Rock and wrestling have always gone hand in hand. Their similarities of fun, creative skill, over-the-top showmanship, catchphrases/choruses, sweat, blood, and unhinged live atmosphere are absolute, not to mention the fact that every wrestler in the world comes to the ring with theme music reminiscent of their personalities blaring. The two have been truly intertwined since the 80’s, with many wrestlers taking appropriating bits of their gimmicks from larger than life rock stars at the time (see: big hair, tight pants, glitter for days, etc.)
With that in mind, Wall of Sound gladly had a chat with NJPW star Juice Robinson just days before he and a slew of other world class athletes undertake their inaugural tour of Australia to – much like a touring band – blow the fucking roof off venues across this big brown land. For the uninitiated, Juice is a former World Wrestling Entertainment personality who now works and resides in the arguably superior world of Japanese professional wrestling; one which places a larger emphasis on in-ring skill as opposed to America’s often goofy and tacky spectacle. It’s rough, hard-hitting, aerodynamic, and exciting stuff, steeped in tradition and glory that no wrestling fan should miss, and those curious should definitely check out.
WoS: G’day Juice, how are you and where are you calling from?
JR: Hey man! I’m good, thank you. I’m in Osaka, Japan at the moment.
WoS: So you’re headed down under with NJPW soon. Have you ever wrestled in Australia before?
JR: I have not! I’ve never been to Australia before. Even for a vacation or anything, so I’m very much looking forward to it.
WoS: Just for the uninitiated, are you a babyface (good guy) or heel (bad guy) at the minute, and who have you been wrestling against?
JR: Uhh… I guess I’m a babyface (laughs). Most of the time! I kind of just am who I am, but yeah, I guess I’m a babyface. In this series I had a match with Bullet Club, and Young Lion (Katsuya) Kitamura, but every night since then I’ve been wrestling (stable) Chaos with Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano. Aaand (New Zealander) Henare. We’re doing New Japan Vs. Chaos this tour, and it’s been fun, been cool.
Wos: The Japanese are next level with their wrestling! It seems like the world is slowly catching up to what fans already know; it might be choreographed, but it’s insanely hard and skilled work. What’s it like wrestling in Japan now with their traditionally stronger style?
JR: Yeah, man. I mean, professional wrestling is a very hard lifestyle. Travelling, being away from your family constantly, living out of a suitcase, the physical toll. But the big thing with Japanese wrestling is all about heart and determination, the will to survive and triumph. I just love it! There’s so much emotion and physicality. Seems like it’s a little rougher here. A little stiffer; little more sweat flyin’, little more spit flyin’, busted lips, busted teeth… I love it.
Wos: This is a music website, so I must ask if there’s any musicians out in the world you took inspiration from, and how music is intertwined in your wrestling career?
JR: It’s funny that you bring that up, because me and another guy were recently having a conversation about how a live concert is so much like a live wrestling show. A musician is much like a pro wrestler. They’re both artists in a way. I’d say wrestlers are like musicians, we just leave our guitar, and amps, and drumkits at home (laughs). It’s larger than life pomp and circumstance, spectacle, and you’re on a stage in the centre of everyone, performing, and making them feel. There’s an energy exchange from performer to audience, and back from audience to performer. Live professional wrestling is something special.
To answer your musician question, I dunno… now that I’m thinking about concerts and stuff, I learned so much from going to an Elton John concert! And then a couple months later I went to a Paul McCartney concert in Stockholm, Sweden. I saw Elton in Orlando, Florida. Just the way that those two have been doing it for so long that they can sell out an area, just them! Nobody opens for them. It’s just Elton John, and he played for three hours in front of a giant crowd, and just had everybody in the palm of his hand. It was so good, and the order he was playing the songs, y’know? He brings them up, he takes them down, brings them back up, he knows when to say that’s enough… oh no, just kidding, here comes Crocodile Rock, here’s one more song! Just great. Paul was the same, maybe even more. Amazing seeing those two masters do it. I saw Foo Fighters recently too and that was a great concert, but those two were far and away the best shows I’ve ever been to.
Wos: Seen any other good gigs?
JR: I used to go to Warped Tour with (WWE superstar) Seth Rollins. I didn’t know many bands, a few but not all of them… any live music is just awesome! I went and saw Against Me! In Tampa with (WWE superstar) Sami Zayn, and they’re amazing. I went to a Steel Panther concert (laughs), it’s a little different to Against Me! But they’re great live performers too. They actually dress a lot like pro wrestlers (laughs).
Wos: Lastly, do you have a message for the folks coming out to the shows in Australia?
JR: Yeah man, let everyone know we’re so thankful that we’re coming over, and we’re gonna give them bad ass New Japan action just like we give to Japanese fans. We’re looking forward to it, and I hope we can do it a bunch! I hope we come back to Australia.
Words by Todd Gingell
New Japan Pro Wrestling Fallout Down Under Tour Dates
Friday 16th February – ADELAIDE, Titanium Arena
Saturday 17th February – MELBOURNE, Festival Hall
Sunday 18th February – SYDNEY, Quay Centre
Monday 19th February – PERTH, HBF Stadium