ROH & NJPW Stars The Young Bucks recently appeared on Ring Rust Radio. Here are some highlights from the interview….
Ring Rust Radio: Ring of Honor’s next pay-per-view will be Global Wars on May 8 in Chicago Ridge. The Young Bucks will be part of an eight-man tag team match. For casual Ring of Honor fans, what can they expect from you two in the match and how do you prepare for what is sure to be a wild matchup?
Nick Jackson: “Man you know what, it’s always a blast when Ring of Honor does pay-per-view shows. There’s always an element where Matt and I say, ‘Hey you know what? Let’s go balls to the wall,’ so to speak, and do a lot more because a lot more eyeballs are on the product. So, for a pay-per-view match, we’ll do a little more, a little more crazy I guess you could say. I don’t know, you want to add on that?”
Matt Jackson: “A couple of guys who have crazy, animalistic features and painted faces, along with us, it might be kind of funny. We’ll add a different element and style to the match. And then the guys we’re wrestling. I mean, we’re talking about some of the best wrestlers in the world, so it’s going to be fun and interesting, and we’re looking forward to it!”
Nick Jackson: “And we were fearful of signing anywhere because we’re known as the do-it-yourself Young Bucks. We’re the punk rock band that goes from small town to small town. So if we’re going to sign any type of exclusive deal, it’s almost like you’re going corporate. So we were afraid people were going to think we weren’t staying true to our word and stuff, but you know what? I feel like we’re not even under a deal, because ROH is so good to us and we have so much freedom to express ourselves, so I still feel we are the same Young Bucks. I was afraid we were going to cool off, and if anything, I feel we’ve actually gotten even hotter, and I think it has to do with us having more time to put into our brand. To be home and to refresh and not to be so burnt out on the road. I mean, we’re still on the road a lot, don’t get me wrong, but were not having to go from town to town to town. Sometimes we’re only doing one show a weekend.”
Nick Jackson: “Like Matt says, we can focus now on three companies, not doing 20.”
Matt Jackson: “And we were spreading ourselves thin, man. And now we feel that we’re at the top of our game. I watched back a match that we had last weekend against Delirious and Cheeseburger, and I told Nick this is everything I love about pro wrestling. I feel we’ve reached the peak of our act. We know what The Young Bucks are, and we’re finally being able to display what we are. This contract helped us understand who we are as performers.”
Nick Jackson: “And it teaches us what type of value we bring to a company when we’re signed. In eight months, we feel like we’re going to be even hotter free agents by then because our stock has risen from what we’ve been doing this year with guys like Kenny Omega and what we’ve been doing with Ring of Honor. Like we were just saying, free agency was fun and we’re just happy to be where we are now.”
Ring Rust Radio: I think one of the biggest reasons fans appreciate the Young Bucks is because you two truly embrace tag team wrestling. As one of the most popular tag teams in the world, what do you guys find to be the most important aspect of building the Young Bucks brand. Is it the ring gear, the double team moves or something else you contribute to your success?
Matt Jackson: “I mean it’s a combination of all those things. It’s not the fact that Nick and I are both singles wrestlers and then we happen to be a team. No. Everything we do is cohesive. It’s a tandem. It’s from the way we look, to the way we walk to the ring, to the way our attitudes are, to the way that everything happens in the ring. We set up the psychology in our hot tags. Everything we do is geared towards tag team wrestling. I’m not out there trying to get myself over; I’m out there trying to get The Young Bucks over, and same goes for Nick. We never looked at ourselves as ‘Oh, one day we’ll break up and one of us will be a singles star.’ That’s never going to happen. We’re never going to split up. I’ll tell you right now, I have no interest in being a singles wrestler and neither does Nick. Maybe we are where we are in tag wrestling because we both know that this is what we want to do, and there’s nothing else that we want to do. And our entire attitude, everything we do in wrestling is geared towards tag team wrestling.”
Nick Jackson: “Yep, you pretty much nailed it. I don’t think I could even add anything to that.”
Ring Rust Radio: While you have found success in the United States, your time with New Japan has really made you international stars. What has working overseas taught you about the wrestling business and how much of what you learned there carries over to American wrestling?
