you get some that the fans find amusing and then you get ones that do both. The one that’s done both is the Lionheart one, I think it was his reaction and the fact that everyone was getting so annoying with the constant dog selfies and no one had addressed it. The fact that he hadn’t seen it, sometimes they see it before the match but he hadn’t seen it, you can see the joy on our faces.

M – It’s a shame you got some good Liam Thompson lines in there but the Lionheart ones were so funny everyone loved it.

NR – Speaking of Lionheart, I recently watched NGW  saw that  you, Lionheart and Kid Fite showed up to answer an open challenge that had been issued by their tag team champions Stixx and Colossus. Having been a fan favourite for most of the last 12 months what was it like performing as more of a dastardly heel?

JH – NGW is one of the best companies in the United Kingdom, the production values of their product are brilliant.  I very much enjoy doing what I’m doing there and I don’t feel like I’m a different person I feel like I’m just being me and I’m saying what I really want to say but in a more direct way.  I don’t have to plan intricate entrances, I can say what’s in my head the moment it comes to me and they give me the freedom to say what needs to be said and that’s one of my favourite places to work.  It’s a lot of fun for me, the companies doing well, it’s good to be a part of it even though we have hijacked the tag team titles and most probably never bringing them back.

NR – How did you explain that to Mr Anderson…Mr Kennedy when you did the Pikachu one? Was he aware that you personalise your entrances for your opponent?

JH – How do you explain to an international superstar that for your entrance I would like first of all for you to come out first and stand there while I ridicule you by having an enraged Pikachu stab you to death? How can you explain that?????? You can’t! You just have to go in the ring, grit your teeth and give as good as you get.

NR – How did you get him to go out first?

JH – He knew there was going to be AN entrance but if I choose to do that then I need to accept the consequences.

NR – How did that rate in matches that you have had as one of the more high profile opponents?

JH – It’s the most high profile match I’ve had to date probably, after the Rock left, Mr Kennedy, Mr Anderson, he was my guy, oh my god, this was the crazy thing. On one hand I felt I had to do this entrance, I have to entertain people because everything I do entertainment is number one. It’s not about anything other than what’s going to entertain the fans and I knew that video would but that was quite hard for me to do that to someone I looked up too that much. I remember watching his clips on Byte This, WWE Byte this, I remember his “Kennedy declares” they were hilarious vignettes and I would be lying if I said part of what I do isn’t influenced by what he did, of course it is. So it was an honour to face him in the ring and it was an intense situation but I like intense situations.
The video, that was done a few hours before the show, I did the video, put it on my laptop, got to the show, edited it at the show and delivered it just before we went out.

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NR – What other songs do you have on your list to do next?

JH – There’s no end to this, I see comments on Reddit that I couldn’t do this on a bigger stage, it’s like these people think I haven’t thought about this and I don’t have a meticulous plan for what I want to do and where I want to go. This is what I can do now, this is what is available to me, it’s protected by parody laws but should that be an issue anywhere I can do original songs, that’s what ICW me and you effectively is, yeah it’s a theme song but melodically it stands up I can do original songs like that about my opponents anywhere I go, it’s not a problem but I might as well do all the songs that are worth doing before someone comes along and copies the gimmick.

M – Parody a parody, I always thought it’s a shame the Ofcom stable isn’t around anymore, I always thought it would be great for them to cut the parody short.

JH – Yeah that would have been good

M – What do you find are the advantages to being in this current era of wrestling?

JH – The advantages are unbelievable, we live in an age where, before you were either on tv or you weren’t on tv, now its gradual. I can build my brand and I’m in control of it. I made a splash when I came in then I got this crazy gimmick which is working really well, the videos that got me to the next level and now going on WhatCulture Pro Wrestling on their channel, to be able to do what I do in that setting, the exposure and the fan base that they have, my clips got 400,000 hits in 3 days, IN 3 DAYS!
I feel 100% ready for it, living in this digital age, it’s tangible, it’s building day by day. When I’ve read Chris Jericho’s books I feel like that’s coming back, you know the territories? The way he started in Canada then went to Mexico and Japan then America I kinda feel I can take that same sort of path.

NR – You’ve done some stuff with Ring of Honor over in America, you went over for a while, how was that?

JH – I want to wrestle for Ring of Honor, I want to do something a bit different from what I do in the UK, when I went over there to show them what I had I did something completely different. I did sing and I did X, Y and Z but I didn’t rely on it, I did something a bit different and I hope I get the opportunity to do that so see what happens with Ring of Honor.

