Over recent years fans of the Northeast wrestling scene have been been spoiled as the scene has continued to grow and go from strength to strength. On top of the existing promotions like Main Event Wrestling new companies like Absolute and NORTH have been formed and provided a stage for the area’s top workers to showcase their talents. Not only are performers in the northeast incredibly talented in the ring but many of them have created their own personas that makes them stand out from the crowd. With characters such as the Sons of Ulaid, The Primate and even Mr Kill All Gimmicks himself, HT Drake at the forefront the northeast has never had such a strong talent pool as it does today.
Given the depth of talented performers it could be difficult for anyone to emerge and standout but throughout 2017 one man has managed to adapt him persona and make himself one of the more unique characters around. That character Erin Jacobs is the brainchild of the extremely talented Joe Rage and we were lucky enough to talk to Joe about his start in wrestling, how he became the performed he is today and how he created the Erin Jacobs character. We hope you enjoy it…
Neil Rogers – What was your introduction to wrestling?
Joe Rage – It was Mick Foley and stuff like that I really liked him when the 90’s came around, it was amazing some of the stuff he did, I used to love that JR used to announce that he was raised by rats, I found that hilarious. What started me off was videos of Paul Orndorff.
NR – Mr Wonderful…
JR – Yeah when he would come in with a forearm to the face and you would hear the crack, you didn’t even need to sell that impact.
NR – So when would that have been?
JR – It was watching reruns. I was born in ’88 so I’m not old enough to have been around for most of his career but I used to watch on the first version of the old big black Sky box I used to watch a show that had on loads of reruns. It had on WCW a lot but I remember seeing old Orndorff stuff and that really got me into it.
NR – So what sort of age would that have been? Early teens?
JR – Was about from 8 years old that I first got into watching wrestling. I remember when I was that young I had a room in the house that had all of my toys in and a TV and I would be just flicking through the channels because I wanted to know how many channels there was and I got to TNT and stopped.
NR – I’m a few years older than you and I remember after a certain point Cartoon Network changed into TNT and that was how I first discovered WCW.
JR – Yes, that’s putting some memories together for me, I would have been flicking around then went back to what I thought was Cartoon Network and it found TNT! I was just sat there watching it all, it was amazing. It just opened up my world and blew my mind.
NR – Am I right in saying you were around 15 when you went to your first training school?
JR – Yeah I was, I went to my 3 Count Wrestling’s training school, how did you know that?
NR – I heard listened to a podcast you were on and remember you saying that at 15 your mam brought back a poster and you went to the training school and you said you were a bit disappointed because there wasn’t any participation is that right?
JR – Yeah and that’s nothing on 3 Count, it was how they were set up, I pretty much watched other people wrestle for a few hours. I was 15 I wanted to get in that ring and wrestle. I found another poster and found Chris Diamonds promotion and he ran me through the fundamentals of wrestling. Chris then closed shop and went back to doing camps and then at about 18 I found him again because he had opened back up and EPW actually started and that was the start of my career.
NR – You also mentioned in the podcast that early on you were sold a pair of shorts that were something like 5 sizes too big for you??
JR – Yeah, I still have them today, I’m still waiting for the right new guy to come along and buy them off me.
NR – Are you aiming to pass them down the generations?
JR – Yes, they come with great responsibility!
NR – You have also talked about how early on they were trying to rib you a lot but you were used to it in your life away from wrestling, what sort of ribs were they trying to pull on you?
JR – Have you heard of Blondie Barrett?
NR – I don’t think so.
JR – Well he runs down south quite a lot, in his promos he usually ends them that he’s old school, they think he’s about 25 or 30 years in but I’m not really sure at all. I had been told that Blondie comes into the ring with a knife and if he doesn’t like the look of you or you don’t show him respect in some way he will just light you up and make you bleed from your forehead. I was just like, that doesn’t happen, that’s not wrestling.
NR – That does seem pretty far fetched.
JR – That was just common sense to me from the beginning that there would be no crazed wrestler coming in, I hadn’t heard of….
NR – New Jack??
JR – *Laughs* exactly, I hadn’t heard of him at the time so I was a bit naïve to think that there was no such thing as that. I just thought I’m not even going to entertain this rib and there were a couple of other daft ones when we were travelling but that’s the only one that really stands out from back then.
NR – Then on your first show you met The Guv’nor which sounded pretty interesting with people fanning him.
JR – It was more than I could ever imagine that would ever happen to somebody. That was the sort of thing I think might happen to Indian royalty not some lads being wresters in the middle of nowhere.
NR – Can you tell that story again for me so I can do it justice?