Nick Jackson: “Man, it’s taught us a lot. We’ve been in new Japan for just about three years now and I’ll tell you this; the last three years in our career—not just Japan, in North America as well—I feel the last three years have been the strongest work that we’ve put on during our career. I don’t know if that’s just because we keep growing as wrestlers or if Japan has indeed helped that, I’m not too sure. What it has taught us is more of the wrestling style, the Japanese style of wrestling. I guess you could call it the strong style. It’s taught us how to perform in front of seven-to-10 thousand people a lot better. To do certain things for not just for the front row to see, but the people all the way in the nosebleeds section. I don’t know if that makes any sense.”
Matt Jackson: “Yea. We have learned how to make our act larger than life, bigger, so that it comes across on pay-per-view and television and in arenas and stadiums instead of just a gym or a smaller place where independent wrestling is held. One thing I think we’ve gotten better at because of Japanese wrestling and wrestling in Japan so much is being on tour, wrestling in front of a crowd that doesn’t speak a lick of English. So it’s one thing to go out there in a U.S. crowd in front of U.S. people, or people that speak your language, but when you’re out there and they can’t understand anything you’re saying and there’s that language barrier, the cultures so different, and you’re getting over in front of people that don’t really know you. That’s truly how you get good. Nowadays they know who we are, but in the beginning, the first year, we go to these country towns in Japan, these people don’t know who we are. So we’re almost re-teaching these people who we are, and to re-teach these people that were The Young Bucks and this is our act, it’s almost like we’re starting all over again from scratch every single night on the tour. Having to do that every night on these long tours in Japan for the first couple years really helped us grow as performers. We just learned so much out there and we brought that to the U.S., and our entertainment value is up. It’s not just pro wrestling now. We have more character things. Sometimes we get bigger reactions having Nick say ‘Suck it’ to the crowd in a funny voice and the crowd is engaged right away. Or a silly antic we do with the cold spray. We just try to think so outside of the box now, and I think wrestling in front of people who don’t speak your language. It’s like a fast course to get you to become better.”
Nick Jackson: “Yea, totally agree.”
Ring Rust Radio: You guys have the opportunity to work in different companies and experience all different kinds tag teams and tag-team wrestling styles. With that in mind, how would you describe the current state of tag-team competition across the entire wrestling world as a whole, and how does it compare to where it was earlier in your careers?
Nick Jackson: “Oh I definitely think that there is a surge of better tag teams nowadays in comparison to when we first started. When we first started, tag team wrestling wasn’t even around. Especially in the bigger markets, like WWE. Ten years ago, there wasn’t much at that point, but with that being said, Matt and I both said, ‘Look let’s make this as big as possible, and let’s make tag team wrestling relevant again.’ And I feel like we’ve achieved that with the likes of The Motor City Machine Guns, guys like Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, ReDragon, Roppongi Vice. There are a lot of great tag teams right now, and you know what? WWE has a few good ones as well, on the rise. with them signing Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and The Usos and The New Day, and The Dudley Boyz are there again. I feel like right now, we have proved that tag team wrestling makes money. I feel like we proved that in Japan, I feel like we proved that in America, and I think finally, WWE is seeing that light, and I’m hoping that it’ll be a big part of their plan nowadays; so I don’t know.”
Matt Jackson: “And you know as Nick said, we proved that tag team wrestling draws money. I mean, Nick and I have been working on top everywhere we’ve been going pretty much for the last three or four years, and we’ve been selling more merchandise than most wrestlers that probably aren’t signed to WWE. We’re probably the top of the list.”
Nick Jackson: “And that proves that there is money in tag team wrestling. I don’t know the last tag team that drew the money we have on merchandise. Maybe the Hardy Boys? I’m so proud of that, and so humbled by that, but I think it’s proof that there is money in tag team wrestling. It’s not this dead thing that died with the Rock and Roll Express in the eighties. It’s still around. I think it peaked during the TLC era, back in the 2000’s, but I think it’s definitely on the upswing again.”
Matt Jackson: “Just to add a little comment, I think it was 2014 when we worked the Hardy Boyz for the first time, but it was reported that that was the largest, biggest Indy crowd of the year, which was the Hardy Boyz vs. The Young Bucks in the main event, so that shows you that it draws money.”
Ring Rust Radio: The Elite has taken wrestling by storm recently and is becoming one of the most popular factions of all time. How important has the The Elite, and the Bullet Club in general, been to the development of the Young Bucks in and out of the ring?
