SIMPad H2

RECAP AND REVIEW: Talk is Jericho with Rocky Romero on how his mom helped Karl Anderson, his favorite match, if he has WWE aspirations, why Finn Balor used to hate him

Talk is Jericho

Release Date: 05/25/2018

Recap by: Caitlin Lavelle

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN

Timestamps

0:00 Intro (starts at 0:33)
3:33- Ad
3:54-Interview starts
4:20-Rocky on his position at NJPW
7:00- Rocky on his first Japanese tour
10:10- Rocky on his first Japanese matches
11:30- Rocky on his first NJPW run,
13:45- Rocky on his unique position in NJPW
14:55- Ad
16:55- Interview resumes
17:05- Rocky in New Japan’s Popularity
22:25- Rocky on Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson leaving NJPW
24:20- Rocky on Karl Anderson and Finn Balor
33:58- Chris plays Rocky’s Talk’n Shop diss track
36:11- Interview resumes
37:45-Rocky on Juice Robinson (FKA NXT’s CJ Parker)
40:00- Rocky on Tetsuya Naito
41:30- Rocky on his side projects
48:35- Rocky on his background in training
52:08- Rocky on NXT
53:10- Rocky on turning down a training position at WWE
53:50- Jericho & Rocky on NJPW’s U.S. Expansion
1:01:50- Rocky on his future in wrestling
1:06:10- Rocky on whether he has WWE aspirations
1:08:45- Rocky on his acting career
1:13:00- Rocky on his favorite match
1:14:25- Outro

0:00 Intro (starts at 0:33)

In this episode, Chris Jericho sits down with New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) Rocky Romero. This conversation was recorded in January 2018, just prior to Wrestle Kingdom 12.

3:33- Ad

3:54-Interview starts 

4:20-Rocky on his position at NJPW

Rocky says that his position in the New Japan office mostly involves scheduling and working with Ring of Honor (ROH). He also helps coordinate talent passports and visas, and helps support New Japan Referee and Booker Tiger Hattori.

7:00- Rocky on his first Japanese tour

Rocky’s first time in Japan was in 2002, and he celebrated his 20th birthday while on tour. He was joined by Daniel Bryan, Ricky Reyes and TJ Perkins. He had trained in New Japan’s L.A. Dojo in the 10 months prior to this tour in a class that included Samoa Joe. He describes the style of training as “more shoot than pro-wrestling.”

10:10- Rocky on his first Japanese matches

Rocky says his first match in Japan was actually for Tatsumi Fujinami’s Muga Promotion. Rocky’s first New Japan match was an opening match at the Tokyo Dom, featuring Masahito Kakihara, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Daniel Bryan, Ricky Reyes and Rocky.

11:30- Rocky on his first NJPW run,

Rocky says he’s been in New Japan for most of his career. He describes that he was in and out of the company until he was the fourth person to be given the Black Tiger gimmick.

After his run as Black Tiger, Rocky explains that he had some trouble with NJPW’s L.A. office, and decided to leave New Japan for Pro Wrestling Noah. Rocky says he tried to return after New Japan got a new President, but that he was blocked by Pro Wrestling Noah.

In an attempt to rejoin NJPW, Rocky took a job with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in Mexico, who has a relationship with New Japan, and says he starved for a year. Eventually, Rocky jumped to AAA, and was blackballed from New Japan as a result.

Rocky says, “my career was such a mess for 4 years, but I think you have to go through come shit to understand this business and just grow up a bit. I finally found my way back to New Japan in 2011, and I’ve been here ever since.”

13:45- Rocky on his unique position in NJPW

Rocky says, “I’m the gaijin who’s been here the longest. They trust me. I know the system. I’ve been through the system. I was in it in L.A. and I was in it in Japan. I have relationships with everybody, because I traveled for all those years.

“I was influential in helping New Japan and Ring of Honor hook up. That’s been awesome for us, because now we’ve got Young Bucks, we’ve got Cody. We has access to all of this great talent.”

14:55- Ad

16:55- Interview resumes 

17:05- Rocky in New Japan’s Popularity 

Rocky says, “It’s wild dude. Even a year ago, even with the momentum we had, I wouldn’t have thought Chris Jericho would be here. And I don’t think anybody else did. It just goes to show that this is the coolest place in the world to be right now. It’s electric, and everybody wants to jump on the train. 

