With the recent Dragon Gate and WWE shows taking place in Nottingham over this past month, and the wrestling buzz around the city seemingly at an all-time high, I spoke to independent superstar and regular WWE worker Joey Ryan on his idols, his training and his character.
Joey Ryan, like many current wrestlers of today, was inspired by the legend and icon that is Hulk Hogan. Joey told me that he ‘definitely grew up a Hulkamaniac’ alongside inspiration from favourite wrestlers of his such as Ricky Steamboat and The British Bulldogs. What actually inspired him to pursue a career inside the ring though was ‘Paul Heyman and the entire original ECW brand. That era re-established my love for wrestling that had fallen by the wayside once I got into my teens’.
So that started Joey Ryan (real name Joey Meehan) on the road to becoming a professional wrestler. But it wasn’t all plain sailing- ‘It’s painful. It’s not as “fake” as everyone seems to think it is. It’s not natural for a human body to take that kind of punishment so it’s a tough process to get your body to build up a tolerance to the pain. There’s a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.’
Once Joey Ryan had overcome this particular obstacle though, he created his character. A character for a professional wrestler is vital. It allows them to be loved or despised by the crowd- the same crowd that ultimately pays their bills. Joey’s character is a little unusual though, as you may have gathered from the slight taste in the first paragraph. Joey told me that the inspiration from his gimmick was ‘Magnum PI mostly. Magnum PI in the 80’s was the coolest guy around but if you took the same exact look and style and brought it to today, it would be very sleazy and creepy.’ So that’s exactly what Joey did, he became the modern day Magnum PI; an ultra sleazy and ultra creepy guy.
Joey’s character is vastly different to his real life personality though. He told me “Shy, quiet and unassuming. Loving, trustworthy and respectful. Family oriented. Playful, charming and interesting. I feel like I am the most disappointing wrestler for a fan to meet because I am so unlike the character that I portray that I have to be a letdown to them. But that is the fun in acting. I am a professional make believer and I am great at getting into character. I also know when to turn the character off which is a problem for a lot of wrestlers but hopefully that will help me keep my sanity in the long run.
Being a sleaze ball doesn’t stop Joey from tearing it up in the ring though. He says his best match for him was an ironman match that went 70 minutes against the legendary Super Dragon. ‘It was just a test of endurance and a feeling of accomplishment when it was finished.
Outside of wrestling Joey has many interests. Joey said he likes to listen to a lot of music and go to concerts and try to watch a lot of movies that come out to keep myself entertained because wrestling full time allows me a lot of free time to do whatever I want to do.” But perhaps Joey Ryan’s biggest addiction? Baseball. “ I follow baseball religiously. There is so much of it from March to October that in the other months I hardly know what to do with myself.
As well as great memories, and the time and money to enjoy life outside the ring, wrestling has taken Joey Ryan around the world to many countries, meeting celebrities along the way and has even allowed him to make a living doing solely what he loves to do. Despite all this though, his mother refuses to watch him wrestle. Joey told me ‘she doesn’t want to see her baby get hurt.’
Once again, follow me and Joey on Twitter: Me: @DeadmanDRB. Joey: @JoeyRyanOnline