Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! This edition looks at a former Kentucky backyard wrestler from the mid-2000s who has returned to the indies with a bang! Alex Zayne became a viral sensation on the Fourth of July, following his match against Tony Deppen at Game Changer Wrestling’s Backyard Wrestling PPV.
Until last week, the name Alex Zayne wasn’t a household name that wrestling fans recognized. And we’re not talking the casual fans who know the names of Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair, we mean even the indie fans around the world. After all, Alex Zayne has primarily been a backyard wrestler in the mid-2000s but never seemed to find the right fit on the indie circuit. He made his return in 2017 and has been slowly moving around the US indies. He first got on a few people’s radars after his WrestleMania week match against Aussie sensation and New Japan star Robbie Eagles for Pizza Party Wrestling. But last Thursday, as part of Game Changer Wrestling (GCW)‘s Backyard Wrestling PPV, Alex Zayne and Tony Deppen tore the grass up and put on a fantastic match, backyard or arena. And in the process, Alex Zayne became a viral sensation. Another in a long line of unheralded or overlooked talents that GCW has helped propel to a wider audience.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) July 4, 2019
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Alex Zayne about his journies in pro wrestling, from the backyards to GIFs online.
So for a lot of people, GCW Backyard was their first real experience with you...
Alex Zayne: No doubt it was a lot of peoples first impression of me and I couldn’t be more grateful for GCW giving me a platform to showcase my abilities on. That being said, I had no idea it would take off like it did of course!
So let’s fill them in on some basics. How long have you been wrestling now? Who did you train and start out with?
I started training in 2004 and debuted in January of 2005! After a short stint on the local indy scene, I basically got out of it and stuck to backyarding, as weird as that sounds. There was a very active backyard wrestling forum called “The BYWLink” (check out a documentary called “The Link” on youtube by A List production)… I had been backyarding since I was 11 years old. I came back for a little more indy work in 2013 but it didn’t last long. It just wasn’t as fun for me… Kentucky had a way of sucking the fun out of it so that didn’t last long.
I did a couple Backyard Supershows after that with the friends I had made over the years I spent in the yard. Then I came back again in the summer of 2017 to do some work for a few companies my friends had started and were involved in. Resolute Wrestling and 3-2-1 Battle specifically. It slowly picked up to the point that earlier this year it was either time to go all in or just hang it up… so I decided to give it my all.
So you were kinda out of the indie loop for over a decade. What’s the biggest difference you see now in 2019 that wasn’t there in the mid-2000s?
The internet. Haha, that’s the main difference, and I don’t know if it is just different for me and where I came from or if there has been a shift in the indie scene as a whole… but the abundance of positivity within the industry seems so different from what I experienced when first breaking in to the scene in 2005. Like I mentioned though, the internet has changed the landscape of the entire wrestling world. Live streaming and stuff like that can get so many more eyes on your product as a promoter and it can result in a clip going viral and awesome websites, podcasts, and blogs reaching out to you as a performer. This interview is a perfect example of all the opportunity the internet has made possible
You first kind of got some buzz after the Pizza Party Wrestling show over WrestleMania week. How did that show come about?
A couple of my longtime friends who I knew from the yard actually had decided to band together and start an indy promotion that was all about Pizza and Wrestling… and since I had just decided to push myself on the indy scene it was perfect timing. Then they got Robbie Eagles on board and they were kind enough to give me a booking with one of the biggest names in Australian independent wrestling during the biggest wrestling week of the year! Not to mention some delicious slices of ‘Za!
How is the atmosphere at a WrestleMania week show?
The atmosphere had a very “home” vibe, and everyone involved was fired up about the energy that comes with ‘mania week. They had a very helpful hand in Matt Griffin of ACTION Wrestling who was invaluable in the smooth running of their first show.
You guys kinda kicked the week off and then you kinda got a little traction buzz wise from that event and your match with Robbie Eagles. How was it matching up with someone like Eagles?
As far as wrestling Robbie Eagles goes it was an honor! It’s not every day you get to square off with a world class and world traveled athlete, especially since no one knew my name. So thank you to both Pizza Party Wrestling and Robbie for making that happen! It’s one of the fondest memories of my career so far.
The Southern indie scene has been heating up the past year or so, with the rise of promotions like SUP, and others like ACTION, NGW, and others. What do you think defines the Southern attitude with pro wrestling?
It really has and I’m stoked to see it happening for so many deserving talents and companies. There has been a stigma about southern wrestling or Wrasslin’ for so long, and a lot of these boys are down here changing the game. Toby Farley, Caleb Courageous, Bret Ison, The Stunts, Jeremiah Plunkett, Draven Lee, and Blake Christian to name a few… they’re evolving the style each in their own way down here and I love seeing that. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of it. The southern territories are going to catch a lot of heat soon. I can feel it in the air.
Your style is very athletic based and death-defying stuff. What were some of your inspirations as a kid? What got you into pro wrestling?
The first wrestler to ever really captivate me was Jake “The Snake” Roberts as a kid. The snake and the whole bit was just undeniable… I was in and out through most of my younger years until about the Monday Night War days. After that I was trying to get my hands on any wrestling I could. ECW, FMW, CZW, IWA-MS, ROH, TNA and of course the Backyard Wrestling DVDs.