“Now because of the Internet and the AXS deal, people get to see New Japan’s huge personalities, like Kenny Omega, Okada, Tanahashi, the young bucks.

“Then bullet club came, and Bullet Club was like the ambassador of Japenese Wrestling.”

22:25- Rocky on Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson leaving NJPW 

Rocky says, “It was interesting. All of us, including me, were thinking about leaving. I got approached by WWE to possibly be a trainer at NXT. Around the same time, Shinsuke, Anderson, gallows and then AJ told the office.

“Obviously, I ended up staying. It was kind of surreal. When we found out at the Tokyo Dome, I just remember the aura backstage being really weird. Usually, that’s the biggest show of the year, and everyone’s really stoked and hyper and energetic, and there was a little bit of that, but it was a little somber because we knew this whole ride was kind of ending in a way. At least this chapter. And we didn’t know what the future would be.

“Everybody was saying, this is really going to hurt us, this is really going to hurt us. I think the only two people who thought we were going pull through was Gedo and Hattori, because Gedo knew Kenny (Omega) was going to be the next guy. They knew we were going to be shook, but we’re not going down.”

24:20- Rocky on Karl Anderson and Finn Balor

Rocky says, “I’ve known Anderson 12 years or something. He lived at my house with my mom for a year when he was training at the (NJPW L.A.) Dojo. He was dead broke and had gotten kicked out. 

“I had to go to Mexico to try to get back to new japan, and Anderson didn’t know what to do. I told him ‘Stay at my house, get your ass to Japan’. I told him, ‘Call Nakamura, see if he can get you in there’. Three months later, he got a call from Shinsuke that they were going to bring him over and give him a contract. He went downstairs, told my mom and they both cried.”

Rocky laughs and remembers that, in the beginning of their relationship, Finn Balor and Karl Anderson hated him. He says this is because as Black Tiger, he was cool and he was getting booked, and Balor and Anderson hated his guts.

Rocky says this changed when he came back from Japan to Los Angeles for a break. Rocky says they got drunk, talked, became best friends and were inseperable.

28:00- Rocky on Talk’n Shop

Rocky says, “(Karl) Anderson said ‘I’m funny, you’re a good sidekick, we should start a podcast’. I said yeah, because everyone will want to know what it’s like to be in New Japan at this time. This is when the Bullet Club was getting a little steam.

Rocky explains that in the first Talk’n Shop, he and Karl Anderson interviewed Luke Gallows. Rocky says, “He wasn’t even supposed to be a part of the show, but you put a microphone in front of Gallows, the guy turns into something else. Thirty minutes is over in no time. That’s how the three of us started Talk’n shop. I was the legit producer.” 

Rocky explains that, because Talk’n Shop had no format “it was just the boys hanging out, and it really felt like that.”

Rocky tells Chris, “When you started doing it (Talk’n Shop on Talk is Jericho), it stung a little. I wanted to be part of it. I may have written a diss track on you guys. It starts out as a diss track, but then by the end I’m just begging you to let me on the podcast.”

33:58- Chris plays Rocky’s Talk’n Shop diss track

36:11- Interview resumes

37:45-Rocky on Juice Robinson (FKA NXT’s CJ Parker)

Rocky says that when Juice Robinson “was in NXT, but they didn’t really push him. He comes here (to NJPW), and within a year and a half they already know where they’re going to push him and how they’re going to do it. 

“He comes here and he has to start over. He wanted that, and when the office caught wind of that, they thought that’s great, because the Japanese fans love an underdog. They love to get behind a guy who scratches and claws his way to the top.”

40:00- Rocky on Tetsuya Naito

Rocky says New Japan is good at making stars quickly, and that sometimes this works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

Rocky says, “Naito is a good example of that. He got pushed, he got all of these opportunities, and he wasn’t ready. But two years later, going through all of that made him who he is today. It made him ready.”

41:30- Rocky on his side projects

Rocky says, “I’m into other things. I’m into acting and writing music, hip hop stuff. I make beats, I write songs. It started in Mexico when I was miserable. I started writing songs with Mark Jindrak rapping over them. 

