Originally published at Raven reflects on IMPACT 'Hard To Kill' appearance, being at post-PPV TV tapings
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** Coming off the heels of IMPACT Wrestling’s Hard To Kill weekend, Raven reflected on the time he spent with the company and the on-screen appearances he had. He said the following on The Raven Effect podcast:
First of all, I was in a segment with Mickie James, putting her over because she started out as Alexis Laree and I brought her into TNA…
She was in a match where if she lost, she would have to retire but if she won, she won the title and it was against Jordynne Grace and they had a hell of a f*cking match. Seriously, there were like four matches I saw that were on the pay-per-view Friday night that I thought were tremendous.
Raven joined the commentary team for the Steve Maclin versus Rich Swann Falls Count Anywhere match. Raven had the idea in mind for Swann and Maclin to brawl to the Marietta, Georgia line and then the finish would be contested because the match was not finished in the city of Atlanta where Hard To Kill took place.
I did some commentary on a Falls Count Anywhere in Atlanta match, and I wanted to do a spot where they fight to the Marietta line and the one guy, they get the three count but the guy’s halfway over the Marietta line and it’s called off because he’s outside of Atlanta, because it was only good in the city of Atlanta. But then the angle would continue because he could say it’s Metro Atlanta, because Marietta’s in the Metro Atlanta area and I’d be like, well, I don’t know about that. We have to have a lawyer and it’d be a big scrum and a big legal fiasco.
He went on to share that at the television tapings, he added his two cents to a match that Killer Kelly and Taylor Wilde had.
I was talking to Killer Kelly — yeah, she’s good — and Taylor Wilde… The pay-per-view [Hard To Kill] was on Friday so this was on Saturday so they worked each other. I was throwing my two cents in. I wasn’t the agent for their match but I threw in my two cents. I asked if they minded, but I told them after the match, I said, ‘Yeah, you guys worked really great, really hard, it was a really good match. But, how long you been in the business?’ And they (meaning Killer Kelly) said about five years and that’s not that much.
** In 2021, Will Ospreay had to relinquish the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship due to a neck injury he suffered at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku. Ospreay informed Renée Paquette on The Sessions podcast that the definitive injury occurred when he landed wrong from a Shooting Star Press. He kept the details of his injuries to himself but said he was “f*cked”. Despite that, Ospreay is proud of what he and Shingo Takagi accomplished in that match.
Ospreay: It was hard as well because that’s the one I got injured in (match against Shingo Takagi at Wrestling Dontaku 2021). So there was a point in May, I had performed a Shooting Star Press in that match and I guess it was a little bit further than what I usually have but instead of my body hitting like this, my body hit kind of that and I kind of scorpioned. Not scorpioned, I don’t know, like a Cobra in a way and I felt this pop go off in my back and I never felt it before but I injured my back and I’ve had an injured neck for ages so like, by the end of that match, I was proper f*cking (unable to make out word). Then Japan did a mad national lockdown so I was just like, you know what? For the first time, I’m gonna take time off and I’m gonna go and see what these injuries were… I went home, I got it looked at, I got M.R.I.’s and I was f*cked.
I’ll keep the actual full extent of the injuries to myself just because I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business but it is one of those ones where I was so mangled and I could have gone through with it, I could have gone the naughty way of going about it but for the first time, I kind of was just like, ‘I’m hurt. I need to go home, I need to sort this out’ and I sorted it out and I feel like it’s a build upon things where it’s like, there’s a lot of mental pressure on us all right now, those injuries. It was so bad but going in there with Shingo [Takagi] who is one of my favorite opponents of all-time and being able to crush it for 46 minutes, both battered, both hurt and just being able to do it in silence, I do have a chip on my shoulder for that one. It makes me proud. I’m proud of that match so much.
As Ospreay and Paquette were discussing wrestling during the pandemic in Japan, Renée shared that there were points when Jon Moxley wanted to go back to Japan at the time but that did not come to fruition.
Paquette: I remember at certain points when Jon [Moxley] wanted to go back to Japan and work (during the pandemic) and obviously, that never panned out at any point but me thinking that too, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. You’ve gotta take that flight there and then you gotta be in quarantine’ and I’ve even been in those hotel rooms with him there and they are tiny. Like that’s really stressful.
