David Dunn from SPW Insider caught up with the 'Kiwi Buzzsaw' Travis Banks following his huge PROGRESS Wrestling World Title win!
Travis Banks has been living in the UK for just over 2 years now since moving away from New Zealand to make a bigger name for himself, and he's not doing too bad!
Credits and Thank You (Click for more inf0)
Fight Club Pro
Melbourne City Wrestling
Rob Brazier Photography
The Ringside Perspective
Cory Lockwood Photography
Interview below, enjoy!
SPW Insider: How does it feel to finally capture the PROGRESS Wrestling Championship?
Travis Banks: It still feels pretty surreal. I don’t think I ever have a chance to take in any of my success. I’m always so very busy. I never really get a chance to let things sink in and see what I’ve accomplished. At the moment it’s still pretty normal, so to speak, but it feels great. Eight years of hard work culminated in one of the biggest UK shows to date, and to have my parents celebrate in the ring was quite a wonderful experience. I’m very grateful and very fortunate to have so many supportive fans around the world.
SPW Insider: What was it like wrestling WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne for the title, considering his status in the industry and your shared history together?
Travis Banks: I guess most people don’t know the history that me and Pete actually have. In 2013 I met him and Mark Andrews in a little company called St Louis Anarchy when I was in America training with Davey Richards.
At the time I didn’t realise how much those two would mean to my career in the long run. They were just cool dudes, we got along, I kept in contact, and when I got here [the UK] both Pete and Mark stuck their necks out for me and helped me get connections and bookings around the place. So it’s funny to have that little titbit of history with Pete and then from there me and him had a program for the Fight Club Pro title, almost mirroring the Alexandra Palace thing in PROGRESS.
I won a tournament, the Infinity tournament, and went on to take the title. Same thing with PROGRESS, I won the Super Strong Style 16 and then went on to take the title from Pete. It seems our fates are sort of sealed in these history making moments which I hope repeats in the future.
But there’s no doubt Pete is the best, and I’ve learned so much about pro wrestling from Pete Dunne. He’s a mad genius when it comes to wrestling. As much as the storylines suggest we hate each I actually have the most respect for him out of everybody in the business.
SPW Insider: In what was an amazing moment, your parents had travelled over all the way from New Zealand to watch you capture the title in front of 2000 people. What did that mean to you?
Travis Banks: Having my family there for my biggest win to date... I think it goes to show how supportive they’ve been from the very start. They were at my very first match at Heretaunga Hellfire for WPW where I faced The Nerd. They were there for both my NZ title wins, and they’ve been supportive both financially, emotionally, and it’s quite surreal to see them over here taking in and experiencing PROGRESS.
They both found it quite surreal and it was a little bit different to what they were used to in New Zealand. I think the last time might have been a crowd of 200, and then to see a crowd of 2000 and I was in the main event winning the PROGRESS world title, I don’t think they can kind of fathom the experience but they’re both very proud.
SPW Insider: Do you miss your friends and family from back home in New Zealand? How are you adapting to life in the UK?
Travis Banks: My parents knew from the beginning that I was in this all or nothing, and for eight years – coming up nine – it’s been this way ever since. With social media now it’s easier to keep in touch with friends. I do miss them from time to time – I miss my parents most – but they all understand the importance of my journey and what I’m doing and how hard I need to push and sacrifice. I’m very fortunate having a circle of friends that are so understanding of what I do and I can’t always be there for them even though I’d like to be.
The UK life, it’s pretty simple. Food’s a lot cheaper, living’s a lot cheaper, and it’s just home now. I can’t believe it’s been two years, it only felt like yesterday I got off that plane. I’ve done a lot though, it honestly feels like it’s been six years because of all the things I’ve done. I think I counted the other day, since I’ve been here I’ve had 193 matches if I remember correctly, which is way more than I could have possibly had still down in New Zealand and Australia.
SPW Insider: You call yourself ‘The Kiwi Buzzsaw’ and have Kiwi-themed wrestling gear. Is it important for you to represent New Zealand?
