by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Ivan Markov has wrestled since 2004 for Russia’s Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF). In this promotion he has held the IWF Heavyweight Championship, the IWF Hardcore Championship and is a two time holder of the IWF Tag Team Championship. He has wrestled since 2004 and is known by the fearsome nickname “Locomotive” and logically enough has put opponents away with such moves as the locobomb (a kneeling choke bomb) and the train horn (a stunner variation). He has also traveled outside of his homeland notably wrestling for DDT in Japan and for Turkish Power Wrestling (TPW). You can see his recent matches by visiting the official IWF YouTube Channel. In this interview Markov and I focus on the topic of wrestling in Russia.
Daniel Johnson: My first question is for those unfamiliar with you when and where were you born? Also, when did you debut as a wrestler?
Ivan Markov: I was born in Moscow in February 1984. My wrestling debut was in September 2004 in IWF, Russia.
Daniel Johnson: In a few words how would you describe yourself as a performer?
Ivan Markov: It’s hard to speak about myself. Most of my experience as a wrestler has been in Russia. I was chosen as the best wrestler of the year in 2010 and 2011 by Russian fans. I give 100 percent in the ring. I’m very tough in the ring and my aim is to not make the fans sorry for any cent that spent on their tickets.
Daniel Johnson: Were you a fan of wrestling growing up? If so what companies did you watch who were your favorite wrestlers?
Ivan Markov: Yeah, sure. I began to watch wrestling in my childhood. I even had a backyard promotion with my friend. Now I understand that it was not a good idea, because it’s too dangerous to start wrestling without a professional trainer. I obviously watched the WWF and WCW. My favorite wrestler was A-Train (also known as Albert), maybe in some way my present ring name is some nod of the head to him. But now my priorities have changed. I love indie wrestling. My favorite promotion is PWG and my favorite wrestler is “Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen.
Daniel Johnson: How did you begin training in Russia and with who?
Ivan Markov: There was a big wrestling show in Russia in 2004. I went there as a spectator and I found out that there was a wrestling promotion in Russia. IWF sounds like NFR in Russian. The next day I was in their wrestling school. I learned basic wrestling things from two people: Vadim Koryagin (who was training in Canada before) and Loki (at the time he was one of the best wrestlers in Russia). But it was only the beginning. I learned a lot of things in the ring. Experience is the most important thing. You become a wrestler only when you work in the ring in front of an audience. I’m learning everyday even now, I’m trying to become better and better. I feel really bad when I watch my matches from 2004. I’m glad to know that Ivan Markov in 2004 and Ivan Markov in 2012 are two different wrestlers. I can say now that I have reached some level.
Daniel Johnson: Russia is a pretty big country. What parts of Russia do you regularly work in and what is the furthest place in Russia you have traveled to wrestle?
Ivan Markov: We make our regular shows in the capital, in Moscow. But we are trying to wrestle in different towns in Russia. The furthest town from Moscow in Russia was Krasnoyarsk. It’s about 4,238 km (about 2,633 miles) from Moscow.
Daniel Johnson: Would you be able to count how many shows you wrestle a year?
Ivan Markov: I’m sorry to say that I’m not on Russian wrestling shows as often as I’d like to be. I think I have around 25 shows a year. But I hope that we’ll start doing shows. Maybe it will be in the near future.
Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with the wrestling scene in Russia, how would you broadly describe it?
Ivan Markov: I can quote Shane McMahon who was on our show in 2006. Even then he said: “I didn’t expect that there could be a quality American show in such a country as Russia”. And that was in 2006. It’s much better nowadays. And I believe that our guys can be interesting for the foreign fans.
Daniel Johnson: Wow, how did they get Shane McMahon to come?
Ivan Markov: He was in Russia for his personal needs and of course it was interesting for him to see wrestling in Russia.
Here’s him on YouTube in his appearance for IWF in Russia.
Daniel Johnson: Switching gears a bit, different audiences like different aspects of wrestling. What parts of wrestling do Russian crowds generally react to? Are they more interested in the in-ring product or mic work and storylines?
Ivan Markov: They find all aspects of wrestling important just like fans all over the world. But in the Russian mentality, the most important thing is the match. And they like when it looks realistic. They love the brawling style, tough work in the ring. They also like hardcore matches. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t like classic wrestling like WWE.
Daniel Johnson: How many major promotions are there in Russia and how many have you worked for?
Ivan Markov: There is only one big promotion in Russia at the moment. It was founded 10 years ago and there are some small promotions. I have worked there as well.
