Welcome to our Q&A series called ‘The 9 Count’ where we pose nine questions to the new faces of Scottish professional wrestling. Whether they are trainees or just making their way out in the big world of professional wrestling, we give you the chance to find out more about the future of Scottish wrestling.
In this edition, Respect Pro Wrestling’s Big Bennie answers our questions.
What is your first memory of professional wrestling and what got you hooked?
Trying to figure out my first memory actually took a lot longer than expected, which I’m attributing to the ever advancing march of time. It was the day after Summerslam 2000, bolting down the stairs in the morning to check if the VCR had recorded it properly, and then planting myself on the couch to drink it all in. Steve Blackman blasting Shane McMahon off the stage with a kendo stick, Jericho vs Benoit in two out of three falls, TLC numero uno, the entire show was absolute madness and I loved every second of it. Those three matches encapsulate in a nutshell what first drew me in: the sheer variety of what was on offer demanded my attention, and never allowed boredom to enter the equation.
Who were your favourite wrestlers growing up and who are your favourites now?
Growing up I was a sucker for the hardcore division, guys like Crash Holly, Steve Blackman, Al Snow were all near the top of the list. The Hardy Boyz and those damn Dudleys were pretty close to the top as well, but number one was always The Rock. I was ecstatic when he won, devastated when he lost. All of those guys remain favourites of mine, but naturally tastes change as you grow older. Now I would say my all-time favourite wrestler is Jake “The Snake” Roberts, because in my mind he is the single greatest talker in the history of the business. At a time where the done thing was to scream a bunch of hyped-up hyperbole down the camera lens, Jake spoke softly and intelligently, and managed to come across as a hundred times more dangerous than his peers as a result.
What are your top three matches of all time and why?
WWF Wrestlemania X7 – TLC match – to me, this remains the absolute peak for TLC. There have been countless TLC matches over the years, yet they perfected the formula in 2001. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who watches wrestling has seen Edge spearing Jeff Hardy off of the title belts. The interference from Spike Dudley, Lita and Rhyno added that perfect extra touch of madness that escalated the match even further, and I have to give a special shout out to the chair shot Lita cracks Spike with, she absolutely pans his melt in!
WWE Wrestlemania XIX – The Rock vs Stone Cold – while I loved the match at the time, it wasn’t until slightly later in life that I gained a true appreciation for the sheer emotional weight of it. I first started watching wrestling shortly after Austin had been run over by Rikishi, so his absence in my first few months as a viewer had a heavy influence in The Rock being my childhood favourite. Only later did I become the massive Austin fan I am today (I’ve read The Stone Cold Truth more times than any other book I possess) and thus realise what a monumental end of the road this match was. The Rock plays the arrogant Hollywood heel to perfection, Stone Cold was his usual mudhole-stomping, ass-kicking self, they hit each other’s finishers back when that trope wasn’t done to death… it’s an emotional ride with the perfect conclusion.
Ultimate X – AJ Styles vs Chris Sabin vs Petey Williams – there is no other match in wrestling history that I’ve watched more often than this one. I used to have it saved onto the PC at my gran’s house and any night I stayed over there it was guaranteed that I was watching Ultimate X. All the elements of the match come together beautifully: the early satisfaction of Coach D’Amore getting told to get tae, the trade-off of finishers, AJ getting flipped and landing HARD after the dropkick from Sabin while on the cables, and the ending of the match was unique and unpredictable.
What made you decide to start training to be a wrestler?
I had no idea that wrestling training was even an option here in Scotland, and it was my friend Jamie that first brought my attention to it. As soon as I knew that it was a possibility, it was a no-brainer. It’s not every day that someone gets the opportunity to live out a childhood dream, so I owed it to 7 year old Bennie to make a go of it.
What have you found to be the hardest part about training?
The hardest part of training has definitely been not being able to do it! This pandemic honestly could not have hit at a worse time for me, I was really starting to hit my stride in terms of shows, I had a million different ideas that I wanted to try out in training and now I have to sit on them for the foreseeable until this all blows over.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to your first day of training?
Dedicate yourself. Don’t half-arse it, because you’re wasting your time and your trainers’ time, and you’re also wasting money. My first couple of years of training I was very stop-start, which I blamed on a lack of money or lack of free time but the truth is I was lazy, and I didn’t have the mindset or mental maturity to make it. It took a long lay-off of about 4 years before I knew I was ready, and I’ve been knocking it out the park since I’ve come back.
Who would be your dream opponent, past or present?
I would’ve loved to mix it up with Eddie Guerrero. Just to see how we would bounce off each other, the sheer volume of knowledge that I could gain from working with him, plus who wouldn’t relish the challenge of trying to out-cheat Eddie?
Do you have any short/long term goals in your wrestling career, be it wrestling for a certain company or at a certain venue?
Short term I’m looking to expand my geographical resume, so far I’ve wrestled in Scotland and England and I’d love to add Wales, Ireland (Northern and ROI) and mainland Europe to that list. Eventually I’d love to wrestle worldwide, with USA sitting top of my wish list. The ultimate goal would be either WWE or AEW, but that’s a LONG way away and I’m ready for the graft required to make it.
And finally, where can we find you on social media?
Thank you to Bennie for taking the time to answer The 9 Count.
Photo credit Sandy Smith Photography