Looking back at Ospreay’s time in AEW, he discussed getting accustomed to TV wrestling. It is something he feels he needs to work on but if that was a week-to-week situation for him, he would have a better understanding. Ospreay said he was just thrown out there on TV.
Ospreay: It’s just like, TV wrestling is so different. It’s all about cameras and finding — you know what I mean? I could give a tuss about the camera or anything like that. I’m wrestling for the live audiences. But, I had to kind of put ego to one side (while I was at AEW), because I’m good at this, I know I’m good, right? But, I hope you couldn’t tell but I had no f*cking idea what I’m doing, do you know what I mean? So I need someone to help me out and navigate the waters and it was an incredible learning experience. It was one of those things where I was so out of my depth but when I started swimming, I kind of went, okay, I’m starting to understand this now but, I feel like if that became my week in, week out, I’d understand it a little bit better but to be kind of thrown in there and just go, swim! F*cking hell. Don’t know what to do.
** As R-Truth was doing a livestream, he stated that he’s working on getting a role in a movie and he’s been in communication with his agent about that but added that he’s out of commission right now as he’s been recovering from surgery.
I’m working on getting another movie. My agent’s down in New Mexico, she’s been sending me some stuff. I’m out of commission right now. I’m just down and out right now but, I’m working on getting some movies.
** In June 2022, Finn Balor replaced Edge in The Judgment Day. The group currently consists of Balor, Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest. Balor sat down with BT Sport and recalled meeting with Vince McMahon a few minutes before WWE Raw went live. McMahon told him to go out, be his normal self and then do the heel turn. Balor added that what he’s currently doing is what he wanted to do in his most recent go-round in NXT but the crowd was too attached to him.
This was such a weird night (Balor joining The Judgment Day) because I remember, it was like 7:55 PM and we’re going live at eight o’clock and I knock on Vince McMahon’s office and I go there and I say, ‘Sir, have you got a minute?’ And he looks up from his papers and he goes, ‘Is it about tonight?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s about tonight. It’s about the heel turn.’ He goes, ‘Oh, come in.’ So I just wanted some direction as to, ‘Hey, am I going out there in the suit? In The Judgment Day colors or am I going out as Finn? Am I going out to music? What way are we doing it?’ And he said, ‘Oh, you just go out as Finn and then do the segment.’ I said, ‘Well, oh, okay. That’s cool.’ So there wasn’t really much thought or plan that went into it… but it definitely made an impact and I feel like this is the version of Finn I wanted to do in NXT, and we couldn’t do it because the crowd had been too attached to me from the previous run and then the crowd got completely taken out of it so there was no chance to even be a heel, to get a heel reaction. So, this is kind of what I went back to NXT to do and you know, three years later, I get to do it properly.
Speaking about the progression of Dominik, Balor feels he’s already transcending Rey Mysterio when it comes to the crowd reactions he’s getting.
Recently, Dominik [Mysterio] has just (come completely into his own). I don’t know how you even explain it but it’s almost like he’s transcending what his father’s done already with the reactions that he’s getting.
Coming up for WWE is the 2023 Royal Rumble. Balor wants to see if he can last an hour in the Rumble to top his performance in 2018 where he went close to hour. Balor said he was disappointed about not hitting the hour mark that year.
It was fine (2018 men’s Royal Rumble match). I remember thinking I could go for a little longer. It definitely felt like there was something achieved that night, you know? Some nights, you go out there and you just do your job and it’s A, B, C, D and then you’re done. That, there was a lot of kind of working on the fly or just having to improvise a lot and really be in the moment and enjoy it and I really did and I would love another shot at maybe cracking the one hour mark in the Rumble. I was a little bit disappointed actually to be honest. I think I got like 57 minutes, 58 seconds.
I had no idea (what my time was) but when I came back, someone told me. He said, ‘Ah! Good job. You almost lasted an hour.’ I was, ‘Almost? F*ck. I thought it was a little bit longer than that.’
