For a time, if you went along to UK independent wrestling shows it wasn't 'Ten', 'Delete', 'Yes' or 'What' chants you would have heard but rather the crowd in unison shouting 'Moose'. This wasn't an Elk-obsession running through wrestling but rather full-throated support being directed to the man making his way up the Impact Wrestling ladder. Known to many American Football fans as Quinn Ojinnaka, the man now known as Moose is one of Impact's MVPs. The company, having recently acquired Jeff Jarret's Global Force Wrestling (of which Moose was an original roster member) is making waves again. With numbers up, house shows back on and new and hungry talent on the loose. We had the opportunity to ask Moose a number of questions during an in-depth session. In this, the first part of our interview we ask about his training, the origins of his name, his thoughts on GFW and more. Make sure to read on and look out for part two, coming soon! In the meantime, make sure to watch Moose on Impact every Friday night at 9m on Spike UK (further details here).
Are there some key lessons you have learned in transitioning from American Football to wrestling?
Yeah, there's a couple of things. The transition has been easy though. The reason why is that I always felt if somebody has a passion for something, then whatever that is, the transition would be easy. It's like if I had a passion to be a cook. It wouldn't matter what job I had beforehand because I have a love and a passion and I know what I'm doing is going to come easy. So the transitioning from one to the other, from two different entities, two different sports, came easy because it was always something I wanted to do as a kid.
You trained under Mr. Hughes and others. Do you have any good training stories?
I don't really. Mr. Hughes was the one I started training with earlier on in my career. I decided to branch out from WWA4 [Mr. Hughes' school] and go down to Canada and train with Scott D'Amore and I feel like he was the guy who made me and moulded me into the guy I am today. I feel like one guy taught me how to do different moves and another guy taught me how to use those moves and put them together and make something out of those moves.
How did you get the name Moose?
Moose was always a name I had, even before I started wrestling. I had it since I was a football player. Michael Hicks my rookie year gave it to me. So once I decided I wanted to join wrestling, I had to think of what name it was going to be and I chose Moose. He didn't give it to me for any reason at all. A guy before I got to the Falcons was named moose and and I looked like the guy.
In the UK - at RevPro, for example - people are chanting your name constantly. What do you make of that?
Its great, as much as it is annoying sometimes. Not annoying as in when I'm wrestling and they're doing it but sometimes it is kind of weird when you're not even wrestling, or not even in the UK! I heard stories that for weeks and months after the date I wrestled at RevPro, people were still chanting Moose. I feel like that's kind of a distraction - especially when your name distracts the fans from watching a good match that you're not in. So, I think it's great when the fans chant your name and when they like you, especially when you're actually around but if you're not there I feel it could kind of pose as a distraction. I haven't worked RevPro since and I hope that's not the reason why - I'd love to come back at some point.
You've worked RevPro, IPW and some others. How are we doing out here in the UK?
I love the UK fans that's why I always try to come back. I feel like the fans here in the UK are by far the best fans in wrestling with the interaction they give. I love it here.
Will we see a UK GFW-Impact tour?
I hope so! Things are just beginning, we've just announced tours for August. Once we've done with that and hit a couple of towns in the states maybe we'll make our way to the UK - I think it would be fun.
You went out to India - what was that like?
Honesty, it was really good. The fans were great and understood and reacted to everything we did so it was great wrestling in front of those crowds.
When you got to Impact, you were injected straight into headline bouts. Was that a lot of pressure?
I always felt like I was meant to be a main event wrestler and I feel like one now. If you just see a few of my recent matches at Impact or on the indies you'll know I pride mysef on being a main event guy and I can wrestle anybody and pull a main event match out of it. So me going to impact and being in a highlight role, that's nothing. I feel like I was built for that - its who I am.
You're the Impact Grand Champion. How have the fans taken to the specificity of the rules that go with those championship matches?
I feel like fans are starting to - its making sense. The style of match is different and I feel like sometimes different is good. The grand championship is different rules and I think its good to change them, it switches the pace of a show. If you see a show with eight matches, six singles and two tag, a lot of times all the matches will be the same. Throwing these in makes it different, so that's good.
What do you think of the GFW-Impact merger?
Jeff Jarrett is a very smart and brilliant guy. He started TNA from the ground up and made it great. If he has anything to do with it, whatever happens will be great and successful. I'm just here to wrestle and make impact great and make the fans happy.
What difference has the change in management made to the locker room?
People are feeling good, man. The morale has always been high and its high now. We have new management that actually know what they're doing. As I say, having Jeff as our leader is great because he knows how to run a wrestling company - hes done it before. When he left is when the company went downhill so now we're going downhill.
You signed a two-year contract, Will we see you in impact for longer than that?
Definitely. I don't plan on going anywhere soon.
This is great news for all fans - the more Moose, the better. Make sure to check out party two of our interview coming soon and of course check our Moose on Impact every Friday night at 9m on Spike UK.