JR – Well we were all getting ready then The Guv’nor walked in and I stopped what I was doing, I think a few other people did as well and we were all looking at him kind of confused because he was stood there with his big fur coat, his hat with a feather in. He says that he’s too warm so his two understudies grab his coat, take it off him, take his hat off him and start spraying him down with water then someone started fanning him down, I was so confused. I just thought there’s no crowd here, who are you doing this for? I’m still confused about this today, I don’t know who this is for.
NR – What size is this guy?
JR – He looks like a slightly better shaped Vicera, you could tell he had muscle on him because he used to be a boxer but hes bigger than he used to be but its that built Vicera kind of look. It is the strangest thing I have ever seen. If that was the only thing I had ever seen of wrestling I would be done with it, that’s not wrestling.
NR – Have you ever crossed paths with The Guv’nor since?
JR – Only a couple of times, just in passing.
NR – He sounds like a hell of a character!
JR – Wrestling is one of those things when you can’t make it up, the stories are too wild.
NR – Am I remembering correctly that on your first show you met Frankie Sloan?
JR – Yes, he was the saviour of me wanting to leave the business, he set me straight.
NR – What kind of advice did he give you? Is there anything you could share?
JR – Yeah, he was telling me the whys the whats and the wheres of what was going on in specific matches. I was told to stand at the glass and watch the whole show then come back in for the little break before the rumble and then do the rumble and get that experience that way. While this was going on Frankie was standing there as well for ages because he wasn’t on till later, so he was telling me what was going on in the ring. He was explaining they are doing it this way because of this, then things like right he’s going to stiff him here because this just happened and I was just trying to take this in and sure enough it happened, I was thinking this guy is a wizard because how does he know what’s going to happen?
It was amazing to me that he could deconstruct the entire match and give me in plain terms the reasons why things were happening the way that they were happening and what was going to come next with the reasons of why that will come next, it was like a training session right there.
NR – I don’t know if you follow the NFL at all but there was a quarterback called Tony Romo who was at the Dallas Cowboys for a while and he’s moved to commentating but because he’s played for so long he can see the plays before they happen, when someone has done something for so long they can almost see into the future sometimes.
JR – That’s exactly it, he knows because he’s seen the routine so many times, he’s been wrestling for one year more than my age which is amazing.
NR – Sounds incredible, so do you have any other memories from that first show? What was the rumble like?
JR – See I don’t know how anyone can remember their first rumble because for me it was over in such quick succession and it was over in such a blur how can I ever take anything in from that first session however I stuck to my teachers, I had two teachers at the time because those were the people I was comfortable with. Someone came over and started working on me, then we worked on each other a bit then I got chucked out and afterwards got some feedback.
NR – How long was it from your first EPW training session to when you went to that as your first show?
JR – 3 Days.
NR – Then how long was it from there to you having your first regular one on one match that wasn’t a rumble?
JR – My first ever match was against Havoc in Beverly, not Jimmy! This is a guy called Havoc from Grimsby who teaches there, I was 11 stone, something like that and he was a good 22 stone and shaped like Earthquake. Before the match we were talking it through and I really didn’t know what to do, I think I was two or three weeks in with a few sessions each week and he wanted me to do dropkicks on him then he would swat them away like they were nothing then eventually I would duck something and come off the rope, give him a better drop kick with the momentum. I would then work on him in the corner a little bit then he took over, I don’t remember what his finisher was then but it eventually became the Rikishi sit down sit down and that was horrible.
NR – Doesn’t sound good, so how long was it into your career that you had that first match?
JR – I think about 3 or 4 weeks.
NR – That is quick, then did you continue training at EPW? At what point did you make the jump to Rampage’s school?
JR – I continued with EPW for a good eight years and it was only recently, like in the last year and a half that Rampage, well as soon as Rampage opened the school he was on a show with me saying I had to make it to his school. I was torn because loyalty is so important in wrestling, so with a heavy heart I tried to break the ties with EPW and eventually I started going to Rampages. I liked the competitiveness and that everyone there was better than me, that made me push forward harder.
NR – For people who don’t know would you mind listing off a few of the people that go to Rampages school? Screwface, The Primate, Sons of Ulaid, HT Drake, Little Miss Roxxy…
JR – Erm, the Rogues, Shreddybrek, Adam Maxted goes there.
NR – There are a lot of talented individuals there that you are around getting a high level of training and that’s helping you grow and become a better wrestler is that fair to say?
JR – Exactly, now I’m thrown in the deep end of the pool and they say right you are going to have to swim.
NR – If you don’t mind me asking how Chris was when you left his school?