So I pulled a lot from RVD, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, Hayabusa, M-Dogg 20, Amazing Red, AJ Styles…
As you developed your own style later on, did your inspirations change? Did any other wrestlers influence you beyond your initial influence?
Yeah, as you can tell I was into the high flyers and the high-risk style stuff but lately I’ve been watching a lot of Chris Jericho and Owen Hart stuff to tighten up my skills in other areas… and a ton of old stuff. I have NOTEBOOKS full of notes on stuff from the 80s and 90s.
You made your GCW debut this past Thursday. How did that gig end up landing?
Tony Deppen had a lot to do with me being put on the event and even the Backyard Wrestling event coming to fruition. It had been thrown around a little a few months back and I was told I was being considered… I’d assume he showed the promoters my backyard footage, which there’s plenty of on youtube. Once it was set in stone, I was given the details and it was time to complete the full circle and head back to the yard one more time!
— Jocay?? (@Jocay19) July 4, 2019
You went viral with all the GIFS making the rounds. How did it feel to log on and see all these clips of you making the rounds?
The match had barely ended, I was still getting my wind back when my girlfriend texts me from back home and says “my entire twitter feed is flooded with tweets about you, what did you do?!” then friends of mine started texting me saying similar things… I hadn’t even taken the time to check twitter and other social media at the time because I was trying to enjoy the show as well as show my support for the others performing on the card. By the time I got around to it myself people had already sent me screenshots of CIMA, Will Ospreay, Mark Andrews and more responding to it on twitter. I was blown away, to say the least… and have basically been trying to catch up with twitter mentions and DM’s still 4 days later.
Oh fuck off!!!
— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) July 4, 2019
— Mark Andrews (@MandrewsJunior) July 4, 2019
One person who was suitably impressed by your GIFs after the show was OWE/AEW’s CIMA. How cool was THAT to have a guy like CIMA asking you to come to OWE?
It’s totally surreal, ya know? One second you’re in the ring doing what you’d done so many times before in what feels like a very familiar place. GCW felt like home to me the minute I walked into that yard and they were playing Limp Bizkit throwbacks and setting up trampolines and light tube structures. And the next minute you have an international wrestling sensation, one of the best in the world, telling you to come work for their company… flattering would be an understatement and honored feels like an undersell. I reached out to him in a DM and we’ve been in talks about potentially lining something up and it still doesn’t feel real. I’m not sure if it will ever fully set in… Maybe when I’m in Shanghai and I take a moment to pinch myself.
Come to Shanghai
— owecima (@supercima1115) July 4, 2019
Gotta ask. Did you know that chair was coming from Deppen when you jumped off that roof? Cause that was a crazy bit!
Of course I didn’t know! if I knew the man was going to throw a chair at me, I never would have jumped!…
Yeah, it was actually my Idea…because everyone’s seen a shooting star press off a ring truck before, but not everyone has seen it stopped by a thrown chair to the melon “Sabu style”. So I thought it was a nice change of pace for the viewers. That being said…the cinderblock wasn’t originally there when I was planning my flip and scouted the location. I saw it from standing on top of the trailer and thought to myself “I think I can dodge it”. And I did…kinda.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) July 4, 2019
GCW has a reputation for finding the next big stars, be it veterans like PCO, or new young talents like Marko Stunt. You got a lot of “Please come back” chants after the Backyard match, is more GCW in the cards?
GCW and I have already secured several more dates. I return on the 7/26th in Asbury Park! I’m not sure who my match will be against but I’m ready for whatever they throw at me.
ALEX ZAYNE returns to GCW on 7/26 in Asbury Park!
GAGE vs ORANGE
SEKIMOTO vs MERCER
THATCHER vs KTB
MARKO vs DICKINSON
ATLAS vs LLOYD
Beg For Mercy
Fri 7/26 – 8pm
Asbury Park NJ pic.twitter.com/wFAgirE5AQ
— GameChangerWrestling (@GCWrestling_) July 5, 2019
What can we expect in the future from Alex Zayne?
What new promotions are you heading to next and who would you like to work with you haven’t made contact with? Since the 4th I’ve been in talks with several companies that i’ll be making my debut for over the coming months. They haven’t all been public about it yet, so I don’t want to jump the gun, but I’m excited about what’s on the horizon.
— Beyond Wrestling (@beyondwrestling) July 7, 2019
GCW, 3-2-1 Battle, and Freelance Wrestling have upcoming dates announced. Beyond Wrestling has shown interest in having me vs Tony Deppen in a rematch. We’re just working out the logistics. But there are at least another 6-8 major independent companies both national and international who I’m in the planning phases with.
Who’s your dream opponent right now? Who would you love to go toe-to-toe with? Let’s pick too – one from any age or era, one on the indies right now that you’d like to do soon.
Woah, what a tough question honestly! If I could work with anyone from any era as far as dream matches go it would probably be Hayabusa. A close second for entirely different reasons would be Bret Hart because of the things I feel I would learn from working him. As far as who I would like to face on the indies right now… there’s just so much talent out here that it’s almost impossible to choose. Is Will Ospreay even considered Independent at this point? Really though, anyone I can learn from while still having a great match… and I feel like there are so many people out there like that in today’s wrestling world.
Check out our full list of previous Indie Watches, showcasing emerging talent from around the world!
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