Jack Gallagher on British wrestling, character developments, cruiserweight division, more
SOURCE: “RING RUST RADIO”
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Jack Gallagher Interview Transcription
Ring Rust Radio: On November 5 at the Fab Café in Manchester, Figure Four Films will debut An Extraordinary Gentleman, a documentary focusing on your life and rise in the wrestling business. How were you first presented with this project and what were your initial thoughts on a documentary being made about you?
Jack Gallagher: I was first approached in the lead up to the Cruiserweight Classic by Adam Gill. He had previously made a film called Two Out of Three Falls that I had seen. It was a documentary about the British scene and how it evolved from the old World of Sport of Johnny Saint and Steve Grey era to the early 2000’s independent scene that we had. I was approached by him and the pitch was that I was a modern example of British style wrestling and it was almost in a way a spiritual sequel to his first documentary. The WWE link had a certain amount of interest in me there. It was actual fortuitous that by the end of the documentary I had signed a contract, so the film accidentally became about me getting to WWE.
Ring Rust Radio: Your first taste of WWE action came in the Cruiserweight Classic. How did you find out you were part of the tournament and how did you feel when the WWE Universe almost instantly took a liking to you and your character?
Jack Gallagher: I was first approached by William Regal who had sent me an email saying that there was something, nothing specific, but something coming up and that my style in particular and the way I carry myself probably best translated in a live environment, compared to sort of seeing me work out in the ring and go through drills and the usual try-out stuff. So, he had been helping me in that manner. I was overwhelmed because wrestling in the Classic was the first time I had ever competed in America at all, so I actually had no idea how Americans would take to me. Typically speaking and historically speaking, the English are put as the villains in your films over here, so I thought a very typical English person would get booed out of the building.
Ring Rust Radio: WWE has taken a huge interest in the British wrestling scene over the past year or so between utilizing you and Zack Sabre Jr. in the CWC, and holding the UK title tournament. How do you believe British wrestling as a whole has changed either for better or worse now that WWE has such a large influence?
Jack Gallagher: I think it’s mostly positive because trying to think for worse, how it is negatively affected, I’m not sure about the worst because I’m out of the scene. I think from looking outside of the scene now, it seems like it goes from strength to strength. A lot of people here who have been forced to pursue this part-time can now do this full-time. It has more exposure, more potential for travel which means more potential for earnings, so people can earn a better wage, and also it’s a glass ceiling that has been broken. It’s a path people can travel now. When I was beginning to train, I was thinking there were guys like Doug Williams who were phenomenal performers, but they still weren’t in WWE. Doug is a big stocky guy and whatnot and skinny little five-foot-eight me didn’t even have the dream or thought that I could make it to WWE. I thought at best I can make it to Japan and work there. Now you got guys like me, guys like Noam Dar, obviously Zack Sabre Jr. who competed in the classic, Pete Dunne the UK champion, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, more than a handful of guys that have proven that there is a path from the training school to the top of the business and that’s the main takeaway I think.
Ring Rust Radio: In more than a year with WWE, your character has shown a lot of developments and you’ve been both beloved and hated by fans during that time. How much creative input do you have in the way your character is presented on television during your promos and matches?
Jack Gallagher: Not to plug the documentary, but a lot of this is talked in the documentary. A lot of what you see on screen isn’t fictitious, it’s usually just me being me. The lovable side is me on a good day and the side that’s been hated or as my wife affectively refers to is Angry Jack. In terms of creative input, you’ve got to understand that the majority of the writing staff is American and North American. They are very aware that none of them grew up in Britain as a young British lad, so when I say to them this is what I would probably say, I would not use this word, I would use this, or I wouldn’t do this I would do that, they are very open to it because I have a very clear idea as to who I am as a person and a fictional character. The relationship with Vince McMahon, he is surprisingly approachable. Growing up watching WWE or WWF as I did growing up, you think of Vince McMahon as this larger-than-life scary character. He is a larger-than-life character, but he is very welcoming, surprisingly charming, he sits down and if he has time in his busy schedule, which is rare, but if he has time in his schedule, he has time for anyone.
Ring Rust Radio: With a drastic character change over the last several weeks, do you prefer playing a face or a heel and what are some of the challenges you face trying to get over as the bad guy after, so many fans came to love you?
Jack Gallagher: I’ve always preferred being a good guy, but I think a lot of that has stemmed from being a smaller competitor. There’s a certain amount of menace that is difficult when you’re being villainous. I think every good and interesting bad guy in fictional history has had a certain amount of menace and danger to him. In terms of overcoming that physically that’s kind of difficult for me since I’m a smaller guy. I tend to default to things like Hannibal Lector and people like that for influences; kind of an intellectual sort of scary people. It was a strange trait and change I thought myself. I was enjoying what I was doing but then again, I thought this was something no one is going to see coming so it’ll probably work when I did a little bit of a switch.
Ring Rust Radio: You’ve been working closely with Brian Kendrick lately, forming one of the most interesting alliances in WWE. What has that been like for you, and how has working with a WWE veteran like him helped you?
Jack Gallagher: When we first arrived, and I say we as the British group Noam, Zack and myself. When we first arrived in America, the people that we were driving to the classic with because we all carpooled were TJP and Brian Kendrick. Brian was one of the first American wrestlers I had any interaction with in WWE. In fact, after my first match here, Brian got my contact information and complimented me, and we had a little bit of a talking about wrestling now and again and the business of it even before the cruiserweight division was a thought in anyone’s mind. It’s been really wonderful for me because I get to pick his brain and he obviously has the experience on me and in a strange way as well it occurred to me that when Brian first started in WWE his mentor was William Regal and he sort of has a reverse situation now where he’s mentoring a new little William Regal in WWE. I enjoy the sort of mirrored aspect of that.
Ring Rust Radio: Very early on in your career with WWE it was evident that you were somebody that would transcend the cruiserweight division. What do you think you need to do on your end to break away from the cruiserweight championship and into the conversation for the Universal championship and other main event-level opportunities?
Jack Gallagher: I don’t think it’s about breaking away from the cruiserweight division, I think it’s about elevating it in people’s mindsets. I think the 205 show on the network is currently fourth or third, it’s one of the most watched shows on the network. In fact, it’s probably higher watched than some of the wrestling shows on the network as well. I think it’s just overcoming the perception of people don’t like cruiserweights. I understand that’s the narrative that goes around where actually we get a lot of positive feedback both on social media and in person. During WrestleMania Access with the amount of people that were big fans of the cruiserweight was startling to us. So, for me it’s not escaping the division, it’s about elevating it. NXT went from a developmental system which was considered a step down, to a completely separate brand unto itself where people are stars and they sell out stadiums and they tour by themselves. In my head I think, if we all work hard, then 205Live becomes good, the division becomes good, the division raises, and then there’s more opportunities and then there’s more interesting things for everyone as well.