Travis Banks: At first I didn’t set out to be so pro-New Zealand with everything about me but it has come so organically. ‘The Kiwi Buzzsaw’ came from Vlad, the ring announcer from CHIKARA. He called me it one day and I just ran with it. Air New Zealand, the Kiwi Crusher, Slice of Heaven, they all just kinda came about organically and I wasn’t thinking pro-New Zealand at the time, I was just thinking, ‘What’s something New Zealand?’ But as time goes on I do realise how important it is for me to represent New Zealand, fly that flag and hopefully get eyes to the New Zealand scene. I’d really like to help the territory and show the world how good New Zealanders – even though we’re tucked away in the corner of the world – can be.
SPW Insider: You’re scheduled to be part of Melbourne City Wrestling’s anniversary event, Seven, in October. Are you excited to return to MCW?
Travis Banks: MCW was one of the promotions that restored my fire to get out and go places. This is nothing to do with New Zealand, this is my own personal mindset at the time , I was feeling very stale, I wasn’t feeling challenged at the time with my wrestling. When I took the bookings for MCW and I got to wrestle Dowie James, we had such a killer match both times it really reignited the flame and gave me the confidence that I could go back overseas. After everything I’ve done, PROGRESS World Champion, PWG, now I get to go back and show them this is what I’ve become, and it was partly to do with you guys. It’s such a good experience, a good thing for me, and I can go back and say thank-you and do a good job for them in that regard.
SPW Insider: You were on SPW’s first ever show in a match against current CMLL star Johnny Idol. It was the opening match of the night so such an important part of SPW’s history and a big reason everyone attending the show stuck around and became fans. Have you been keeping an eye on SPW’s growth since you left?
Travis Banks: As far as New Zealand wrestling has gone, SPW is pretty much the only promotion I’ve been keeping up-to-date with. I remember that first show, being so excited that there was a new product with so much life to it, and there was so much enthusiasm from Marc and Troy that I couldn’t help but get excited. I know Johnny Idol was the same way. And to do that match, being the opening match on the first ever SPW show and really setting the bar – and since then knowing that some of the wrestlers watched that and wanted to become wrestlers themselves on SPW, is lovely to hear really. I’m really happy with the way SPW’s going and how serious they’re taking the promotion.
I know Marc takes a lot of care and he wants to do everything right and build his company up right. If I could come back and work SPW that would be amazing because he was actually one of the most instrumental guys in me getting a lot of connections over here in the UK. If I could come back and do another favour for him I’d do it in a heartbeat.
SPW Insider: What advice do you have for aspiring wrestlers who might want to follow in your footsteps?
Travis Banks: I have a whole bunch of advice for aspiring wrestlers because I have been giving it out to a whole bunch of Australian wrestlers that have been coming to the UK recently to come try make careers for themselves.
Firstly, don’t be afraid to spend money and travel to get better experience. But when you travel, try and base yourself somewhere for a long period of time and work there – try not to jump around too much because it ends up rather costly.
Don’t get a cheap trainer either. Go somewhere decent, make sure they’re a good trainer and they’ve done things and they’ve got good credentials.
Secondly – and these are just very general things, but I think they apply in life as well – have a good attitude. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good attitude in this business. So many people get ahead by having a good attitude. They don’t have to be the best wrestler, they don’t have to be the most skilled, but they just have to be a decent person and people give them opportunities.
Work hard, I can't stress this enough. In any aspect of wrestling, if you want to be the best, you have to work hard at it, whether it be promos, drills, basics, whatever it is, whether it’s gear, the way you look, work hard at every aspect and the opportunities will present themselves.
Go out and make connections. Say hello to everyone. Put up the ring, take down the ring, shake hands with everyone, get to know everyone, be a friend, be a good person. Because at the end of the day people can put you places.
A classic example of this is what we said at the start of this interview. I met Pete Dunne and I didn’t think anything of him at the time, I just thought he’s a good person, I’ll be friends with him, and now look, four years later... Pete was one of the most integral parts of my wrestling career all because I was his friend and a decent person. Be good to everybody, help out, that’s such easy cliched advice – be a good person, work hard, make connections – but they’re cliches for a reason because everyone stresses them so much.