JR – As far as I know me and him are fine, we had a come to Jesus meeting and was like right, its time for you to go and spread your wings and see if you can sink or swim out in the real world and then if we meet up in the future great, if you make something of yourself then even better.
NR – That sounds cool, I’ve never really met Chris so I can just imagine there are a few different ways you could take it if someone comes to you and wants to leave.
JR – It was great because it wasn’t like he knew I was going to go to Rampages school.
NR – I’ve heard from different people that the sessions Rampage puts on are way up there in the ranks of the best there is around, because you have been to a couple of different schools, what would you say sets his apart from the rest?
JR – I think personally that he has the WWE mentality when he puts on session everyone is there to compete, everyone wants to impress him, and everyone is there for the same reason. Everyone wants to improve and help each other, it’s not just everyone is out for themselves. People will say “I noticed you did this and this is the reason why because I used to do this.” The guys who have been there a while and established themselves under the banner of Rampage definitely have WWE in their sights, they have big goals and that makes it all the better for all the rest around them. I would say it’s the intensity of it that sets them apart, you’ve got a few others where they will go through technical things here and there, they will go through very specific things but because Rampage hits all of those things and with intensity then you deconstruct everything, even in the most simple terms Rampage will still look at a drill and then say you could do it a bit better.
NR – So he’s constantly critiquing you and offering advice?
JR – Constantly, yeah.
NR – So you started going to that school then soon after you came out with a new character, did that come out of the work that you were doing at that school?
JR – How Rampage deals with ideas, he wants you to go home, think it all the way through then come back with all the details inside and out and so we were in a group chat with other wrestlers and a promoter who wanted me for a spot but didn’t think that Joe Rage would work out. Then the discussion came up with an American Psycho type/Patrick Bateman character but the funny thing is that the guy who pitched the idea hadn’t actually seen American Psycho. I had always watched the movie and thought it would be a good character for a wrestler but I didn’t know how to translate it. My ideas were a bit extreme to begin with but then it was like where would I go from there and the guys were great and got me to slow down and strip it all back and we came up with a few ideas back and forth, we then started coming up with a name, that might have been the hardest part. We tried a few different names but then we got to Erin Jacobs and that stuck, the promoter Andrew was watching the thing unfold so I went to training and I pitched the whole thing to Rampage. Rampage listened and had a bit of a think about it then I remember he does this thing where he looks up into the air and thinks about it, as a student I’m watching him thinking that he had better say this is good, it seemed like I was waiting for him for ever then all of a sudden he goes, “I like it” and oh the relief!
So now when I do any matches at the end of training I’m doing it in the character of Erin Jacobs because I know that’s what needs to catch up the most and its something that I can really sink my teeth into. I’m starting to get lost into the match as Erin Jacobs and its turning into a bit of a shoot.
NR – I remember your matches at NORTH turned into extremely violent spots at the end was that always the plan?
JR – Yes because its all around torture and things like that and that’s how I feel it should go with Erin, everything should be around how can I torture this person and not wrestle them because that would bore a character like Erin, why would he be wrestling? I can see he would want to go for the titles and the glory and the things he might feel that he deserves, but its all about putting the other person in a position where they would be vulnerable so then he can capitalise on that and torture them.
NR – So you have got to this point with Erin Jacobs are you able to say what the next step will be, is it going to be a continual growth, continued violence?
JR – I don’t know what the next opponent is going to be for Erin, I hope as it goes on that it’s someone a bit more high profile each time because I would like to build on the popularity of Erin, I would like him to reach heights that I don’t think Joe Rage ever would. It’s been a lot of hard work to get into the mindset of this and to find a new wrestling style but I feel as though I’ve found it and now I need to excel.
NR – On the podcast you did you gave some names of people you would like to wrestle, like Nathan Cruz and Rampage, Nathan has wrestled at NORTH before do you think its possible that him and Erin could cross paths?
JR – Hey if the story is good and we can find and angle for it I would be more than happy to work Nathan because he is someone who has been parallel to my career. He was a year in when I started so for me to go against someone like him who has risen to very large heights in his career that would be a goal achieved. I wouldn’t like to say that I would ever work someone just once, sometimes the first match with someone is a bit rickety but if you put a series together with someone it ends up much better. I would love to go against Nathan Cruz and Rampage. It would be great to go against a lot of people at NORTH because its such a great platform to jump off you can go against anyone.
NR – Yeah that’s the thing with NORTH because they don’t have such a set roster they bring in a wide variety of people, some new to the area no one is really out of reach.