Nick Jackson: “Oh man, the Bullet Club is probably the biggest thing that we will ever do. All the members originally talked about it too. We knew it was huge when it was starting to get momentum in its first year and a half, and we were like, ‘Guys, we have to try to enjoy this movement, this moment because it is bigger than us.’ We really felt that way. And we realized it was growing our brand as well when the merchandise sales were just going nuts. Probably our number one selling shirt of all time is the superkick party parody of the Bullet Club logo. And man, we’ve sold thousands of them, which is just crazy. But it’s because of how popular the Bullet Club brand is and was.”
Matt Jackson: “And the Bullet Club thing, it’s like we were all buddies, we all traveled together, we had this undeniable chemistry, so whenever any of us were together, we always brought out the fun side or edgy side out of each other. I had never seen that side of AJ Styles until he came out and became Bullet Club and he hung out with us at ringside, and we would just bounce ideas off each other and just act silly or goofy or whatever. Gallows and Gun, the same thing. Those guys are naturally charming, hilarious dudes, so just being out there and screwing around with them is funny. Kenny is a real quirky guy, so I think Bullet Club has even brought out more on his silly side. When we were all together, it was like this magic; we created cool almost. And I think it resonated when people would watch it, because if you’re having fun, then the people watching are having fun with you. And that skull logo represents everything of that era, that era of Bullet Club where we were just tearing it up every night in Japan, cutting the silliest promos, going to sponsor dinners and superkicking the guests. It was one of the most fun times of my career, and like Nick said, I don’t know if we’ll do something bigger than that ever again. Then The Elite thing. The Elite thing is something that Nick, myself, and Kenny created on our own, years ago. We would talk about it on the bus. ‘Well, who do you guys think is the elite of wrestling?’ And we would put together our lists…”
Nick Jackson: “But the list always included the three of us.”
Matt Jackson: “Of course of course. So one day, when AJ Styles was leaving and we kicked him out of The Bullet Club. On the fly, we were done doing what we had scripted, and Kenny says to us, ‘Should I go back in the ring and give him a Styles Clash and you guys superkick him?’ All the other Bullet Club guys had left at this point, and he asked that to Nick. And Nick said, ‘Um, how about you ask Matt.’ And I’m always down for anything. So Kenny goes, ‘Matt, should we do it?’, and I go, ‘I’m right behind you.’ So Kenny slides in the ring and picked up AJ, held him up for the styles clash, we gave him the double superkick, and he gave him the Styles clash, place went nuts and that was the birth of The Elite. And right then and there, I told him we need a shirt, we need to brand this thing. We branded this thing on our own, we didn’t ask permission, we decided to be The Elite, and now it feels New Japan is jumping on board with it. It was just the last time we came out to the ring and I saw The Elite on the big screen and I said, ‘OK, they’re accepting this thing.’”
Nick Jackson: “We felt like people were writing off the Bullet Club as a whole, and we figured, ‘Hey, it’s a different era of the Bullet Club, let’s add this little twist within the actual group.’ And you know, when people say the Bullet Club is done, I don’t like that, because now it challenges us. Now Matt and I are saying, ‘OK, you think it’s done? Let’s make it even bigger than what it was.’”
Matt Jackson: “Wait until we come up with more ideas, and what were going to do next. And Kenny—the three of us—we’re real life best friends. He’s one of my best friends in professional wrestling and we have a group chat where we talk in every day and we’re talking wrestling all the time. We love the business. We love pro wrestling. We are three professional wrestlers, we’re so much alike. Of any members in the Bullet Club, the three of us have the most in common and we just gravitate towards each other. We ride together, we eat together, and so The Elite was going to be a thing either way, whether it was going to be called The Elite or not, the three of us gravitate towards each other. And I think Gedo, who’s booking this thing, naturally sees that we’re a natural fit, and he’s starting to book it. It’s just perfect because the three of us make these silly videos, have a good time and I think that’s the future of the Bullet Club, The Elite.”
Ring Rust Radio: You have wrestled some of the greatest tag teams in history during your careers. Which tag teams did you look up to as you were getting into the business and are there any teams in the current wrestling landscape that you’d like to get in the ring against?
Nick Jackson: “Yea, The Hardy Boys number one. The Rockers number two, but we never got a chance to wrestle them. I would say number one would be The Hardy Boys because we knew that there was a small percentage, a small chance that within our career we would wrestle them, and we eventually got to. We had the opportunity to wrestle them three times. So three times wrestling the guys that we pretty much looked up to and wanted to model our career off of what they did, but to wrestle them it was just eye opening. It was awesome. They taught us a lot because they’re just phenomenal guys.”
Matt Jackson: “I told this to Nick, I told them too after the match, I said they’re the best tag team I had ever been in the ring with. And it comes down to everything, I’m not just talking, ‘Oh they’re the best guys, they have the best moves.’ It’s just everything. Their presence, their timing, fan interactions. They just get it. And I think wrestling them did make us better wrestlers. We picked up a lot from that. As far as who we would continue to like wrestling, the ROH tag team division is out of this world, that’s one of the reasons we decided to sign here.”
Nick Jackson: “I’m thrilled that the Motor City Machine Guns are back. They’re probably our greatest rivals that we’ve ever had, along with Frankie and Christopher Daniels, ReDragon and The Briscoes.”
Matt Jackson: “And even tonight we’re wrestling the All Night Express.”
Nick Jackson: “War Machine. You name it. Ring of Honor has the top tag teams. That’s what makes it such a good mix for us being here.”
Matt Jackson: “And then if we’re talking possible down the line dream matches, I hear there are a couple good tag teams down in NXT that I’d love to wrestle. On Raw, I’d love to wrestle New Day, I’d love to wrestle The Usos, man it would be fun to wrestle Machine Gun and Gallows. We never even got to do that. That would be the Bullet Club colliding. There’s a lot of interesting matches that I’m sure that will happen down the line.”
Nick Jackson: “And we got to wrestle the Dudley Boys a couple times too, which was another just crazy thing, because as Matt said earlier with the TLC era, that was the golden age for tag team wrestling, and for us to wrestle two of those tag teams from that era, it was pretty cool.”
Ring Rust Radio: The Young Bucks are currently one of the most popular tag teams in the world, and you’ve enjoyed a lot of championship success, but fans are seemingly always looking ahead. So when you guys look ahead, what do you view as the next step? Is it continuing to build up your legacy as a tag team? Is it going your separate ways at some point? What’s the end game and the ultimate goal?
Nick Jackson: “We have a window we realize that because of the style that we do is so crazy that last year we said, ‘Hey we got probably ten more good years in us.’ So currently, we’re at nine years left, and we’re thinking, “Hey, in that nine year window, let’s make as much money as possible.’ We don’t care where it is. It could be in someone’s backyard as long as they’re paying me a good salary. You know what I mean? I’d be fine and happy with that. I don’t care about going anywhere to make my living as long as my family is fed and I’m saving money and I’ll be able to retire in that nine years, then I say, ‘Hey, we had a hell of a career.’”
Matt Jackson: “Another thing I love because I love professional wrestling is I want that instant fulfillment. As long as I’m having fun and can be an artist, it doesn’t really matter where it’s happening, but if I’m doing that, I’m happy. I’m making a good living, I’m selling a crapload of T-shirts, my kids are both happy and healthy and my wife is the same. I’m a happy man. So I don’t know what the end game is. Right now, I’m so happy with where we’re at, what we’re doing. We do things on our own terms. We have all the freedom in the world to be ourselves and to be artists, I can’t see it getting any better. I just want things to continue, whether it happens in the WWE or NXT or we stay in Ring of Honor or if it happens to be in my neighbor’s back yard, as long as I’m happy and my family’s happy, I’m happy.”
Nick Jackson: “Yep, but never say never with any type of possibility. You always have to be open to whatever because you don’t what directions things will go in this wrestling business.”
Matt Jackson: “Right? Wrestling in 2016 is so unpredictable, so I could never say never about anything.”
Ring Rust Radio: It’s obviously rare that you two would wrestle each other, so I was curious if you guys have thought about what it would be like to wrestle each other again?
Matt Jackson: “I just don’t think there’s any interest man. I think people dream about that being a fun match but I think if we got to the ring, people wouldn’t know if they want to see this. People want to see the Young Bucks tag team act.”
Nick Jackson: “I was just going to this. I think the only way that that would happen is during the super junior tournament in Japan where we have to do singles matches. That would be the only opportunity that match would happen. And if that did happen, I bet you it would be a great match, and hopefully it wouldn’t make the fans think, ‘Hey, they should have a program together because it ain’t happening.’ But I think that would be the only way that would happen. It would be fun too because the times that Matt and I have had singles matches, they’ve been very fun because we have a lot of chemistry obviously together, working as a team for the last twelve thirteen years. I remember we wrestled in Germany one-on-one during a tournament and I felt that we had a really good match. And then we had one on TNA on Impact one night, which was only given six minutes I think, but I feel like we tore the house down with those six minutes that we had.”
Click here to listen to the full interview.