“I pride myself on being one of the most original and creative out there doing it right now. I go out of my way to really try and put that over without actually saying it and seeing people actually take notice really makes me feel like my hard work is paying off.”
Ace Austin has a bright future in this business. In the next five years, there’s no doubt that he’s going to be one of the most in-demand wrestlers in the world. At just 20 years old, he has been making a name for himself across the United States wrestling for various promotions such as CZW and Rockstar Pro.
All things considered, I honestly lead a pretty eventful life. Not even just because of wrestling, long before I could wrestle I always found myself involved
I can tell you exactly what it was, I was 4 years old and my brother and I were sharing a room. It was my turn to have the remote that night and I was flipping through the channels. I came across, I believe TNT, and saw Shawn Michaels jump from the top rope, I flicked past it, stopped and quickly went back. That was it. After that it was a religion.
Almost everyone I’ve interviewed has cited Shawn Michaels as their biggest influence. Was HBK one of your favorites?
Absolutely, he’s one of the best to do it. He embodied being an entertainer.
Right then and there. When I saw that. I truly believed there wasn’t anything else I could settle for doing. As a kid I actually thought I wouldn’t need a shoot job when I was older cause I was just going to be a wrestler.
So do you wrestle full time?
Pretty much. I have the same a shoot job that I’ve had since I was 14, but thankfully it’s always been the kind of job that I can take off whenever I needed as long as I needed.
Well that’s a good thing. So it doesn’t really get in the way. Now, you were trained by the Wild Samoans right? What was that experience like?
Yeah I was originally trained by the Wild Samoans in Allentown PA. It was definitely a really solid foundation that got me as ready as I could have been to take the steps I took following that. The training is no joke, they take ring conditioning very seriously and focus a lot of technique. You don’t just walk in the door and run an international if you feel like it. Ultimately Samu makes judgement calls on a lot of things and really stresses the importance of being ready for whatever you’re doing.
For our readers who may be interested in training there, what can they expect? Give an example of the conditioning drills
Well when you’re just starting out it’ll be running the basics over and over again for a certain amount of time or repetitions. Whether it be a man in the middle drill where one person in the middle gives something to someone in all 4 corners who feed out to them. Or repeatedly running a drop down, leapfrog, drop down, tackle over and over again focusing on pacing and not letting fatigue disrupt your execution. When you’re a little farther along if there’s something specific you want to crispen up or work on, then they might have you do that thing in that format.
I started going to CZW’s Dojo weekly for the Dojo Wars program in October of 2015. I come by for training on other days when I can make it as well and back then I continued training twice a week at the Samoans as well. So I was typically wrestling shows 3-4 times a week while training 2-3 times a week in between. Since then I’ve made friends with so many really good guys who have opened the door to really great opportunities for me. Now I train wherever I happen to be traveling for shows with whatever company we’re in the area for. But at the same time my work rates gone up significantly too, so I’m working a lot of shows as well.
At the beginning one of the guys that I traveled and worked with very often out was Samuel Adams. He taught me a lot out of the gate. It was as simple as him saying to me, Hey man, I’m doing a Wednesday show out in Jersey called Dojo Wars under CZW. Do you want to take the drive out next week and probably get booked. I never say no to those things, that’s how I’ve gotten to where I am now. So I did. We ended up working each other. And there hasn’t been very many Wednesdays I’ve missed since then. I can’t stress enough how important those experiences are. It really is the best way to get yourself out there, get noticed and get opportunities. Nobody is going to do it for you. Do the drives. Bust your ass. Prove something.
Let’s just say it’s not something I necessarily want to do. But I’m not afraid to do it if I have to.
I honestly don’t have an answer for that. It would have to be someone who I’m building a story with. IF and that’s a big IF, it would have to make sense and have a proper build. I’d want it to really mean something. Regardless, there are some deathmatch things I definitely would rather not do. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a fan of it. Not because I don’t like it but because in comparison to true deathmatch fans I don’t know a shred of anything. I respect and admire the art of deatmatch wrestling. Regardless of how anyone feels about it there is an art to it just like any other form of wrestling.
