Here are highlights from an interview with independent wrestling star The OJMO talking to Andrew Thompson. Credit to him and POST Wrestling.
OJMO on if the COVID-19 pandemic has made him consider signing an exclusive deal:
“Yeah, it’s just that thing where like, in your mind, you’re like, ‘Man, well, if I had a contract, I’d be getting something coming in the mail. I’d be getting a paycheck,’ so to speak, and I’d be alright. But at the same time, I’m not the only one in the situation.
There are thousands of other independent wrestlers in the situation, and I’m trying my best — I always said I’m not gonna sign a contract for the money because if you’re getting into wrestling to make money, you have wait a while because you’re gonna be scourging around for the ole’ hot dogs and just for scraps and for a long time, but that’s a part you’re supposed to enjoy and I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I believe when I sign a contract, I wanna feel that I’m ready to be with whatever company wants me, and yeah, it’s tough man.
It’s a tough situation. I’m not in the worst situation. Financially I’m not in the worst situation, luckily. So, I don’t want it to be like, ‘Ah man, I feel pressured because of a global pandemic that nobody could’ve predicted to sign a contract with someone that maybe I don’t wanna be with right now or I don’t wanna be with at all.’”
Winning the 2019 British J Cup:
“It’s such a weird thing because when I looked at the lineup of everyone who was in the tournament when — I was only finding out who was in it as they were getting announced online. When they had announced ELP would be in it, PAC was gonna be in it, Robbie Eagles, Amazing Red was gonna be in the tournament.
All these dudes that — they are some of the best wrestlers in the world and then here I am as well, just with them. Already, that was an achievement to be like, ‘We’re putting you in this league of world-renowned wrestlers’ and then for it to be a thing that I come up as the victor, it was just like — especially at York Hall. That’s their big venue, that’s the big show. For it to be like, ‘Here’s the main event. This is the guy we are crowning. This is the guy that is the focal point of the promotion,’ it meant so much, it really did.
Especially, the crazy thing as well, the British J Cup, the whole tournament went on New Japan World. So there’s a whole new audience of people who have never seen me for the first time and the first time they’re seeing me is in that light and one of the biggest achievements of my career that I can have, against people that they do know. So it was just, the magnitude of it, big deal.”
Thoughts about the NXT UK brand/feels that the brand has damaged the independent scene in the UK but if those names wouldn’t have left, it wouldn’t have opened the door for him and others:
“I mean, from a fan perspective, I can see the negative of it, 100 percent for sure, in a sense that yes, a million percent, it has taken the biggest stars from the scene away from the independent shows. It used to be a regular thing. So I started in 2017. That’s when I’d be crewing shows as well.
I’d be amongst these RevPro, PROGRESS shows, other shows. I just mentioned two promotions but it was a thing where any show around the country, you could see some of the best wrestlers in the world. You could just stumble upon Pete Dunne in Leicester, and then see him in Brighton and then see him in Manchester. You’d see Zack Sabre Jr. and I know that has nothing to do with it but you’d see top tier caliber wrestlers performing all over and you don’t see those wrestlers anymore.
Again for me, there is that belief in me that if those people didn’t go, if they weren’t signed, then maybe I wouldn’t have achieved the success that I’ve achieved. There was a void that was open and as soon as it opened, as soon as I heard — I remember there was a big article that got shared around that was about restrictions because the signings happened, and then there weren’t really any restrictions, but then there was like the big, ‘Hey, we heard the rumors of the restrictions of where they’re allowed to wrestle’ and as soon as I heard that, I was like, ‘Well, that means people need to step up.’ I’m waiting to step up.
I would’ve preferred to be stepping up while they’re still here because I could test myself against them, and I could be learning, and that’s the key. The key part is learning amongst them because there’s so many knowledgeable guys there. Zack Gibson, super knowledgeable, Trent Seven, super knowledgeable. So just having them in the locker room to get feedback off your matches was just super valuable as a young wrestler. So that the fact that they’re not there does hurt, but then again, there’s that opportunity where promoters are forced to now build new stars.
Fans, in a way are now forced to get behind new guys and not feel comfortable with the same old, same old. It may be a bit rushed or quicker than it should happen. It wasn’t organic, in terms of the transition of one generation to another, but its happened and again, I’m benefiting from it. I’m not afraid to say that, but at the same time…
At the same time, people who are signing, some of them are friends of mine. They’re like ten years in the game. They’re like super experienced and so, some of them are seeing the compensation of ten years of not being able to afford places to eat sometimes, and now they’re able to afford a roof over their head without worrying week-to-week where they’re gonna wrestle or if they get injured and can’t afford to pay their bills so… I know some people could say, ‘NXT UK sucks!’ There’s a lot about it that I’m not a fan of. I’m not afraid to say that, but at the same time, without them, without them signing people up, I wouldn’t have found success I don’t believe.”