When we interviewed The Wolves, they told us that they had been excited to wrestle the "amazing" London Riots. There's a reason. The Riots, James Davis and Rob Lynch, have been making a huge impression across the UK with their fierce, emphatic performances. We caught up with them at IPW to discuss their past, present and future. Read on for their most in-depth interview to date.
What inspired the two of you to get into wrestling?
RL: Growing up, my sisters watched wrestling but they were older than me and I didn't know what it was. Then there was an incident in my family which involved someone being in hospital for a long time and me being taken out of school. I'd be sitting in hospital in a family waiting room, nine or ten years old, not having a clue what was going on outside of that room but getting to watch wrestling on TV. It took my mind off everything and I instantly fell in love with it. I was hooked from there and adamant that it was all I wanted to do.
JD: I watched WWF, that's what got me into wrestling. You think WWF's the only thing in the world and you want to be in it - but you can't. So I started watching British shows and went from just watching WWF to knowing this entire other entity of wrestling. Then Dan Edler [IPW promoter] started a training school and after watching IPW for about a year, I went there. I started out paying to train and wanting to wrestle on their shows and now I'm a full-time paid coach at the IPW School, so it's a nice full circle story.
How did you meet and choose name London Riots?
RL: We went to the same shows but we didn't know each other. The first time we met, we were doing a show for someone notorious for not paying and having few fans. It was just horrible but at the time, we needed to do something to get something.
JD: We travelled up to this training camp, saw how bad it was and my group and Rob's just gravitated towards each other. All the other lads were sitting about, chatting, and eating a load of s**t (not that we don't). We taught each other more than those guys ever taught us.
RL: It was natural selection. But to get to now, there were five of us and a couple of the guys stopped wrestling for different reasons. J and I still didn't really have any kind of identity. We'd tagged loads before but no one would have ever seen it. We decided there was a gap in the tag scene and toyed around with some different ideas. J just said "why don't we call ourselves the London Riots?" I don't know how serious he was but I thought it sounded pretty cool. We decided to run with it, it snowballed from there and is still kind of developing now.
JD: Rob and I always wrestled as heels, so we wanted to be villains. All the other teams tended to be babyfaces and were quite athletic cruiserweights. We don't have a very finessed style compared to say, the LDRs so I thought let's not be like that at all, let's be big and nasty. I was told by someone about the name that "people died in those riots and you've taken that and bla bla bla" but that's exactly what we want.
Have people appreciated your gimmick?
RL: Look, if we wanted to do a diff style of wrestling, mat or technical wrestling, well that's what I was trained with and J in my opinion, is far better than I ever would be with it. I think it's a testament to our gimmick that people don't think that we could do it. We have some versatility there, J's deceptively quick and agile.
JD: I'd like to think Rob's more agile then me generally.
RL: Well there's stuff we can do that we haven't because it wouldn't make any kind of sense. We've eaten a lot of c**p about how we look but people need to remember that we weren't even a year in when we were getting a lot of that. We're still learning and we've just been really lucky to elevate quickly. Yeah, we might not have those bodies but we've never been unprofessional in the ring, we can go the distance with people, we're never unsafe. I think it's getting to a point where I think we're going to be able to show a little bit more of what we can do but we didn't want to do that at first. We've been very adamant about being a team as well. Very rarely would you see us on a show not as a team. We're committed to doing the right thing by the gimmick and the characters.
Might we see you go solo in the future?
JD: So many teams started wrestling after us and have already split. I think that's something that happens too quickly. I can understand why people do it but if a promotor runs a show a month, that's only 12 a year which in WWE gets covered in a week! So there's still lots of time to tell loads of different stories with the Riots.
RL: If you look at wrestling worldwide, how many teams do you have that still compete as teams? The Young Bucks? That's what they're known for. The Briscoes? They've done their own thing but are still known as a team. I think it would be so cool for there to be a team from this country that people could point to - and not that we're ready but if people could say "the Riots, they stayed together, they're always a team".
What's the game plan? British Boot Camp? NXT?
RL: WWE is where we'd love to be but we need to realise that it's not the only place. You can make your living and be one of the most successful wrestlers in the industry without being there.
How do you rate the British scene?
JD: I think the British scene now is the strongest it's been for about ten years. There's a lot of jobs on at the moment. Back in the day FWA was getting over 1000 people but it was the only one. Now you've got ICW drawing 1000, Progress could easily draw 1000. Six months ago, RevPro, IPW and ICW had shows on the same day and they all sold out. Business is very strong and hopefully it will just keep getting better.
RL: I have a full time job but I'm trying to go down to part-time because there's a demand there. I'd like to think in a year's time I could potentially just leave my job. British wrestling can compete with any other indie scene, we just have to let people know we're there.