Daniel Johnson: How would you describe your current gimmick in wrestling?
Ivan Markov: I don’t have some unusual gimmick. I have a history. Locomotive is a guy who beat El Generico and became very self confident. He didn’t take his opponents seriously and didn’t respect them. But he is not a bad guy, he’s just a little complicated. That is what it is at this moment. But I have had different gimmicks. For example, I was a guy who became crazy. The reason was that his wife was injured seriously in the ring and he was paranoid and wanted revenge.
Daniel Johnson: What had been your favorite gimmick that you had in the past? Was it the crazy guy?
Ivan Markov: Yes, you are right. It’s interesting to play crazy guys.
Daniel Johnson: How would you describe your in-ring style of wrestling? What American wrestlers if any would you compare it to?
Ivan Markov: It’s a very hard question, because I always develop myself, changing a little. I like to use my legs in the match. I also like different power moves. I can also work very tough if it suits the situation. I’m trying not to be compared with anyone.
Daniel Johnson: Aside from yourself who are the big names in Russian wrestling currently? Also, who are some of the older legends?
Ivan Markov: I think it’s too early to speak about legends. We are only 10 years old. When we open our hall of fame, we’ll think about legends. For big names in Russian wrestling… there’s our champion Anton Deryabin, my last tag team partner Ronny Crimson and four time women’s champion Bonnie. But there are a lot of good wrestlers in IWF, I can name you about 15 but the list would be too long.
Daniel Johnson: Do you have any favorite Russian wrestlers to work with? If so who?
Ivan Markov: I’ll say the same thing, I can name you several names I like to work with. I can’t choose one.
Daniel Johnson: Is there any place online that interested fans can check out these wrestlers (a YouTube channel, website, etc.)?
Ivan Markov: Sure, here is a link to the first part of our last show. There is also our website, but it’s only in Russian. The English version is under construction right now and here is the link to our official YouTube channel.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned earlier some of your own favorite companies to watch. In general how popular is foreign wrestling in Russian? Are WWE and TNA popular there? What about companies like AAA in Mexico and NJPW in Japan?
Ivan Markov: WWE is shown by Russian television right now, so it’s the most popular promotion in Russia. Plus, Raw came to Moscow this year. People can watch other promotions only through the Internet. The most popular promotion among them is TNA and then Mexican and Japanese promotions.
Daniel Johnson: How, if at all do you see the wrestling scene in Russia changing in the near future?
Ivan Markov: We work with foreign wrestlers. So we’re going to work in that direction. There will be more foreign stars in Russia. Also, we have an aim to get a TV slot. We were on TV for three years already. Russian wrestling became more popular and we had top ratings. But then the channel closed.
Daniel Johnson: How, if at all do you see your own career changing? Basically, where do you see yourself in five years?
Ivan Markov: I really want to develop myself, gain experience. So I need to work in foreign promotions. I want to see myself in Japanese wrestling and I will wrestle in the USA for sure.
Daniel Johnson: You have wrestled a bit in Japan already. How did you come to work in Japan and what companies have you worked for there?
Ivan Markov: Yes, I wrestled there already, but it wasn’t enough for me. I’d like to wrestle there much more often. As often as possible. I want to say, “Thank you” to the president of DDT, Sanshiro Takagi for inviting me. It was a big honor for me to wrestle there. I was also impressed by the beautiful country and great fans.
Daniel Johnson: How is the wrestling scene in Japan different from the one in Russia?
Ivan Markov: Well, in Japan…wrestling is a culture, it’s a serious sport. Their fans have a great respect for wrestlers. There are many more wrestling promotions there than in Russia. In Russia the wrestling culture is very young. A lot of Russians don’t even know that there is wrestling in Russia. So we do everything we can to develop it here…and believe me, we’ll do it.
Daniel Johnson: Who were your favorite Japanese wrestlers to work with in DDT?
Ivan Markov: I can’t choose one. All of them a professionals and I am grateful for a great experience. For example, I was glad to work with Munenori Sawa, who has already ended his career. It was an honor for me. I also wrestled with the president himself Sanshiro Takagi. I was also his tag team partner. It was really great. I was happy to work with Michael Nakazawa and Madoka. I even wrestled a bit with Danshoku Dino. It was funny. There are also a lot of wrestlers in Japan I’d like to work with: Isami Kodaka, Kota Ibushi, Mikami…there are a lot of them. As I’ve already said, I’m grateful to all of them.