The conversation turned back to 2016 when Balor had to relinquish the Universal Championship. He does not remember much from it but he did not know Stephanie McMahon was going to be in the ring nor did he know Mick Foley would raise his hand.
I don’t really have much memory from this at all (night I relinquished the WWE Universal Title) and there wasn’t any planning that went into it. Obviously, I had a couple lines I wanted to get out but, I even remember Mick Foley lifting my arm and I’m thinking, oh, that’s weird. We haven’t even spoken about this or anything and I didn’t know Stephanie [McMahon] was gonna be in the ring, like when I went out there, Stephanie was in the ring. But, this day was such a blur because I went from the night before at SummerSlam, straight from the hotel and we had to get up at 6 AM to go and do media so I hadn’t really slept because of the adrenaline and the media and everything so at 6 AM, went in to do media, Good Morning America and from there, we went straight to the hospital and straight from the hospital, we went straight to the show so I hadn’t really been to bed since the Saturday night so, that was kind of a blur.
** David LaGreca and Thunder Rosa welcomed Afa Anoa’i Jr. a.k.a. Manu onto Busted Open Radio. He opened up about the internal pressure from himself when it comes to comparing his success in wrestling to members of his family’s success. He admitted that it can be difficult to navigate but added that it never derives from jealously.
That’s something basically I think I’ve struggled with a lot (comparing my professional success to members of my family’s success), being in such a successful family and when I had my opportunity that I’m very thankful for, I was a baby, you know? I was 21 years old and I was thrown right in, right on Raw, right into pay-per-views, everything and in my mind I was ready, but looking back, I wish I would have had a little more time but it’s just like, I can’t really compare myself and my successes to everybody else in my family because there’s always gonna be the next one who’s gonna be bigger and better than everybody so I try to be the best version of me. I know in my career, I’ve made a lot of mistakes being young and man, I’ve built a reputation when I was young that, you know, I’ve been spending the last 15 years or so trying to bury and prove my value and prove my worth to this business and I try not to compare. It gets frustrating. It gets frustrating sitting back and watching all these guys go but never any jealousy or anything like that. I’ve learned to master patience (he laughed). Eventually my time will come, eventually I’ll get a call. I just gotta keep plugging away and doing it.
** Edition #105 of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s Ace’s HIGH series is up on NJPW1972.com. He recalled Jushin Thunder Liger getting upset with him after one of his matches. He added that Liger has always been intimidating to him and in that moment, Liger had to be restrained by others to stop him from getting to Tanahashi. The multi-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion feels being ‘chewed out’ by Liger was a rite of passage in a way.
I had red and white tights at the time, so we had a good look together (when Liger & I teamed in July 2013). But Liger always has been that intimidating senpai figure to me, so I was on edge during that match.
Well, I guess it just sticks in the memory. I know it was my fault, but when I was young in my career, Liger got really hot at me after my match. I just whiffed a dropkick huge, and Liger yelled at me saying that I should think before I use moves. I should have apologized, and that would have been that, but instead I said, ‘I thought (my opponent) would get up and close the distance.’ Then, oh boy…
Like, people had to step in to stop him (from) killing me (laughs). Liger has that short fuse, but it blows over real fast. If anything, if you apologize to him the next day, he gets hot again. ‘Why are you bringing that up again!?’
You know, he was taught by Antonio Inoki and Yoshiaki Fujiwara directly; having his experience and advice to hand is key. And then as a wrestler himself, of course, an absolute global legend. In a way, being chewed out by Liger was like a rite of passage for me in this business.
** The IMPACT World Champion Josh Alexander was interviewed by DAZN Wrestling. He was asked if he feels he got the proper credit for his 2022. He answered ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to that and expressed that he wants to make sure IMPACT receives more credit for the 2023 they’re going to have.
