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.
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