We at SPW have been looking to appoint a General Manager for a while now, and believe we have finally found our man, his name is Ben Wolf.
Mr Wolf has spent a lot of time with us at the SPW Academy. Ben understands the SPW brand, has a strong passion for the Wrestling business and has an extensive background in business and management.
His main duties will be to oversee Live Events, manage any disputes or issues as they unfold, create matches and do his utmost to give the SPW Fans what they want.
SPW Insider: Why has SPW appointed a General Manager?
Ben Wolf: It’s my job to continue the success and maintain this amazing thing we have going here at SPW, for our wrestlers, crew, but more importantly, for our fans.
They needed someone to uphold order and enforce rules, so a position of General Manager was the logical next step. As soon as I was approached by the board, I knew this was the role for me!
SPW Insider: How did you become involved with SPW?
Ben Wolf: I’ve always been and always will be a fan of professional wrestling. I love it so much I was training to be a wrestler with SPW.
I rerouted my entire life and moved down to Invercargill with the sole purpose of pursuing wrestling when I unfortunately suffered a nasty injury preventing me from pursuing physical activity.
SPW Insider: How and why did this opportunity arise?
Ben Wolf: As SPW grew it became clear to the SPW Board that they needed to appoint someone to make day to day decisions.
I feel my experience training in the SPW Academy along with my passion for wrestling, management skills and experience, is what led the SPW board to appointing me as their General Manager.
SPW Insider: What changes can we expect to see with you at the helm of SPW?
Ben Wolf: Currently there are no repercussions for wrestlers breaking rules, being unsporting and underhanded, this is something I intend on addressing primarily.
I plan on holding talent like ‘Hooligan’ Marcus Kool accountable for their questionable tactics.
I also want to continue to bring in talent from all over the world to put on the best shows and matches we possibly can – to help raise the profile of New Zealand wrestling even more!
SPW Insider: Finally, what are some matches the SPW Fans can expect to see in the future and what are you personally looking forward to?
Ben Wolf: Personally, I’m very much looking forward to JK Moody VS 'Powerhouse' T-Rex at Halloween Haunting! This is the first chance one of our own home grown guys has at competing for the SPW New Zealand Heavyweight Championship and I want to see how good he really is! Has he learned enough, is he ready? – He’s going to have to be!
What matches can fans expect to see? You will be finding out really soon!
Do you have more questions for SPW’s new General Manager Ben Wolf? Send them to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Wolf’s first Live Event in charge will be at the Alexandra Blossom Festival this Saturday! Funnily enough, his hometown!
Alexandra Blossom Festival presents…
Southern Pro Wrestling NZ in Alexandra for the first time ever on Saturday 23rd September at 7pm!
SPW brings their hard hitting, action packed Live Pro Wrestling entertainment to the Blossom Festival, which will be fun for all ages!
The live event will feature a match for the SPW New Zealand Heavyweight Championship, as current Champion, ‘Powerhouse’ T-Rex puts it all on the line against former New Zealand Heavyweight Champion Kingi from Auckland!
Other talent scheduled to appear: ‘Hooligan’ Marcus Kool, Deadly Sins, Hammer, Will Power, plus many more!
Not been to a Pro Wrestling show? Don’t worry, it’s fun for everyone! Check out our website at www.spwrestling.co.nz for all of our latest photos and videos to see what we are all about!
Due to the accident that recently took place in Alexandra we will not be serving alcohol at the venue. Soft drinks and snacks will be available along with some top entertainment!
To show our support, a percentage of every ticket sold from this year’s Blossom Festival SPW Wrestling show will be donated to the Sharma family. Come and support the community and be thoroughly entertained with the debut of Pro Wrestling in Alexandra.
Doors open at 7pm. Bell time is at 8pm, finish time is 10pm.
