The last time that SLAM! Wrestling spoke to England's Jonny Storm, the talk was of the FWA (Frontier Wrestling Alliance) and Celebrity Wrestling -- the American Gladiators-style show that, belying the name, featured virtually no wrestling at all.
That was one year ago however, and Storm's focus has changed completely. Celebrity Wrestling died a painful death after just a couple of weeks of primetime TV exposure, and the FWA has been overtaken as the UK's No.1 promotion by 1PW, for whom Storm now co-holds the Tag Team Championship with Jody Fleisch. Considering that Storm and Fleisch defeated regular TNA inhabitants -- and now that company's tag team champions -- A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels for those same titles, it is not surprising to learn that 1PW, and the American talent it imports, get the thumbs up from "The Wonderkid."
"It's great that guys from ROH and TNA are wrestling in the UK these days. I see it as re-establishing the British wrestling product," he told SLAM! Wrestling. "The people who come to see 1PW are used to that style from television and DVD. So we bring in the guys from ROH and TNA, which attracts the audience, and then we get to show them that the British guys can do everything just as well as the Americans on TV. We have the platform to put it on, and then try to prove that they can see this standard of wrestling regularly in the UK."
Storm is clearly excited about the opportunity to reinvigorate a British wrestling scene that hasn't had any mainstream following since Independent Television boss Greg Dyke cancelled World of Sport wrestling in 1988. But that doesn't mean that he is laying all of his eggs in the basket of 1PW. On the contrary, he works as many shows as his body will allow, not just in England, but all over Europe.
"I'm wrestling around three times a week at the moment, but it does vary. Come the summer, it will be every single day. It can be tough because you have to set the ring up and take it down, too! But the last 12 months have been good for me. It would have been great had the idea of a British team in the (TNA) World X Cup not fallen through. It was supposed to be Doug Williams, Nigel McGuinness, Jody (Fleisch) and myself, but Doug and Nigel were already booked for Japan, and it was decided not to bring in a half-assed team. That was disappointing, but I'm sure it will happen one day."
To date, Storm's big-time American wrestling experiences have all come through TNA. But he made it clear that he is not just hanging his American hopes on TNA; even in an under-utilised Cruiserweight division, Storm revealed that he would be interested in working for the WWE.
"If you are looking at making a living in this business, the WWE is the only place to go. Since I have no ties, it would be stupid for me not to take a contract if I was offered one. I'd prefer to work closer to home if it was the same money but (pauses) ... I'd certainly prefer to be the big fish in the small pond here, rather than the small fish in the big pond there. But if I got a good contract -- and I'm a professional after all -- I'd like to go there, and I think that anyone who says that they don't want to work there isn't quite telling the truth. It's pretty much the only place to work if you want to make some money. Besides, it's like a childhood dream, for anyone who ever wanted to be a wrestler."
Speaking of working in WWE, Storm (real name Jonathan Whitcombe) was asked his thoughts on Rey Mysterio -- a man of similar size -- as World Heavyweight Champion.
"I'm really glad for Mysterio. I'm a believer that the era of 'World Heavyweight champion' is a little bit passť now. I've been on at the FWA for some time now, telling them not to bill it as the 'FWA World Heavyweight Title,' but rather the FWA World Title. That way, you don't have people making an issue of a lighter guy winning the company's main championship. Wrestling has evolved now, people are much more accepting of smaller guys and high-flyers being World champions. They need to get rid of the aura that surrounds the main championship, that you have to be a heavyweight. I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon, but that's my personal opinion, that it should be World championships, not alienating the smaller guys."
2006 has thus far been a very busy year for the Essex native. But busy is how Storm likes it, and he hopes to continue the trend through the remainder of the year.
"Obviously I'll be working 1PW and FWA shows for the remainder of the year, but I'm also hopeful of getting back to Holland and Germany, as I've done some work there this year too. I've also been talking to Steve Corino about doing something with the AWA in Japan. I think they are trying to sort out work visas. I'm really busy up until September, but after that, I would love to go."
May 26, 2005: Jonny Storm: British Invader
Brian Elliott is a freelance journalist, specialising in pro wrestling, mixed martial arts, and soccer. Read more of his work, and leave comments at http://spaces.msn.com/brianelliott.