Fit, fun and fabulous, Dalton Castle is one of Ring of Honor's MVP's. This hugely entertaining, technically gifted performer had the crowds enthralled last time he graced us with his presence in the UK. Thankfully, we will have an encore as Ring of Honor hits these shores again. Stopping at London (18), Liverpool (19) and Edinburgh (20 August) the list of matches already announced constitutes a wrestling fan's dream. Castle will be defending the RoH Six Man Tag Titles amongst his other exploits. You can book tickets here and keep posted to social media for further updates. For now, read on (find out how we might be facing the man himself) and take in the brilliance of the one and only Dalton Castle.
You've wrestled in the UK before, what's your most memorable experience?
It's not to do with wrestling but I was over for a ten-day stay and in-between shows I had a few days off. Matt Sydal [Evan Bourne] and I went for a train ride to the east side of the country, to visit one of his friends. Everything was going great, we had free train tickets and got to exactly where we needed to be. The second we got to the train though, I'm watching this clock count down. There are 30 seconds left and we keep walking along the platform. With one second left, Matt steps on to the train and the doors close between us. It was quite possibly the scariest moment of my life, in that I felt completely lost and incapable of taking care of myself. I watched my friend, who had the only communication and my train ticket in his hand, take off and I did not know where he was going. Eventually, I figured out the name of the station I thought he might be at and about 90 minutes later I get there and he was there waiting for me.
So far as wrestling goes I think it was the second I walked out of the curtain at York Hall for our London show last year. Fun story - at the meet and greet before the show, I had forgotten my match was first up. So I didn't have my gear on and I was out there signing autographs while they were playing my opponents music. That gear doesn't go on easy - that's why I've got those boys!
You have an amateur theatre and wrestling background, has that helped? Should it be mandatory?
I think in my experience, I wouldn't want to come into wrestling any other way. Everyone has their own story and their own path for how they got here. I coincidentally have been making steps in my life that have been preparing me for being a pro-wrestler, without me knowing. I loved wrestling in adolescence, through college and a little beyond. I also love watching pro-wrestling and had best friends who were training to be pro-wrestlers. It didn't click until I was around 22 or 23 years old that "Hey! You're the perfect storm of what this business is". I don't know if everyone should do what I did, but it definitely helped me a lot.
Samoa Joe recently mentioned you as someone WWE should sign. What's your reaction to that?
It's very flattering. I've certainly met Joe a couple of times but I had no idea that I'd left a memorable mark in his brain. It's wonderful to know that he thinks highly of me, in that kind of manner. I'm only going there if I'm guaranteed I'm fighting Joe!
There were rumors you would leave RoH but you resigned. What motivated that decision?
Well, I did just a short extension at the moment. They laid something out for me, where I didn't think the time was right to leave just yet. I don't know what the future holds for me but it really was just a short extension. When we come to the end of that, pretty soon, we'll go back to the drawing table and see what I end up with.
What did it mean to win the Six Man Tag Team titles and to do so with The Boys?
It was about damn time was how I looked at it. I've always thought of myself as capable. I've taken this very seriously and I pour my heart into my work. I work hard and I wanted everybody to know that I work hard. When I won those Six Man Tag Titles with the boys it was just the company telling me "we understand how hard you work" and they're solidifying, or reassuring me that they see the effort I put forward. It's nice that they would trust me in that kind of position.
What's your view on the state of the industry?
I think it's on an upswing. There's more wrestling than ever and more good wrestling than ever and everybody is benefiting from it. The fans get to ingest quality programming all over, to watch more live wrestling and to see companies like Ring of Honor do bigger and better things. This is our second tour of the UK within a 12-month span. We're doing more and more live shows, putting more and more production into everything we do. That's all because pro-wrestling as a whole is growing and RoH alongside it. So, fans benefit but also us wrestlers benefit. We've got great places to work and wonderful stages and big rooms to perform in. No longer, do you go to work and think, "why am I doing this?" because the second you walk through the curtain, at least I know for me, the second I walk through the curtain and I see the lights and I hear the people, there's no question of why I do this. I do it because I love it and as long as it continues to go like that, I'll always love it.
You play an androgynous character, have you been subjected to any homophobic abuse?
I hope someday we can wipe that out of the culture, but there are some narrow-minded folks for whom that's all they see when they see somebody like me. It's really sad that it's something they see as wrong or bad, but for the most part, my fans have been very accepting and great. They just like me for me. They like Dalton Castle because of how he wrestles and how I perform. Before I was locked down to an RoH contract, one time I was wrestling a show in the south end of Tennessee, and that was a world that I had liked to think didn't exist anymore. But boy, was it eye opening and sad to see the reactions that some people in the crowd were giving. Children, alongside their parents. It was disgusting and sad to see the kids being brought up in that environment.
You interviewed a number of wrestlers - what's the best question you've put to one?
I think as my wrestling career has progressed, I've started to learn that a lot of what I was doing as an interviewer was inappropriate or annoying. I look back at it and think I was just kind of a jerk. Now some of those questions are coming back at me and I think "Woah, that's out of line!". I just always tried to ask what is an example of a weird interaction they had with a fan. I remember CM Punk came into the studio once. I didn't witness this, but he came into the lobby and another guy from another station in the building walked up to him, got behind him and because he'd seen Punk so many times on TV, in pictures and online, he for some reason thought he knew him. So, for some reason, he slapped him on the arm and said: "Hey, Punk!". I just remember it made him so mad - and rightfully so! - some stranger just came up and assaulted him at 6 am in the morning! So, I used that as an example whenever I was talking to wrestlers. "Give me an example when fans overstep the line". Fortunately, many of them said that most of the time people were pretty respectful to them and they don't have a whole lot of bad stories or they didn't want to share them in order to keep their public image clean.
Do you have a good rib story?
I don't think so?! Things have changed a bit. Nobody really messes with each other, we're all kind of a team and helping each other out. There was this one time in Charlotte North Carolina and Matt Taven and I were out to dinner. He ordered a sweet potato fully loaded and he went to the bathroom and I ate the entire thing. That was my big rib. It was completely made up to.
Looking forward to the UK tour, what matches other than your own are you looking forward to?
Well, Danny, are you going to be there? [Yep, I will be]. Then I'm looking forward to the match between you and me! When I call you out of the crowd and I tie you up and hang you up from the ceiling and me and the boys have a ladder match to get you down. I don't know the logistics of it but I'm going to get some engineers working on it. We're trying to bring it to the next level at Ring of Honor and innovation like that is what's going to help.
Well, that is both a scary and exciting prospect! You never know what might happen when Dalton Castle and the boys are in the ring. Make sure to get down and see them in person!