Travis Banks is heading to Worlds Collide as one of the most talked about athletes on the NXT scene. Rushonrock’s Andy Spoors had the chance to catch up with the Kiwi Buzzsaw during an exclusive interview ahead of tonight’s main event.
Rushonrock: First things first, what was that one moment that made you know you wanted to be a wrestler?
Travis Banks: When I very first watched wrestling. As soon as I saw it, I was like, I really want to do it and it was Glacier vs Mortis in WCW Nitro. But it was because I love Sub Zero and Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat. So I flicked it on one day and it was like a real-life video game and thought ‘what the hell is this?’. Ever since then, I have been drawn in and wanted to do it since I first watched it.
ROR: I don’t think we’ve ever heard anyone say Glacier is the reason they got into wrestling…
TB: The funny thing is I texted him a couple of weeks back and said ‘hey man, thank you because the only reason I’ve been successful or even got into wrestling is because I watched one of your matches’ blah blah blah. He sent me back a real nice message saying, ‘hey man keep it up’.
ROR: The triple threat match you had with Joseph Conners and El Ligero late last year was incredible. Does having the Performance Centre in London allow you to work more with each other and put on even better matches?
TB: With me, Joe and Ligero we have been wrestling for many years and I feel we are quite creative so, having the triple threat – and I think it was the first triple threat in NXT UK – we wanted to get quite creative with it. We came up with loads of ideas and it just came together real easy. I don’t know, we talked about it maybe three times and just went out and did it! A lot of the inspiration we had for that match came from Unbreakable 2005. Do you know the match with Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles? We took a lot of inspiration from that match and it probably one of my favourite matches of all time. So as soon as we found out about our triple threat, I thought ‘I know the perfect match to watch’…
ROR: We are coming off the back of another Takeover event, which are a huge deal but there are only a certain amount of matches on them. What can you do to make sure you get your name on those special cards?
TB: It’s just about consistency I guess. You just have to work hard, always work hard to stand out. Whether it is at the Performance Centre or stuff like this, you just want to always be working as hard as you can. That’s such a cliché thing to say but it is accurate. People see who works hard and who doesn’t, especially the higher ups in WWE. They see who’s trying to put a shift in and who’s not.
ROR: Where do you think NXT UK can go?
TB: What I like about NXT UK is the question mark hanging over it as to how far can we take this or how big can this get? I think that’s why when people say Brit ‘wrestling is dead’, I think no, because we don’t know where this is going yet. This is going to get so much bigger in conjunction with Shawn Michaels and guys like that, how can this not be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest brand? It’s such an exciting time for wrestling and for me to see where this will go.
ROR: We’ve seen some talent from NXT go to Raw and Imperium showed up there just before Survivor Series. Now you have World’s Collide. If you were putting together a team to represent NXT UK who would you pick?
TB: As in from the roster now or anytime? I was going to say John Cena, Roman Reigns…no, no..erm…would it be five on the team? Me, Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and maybe Jordan Devlin. Even though I don’t like him, he’s got skills.
ROR: If you were to go across to Raw or Smackdown, who would you want your debut to be against?
TB: Roman Reigns. Or Brock Lesnar. John Cena. One of the big ones! You gotta make a splash right? I’d probably get chewed up by Brock Lesnar though…
ROR: Your nickname is the Kiwi Buzzsaw and recently we have seen an influx of Superstars from New Zealand and Australia. Does it make you proud to see how well they are doing?
TB: Yeah great! When I left New Zealand, maybe not Australia so much as it was on the rise, but New Zealand there was nothing. There were three maybe four companies bouncing around, doing monthly shows. When I left, maybe selfishly, I said, ‘I’m going to go make a name for myself’ and hopefully everything will work out. Fortunately for me it has. What I didn’t expect was for the country to blow up like it has with wrestling. They’ve worked really hard, especially SPW (Southern Pro Wrestling) and there’s some great talent coming out of it. A lot of the talent is hitting the UK shores, with the likes of JK Moody and Kane Khan it’s great and I kind of like that I was one of the first to be a sort of mould-breaker or trend-setter. Or one of the first to go overseas and open everybody’s eyes and make people think ‘oh I can do it’ or open everybody’s eyes to New Zealand and know we have a lot of good talent here.
ROR: A couple of your compatriots that stick out are NXT’s Dakota Kai and someone not even in WWE, but more than making a name for himself, Jay White. Do you get to catch up with them much?
TB: I’ve wrestled Jay a few times but I don’t talk to him as much as I probably should, because we should be bros from New Zealand. Again, it’s just busy scheduling though, it is the same with Dakota. In New Zealand we used to train with each other all the time, week in week out, three times a week, just wrestling training and all that. Same with TK Cooper and the likes. But just now, it’s scheduling and we are all just too busy and it falls by the wayside. When we see each other, we are just like, “oh hey! That’s right you’re in WWE as well Dakota!” but it’s cool to see them all being so successful.
ROR: One of the places we became most familiar with your work was in WCPW/Defiant, how disappointing was it to see a company like that fall by the wayside?
TB: I was predominantly in What Culture and it is sad. I hate to see another company and work for the boys go. The company was real sick man, when I got to this country, What Culture was one of the main companies that got me exposed to everything. I think my match was against Zac Sabre Jr at Lights Out in Manchester on iPPV. It was one of the first matches that broke me out and then everything else. Still to this day, most fans will come up to me and say, “I LOVE your stuff from What Culture.” I didn’t realise because at the time I was just kind of doing whatever and didn’t think it has that much reach. It is sad to see a place I worked for and a lot of my friends went under.
ROR: They were just one of the companies that have folded recently in the UK. Is it fair to say WWE has changed the landscape here?
TB: It has definitely changed the landscape but not in a negative way at all. A lot of the people that are going “oh no” sort of thing but I don’t think it has, I think it has just focussed it. Now there is an ultimate goal for young wrestlers to achieve. A lot of people are saying “British wrestling is dead” but I don’t think that’s the case. I think maybe some of these companies weren’t doing great to begin with and that’s probably why they have shut their doors. It’s maybe the management side that maybe fell apart.
ROR: Like fundamental issues?
TB: Fundamental issues is exactly right, but then people look to blame somebody else when it maybe isn’t the case. But I think now is probably the more exciting time because, we’ve never had WWE here in the UK before.
ROR: We know you run a wrestling school away from WWE, but what are your interests outside of wrestling?
TB: I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu, that’s a big thing for me and I’d like to do a competition soon, I’ve just been really busy with wrestling, so I haven’t been able to knuckle down. I train four times a week, weight training as well, that’s what I do that every day and have done since I was 16, it’s also good for wrestling as well. I don’t know, video games? I play Overwatch online, that’s my big one at the moment and I’m real addicted to it as well. Super addicted to it. Sometimes you think, ‘maybe just one more game’ and it’s like 3am in the morning, but that is probably my big game at the moment.
ROR: When you are working out and doing your weight training, what is on your playlist?
TB: I’ve got like three playlists for when I work out. One’s hip hop, just gangster rap because I just love it. Bring Me The Horizon is another one. And then just a classic 80s rock, with all those old school tunes.