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There are few professional wrestlers as recognizable as Joey Ryan. The recent Impact Wrestling signee is in the midst of a 2019 that saw him star as the subject of his own documentary, wrestle luminaries like Tessa Blanchard and Allysin Kay and, well, take a loss to Super Humman. Now, catch up with his whirlwind year in this week’s edition of Conversations With Love! Tune in as he chats with your host Spencer Love about:

  • His favourite Canadian wrestlers
  • If he feels he’s underrated
  • Storytelling in intergender wrestling
  • Wrestling Tessa Blanchard
  • Dream intergender opponents
  • The formation and legacy of the YouPorn Plex
  • If training is in his future
  • This Is Wrestling: The Joey Ryan Story
  • The formation of the World’s Cutest Tag Team
  • What working with Candice LeRae meant to him
  • Super Humman
  • If he’s a performance artist or a professional wrestler
  • What he’s most excited about outside of professional wrestling

Conversations With Love is proudly brought to you by Beercade YEG, What’s the Deal?, Whiteridge IncCowan Graphics, and Indie Empire Magazine.

Conversations With Love 37: A Conversation with Joey Ryan

On his favourite Canadian wrestlers:

“Chris Jericho. Lance Storm. I liked Lance Storm a lot when I was first starting to train (in) wrestling. Before I decided to be such a colourful character, I tried to watch a lot of Lance Norm and Jamie Noble, Brad Armstrong to get my fundamentals down (and) studied their tapes a lot. I became a Lance Storm fan, but Chris Jericho is probably in my, you know, probably one of my top three of all time, like maybe Hogan, Michaels, Jericho.”

If he feels he’s underrated as a wrestler:

“I don’t show it a lot, you know, I don’t show a lot of the technical stuff anymore. As far as, you know, telling a story in the ring with a good psychology-based (match), I think I do well in that because I think when people see clips, or they see like fragmented out of context pieces of my matches and they don’t realize that - like they think it’s just one bit, no match. They don’t realize that there’s a story being told to lead to that bit, which gets the crowd emotionally engaged and they care about it and they want to see it. That’s the only way to really succeed in wrestling is to connect with the audience.”

On storytelling in intergender wrestling:

“No matter who you’re wrestling, if it’s intergender, or a smaller opponent, (a) bigger opponent, you’ve got to be careful not to insult the audience’s intelligence, because they’re willing to suspend their disbelief for larger than life and acrobatic moves and stuff. But, you don’t want to trade punches with somebody who’s half your size, because that takes somebody out of the moment more than, you know, a big slam that doesn’t really look like it could really happen. People, in the context of professional wrestling, people are accustomed to moves, but you still don’t want to do something that’s blatantly insulting to their intelligence.”

Wrestling the likes of Tessa Blanchard:

“A lot goes into a person’s stature and their hype. Tessa, right now, is being praised as one of the best wrestlers - not just female - but male or female wrestlers in the world. So it’s not difficult to get the audience behind her to think that she can overtake any opponent, which is I think why she’s doing so well with intergender stuff on IMPACT. She’s a believable figure. Not just stature, but character and hype like I said, so that helps a lot.”

Who he’s still looking to have an intergender match against:

“We’ll speak on another Canadian; I really wanted to match with Gail Kim, but she’s since retired. But, may Kris Statlander? She’s getting a lot of hype now. I’ve never wrestled her. That might be a fun one.”

On what he looks for in an opponent when taking a booking:

“I leave that pretty much up to the promoters that I’m working for. I take care of the business side of things and negotiations and deals and travel and all that stuff. When we come to terms on a deal, I pretty much leave it up to them. I think because they know what they’re bringing in to do and they know what my value is to a show. They’re not going to put me with somebody who isn’t going to be, you know, the most serious guys who don’t want to do comedy. I’m mostly wrestling guys who understand, because the promoter doesn’t want me to come in and not be able to do my stuff because then I lose the value that he’s paying me to be here for. So, promoters are usually pretty good about putting me (or) pairing me up with the opponents that I can work well with.”

On training potentially being in his future:

“I mean, I’d have to see how I feel when I’m done wrestling. I do seminars every now and then. If I can focus more on like character stuff, it’s a little easier for me because I feel like when I try to teach basics or fundamentals to wrestling wrestlers or up-and-coming coming wrestlers and they watch me wrestle later and I take a lot of shortcuts because, you know, when you’re over, I guess, you can be afforded to take more shortcuts. So, I blow off a lot of the fundamental stuff that I preach if I was teaching basics. So I feel like it’s a little bit counteractive, me teaching somebody. Learning character stuff, that’s fine, but a lot of times the students that come to seminars aren’t even wrestling matches yet, so they don’t have characters to work on. So that’s a bit of a struggle for me when I do seminars. But, maybe when I’m done I’ll see. Maybe I’ll change my tune or I’ll not be worried about that stuff anymore.”

On if the first YouPorn Plex was planned:

“No, it wasn’t. I mean, it wasn’t planned to be a moment. Um, it was just some ideas we were throwing around with my opponent when I was in Japan. We just thought it would be kind of a funny, one-off thing to do and it just caught on. It was actually his idea, 100% his idea, so I buy him dinner every time I go back to Japan. He does okay for himself. He’s pretty well known in Japan, so he’s not bitter towards me for about it. It was just something that played off both of our characters at the time and it just caught on.”