I definitely want to work for AAW, WrestleCircus, HOG, PWG, eventually ROH. There are a lot of overseas places I’m very interested in. I’m the kind of person that I just want to wrestle everywhere. I truly mean that.
Well I definitely believe that you have the right attitude and, of course, the talent to make it in this business. Now, you did some work for IWA MS as I previously mentioned. TPI is coming up pretty soon, any chance we’ll be seeing you in the tournament this year?
I think you’d make a great addition to the tournament. Hopefully it can happen. Let’s talk about IWA for the moment. We’ve all heard the horror about IWA in the past. However, I believe that no promotion gives the younger talent on the indies the opportunities like IWA does. How did you start working for Ian Rotten and what are your thoughts on the revamped version of IWA MS? What’s it likd working for Ian Rotten compared to other promoters?
I started working for Ian the same way I started working for Rockstar and quite a few other places. I’ve always been big on being a yes man as a young guy. Anytime I heard about a spot open in a car, on a show, etc. I jumped right on it. In this particular instance it was with David Starr. I traveled around with Starr very frequently and on one of his midwest ventures I jumped on the chance to go along. Working for Ian is great, he’s straight up with every single person that comes through the door. He doesn’t kayfabe you on anything or give you the runaround like a lot of others. If a spots open he’ll tell you. If it’s not, he’ll tell you. His critiques are honest and is big on opening up opportunities.
He really has. Ever since the first time I went on a trip with him. He was going to Missouri to attend the Harley Race Wrestling Camp and I decided to use the money I had saved up to go on a cruise with my best friend and his family to go along with Starr to the camp. After that any open dates I had I just tagged along with him and I got some of, if not most of, the best opportunities I’ve gotten to this point that way. At this point I’ve spent so much time with him that I really couldn’t pick just one thing. I can tell you that I am a better performer today because of the time I spent traveling and working with him.
I appreciate you saying that a great deal. I pride myself on being one of the most original and creative out there doing it right now. I go out of my way to really try and put that over without actually saying it and seeing people actually take notice really makes me feel like my hard work is paying off. When I study tape one of the major things I do is, instead of looking for things I can steal or use, I look for opportunities that weren’t taken in particular spots or actions. I look for what ISN’T being done and build off of that. Other than that I actually don’t have like a certain method for how I come up with things. I just keep my mind open and let things kinda come to me. There have been many times when I’ve showed up to a show and just messed around in the ring and ended up coming up with some hot stuff to use that night right there. If it’s something that puts the other guy at risk in any way then of course I’ll practice it a bunch to make sure nobody gets hurt. But a lot of the things I do that are mostly on me I often just kinda go for it. Very much of the things I do or have done have been first try right there in the ring. (Within reason of course) If it falls flat then I’ll take it to the drawing board and make sure that the next time I do it it’s as hot as it was in my head.
I like that you mentioned that you study your tapes. You are definitely a student of the game and I genuinely mean it when I say your efforts are paying off (otherwise, I would not have reached out to you to do this interview). I really do think that you are one of the brightest prospects in indy wrestling today. On the topic of studying your tapes, just on average, how many hours of wrestling do you watch per week? Do you follow wrestling closely? I imagine it’s a bit harder to follow it when you’re on the road as often as you are. Also, when studying tapes, do you have a particular era or style that you’re a fan of? Or do you just try to watch as much as possible?
Thank you! It means a alot. The thing about traveling so much is that even though I might not be watching tape, I’m the type of guy that likes to watch the shows I’m on or at as much as I can. Plus I just moved to Dayton to live and train with Dave Crist in his WrestleHouse. So there definitely isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t watch at least some wrestling. I try to follow as much as I can as closely as I can. I keep my ear to whatever is relevant and watch whatever I can get my hands on. There’s ALWAYS something to learn so I don’t think that anyone should ONLY watch one particular style or era. For me, it goes hand in hand with what we just spoke about. I want to be one of the most dynamic and versatile performers in the game while still bringing as much creativity and originality to it as I am able. In order to do that I need to see and learn everything.
Spoken like a true student of the game. What has your training experience with Dave Crist been like thus far? What separates Dave from some of the other wrestlers you have trained under? Is there anything that really stands out about his approach to training?