NR – How did it come about that you were on WWE TV? It was you and Lionheart either side of Lana wasn’t it?

JH – Long story short, they said who wants it and me and Lionheart put our hands up the quickest.

– How did you feel doing a pretty good Russian accent when a few weeks later they had someone who was terrible?

JH – To me I was glad for the opportunity and I’m glad to get to talk about it because it actually meant the world to me but think who gets to talk on RAW? Not many people, who gets to go to that ring and everyone in that arena and everyone at home, millions across the world, hundreds of countries for one moment they are all listening to what that one person is saying, not many people get that privilege.
I thought to myself all the people who had been in the business, been in the company the length of time they had don’t get the opportunity to speak on RAW and the fact that I had been entrusted with that microphone meant the world to me and I felt I delivered and I was grateful for the opportunity.

Joe Hendry on WWE Raw in 2014

Joe Hendry on WWE Raw in 2014

NR – When I was preparing for this interview I noticed your Wikipedia page appears to have amended recently and you have been given the nickname “The Man Who is Better Than Damien Sandow”. Does this have anything to do with Sandow and you both being set to appear at the next WCPW show? Without giving too much away (unless you want to) can I expect to see ‘The Intellectual Saviour’ be in the ring with ‘The Local Hero’?

JH – Me having a Wikipedia page is a very recent thing so you asking me is the first time I have heard that particular nickname so the answer is I know nothing about this but I don’t think it takes a genius to look at what Joe Hendry does and look at what Damien Sandow does there’s definitely interest for a confrontation there so who knows maybe at some point in the future in WCPW we may cross paths we’ll see, if the fans want it then chances are it might happen.

NR – You’ve appeared at both WCPW events so far and I understand that you are set to appear for their series two tapings. What are your thoughts of the promotion? For me they appear to be incredibly well run and are exceptionally well organised given their lack of experience running a wrestling show.

JH – WCPW is something I am extremely proud to be a part of, it’s the perfect platform for me, a fantastic product that they have put out there and I am proud to be associated with that and to be the first main event of the first show.  I feel we delivered on all levels and I look forward to being a key player for WCPW, doing my part in showing the world what we can do. I think the promotion is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, we had well over 20000 people watching us live for that first episode, I expect that number to grow exponentially and I am excited about the possibilities the What Culture platform can provide for me with the wrestling, with the entrances, with the character, with the promos, with the vignettes, with the whole package, it allows me to showcase what I do and I am excited to see how I can grow with the brand.  It’s a very exciting time for wrestling and WCPW is a very exciting product indeed.

NR – The last question I always try and ask, if you could wrestle anyone from wrestling past/present that would you choose? I asked Grado, he chose Chris Benoit, Viper chose Cesaro, so you in your prime, them in their prime who would you pick?

JH – Kurt Angle, that’s a tough one there is so many, The Rock is the reason I got into this business. I am a single minded person, don’t get me wrong I genuinely believe I will have a match with The Rock, I believe I will be the WWE champion, I believe I will main event WrestleMania, I believe that but the opportunity to wrestle Kurt Angle everyone on the ICW roster is clamouring for that.

NR – I wouldn’t want to be the guy who stopped you wrestling Kurt Angle, if I was Mark Dallas I would let you have whatever you wanted rather than face an angry Joe Hendry.

JH – See what happens…

NR – I can’t wait! Thanks for your time Joe, have a great night.

 

Since this interview took place, Hendry was given an opportunity to secure his place in match with Kurt Angle and fulfill one of his wrestling dreams. Unfortunately for Hendry he lost the match (hr made another awesome entance here) and his opponent Joe Coffey is now set to face Olympic Gold Medalist in November in what could go down as the biggest event ever in British wrestling history.
Despite this setback I would not be surprised if that match changes between now and November as having spent time in the presence of Hendry and having heart the conviction in his voice and see the fire in his eyes I would never count out The Local Hero…
If, like me, you are are a Joe Hendry fan I’d recommend you check out his or follow him on Twitter @joehendry to see if and when he is at a show near you. As for me I will be attending the recording of WCPW Season 2, which Hendry is set to be a part of. Season 2 of WCPW which will be filming on July 27th & 28th in Newcastle. Tickets can be bought from www.shop.whatculture.com.

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