“I love wrestling. I’m passionate about it. But sometimes I need a break from it. I need the challenge, to be stimulated in a different way.”

48:35- Rocky on his background in training 

Rocky explains that, because he was part of the first class at New Japan’s L.A. Dojo, he served as a trainer and bumped for subsequent classes. He helped teach Finn Balor, Karl Anderson & Mikey Nichols (TM61, FKA TMDK).

Rocky tells a funny story about being the first person to criticize Karl Anderson’s wrestling when Anderson was giving weak stomps during training.

Rocky says he was contacted by Matt Bloom, NXT’s Head Trainer, and was invited to be a quest trainer at the WWE Performance Center for a week. He accepted the opportunity and didn’t tell anyone at New Japan. Rocky says he was not under contract with New Japan at the time and had not yet taken on any front office duties.

Rocky says, “I feel like I’m the kind of guy who could fit very well into that system, because I had to kind of cut my teeth. I’ve been around. I’ve been through everything, minus WWE.”

52:08- Rocky on NXT

Rocky says, “Not knocking the system over there, but I still think people need to go out there and experience it and live it. You can’t really spend the attention that you need to on everybody. But I still think it’s a top-class facility.”

53:10- Rocky on turning down a training position at WWE

Rocky says, “There’s always part of you that thinks, what is the other side like? Would the grass really be greener? But I just feel that I’m needed here. I think that I can help the next two or three generations here. I could go and be another cog in the wheel over there, or I could be part of something huge over here.”

53:50- Jericho & Rocky on NJPW’s U.S. Expansion

Jericho says that Geydo told him that New Japan is bringing so much talent over from the U.S. is because New Japan is trying to break into the U.S. market.

Rocky says that he thinks New Japan’s U.S. expansion is yet to peak. Rocky believes that one of the reasons he was chosen to join the New Japan office is because he’s from Los Angeles, and New Japan knew they were going after L.A. to make an imprint stateside.    

Rocky says he initially served as a consultant in the New Japan expansion, and that he’s now doing a bit of everything.

Rocky says New Japan is building slowly in the U.S., playing to smaller venues where they’re forced to turn fans away, thus creating more demand. Rocky says eventually, New Japan wants to do 10-20 shows a year throughout the United States. Rocky thinks these shows would likely be in major cities and be split up between a few tours.

1:01:50- Rocky on his future in wrestling

Rocky says, “Of course, I’d be interested in doing singles, but I don’t know if the office sees that for me. It’s kind of weird. Every booker has always put himself over, but I can’t do that because we have the most unselfish booker in the world.

“I just want the challenge. The challenge of going for the belt, that’s more interesting than actually winning the belt for me. I think it could be a cool angle because the fans don’t know me as that singles wrestler. I’m a guy who, if I’m on the card, I’m probably going to lose, especially at this point.

“Just that good underdog story, that’s what sets fire under me. Getting people behind me as that underdog. I think it’s more exciting to lose sometimes.”

1:06:10- Rocky on whether he has WWE aspirations

Rocky says he grew up idolizing WWF, and that it was the only wrestling that was available to him. In his teenage years, he watched the Monday Night Wars and became aware of New Japan and Japanese wrestling through the WCW announcers. Rocky says Japan became the focus for him rather than a stepping stone to get to WWE.

Rocky says he likes being in an underdog company.

1:08:45- Rocky on his acting career

Rocky says the New Japan schedule allows him to pursue acting during his off time. He enjoys the challenge of auditioning.

1:13:00- Rocky on his favorite match

Rocky says, “Roppongi Vice vs. The Young Bucks in Long Beach, because that was (Roppongi Vice’s) last match. It was a super emotional moment. We tore the house down. That was probably the best match we had with The Young Bucks. We were literally on the verge of tears.”

1:14:25- Outro

Rating 7/10

I’m a big fan of the original Talk’n Shop podcast from way back when Dads4Real.geocities.com was their presenting sponsor, so this was a fun listen for me. Rocky Romero is a likeable guy, so if you’re even peripherally into Japanese Wrestling, you should go ahead and download this episode.

Writer Bio

Caitlin is a wrestling fan who hopes to one day discover that she is the illegitimate daughter of Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the rightful Anonymous RAW General Manager. Until then, she’ll keep on living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and son.

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*