Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Gresham
Interviewer’s Note: At the age of 24, Jonathan Gresham has already traveled the world as a wrestler and has performed in Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and all over the United States. A few of the more notable promotions he has performed for include CZW, Beyond Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Zero1. In September 2012 he won ZERO1′s Tenkaichi Tournament, which featured many of the world’s top junior heavyweights. The in-ring product he delivers is unique and draws from sources ranging from his trainer, Mr. Hughes to Japanese sensation, Ikuto Hidaka. In this interview Gresham and I focus on the topic of junior heavyweights going beyond what junior heavyweights have been stereotyped as.
Daniel Johnson: Who was the first junior heavyweight wrestler that you connected with as a fan?
Jonathan Gresham: I would have to say it was Sean Waltman.
Daniel Johnson: I read that Bam Bam Bigelow was the first wrestler you really liked. Did bigger wrestlers stick out to you more at first? If so, why do you think that is?
Jonathan Gresham: I reckon. I think at that age everyone wanted to be the big bad strong guy. And that’s what Bigelow was.
Daniel Johnson: When did you first decide you wanted to make a jump from being a fan to being a wrestler?
Jonathan Gresham: When I was around the ages six to nine I’d say.
Daniel Johnson: Was there any particular style of wrestling that you learned first? If so, why did you learn that style first?
Jonathan Gresham: I learned the American way of wrestling first.That is because my trainer is Mr. Hughes.
Daniel Johnson: If any, what junior heavyweight wrestlers have you learned from either by being personally trained by them or watching their matches?
Jonathan Gresham: Dean Malenko, Ikuto Hidaka, Tiger Mask and Chris Benoit. Just to name a few.
Daniel Johnson: I read that your first match was with Heath Miller (currently WWE’s Heath Slater). What was your wrestling ability like at that time? Did you use any high flying moves or did you use a more mat-based approach?
Jonathan Gresham: Yes, Miller was my first match. I was just doing the basics of wrestling during that time. Hughes really wanted us to have that down before we tried to do more.
Daniel Johnson: Has your preference for a style of wrestling changed since then? What is your favorite style of wrestling to work today?
Jonathan Gresham: I have tried and studied many different styles of wrestling. I can’t really say I have a favorite one. As I use them all competing against many different wrestlers.
Daniel Johnson: Who have been your favorite opponents so far? Feel free to break it down by style if you like.
Jonathan Gresham: Zack Sabre Jr., Jason New, CJ Banks and Ikuto Hidaka.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into the world of gimmicks: What if any gimmicks can junior heavyweight wrestlers pull off better than larger wrestlers?
Jonathan Gresham: I don’t know. I never thought about that.
Daniel Johnson: What has been your favorite gimmick that you got to use so far? Least favorite?
Jonathan Gresham: I don’t really have a gimmick. So I’d have to say just being me.
Daniel Johnson: What, if any, would you say is the stereotype of a junior heavyweight wrestler?
Jonathan Gresham: That all we do is jump around with little to no psychology.
Daniel Johnson: Who is one wrestler you can point to that most differs from this stereotype?
Jonathan Gresham: Zack Sabre Jr.
Daniel Johnson: What, if any, misconceptions do you think there are about you as a performer?
Jonathan Gresham: I would not know where to start with this question, but I’m guessing it is the same answer as before, ” jump around with little to no psychology.”
Daniel Johnson: Who are some junior heavyweight wrestlers today that you would say are particularly well-rounded and can work multiple styles of wrestling?
Jonathan Gresham: Hidaka, CJ Banks and [Mike] Quackenbush are the only ones that come to mind.
Daniel Johnson: Would you say this is the best time ever to be a junior heavyweight wrestler? Why or why not?
Jonathan Gresham: Again, I can’t answer that question. I wasn’t in the business back in the 198′s. During that time being a junior seemed to be a big deal as it was kind of a new thing at that time. So comparing it is pretty much impossible, but I can say now is a good time for pro wrestling in general. Different countries are opening up to the idea of a having pro wrestling in their area. So the sport is growing and expanding which is good for business.
Daniel Johnson: How do you see the world of junior heavyweight wrestling changing in the near future?
Jonathan Gresham: From traveling around meeting and competing with a lot of different guys I have to say in the next few years there will be new faces of junior divisions all around the world and they all are great talents.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned in the next few years there will be news faces of junior divisions all around the world. Who are one or two wrestlers that you think this would apply to and what specifically makes them stand out?
Jonathan Gresham: I believe a wrestler from Hong Kong named Jason New will make a huge impact sometime soon, while helping the world take notice to wrestling in Hong Kong.
Daniel Johnson: This is a really broad question so feel free to interpret it as you want: Is there anything junior heavyweight wrestlers are not doing today that you think they should be doing?
Jonathan Gresham: They should not always be the “fire works” part of the show, sometimes mix it up and tell a story. As juniors we have the ability to be many different things.
Daniel Johnson: I had two off the top of your head questions. Off the top of your head who are your favorite junior heavyweight wrestlers from the following places: the United States/Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan?
Jonathan Gresham: United States: Dingo (Mid West), Mexico: Argenis, Europe: CJ Banks(United Kingdom) and The Hunter Brothers(United Kingdom).
Daniel Johnson: Off the top of your head what is the best junior heavyweight match of all time?
Jonathan Gresham: Man, I don’t know. There are so many. I can’t think of just one to be honest.
Daniel Johnson: As part of my last several questions I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to make this discussion a little bit different. If you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer one of them then just say, “skip.” Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Jonathan Gresham: The Walking Dead and Friends(I know its old).
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Jonathan Gresham: John Carter.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Jonathan Gresham: Salmon pizza.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Jonathan Gresham: I don’t have one.
Daniel Johnson: Did you vote in your last local election? If so would you be willing to say for who?
Jonathan Gresham: Yeah I did and no.
Daniel Johnson: How do you see your career changing for the future? Basically, where do you see yourself in five years?
Jonathan Gresham: To be honest, I don’t have a clue and I try to enjoy right now as much as I can. So I try to not think too far ahead.
Daniel Johnson: Is there any place you have yet to work that you would like to work? If so where?
Jonathan Gresham: Canada.
Daniel Johnson: Who are your dream opponents to work with? This question applies to both junior heavyweights and non-junior heavyweights?
Jonathan Gresham: I think Sabre Jr. is at the top of the list. Also, KUSHIDA, Masato Tanaka, Shinjiro Otani, Doug Willams and Alex Shelley.
Daniel Johnson: I always like to try to ask this or something similar: What is the weirdest part of being a professional wrestler?
Jonathan Gresham: The fans. You meet some interesting people at shows.
Daniel Johnson: Do you have a particularly good story about one unusual encounter you have had meeting a fan or fans?
Jonathan Gresham: Not really. It is just the people I tend to meet. Like some have travel schedules like wrestlers, but they don’t wrestle.They just come to watch the shows. I could not imagine traveling the world, to watch wrestling. Its a passion as well I guess. Its gotten to the point where we are on first name bases which is pretty cool to me.
Daniel Johnson: My last question is: Is there anything you would like to add?
Jonathan Gresham: Nope, I’m good. Thank you for having me!
Check out Jonathan Gresham in a junior heavyweight bout! Here he takes on Jonny Mangue in an encounter from Beyond Wrestling: