Watching a War Machine match, any match of Raymond Rowe and Hanson's, is a beautiful thing. Raw power, aggression, incredible feats of agility and tag excellence. The duo has been ripping a hole through the UK wrestling scene, most recently by way of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW). Tag champs, tournament titans, and top of the fan request list, War Machine are coming back! They'll be on hand for WCPW's new season of shows which begins in October at Newcastle's Domain (2nd), and Manchester's Bowlers (3rd) Tickets and further details are here. For now, prepare to be consumed by War Machine!
The Young Bucks have already claimed the tag-team of the year title but told us that if anyone else deserved it, War Machine did. What do you think of that?!
H: I didn't know where you were going to go with that. I was going to say #FYB! I didn't know you were going there, so maybe I shouldn't say that!
RR: I think any full-time tag-team that doesn't pay attention to the Young Bucks is doing it wrong. They are unquestionably the leaders in our industry. They've been at the forefront of pushing the merchandise, opening up mainstream doors. They're changing the game and everyone in wrestling now is more successful financially, able to provide for our families better, because of some of the steps and some of the changes that Young Bucks have made. We've done shows with them and are paying attention to what they do. They've set that blueprint and they're not secretive about it, about how they do things, why they do things. So all you have to do is pay attention. It's just like in any business model; if you see something successful, everyone else would do well to learn from it.
For those that haven't heard of War Machine, can you say a little about how you came to be?
H: Ray and I were in the 2014 Ring of Honor 'Top Prospect' tournament and we squared off in the finals. That was the first time we'd met -I beat Ray(!) and won the tournament. I think Ring of Honor didn't really know what to do with us after that and suggested forming a team. We didn't know each other but we hit it off real quick. I like to say we were given this thing, this War Machine thing, to become a tag-team just to see where it goes and we embraced it. We made it what it is now. A lot of guys get thrown together and they're not feeling it or into it. Maybe they don't like their tag partner, maybe they just want to be a singles superstar. We were given this thing and said, "well if this is what we're doing, then this is what we're doing and we're going to go at it full-bore". That's what we've been doing.
RR: It was more than just a stylistic thing. We changed our styles, how we dress, what we wear to the ring. We brought elements of Hanson and me, my life outside the ring and this Viking stuff that I do, this war beard craziness. We melded them together and formed this War Machine and we continue to evolve it but just like Hanson said, we just went all-in. There's a bunch of tag-teams that fail because they stay two individuals. We kind of blend it together. When you talk about the Young Bucks, you don't talk about Nick and Matt, you talk about the Bucks. When you talk about great tag-teams, the sum of the parts isn't greater than the whole. We are War Machine, so if one of us isn't there, it's not as special. There's not people flying Raymond Rowe over to England or Japan, they're flying War Machine. I think we realised that as this thing grew and evolved. We're more valuable now as a tag-team then we are as singles wrestlers -and we're OK with that. I know there's not many people in wrestling that I trust but I can trust Hanson. That's a really valuable thing. We were lucky as it meant we could go all in and War Machine is the dominant brand it's what we're building.
You mention Japan and the UK - you've had success in both. Is the Ring of Honor/New Japan/CMLL/War of the Worlds approach the standard for wrestling now?
RR: 100%. New Japan is the world leader. It's what launched the Bucks. We did the G1 Tag League in 2016 and since then, have been climbing, getting momentum up and up. The more success we have there, the more we have across the world. We were booking out shows while we were in Japan for other things across the world. We did things in the UK - we have started with What Culture and have done some stuff with RevPro, Progress and Fight Club. Promotors and fans in the US saw that and asked about it. For us, its one of those things where you're not appreciated in your own time or your hometown as much. We're not really doing anything differently but because we were successful in New Japan, now the US and UK fans are reacting to us stronger. The more we go and do things there, the more we see it in our T-Shirt sales, on Instagram, Twitter and all the metrics you can measure. You can feel it talking to people and when you come to the ring. Then New Japan fans see us succeeding in Mexico or the UK and that feeds the other, its symbiotic.
So is WWE calling....?
H: I mean, you never say no in wrestling. Right now, we're really happy. New Japan is where we really both wanted to be ever since we first started wrestling. So, we're just focusing on that next match, that next opportunity. I don't think if you asked us two years ago, we thought we'd be in the situation we're in right now. So, two years from now? I don't think anyone could tell us all the opportunities we'll have in front of us. We'll just focus on the next match, the next tour. We've got a lot of big stuff in front of us - championships to defend, TV tapings, Japan. It's a full plate. When you look too far ahead, you mess up what's in front of you. So, we'll deal with each thing as it comes.
You're both big guys but you can move. Who out there is at your level, big guys that are serious contenders?
H: We have KES [Killer Elite Squad] coming up in Japan and the Guerrillas of Destiny, they're big guys and they can move. At the same time, me and Ray are completely different from any team in the world, maybe ever. I'm the bigger one and the heavier one and I'm the guy that can fly. Ray's the smaller one but he's the powerhouse. He might be one of the strongest men I've ever met!
RR: There's no team that we can't fly with, brawl with, there's nobody in the world that I can't throw. You put all that together and we're just adaptable. We can outwrestle you in our match, but we can also outwrestle you in your match. So, I don't care who's across the ring from us, War Machine is holding their own.
Finally, we hear you're going to visit some of the UK's Viking sites? Is that right?
H: Yeah, we were just talking about it!
RR: So I've been a fan of Viking culture and history and heritage all my life. My very first tattoo was a Viking Rune when I was 17, 18 years old. I've done work with renaissance festivals and recently I started doing Viking living history events and Viking historical combat with my girlfriend. We laugh and joke about the fact that we wrestle as War Machine but as we go around the world, we're tourist machine! We try to go out of our way to see the history of where we go. The cultures. To go see castles, temples and ancient sites - whatever we can. It's something we like to do. If there's an opportunity to jump on a train, we'll do it!
It's not just trains but heads War Machine will be jumping on when they're in the UK. Make sure you get to see them live because as Raymond Rowe says, War Machine are holding their own!