Fantastic. Dave is one of the very best doing it right now and his teachings are some of the best I’ve encountered thus far as well. He’s no-nonsense and has so many different ways to get a point across. He really does his best to make everyone understand something. The trainings are always beneficial, there’s always a point to what we’re doing. He doesn’t just make us run blow-ups for the sake of running blow-ups. Dave really has a knack for connecting with people and teaching them. Some people just aren’t good teachers despite their knowledge or talents. Overall there is a lot that stands out about his approach, of all the places I’ve trained it’s definitely the most individual in the sense that things aren’t done the same exact way they are done pre-dominantly in those other places.
Well I definitely look forward to seeing the talent that he produces. Now, let’s talk a out your character work. As I said, I really think you put a lot of effort into your presentation. For our readers who may not be familiar with you, how would you describe your character and what exactly is the Shakespeare about?
I really do. And I’ve always thought that was something that doesn’t get as much focus as it should. A lost art of sorts. Stage presence, an entrance, how you carry yourself, things like that are all things that are just as important as what you do in the ring. You can be a fantastic athlete but if you can’t entertain then how do you expect to get attention, make an impression or make money. But for readers who don’t know me I’d say check out my social medias, you can watch some of my stuff on Youtube: Ace Austin, Twitter and Instagram: @the_ace_austin Facebook: Ace Austin. Those are a great way to get an idea. Otherwise, simply put, I’m like Captain America with a Gambit crossover. I play the hand I’m dealt with everything I’ve got. Stack the odds against me, give me your best shot and I’ll find a way to keep coming. I’ve always got an Ace up my sleeve. Shakespeare is just an addition to the the character that happened on a trip to North Carolina with Jake Crist, Dezmond Xavier, Sami Callihan and David Starr. There’s actually a video that Sami took that kinda made the whole thing public. I was squished between Sami and Starr and Sami started randomly adding last names to Ace Austin. (Which was funny because when I first started I was introduced as Ace Austin Highley, later dropped the last name). So as a joke I said Shakespeare and Sami and Starr lost it. They go on and on about it. Eventually I fall asleep, the video is taken and posted, by the time I wake up in NC #AceAustinShakespeare was making its rounds on Twitter. Which, with Sami and Starrs’ social media presence and influence is not surprising! I made the joke as a play on my actual theatre background and studies of Shakespeare in school.
Yes I did. Sami is another key influence in my career thus far. The first time I met him was a seminar in Canada, next thing you know I’m traveling semi regularly with him, Starr and the Crists’
Last few questions:
1) Apart from the origin of ‘Shakespeare’, any funny road stories?
2) Where do you see yourself in wrestling in the next 5 years?
3) What can we expect from Ace Austin for the rest of 2017?
Those guys are such good dudes, and there’s so much genuine passion in that group, that every single time I’m on the road with them it’s a blast. Never a dull moment. In the next 5 years I have no doubt I’ll be up there amongst the top tier guys. I’ve been absolutely relentless in my pursuit thus far and I have zero intention of slowing down. I’ve got international plans coming up as early as the end of this year. Next year you’ll see me on the rise even more than I have been to this point. And after that it’s forward. Always forward. The rest of 2017 you’ll see me getting in position to do some big things right out of the gate next year.
Oh I definitely agree that you will be going places in the business. I am truly a fan of your work and I look forward to seeing your matches all the time. Just one last quick question: how and when do you plan on avenging that 2:22 defeat by Tim Donst?
Thank you man, it really does mean a lot. Unfortunately, only time can answer that question!
(laughs) I hope you do get your revenge one day. Well Ace, that brings us to the end of this interview. Apart from your social media, is there anything else you’d like to plug?
I don’t have any kind of online store set up yet for merch, but if anyone is interested in Ace Austin merchandise just hit me up on any social media. I can take payments through Paypal and ship it out myself! Other than that just keep an eye on the come up. Because the come up is strong and big things are coming!
Well I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what is about to come. We’ll Ace, that pretty much brings us to the end of the interview. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I wish you all the best in your career. You definitely have a bright future ahead of you in this business.
Thank you man! It was a pleasure