JR – Well yeah exactly and I think that them being on the precipice of what’s hot and what’s not is vital for NORTH to grow and I hope that every time I’m on I put on a good show because I want NORTH to grow. At the min NORTH is Erin’s home, I am currently giving exclusivity to NORTH however if other promotions want that then I would speak to Andrew at NORTH for his say so.
NR – This might be a tenuous link but I have spoken to Martina the session moth and originally she had worked more of a PG gimmick as Kazza G then she started Martina and now she doesn’t really work anywhere else as Kazza G anymore as she enjoys being Martina so much more, is that something you would like to follow with Erin or do you think there will always be a place to go back to Joe Rage?
JR – I reckon there will always be a place for me to go back to Joe, however I would like to see Joe fizzle out in a storyline way and I snap into Erin Jacobs after being Joe on a show.
NR – Do you think Erin Jacobs would work on a PG show? Would it just be toning things down a bit?
JR – Yeah I think that every wrestler belongs on every show you just have to work a little bit differently depending. Like Jester has worked on lots of different shows, he’s worked on family shows he’s worked on adult shows.
NR – That’s a great point.
JR – MEW is a good example of being in between, slight language, obviously we don’t go over the top but there is a good balance with MEW in the fact that they are able to put on such a show that is in between adult and family friendly.
NR – Do you have a bucket list of promotions or people to work with?
JR – There’s something going on with Joe Rage going into a new promotion as 3CW but that will be revealed in time.
NR – Is it the same people who run 3CW now as when you trained when you were younger?
JR – I was really small back then so I don’t think people would recognise me.
NR – You mentioned early on you were quite small and now you are a big broad guy, at what point did you make the jump into the gym and building yourself up?
JR – When I’m training, I train working on specific muscles like in my back but then when I’m bumping that’s working on those muscles as well so I’m getting this oversized back from when I first started. Then as things went on I fell into this training when I was overcompensating other muscles for my back but then I started working on my legs. When I was training I was doing 250 squats a night then 100 press ups to make sure I was in the best shape possible then I did 120 shows with my work out partner Tom (Bram) over last year. Mainly EPW and a couple of MEW shows and I really got into the training.
NR – I know you have mentioned before that you are close friends with Bram and when I have spoken to you before you before you mentioned there working with Bram, he’s not someone I have met, I don’t know a great deal about him but I know that he’s someone who carries some stigma around with him. There was quite a large backlash recently when OTT announced they were going to be using him and they ended up cancelling. Having met Bram and knowing him quite well how different is the online image of him and what you know?
JR – He’s the most charming bastard you will ever meet. You could leave him out in the desert, in the middle of nowhere with nothing and no one then you could see him in Las Vegas, rolling in money, that’s the kind of guy he is he could find a way out of anything. When it comes to the stigma with him it’s like the legal stigma is not true and that’s the reason why the charges were dropped.
NR – He did release a statement that the charges were dropped and he could have filed charges of his own but he wanted to drop it so he’s made it clear he did nothing wrong but the accusations have stuck. There are lots of other wrestlers out there who have been charged but they seem not so closely associated with it, why do you think that is?
JR– I think it’s a bit of his devil may care personality I think that what it is sometimes it comes down to jealousy. With how he goes on he still gets done what he needs to do and people talk shit about him because of those things.
NR – So you think there is jealousy there and people on the internet read what is said and they take it as gospel.
JR – I think there is always going to be that with the internet, I think that Tom gets a lot of flak that he doesn’t deserve and he knows this himself that I think he’s a bit of an idiot with partying too hard, that’s just what Tom is, all of his closest friends see the same thing and we all hate him for that but still love him anyway. People are always jealous when he can do all of that but still wrestle as good as he does and get as far as he does and is able to sustain his lifestyle.
NR – So is he someone who you look up too?
JR – To be honest I think that anyone would like to be able to live off wrestling, I think that Rampage is someone I look up too, I see Tom as a brother because we have come that close, he’s the guy who woke me up in the business and I will always be grateful to him for that. I was just a dosser and I was just going with the flow and he for some reason saw something in me and took me under his wing a bit and pushed me forward into a more professional lifestyle. I think that a lot of people would have a lot of choice words for him but a lot of people love him as well. I can’t really sort of say he’s the best role model ever but I can say that when it comes to professional mentality that’s something he still has in him and that’s something to look forward too, I see aspects of Tom that I look up too but when it comes to the partying side of him I don’t think to myself that that’s something I would like to do but if you take that away then yes, how he is and Rampage is something that I look up too.
NR – Thanks a lot for your time Joe. I appreciate you taking the time to chat to me
Thank you to NORTH Wrestling NCL, Thiru Malavan & Chris Searle for permission to use their photographs