It’s been a tumultuous few months for British wrestling. The Speak Out movement, combined with the worldwide lockdown, has brutally impacted the industry. There is light at the end of the tunnel though! NXT UK returns to BT Sport tonight and to celebrate, our King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, enjoyed an exclusive interview with Welsh tag team Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster.
Rushonrock: Does the return of NXT UK feel like a new era for you guys?
Mark Andrews: Yeah 100%! A new era with everything really! With the branding of the place, the new venue, I can’t wait to see it now. I can’t put it anymore frankly than that to be honest! I feel like NXT UK was an incredible brand up until now anyway but if there are people in the world watching the network and haven’t been following it, now is the time to get back into it. Now is the time to start watching it, because honestly, the BT Sport arena that we’re using is just outstanding. I’ve said it before and in previous interviews but it’s our version of Full Sail, I honestly think it gives Full Sail a run for its money because it looks outstanding. I think the six month break that we have had has made everyone so eager to get back in the ring. In these first six episodes people are going to see a completely different side to everyone on the roster. People have been excited to get wrestling back and it shows.
Flash Morgan Webster: The facility down at BT Sport is incredible but, as you said, everyone’s kind of rested up. Nearly everybody I’ve seen when we were there, we’ve all looked each other and gone ‘they’re in the best shape I’ve ever seen them in!’. Everyone’s hungry, excited and on top of that, we’ve just announced the Heritage Cup. It’s so exciting. If you love pure wrestling and if that’s what you’re into, then the Heritage Cup and NXT UK is all for you. You just need to tune in and see what promises to be some of the best wrestling you’ve ever seen.
Rushonrock: What would you say to anyone that has lost faith in the UK wrestling scene?
MA: I think over the last six months, it’s been a very hard time for everybody in the world but especially people who are involved in the wrestling scene – whether it’s as a performer, staff, fan or anyone involved. It’s been very easy to give up hope on the wrestling scene but I think everything that’s happened over the last six months is going towards making the scene a much better place. I think now is the time for the appropriate actions to be taken and now is the time to make this better going forward. That’s what I hope people can find strength in and I hope people can find support in the fact that it will be a better scene than ever before. I mean that both behind the scenes in the professional environment sense and I mean that in the ring as well. I mean that in terms of everybody too. I said a minute ago how eager everybody is to get back in the ring and perform again and I think we’ve almost clicked the reset button. We’ve restarted it and everything going forward will hopefully be a much, much better environment.
FMW: We’ve been involved in the British scene for like 10-15 years now, so it affected us greatly when all this happened. But again, it had to happen (the safeguarding measures) and we feel that moving forward, now the whole scene is going to be safer. As I said, so many of us of just kind of come to this with the mentality of ‘Ok let’s show why British wrestling – and what happens within the ropes – is the best’. I think a lot of people have come to prove a point and almost come to reaffirm the view that ‘Ok, we had this rough patch, let’s get on with it and let’s show why we are the absolute best wrestling in the world’.
Rushonrock: As a tag team yourselves, how does the tag division as a whole stack up against the rest of the brands in WWE?
MA: I’m just going to straight up say it right now. I’m gonna be Billy Big Balls about this – we are the best tag teams. Right there! Don’t get me wrong, there’s tag teams in the company that I would love to get in the ring with. Cesaro and Shinsuke, Street Profits, The Undisputed Era, I could name tons. But in terms of a division, look at the NXT UK tag division and tell us it’s not one of the strongest divisions in the company. I’m gonna say watch the next the next six episodes of NXT UK and tell me any different because I promise you it really is. I think there are more strong teams in our brand than maybe any other brands in the company.
FMW: We could sit and name you some of the people who have already won the championship. But I think it’s better to tell you the names of the ones who haven’t got near any of the championships. Imperium have never won the NXT UK tag team championships. The Hunt have never won the NXT UK tag team championships. Pretty Deadly. Ashton Smith and Oliver Cater. There’s so many of these teams that have not been in the mix and have not been on Takeovers but they are such good quality tag teams. Then you look at the ones who have already been involved at Takeover Cardiff and Takeover Blackpool and I really honestly believe we have the deepest talent pool in any tag division across the board. We have the best tag team division in the entire world. I’m willing to say that on record.