We encourage everyone to pre-purchase tickets via Eventfinda.co.nz or at Clyde Four Square to guarantee entry, There will also be limited tickets available on the door. Door sales and refreshments will be cash only.
Ticket prices start at $10 for Under 16, $20 for Over 16. Front Row tickets are available ONLINE ONLY and are $25 per ticket.
Southern Pro Wrestling NZ – ‘Wresting on the Edge of the World’
For more info on SPW please visit:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/SPWNZ
Contact us on:
SPW's own David Dunn sat down with Bea Priestley to talk about her return to New Zealand and her debut for SPW at Southern Rumble!
They also talk about her success in the UK, her WWE tryout, her thoughts on the current Women's wrestling scene and her scary story having brain surgery!
SPW Insider: What prompted you to leave New Zealand and move to the United Kingdom?
Bea Priestley: I left New Zealand because I wanted to do something with wrestling and there wasn’t enough wrestling – at the time – going on in New Zealand. There just weren’t very many opportunities, and I felt I could learn more overseas.
I loved PROGRESS, and I wanted to learn to wrestle there. I loved Jimmy Havoc, and wanted to be trained by Jimmy. The UK scene was blowing up. I saw TNA British Boot Camp and that made me want to come to England and train and wrestle with these guys. I got into PROGRESS. After watching that I started watching ICW – IPW as well – and the Southside shows they used to put on YouTube. The crowds were quite good over here too.
I had the security I was a citizen so I didn’t need to worry about visas. I had family here so I didn’t need to worry if I got into trouble and all that kind of security. I was like, I might as well give it a go – if I don’t like it I can just come home.
Image Caption: Jimmy Havoc
SPW Insider: What are some of your career highlights since moving to the UK?
Bea Priestley: One of my favourite matches has been with Toni Storm in PROGRESS, actually. [Chapter 40: Intercepted Angel] Character-wise I was pretty boring, but wrestling-wise I had a lot of fun with that. Toni Storm is amazing, I love her to death, she’s one of my favourite people.
Image Caption: Bea Priestley VS Toni Storm
I really enjoyed my matches with Nixon Newell in WCPW. I think Nixon is the main reason I improved so quickly. She’s fantastic and I’m very happy for all the opportunities coming her way. I think she’s definitely hard-earned it. It honestly shows how good she is because she made me look good when I was still very new to wrestling in England.
Another one of my highlights of this past year has definitely been my tag match with Will Ospreay against Ricochet and Tessa Blanchard. It was my first time doing a match like that in a tag form. Obviously Ricochet and Will do a lot of stuff when they wrestle, so in terms of me trying to get the hang of that style of match it was a very good learning experience. I managed to hang in there, swim with the sharks in a sense.
SPW Insider: We understand you had a WWE tryout last year? What did that entail?
Bea Priestley: The whole process was so surreal. On the first day, we showed up in our business outfits and did promos in front of William Regal and Norman Smiley. I think my promo went quite well, I went down the brain surgery route. That was the first day we arrived.
SPW Insider: What can you tell us about your brain surgery?
Bea Priestley: Funnily enough I was knocked out so I don’t remember! The hardest part was the recovery process afterwards. I wasn’t allowed to run until two months afterwards. I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym until six months after my surgery. It wasn’t a highlight of my life, but it’s drawn attention to me and made me stand out as a wrestler – because how many wrestlers have survived brain surgery and continued to wrestle? It was just the recovery process, just sitting on your bum and not knowing if you’d be able to wrestle again.
Image Caption: Via @beapriestleypw Instagram account
SPW Insider: Back to the WWE tryout, what else happened?
Bea Priestley: At the end of the second day, Regal pulled all the girls to one side and basically just said we’re going to start straight away in the morning with matches. You can choose who you want to wrestle, it’s up to you, but yeah, just let me know who you wanna wrestle by the end of the day and we’re gonna start straight away in the morning. I picked Nixon, obviously, we both picked each other.
Unfortunately for me though after I had my match my back seized up and I actually wasn’t able to stand up after my match was finished so I had to go see the trainer. I had to sit out some of the drills – which I was a bit unhappy with – but I did jump in afterwards.