On the legacy of the dick flip:

“It will always be remembered, right? Everything gets copied and mimicked and wrestling. Just look at the evolution of like a diamond cutter; it’s now the RKO and everybody uses it and nobody, not a lot of the newer generation fans even link it to DDP anymore. The flip is something that will be always tied to me. Like, people will always know that as my thing, even if other people try to do it or try to mimic it, people will be like, ‘oh, that’s the Joey Ryan thing’. So it’s kind of something that I own now. It’ll always be remembered, which is kind of cool to think about long-term. I’ll always be able to do signings and conventions. When I’m 70 or 80 and can’t wrestle anymore, I can still make appearances.”

On This Is Wrestling: The Joey Ryan Story:

Yeah, it was a simple pitch. I didn’t know what their long-term game plan was. They’re like, ‘hey, we just want to follow you around with some cameras for a little bit and get your day-to-day. We’ll cover all our own travel. We’ll cover all our own expenses. You’ve just got to be open to the camera. And I said, okay, that sounds easy enough. Luckily, the time that they did stay, some cool things happened, like the Mick Foley thing and in Ireland and then Candice’s farewell before she went to NXT, so we were able to capture some really cool moments in that time period that they were following me around.

The formation of the World’s Cutest Tag Team:

“Well, we’ve been friends for a very long time, a very, very long time, so we’re familiar and comfortable with each other. In early PWG we were rivals, you know, like I’d be the sleazy bad guy and she’d be like the underdog babyface. When PWG started Mount Rushmore with Adam Cole and Kevin Owens and the Young Bucks, they were beating up everybody and then they decided to beat up Candice, and then Joey Ryan took offence to that. So I came in and saved her and we set up - it was supposed to be just a one-time match with me and her versus the Young Bucks. Then, just as we were getting closer to the match, we were just like, ‘let’s just get matching gear, and let’s get tee shirts and let’s have a name.’ So we just kind of pushed it on PWG at the time and the crowd took to it and so we just rolled with it.”

On what working with Candice LeRae meant to him:

“I mean, personally, it means lots to me, because it kind of came at a time when I was ready, not really necessarily quit wrestling, but a time where I was just kind of given up. It was just kind of routine to me. I wasn’t really striving to be anything at that point, but then that came along and it kind of gave me a whole new concept of wrestling and I was able to look at wrestling with new eyes, and plan matches that were different and be more creative with what double teams we were doing and stuff. So, personally, it was a big moment for me cause it inspired a lot of what I do today.”

What continues to motivate him in professional wrestling:

“It’s weird, because a lot of the critiques of me say that I turned a mainstream audience away from wrestling because it’s so over the top, or out of the box, or hokey or whatever, but I find that my fan base is largely casual fans who don’t take wrestling super serious, and they don’t go on Twitter and argue about wrestling. They go watch a show, they have fun, they go home, they don’t think about wrestling until the next show. They don’t go online and talk about it. I feel like the more I see that connection with like a mainstream or real-world audience, the more it motivates me because it’s a thing where people have really taken to it and it’s almost like that third-grade South Park humour that people dig cause it’s so silly. It’s similar to that.”

“When I see the mainstream audience, that kind of motivates me a little bit. I have a good deal of wrestling fans that are my fans, which is very important and I’ve had them forever. I’m glad that they’re around, but the mainstream audience that comes along when I wrestle a place like Calgary last night and it’s a lot of just people out on the town having date night or whatever, after I wrestle, maybe they didn’t know me before, but they all want to buy a tee shirt or a photo cause they fell in love with my character as I wrestled, so that stuff’s motivating to me.”

Super Humman:

Are you familiar with Super Humman? With two M’s? I did a thing with him last week where he was in a match, and he wasn’t really in the match, it was like a four-way, but he was kind of added and we kind of pushed him to the side mostly, but at the end he came in and scored the win on me. People were really upset, like, ‘oh you can’t believe you, you know, he’s a backyarder, he’s not trained, I can’t believe you put them over,’ but I mean, I made that kid’s dream come true. He loves wrestling, and he was so appreciative, and it doesn’t hurt me at all, you know what I mean? It doesn’t phase me. It doesn’t change anything about what I do, but it was able to give him a moment, you know?

“I don’t know about (jumping into the backyard with him). I don’t know about that. But he’s a passionate fan and he loves wrestling. Maybe he loves a little too much (because) he’s doing these ridiculous stunts. But, to each their own.”

Performance Artist vs. Professional Wrestler:

Well, I don’t think that they’re too different. I think wrestlers are performance artists, but I think pro wrestling is like a subcategory of performance art, because it is storytelling and it’s characters and it’s acting and it’s scripted, so I think there’s a lot more performance. I mean, maybe as much as if not more than athletic, (because) there’s a lot of wrestlers that are very athletic, but they can play a character. So I think maybe wrestling leans a little bit more towards theatre than sport, but there’s definitely both aspects of it. I don’t necessarily see them as, there being a divide, I don’t think it’s like one versus the other. I think pro wrestling is a subcategory of performance art.”

What excites him outside of professional wrestling:

“I’m a big baseball fan and the Angels are my team and they just signed Joe Madden for next season to manage, so that’s exciting news because they had a rough season this year. You know, just travelling. I’m starting to - when I was younger I wouldn’t really spend any extra days in places, different locations. But now I’m trying to, like, if I have a day off, like today when I was in Edmonton all day, even if I just walk around or drive around and look at some of the sights, even if just for a few hours, I’m trying to take that more in because I don’t know, you never know how much, how many more times I’m going to come to Alberta, so I’m trying to take more time to travel and be where I’m at.”

Quotes have been edited for clarity where needed. Should you use any of the quotes above, please credit the Conversations With Love podcast with an h/t to Spencer Love (SpennyLove_WCS) for the transcription.

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Conversations With Love 37: A Conversation with Joey Ryan

Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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