Rushonrock: As someone with a foot in wrestling and a foot in rock music, what do you think it is about the two that just goes hand in hand so well?
MA: They’re just built for each other!? I’m sure we all remember the golden days back in the early millennium, where Limp Bizkit had My Way for WrestleMania 17. Where you had all the nu-metal bands performing songs for the PPVs and even back then the culture in general there was huge crossover between professional wrestling and heavy music. So I guess it’s just that similar fanbase and I guess for me, I’m somebody who grew up loving my punk and metal music and loving pro wrestling and WWE. I think that is a shared love for a lot of other people as well.
Rushonrock: Where do you see the true power of that relationship?
MA: Whenever we go to Download Festival with NXT UK or NXT, you see so many people coming into the tent to watch it who might not even necessarily be current wrestling fans but they just remember WWE so fondly from their childhood. It’s almost like maybe as they grew older, they forgot for a second and then they see it and they’re like ‘oh wait no I love WWE, let’s go check it out!’. I think there’s such a massive crossover and it just kind of gets into the heart of the ‘outcast’. It’s not necessarily the most mainstream thing. It’s not the music that’s popular. It’s not football. This is almost our own little kind of section of the world, where it’s pro wrestling, it’s metal music or rock music. That’s why it’s so special I guess. That’s why it resonates with the same type of people, the same fanbase or at least it does for me anyway. It just fits together perfectly and as we’ve seen recently with the NXT loud themes for the Takeovers, they’ve got it back as if it was the early noughties. Artists like Poppy, Bring Me The Horizon and all these kind of much heavier bands and I think it is awesome. I love to find out what the theme song is for the next Takeover!
Rushonrock: So what is your favourite PPV theme of all time?
MA: I mean My Way is the obvious go to one because it’s the montage of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin trading blows. Such a banger! I was a big Puddle Of Mudd fan when I was a kid, which now I’m almost I guess kind of embarrassed to say. But you know when I was like 13, I loved them and they did the theme for Survivor Series 2001 (Control) during, I think, the ‘Invasion’ era. I think it was that one and that was a low-key banger right there.
FMW: I think I’m going to go with a modern one. So, I was lucky enough to be at WrestleMania 30 as a fan and got to see Daniel Bryan win the world heavyweight championship in the main event. I remember I was excited for it anyway but being in the arena when that song Monster hit and they did the montage showing his entire rise! He’s somebody that’s always kind of spoken to me and spoken to Mark. He’s 5ft 8in, same height as us. He’s like 180 pounds and here’s a guy who’s travelled the world. He’s been everywhere and his pure love for wrestling was so big that it just couldn’t be denied. I felt just like the song, he created a monster in himself to get there. Anyone who’s ever travelled the world, anyone who’s ever thought to themselves, ‘Right I wanna be a WWE Superstar’ could watch that and you know feel that passion and feel that emotion. It was more than just thinking we’re going for this ride. It was like he’s going to become a champion. I feel like the atmosphere just rolled all the way through that PPV for me. I think outside of My Way by Limp Bizkit, I think it has to be Monster by Imagine Dragons.
Rushonrock: It’s been a long few months but what track or albums have got you through when you’ve needed motivation?
MA: For me a big one is the new Four Year Strong album. It’s called Brain Pain, but I mean I love that band. They are the best kind of pop punk/easycore kind of heavy band that do that style. And it is a very positive album as well, a real kind of PMA vibes album. I’ve just had it on repeat over lockdown and whenever I’m working out. It’s all about getting positive throughout any down days, which everybody’s had over lockdown and it has definitely helped me kind of cheer up.
FMW: I could list off the stuff I used to listen to like The Who, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys. But I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of weights and I’ve got this nice big garage which looks a bit like a wooden shack. Anytime I go in there to train, I just chuck the Rocky 4 soundtrack on and just going to work! So, I’ll be honest with that being really motivating for me. I just start thinking of Ivan Drago, you know that Russian guy and that I’ve got to work harder than he has and just gotta push through. For me it’s Rocky 4!
Rushonrock: How could anyone listen to Hearts On Fire and not get pumped up!?
Catch all the NXT UK Superstars including Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster, tonight on BT Sport at 8pm BST.