Image caption: Receiving a spine buster from Nixon Newell
SPW Insider: What advice would you have for anyone looking to get involved in pro-wrestling?
Bea Priestley: When I came to England I had limited training so I just started again; I said I’d wrestled a little bit in New Zealand but I wanted to start over again because I knew that I was rusty, I hadn’t wrestled properly since my brain surgery had happened. The matches I had done when I was in New Zealand, they were very basic and simple. I went over, I started training, and I just kept going to training until I was asked to come on shows.
Be respectful to everyone, even if you don’t like them. You’re going to have to work with people you don’t like, but it’s called professional wrestling for a reason.
Go to the gym as well. When you get to a higher level you do understand how much more physically demanding it is. You have someone else’s life in your hands, essentially. It could be dangerous if you don’t stay in shape and keep fit.
Image caption: Definitely keeping fit!
SPW Insider: What’s your take on the way women’s wrestling is perceived in New Zealand?
I think “that article” gave a very dated view on women’s wrestling. The way it came across to me is that the article was spoken as if we were still in 2002 Diva Search days, not Women’s Revolution where we actually bust our arses to try look like wrestlers rather than models in bikinis. It was a bit disheartening to see emphasis put on materialistic things ahead of the effort and work we put in outside of the ring.
I came to England to learn how to wrestle, and I’ve had some of the best wrestlers in the world train me, so I’m going to come to New Zealand to showcase what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown as a wrestler.
SPW Insider: You’ll be in action at the SPW Southern Rumble on July 22. What attracted you to Southern Pro Wrestling?
Bea Priestley: SPW reminds me a bit of PROGRESS in a sense. It reminds me of the PROGRESS vibe, and it’s actually on Demand Progress [http://demandprogress.pivotshare.com] so obviously PROGRESS saw a likeness between them too. I like that way it’s all set up. It’s run really well – it looks very professional. When I was in New Zealand, there wasn’t any wrestling I was aware of too much down South, so it’s quite nice to see it being successful. There’s buzz about this, something’s been done right. And the crowd seem really into it from the first few shows I’ve seen. It’s something I want to be a part of.
Image caption: Progress Wrestling, based out of the UK.
As far as Ashlee goes, I've been in the ring with some of the best female wrestlers and I've been trained by some of the best British wrestlers in the world. Ashlee has been making a name for herself in New Zealand, but she's going to need to bring everything she's got because I'm a fighter, and I beat people up. I plan on giving her a match that she won't forget.
Bea Priestley makes her debut for SPW at Southern Rumble in Invercargill on Saturday 22nd July against New Zealand up and comer Ashlee Spencer! Click the image above for tickets!
For more info on Bea you can follow her on her social media channels:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/BeaPriestleyPW
Instagram - beapriestleypw
Twitter - BeaPriestley
SOUTHERN PRO WRESTLING NZ ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP WITH MELBOURNE CITY WRESTLING
SPW are happy to announce that we are partnering with Melbourne City Wrestling to bring you MCW Encore On Demand content to our own SPW On Demand channel.
MCW Encore On Demand will also be featuring SPW On Demand footage via their own channel in exchange.
This partnership will allow us to explore other avenues such as talent exchange and further cross promotion in the future.
MCW feature big Australian stars such as current MCW Heavyweight Champion Dowie James, Elliot Sexton, Mr Juicy, Adam Brooks, Kelly Anne and so much more! We can't wait to see them in an SPW ring...
Both companies strive to bring you the very best content and production available, we cannot wait to expose each other’s brands with our own fan bases within New Zealand and Australia.
Melbourne City Wrestling are the leading Pro Wrestling company in Australia, having launched the careers of current WWE NXT competitors TM61, Buddy Murphy and Peyton Royce. You can find out more info via their website www.melbournecitywrestling.com.au.
Check out their Social Media channels below:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/melbcitywrestling
Twitter – www.twitter.com/mcitywrestling
YouTube - www.youtube.com/user/melbcitywrestling