Um, I mean yes, of course and then there’s also the part of ‘no’ (Alexander said in response to if he’s feels he got his credit for 2022). When I look back at the year, I kind of did a recap a few weeks ago over Christmas break, just talking to my wife and I had forgot I wrestled [Tomohiro] Ishii for some reasons. There was matches that I had that were so awesome to me personally and fans received it really well that I had forgot I had because the very next month, I had this match with Eric Young that meant so much to me and I thought was received super well and then you know, I had this match with Alex Shelley. All the matches I had, they meant something to me, everybody regarded them super well. It seemed to get a lot of fanfare and noise for IMPACT Wrestling as well as myself and stuff like that. It’s just a weird place to be in because when I was X Division Champion, I did a lot of this stuff too. Maybe not the most marquee matchups possible but every match, I’d have people (that) were saying the same kind of thing like, you know, ‘You’re stealing the show. You’re putting this stuff on the map, you’re working your ass off’ and I love that, that’s what I wanna do. Bell to bell, that’s where I want you to bet on me every single time and put the pressure on me and then, you know, like last year, the Sports Illustrated top ten came out and they were like, ‘Oh man, you’re number nine on the thing.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool to me,’ it’s cool. But then, my father-in-law reads it and he doesn’t know much about this stuff but he’s like, ‘Sports Illustrated said you’re the ninth best wrestler in the world? That’s amazing’ and to everybody else, it was a Sports Illustrated piece. It meant something huge and I was just like, oh cool. I wonder what I’ll do this year because I think this year was way better than last year and I’m not even on these rankings and stuff like that now and I think it’s a testament to there’s so much talent in pro wrestling now and there’s so much wrestling to consume on a weekly basis… The only slight I think is not enough people are giving IMPACT the credit we deserve right now and that’s what the goal is for 2023 is keep this momentum going, keep the growth going, keep doing what we’re doing in 2022 and even do it even better in 2023 so that we get that recognition next year, all of us, not just me.
** The Alliance Pro Wrestling Network ran their interview with Steve Maclin. He told the platform that he’d be interested in a match with himself and Deonna Purrazzo versus the duo of Jonathan Gresham and Jordynne Grace.
That would be a fun match (Maclin & Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jordynne Grace & Jonathan Gresham) and if that was to happen, so be it but if the storyline fits, that’s kind of where it works out if it were to happen.
** At NJPW Rumble on 44th Street, Clark Connors made his in-ring return after being out of action for several months. He shared with The Shining Wizards podcast that his back is feeling good, reflected on the return match against Minoru Suzuki and competing in the 2022 Super Junior Tag League.
I feel great, I’m back. Literally, my back is back, I feel better. That whole tour, that first match coming back with [Minoru] Suzuki (at NJPW Rumble on 44th Street) obviously just kind of throws you right in the fire and it just made me realize that I can keep wrestling because I got through the Suzuki stuff. So yeah, the Super Junior tour was really, really easy. I got to hang out finally with all my L.A. Dojo guys and other guys on the tour and Gabriel Kidd and I got drunk every single night and most of the days. So it was that and some fun wrestling, showing my bare ass in front of a bunch of Japanese people so yeah, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.
** While guest appearing on Busted Open Radio, D’Lo Brown shared that there was a theme song created for himself and Mark Henry for their tag run in the late 1990s.
I love that music (D’Lo’s WWF/E theme). People don’t know that it was an original version that was — it was a tag team song for you [Mark Henry] and I. So there was a part in there that said, ‘Call me Mr. Henry, call me Mr. Brown’ so, I love that music.
** Antonio Inoki, who passed away in 2022, posthumously received The Orders of the Rising Sun and Order of the Sacred Treasure medals. The former of the achievements is accredited to Inoki’s achievements in pro wrestling, MMA and sports in general. The latter of the medals is awarded to those who are no longer living who have made distinguished services to the nation and the public.
** IMPACT Wrestling shared a link to the late Don West’s obituary.
** There’s an interview with Kazuchika Okada on the TV Guide site.
** On the January 16th episode of the Fuji TV series about pro wrestling trainees, Jushin Thunder Liger appeared as a guest to assist Kazuchika Okada with the coaching.
** Per PWInsider, Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair and Montez Ford are going to be at the Kansas City Chiefs versus Jacksonville Jaguars playoff game this weekend.
** Apollo Crews spoke to ‘The Nation Newspaper’.
** January 17th birthdays: Dark Order’s Negative One.
** Straight Talk Wrestling chatted with Mickie James.
** Fightful pushed out the written version of their conversation with Alan Angels.
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.