Daniel Johnson: You have also wrestled in Turkey, which at least in the United States isn’t as well known for being a hotbed for wrestling as Japan. How did you first begin to wrestle in Turkey and what is the scene like there?
Ivan Markov: First of all, I enjoyed visiting TPW. Their fans are awesome. They always ask me when I’m going to come back. I also liked the organization of the show, the arena. There are also great wrestlers like Doug Williams, Joe E. Legend and Murat Bosporus. I was invited by the promoter of TPW. They have a high quality show there. I’d be glad to come back.
Daniel Johnson: Outside of Japan and Turkey have you wrestled in any other foreign countries. Are there any countries nearby Russia that Russian wrestlers regularly travel to?
Ivan Markov: I also have experience wrestling in Germany. There is wrestling in nearby countries, but Russian wrestlers don’t travel there regularly. But I think for sure it will change. I believe that cooperation will be a good experience for both sides.
Daniel Johnson: Prior to the interview you mentioned that your wife was a four time woman’s champion. How long has she been wrestling and what promotion or promotions has she been champion for? Also, is there anything else you would like to say about your wife?
Ivan Markov: Sure, my wife Bonnie is a four time women’s champion in our promotion (IWF). She has wrestled for six years already. She will hold belts in other promotions in the future. She has already wrestled in Japan and Germany. I can say that she is a really talented person. To say the least she is a world-class wrestler. She also draws well, although she never studied drawing. But some professional painters are surprised that she draws better than them. She also sings and she is a model. Well, you can start to envy me at this point. Here she is.
Daniel Johnson: I also had some more random questions to ask. I always like to hear about ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be willing to share?
Ivan Markov: I don’t think I have traveled enough to write a book about my adventures. When I fly more than 10,000 hours, it will be something. There is not anything extraordinary about me. However, one day I thought that I lost my passport, but it was at the reception desk of the hotel. I’d forgotten about it, so I was really nervous for about an hour until I found it.
Daniel Johnson: What would you say your biggest accomplishment in wrestling is so far and why?
Ivan Markov: The biggest accomplishment at this moment is that I started to wrestle in foreign promotions. It’s wonderful, I meet new wrestlers from whom I often gain new experience. I can give new fans a part of myself and it’s hard to describe it in words. It’s very useful to every wrestler and besides it gives me new expressions.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to promote or that you think readers should check out?
Ivan Markov: PWG haha.
Daniel Johnson: As part of my last few questions I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. If you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer one of them just feel free to say, “skip.” Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Ivan Markov: I was always a fan of cartoons: South Park, American Dad, The Simpsons and Futurama. There are some popular American shows that have reached Russia. The show, The Voice has reached Russia. It’s popular all over the world. I like it because they sing live. A lot of singers sing using a phonogram. It’s a big problem in Russia. So I enjoy the real sound.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Ivan Markov: You know, I really enjoyed the movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I like when a director forgets about all conventions and gives his fantasy freedom, making an alternative story. The collaborations of people like Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton should be good anyway. You know, after this movie, there was a lot of jokes in Russia that Timur is going to make one more movie with the name, [Vladimir] Putin Against Zombie-communists haha.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Ivan Markov: Oh, that’s a hard question, I’m not a big gourmand. I usually eat the same food everyday. But when I was in Japan, I tried a lot of new and even exotic dishes. I was surprised by one soup. I always thought that I’m a guy who can eat a lot. But one day my Japanese friend decided to give me this soup with seafood and rice. I decided that I’ll eat this and then we can go to some restaurant. But it was so nourishing that I was not hungry until the next day. I don’t remember the name of this soup though.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Ivan Markov: My favorite group is Avery Watts and the only reason that I don’t name one of their songs is because they haven’t made any songs this year. I also like Motorhead, Alice Cooper and Tenacious D. For the song of this year: Nosa and Gangnam Style for sure haha. No, to be serious no. This year I like some Russian songs.
Daniel Johnson: Did you vote in your last local election? If so would you be willing to say for who?
Ivan Markov: [Skip].
Daniel Johnson: This is a general question, but one I try to ask everyone: What is the weirdest part of being a professional wrestler?
Ivan Markov: [Skip].
Daniel Johnson: My last question is just is there anything you would like to add or talk about that we haven’t talked about already?
Ivan Markov: Here are some moments of me from Japan, highlights of me and one more match from a house show.
See Ivan Markov in action! In this recent match he takes on top independent wrestler, El Generico in his native Russia:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews